And the Sour Note….
There’s always one isn’t there. Someone who just can’t wait to spoil your day. On our holiday it was the owner of the Matamata Central Hotel.
After a very pleasant – but long – 8 hour drive – we were somewhat glad to get to Matamata and be able to stop for the day. I love driving the new car – especially hood down through the countryside – but 8 hours on the road in a day is enough really. When we got to the motel – and checked in – we were thrilled. The unit was wonderful. Newly Built – as are a couple of other motels in the town, it was absolutely lovely – pristine and “well appointed” as they say. Lovely soft carpets, neat little kitchen area, free wi-fi (limited download available then there is a charge), big comfy bed, beautiful bathroom with a powerful show and a spa bath, and air conditioning. In fact – it was the perfect Motel Unit and life was good.
Then we went to bed.
Oh my word – what a nightmare. The motel sits right on SH (State Highway) 27. Which at this point actually has 4 lanes of traffic split by a railway line. And traffic is pretty constant – especially trucks throughout the night. And despite the motel having double glazing – you can hear every single one of them. All night. But added to that – the building shakes every time a truck or train goes past. All night. Its like a moderate quake going off.
At 5:30 am I just gave up and got up for a tea and to read. There was simply no point in trying to pretend that I was going to get any more sleep. I think I managed to doze off again about 7am for another half hour. The people in the unit next to us were also up at 5:30, showering (yep – we could hear that clear as a bell too) and left by 6am. Unfortunately – we had booked another night. So we decided to ask the motel owner if it would be possible to change rooms to the other side of the complex – which is away from the road.
And that’s when things turned really unpleasant.
There were no other rooms available you see. Now that wasn’t the issue – we realised that there may not be, and were prepared for that. What we were not prepared for was the unhelpful and defensive attitude of the owner. Hubby went in to ask, and after being told nothing else was available was told that because we had booked through the AA and thus got a discounted rate – those are the rooms that AA people are put into. Ie – we didn’t pay for a decent room, so we didn’t get one. At this point, hubby then asked for a refund on the second nigh, as we would not be staying. To be told that no refund was available as the AA needs 48 hours notice of cancellation. Hubby stormed off in a sleep-deprived bad mood having to deal with such a shite attitude, and we started packing.
As hubby was loading the car, the owner came past to start work on the next door room, and started on at hubby. We must be really light sleepers. No one has complained before. It’s all our fault we didn’t sleep. Blah Blah Blah. (Apparently, being able to live on The Terrace in Wellington and get a full night’s sleep despite a busy road doesn’t count I guess!)
Why he felt the need to be obnoxious I have no idea, but harassing unhappy and tired guests in the carpark when we are simply trying to leave is not good business etiquette. Its just rude and unpleasant.
Just as we finished packing, I needed a pen, so popped into the office to see if I could borrow one. When the owner started in on me. Now he did in fact say sorry that we had not enjoyed our stay. Fair enough, but I explained to him that it was actually his attitude that had upset us more – which is true. We had simply asked if there was a room we could move to away from the noise. Not an unreasonable request when the service you are paying for is meant to allow you to sleep. But the defensive and unpleasant behavior had put us off staying the second night. Ad he then started haranguing me: discounted room, no one has ever complained, light sleepers, and of course – the old chestnut – hubby was RUDE. Now sorry – but I know we can be quite forceful when pushed – ie – we don’t take bullshit excuses like “you paid for a shit room so you got a shit room” very well, especially when we have had no fricken sleep all night! But genuinely – we didn’t go into this expecting a fight – we simply wanted a better room and an understanding business owner. I distinctly got the impression that the owner was expecting a fight, and despite his protestations we were not in fact the first people to have complained about the traffic noise. Maybe others had done the same as next door and given up at 6am and left before the owner had to deal with their tired irritability. Maybe others were lucky enough not to have booked 2 nights and decided to just go and not say anything for a quiet life. I really don’t know, and frankly I fail to see what that has to do with anything.
Anyway – he refused to refund the room – stating that the AA hadn’t paid him yet anyway. I did explain that I didn’t recall booking through the AA – but through his website and as far as I was aware we had not got a discount, but he was adamant. Hubby had already said we would talk to the AA about a refund, but as this guy was still arguing with me (all I want him to do at this point is shut up so I can leave – I don’t need a pen this damn badly!) I explained that refund wasn’t an issue – we would sort that out later – could he please just calm down and stop being so aggressive. I was really starting to get a bit concerned. His wife entered the fray, at about the same time Hubby came back in – having got a bit worried about how long it was taking to borrow a pen. He was less than pleased to find that I was now being berated as well for having failed to get a perfect nights sleep in this guys establishment.
Eventually, thanks to the efforts of myself and his wife, things did calm down a bit. We got an agreement out of them that they would email the AA and us, agreeing to refund the second nights stay.
We have received no such email, so that was also bollocks.
Eventually we left ( I never did get to borrow a pen by the way), and went on to Hobbiton when I couple of shots of good New Zealand Coffee and a hearty breakfast helped wake us up enough to enjoy the day.
So, did we book via the AA and get a discount?
Hell no. If you go to the Matamata Central Motel website, and click on Book Online – it takes you straight to the AA booking system. So it is the owners choice to use the AA to handle his bookings. There is absolutely no sign of any discounts on the room. (Screen shot to follow – the WordPress upgrade has gremlins). So as well as being aggressive and argumentative – this guy is also a liar. We did not book a discounted room – we booked directly with the Motel Website.
Have we had a refund?
Nope. The AA has yet to get to back to us, and the promised email from the owners has not materialised – another lie. So today I have to go to the hassle of filling out a Credit Card dispute form and trying to get a refund via Visa.
In the meantime, this guys arrogance meant we had to pay substantially more than we budgeted for by heading off to Rotorua and getting a last minute room. So my contempt is pretty full-on.
I have no idea why so many Kiwi business owners take such an aggressive and dishonest approach when faced with an unhappy customer. But frankly – they need to grow the hell up and stop behaving like petulant children. In business you will get unhappy customers. Sure, not all of them will be the fault of the business, and you need a way of dealing with that. But a lot will be, and you need to deal with that as well. Attacking the client, lying to them and blaming them is not an appropriate response. And it can very quickly escalate what would have been a simple problem into something far worse.
Ho hum – the rest of the Holiday was really nice. And as an aside – the Pebble Beach Motel in Napier is also on a main road and near a railway track. Decent soundproofing and solid building means you really don’t hear it – and I slept like a log.