Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Nights in Paris I Didn't Enjoy

Planning a trip, for me, is almost more fun than actually going on the trip. Remember how I always need to find the perfect cushy home base? I do a lot of online research to find the perfect place to rest my weary head, and while I love the ease of the interwebs, sometimes it messes with me.

Case in point: I spent all last week finding the perfect Paris hotel for a couple of nights - YES! Those nights I'll be in Paris for Fashion Week! - and finally settled on the beautiful, well-located Hotel Duquesne Eiffel. 133 Euro a night (around $180) is amazingly inexpensive for a pretty Paris hotel near the Eiffel Tower.

I was so excited! It was rated #29 on Trip Advisor! People raved about the wonderful hotel staff, the cosy, bright lobby, and the well-appointed rooms! Wheeee! I was going to experience all of those things! I mean just look at it!


J'adore!

I have found, with booking European hotels, that it is best to go directly to the hotel's website. No confusing middle-bookers to deal with.

On the Hotel Duquesne Eiffel's site I clicked on "Rates/Booking" which brought me to a very simple, large font invitation to enter my Check-In Date. I entered "Mar 5" (the actual letters for the month of March, not just the "3", which can get confusing with Europe as they reverse the order of the Month and the Date), and under "Nights" I clicked the number "2". Adults per room? "1", and then the large "Check Availability" button.

The pop-up window opened, with clear, pretty photos of the available rooms, stating the type of room and price, then the big, shiny "Book" button. I looked over the choices and clicked "Book" on my choice. Easy, non?

Then another pop-up window popped up, with a dizzying array of boxes, and the standard fill-in fields for my information. I wanted to make sure to lock in that 133 Euro rate, so I filled in my information, reviewed the total cost - uh hunh, 266 Euro, yes, looks good - and then on to the next window to enter the credit card information and confirm.

My confirmation email arrived, from the hotel, and the subject line was this:

Booking Confirmation for Hotel Duquesne Eiffel BerQ5mgo0q88Duqu

Slightly gobbledygooky, but whatever, I was booked!

A few days later I received this:

Bonjour,

As our cancellation policy is concerned,
You made a no show yesterday, so we charged your credit card of 133€.

Thank you for your understanding,

Best regards,
Mélanie


I am not understanding. Yesterday was Feb 5. WHAT??? NO! Did I accidentally book for February??? That's not possible. I mean, it's possible, but I was being really careful when entering my dates... CRAP!

I rushed back to the Hotel Duquesne's website to do a little test. I repeated the booking process, as I had before, entering "Mar 5", then "2 Nights". The same little pop up popped up, and I looked at the available rooms, and the big "BOOK" buttons, scratching my head.

I then noticed that up at the top of the page, in very small script, it said "Arrival date: Sunday, February 13, 2011".

That's not right. I had clearly entered "Mar 5".

Their system is glitchy! GLITCHY I SAY! It wasn't my fault! Hooray! This made me feel:

  1. better about having entered the correct information the first time
  2. annoyed with myself for not having scoured every detail of the page while booking
But why must I troubleshoot a hotel's website while booking my fun vacation? Why? They're not paying me for tech support - not even in the form of a gratis petit dejeunner.

I immediately responded to Melanie, explaining what I had just experienced, and asked that they please not charge me, as it was clearly a hotel website error.

Heavy sigh. It's France. They don't really care.

Hello,

It is really not a pleasure for us to charge the night as a no show,

If we had sold the room to someone else, we would not have charged the night

But as we didn’t got any cancellation or even a call/email from you, kept the room for you the whole night.

The best I can do is to upgrade you for free next time you come

Best regards

Hélène

Oh, Hélène. Sad face. This bums me out. You didn't even mention the website issue.

I do loves me an upgrade, however, now that I've had to spend over $300 for
not staying at your hotel, I can no longer afford to actually stay at your hotel, in March. When I'm actually in Paris.

I just have a hard time imagining this is as much of a financial burden for the hotel, as it is for an individual person - me.

Please call the French Geek Squad to fix your website. Toute suite. I, in turn, promise to read all the fine, fine, nearly illegible print, in hopes of uncovering website malfunctions.