Short-sighted customer fleecing

tourism map parking or car-park symbol

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I went to a meeting at a hotel the other day, which is one where my colleagues and I quite often hire a room. On this occasion we didn’t hire a room but met in the lounge. I didn’t actually pay for anything as a friend was kind enough to treat me. As a group, we probably spent quite a lot, but on this occasion I didn’t have a bill to show for my visit.

As I quite literally did not have a bill to show the receptionist on the way out, I ended up being charged £3 for my parking for a couple of hours. Now, I appreciate that the hotel does not want commuters travelling to London from the local station using their car park, but as I was known to the hotel and had said hello to the receptionist when I came in, she knew I was only there for a short meeting. Apparently if we had hired a room (we asked but there were none available) there would have been no parking charge.

The problem is that “rules are rules”, but I would have thought that a little common sense in policy would impart more goodwill and encourage people to use the hotel, the bar and the restaurant as a rendezvous for business meetings, and therefore spend their money. It would have been sensible to make the parking charge policy clear. It’s not the £3 I am bothered about as much as the thought that being someone’s guest could actually cost money, and therefore discourage those of us with ruffled feathers from coming back.

Most of us know that a little generosity or show of hospitality almost always brings more business. Give a little for free and thou shalt receive. Big corporates and especially those in the hospitality sector ought to know that, and while having rules is OK, allowing staff to use their discretion and common sense would not do any harm. It might bring great benefit. What do you think?

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