Friday, 13 August 2010

The smashed lamp

Today's guest post is written by my husband and the managing director of a hotel in north-west England.

Dear Guest Services Manager

I stayed in one of your apartments last week.
I had a pleasant stay - unfortunately shortly after I arrived, I
accidentally knocked over a bedside lamp which fell to the floor and
smashed. I accept that I should be liable for the cost of replacing it,
providing that's a reasonable amount.
I was astonished to be informed by your reception staff that I would be
liable for a £40 replacement charge
I have the same lamp at home, so I know that it's an Ikea Kroby lamp. I
checked the IKEA website and found that its current cost is £11.95. This
means that you are charging me an additional £28.05 over and above the cost
of replacement - a mark up of approximately 250%.
I can understand your charging a few pounds to cover additional costs, but
250% of the cost of the item is wholly unreasonable and excessive.
I paid the £40 before I left on Sunday - I'm asking you to refund that
amount (less the £11.95 cost of the lamp plus, say £5, to cover your
administrative expenses).
I'm a regular visitor to XXX and it's likely that I'd stay at XXX on future occasions. However, as I've said, I was shocked by this
punitive and disproportionate breakage charge. If we were unable to settle
this matter amicably, I would not feel inclined to make a reservation with
you again.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards

Dear Mr XXX

Thank you for your email which has been forwarded to me for a prompt response. I am glad you enjoyed your stay in XXX and welcome your comments.

The charge of £40 for the lamp covers both the lamp itself and the costs associated with replacing it, the charges are clearly displayed in the guest directory in all of my apartments. In addition to the lamp cost, one of my team also need to spend their time going to Ikea to purchase the replacement with a round trip time of at least two hours and associated fuel costs. The apartment also would have been out of action until the damaged lamp was replaced, again bringing with it an associated cost of between £79 - £299 / night.

I appreciate that the damage to the lamp was an accident and thank you for your honesty is reporting the incident, however I am afraid that the £40 standard charge stands and will not be refunded.

Kind regards,

Dear Mr XXX

Thanks for your prompt reply.

I'm afraid that none of the reasons that you give for a breakage charge of 250% over and above the replacement cost of the lamp are valid.

I arrived at the apartment on Friday evening. I knocked over the lamp shortly after I arrived and immediately reported the damage to your reception. One of your maintenance staff knocked at our door at 9.30am on Saturday morning having brought a replacement lamp with him. As IKEA XXX does not open until 9am, we can perhaps agree that a special trip was not necessary.

I'd imagine that you have replacement lamps available on the premises for just this eventuality. I'm not surprised by that as I'd expect any well run property to plan for a certain level of wear and tear and accidental breakages.

I checked out on Sunday morning so the apartment was not, at any time, 'out of action' and your company did not incur any loss of rental.

Given these particular cirumstances, I'd ask you to reconsider your decision. I'd be sorry if you were unable to do that, as I'd like to be able to stay at XXX again. I wouldn't feel able to do that if you insist upon a charge which, given the specific factors I've described, is not proportionate to the loss incurred by you and which I therefore consider to be wholly unreasonable.

I look forward to receiving your response.

Kind regards

Dear Mr XXX

I would very much appreciate a response to my mail below.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards

Dear Mr XXX

The matter is closed and the published charge for damage charged stands.

Kind regards,

Dear Mr XXX

I am sorry to hear that.

I can only tell you that I consider the egregious breakage charge made by your company to be a form of theft.

I will never stay in one of your properties again and I will advise my family and friends to do likewise. I will also review my recent stay with Trip Advisor and similar websites making clear my dissatisfaction.

I provided you with a detailed explanation of why this charge was unjustified,. You have responded in a discourteous and unreasonable manner, The damage to your company's reputation and loss of future revenue will be greater than the cost of rectifying your error of judgement.

Kind regards

Dear Mr XXX

Your email is rude and threatening – remember it is you who damaged my property not vice verce.

You damaged hotel property. You have been charged the published fee for this damage.

Please do not sink to the depths of threatening me with reviews – as you are aware we are one of the highest rated aparthotels in the country, and were actually recently presented with an award for being one of the top 500 hotels worldwide based on guests feedback and reviews. Please also remember that all review sites have a right of reply / management response facility. I will happily pass your emails onto the review sites to support my case following your damage along with photographs of the damaged property.

Having reviewed your guest history, I can see that you also threatened my staff during a previous stay and insisted on a refund for parking charges. It therefore seems clear that you habitually seek areas for complaint to facilitate refunds. I have to say that out of the 80,000 guests I have staying in my hotels every year you are one of the most unreasonable.

May I recommend Travelodge or Premier Inn for your future hotel needs as I understand they offer a full money back “Satisfaction Guarantee” as I am sure you will wish to take advantage of this.

Your email address has been removed from our offers database, you have been marked as barred from all of my hotels.

Kind regards,

Dear Mr xxx

I'm somewhat surprised by your intemperate outburst. You claim thousands of delighted customers, yet you feel threatened by the prospect of one poor review. There appears to be some inconsistency there.

Your comments are offensive and slanderous. I have never,on any occasion, threatened your staff. I did politely request a parking refund in 2008 because all the spaces in your car park were filled and I had to pay for parking elsewhere. Your staff were happy to sort that out and the matter was settled perfectly amicably. I've always found your staff to be helpful and I have no complaint about them.

My only problem has been with the extortionate amount charged for a broken bedside lamp as well as your rude and deeply unpleasant behaviour when asked to justify an unreasonable charge comprising 350% of the replacement cost of the item.

Being barred from your hotels is no problem for me. In fact, I'd be grateful if you'd send me a full listing of your apartments and hotels. I'd like to ensure that I avoid, even inadvertently, ever setting foot in any of them.

I've travelled extensively for business and leisure for the past 25 years. I've stayed in many different hotels and apartments. During that time, I've never before encountered a hotelier who feels that it's acceptable to treat customers with aggression and contempt. There's clearly a first time for everything.

I very much hope that our paths never cross again.

Kind regards


  1. What an utterly unreasonable hotel!

  2. WOW! Boy did that hotel manager turn on you quickly. What a way to treat guests! And how scary that they had detailed notes about your previous stay and requests.

  3. Oh PLEASE name and shame this disgraceful establishment.

  4. You go! Totally unacceptable from the manager (and why did he call you 'Mr' throughout?) and one wonders at the quality of the establishment, although I think I can guess what it is. Good for you.

  5. Ah, these letters were actually written by my husband, not me. Really a very unlikely person to smash up hotel rooms and threaten staff.
    I left out the name of the hotel because I didn't want it showing up on google, and this deranged individual turning up on our doorstep, but it's an apartment hotel in Manchester and the name starts with a colour. And finishes with a rainbow.

  6. Now there's a challenge! Are you offering a prize? You could have implied that (I mean imp...lied)that the company you work for has 356 business travelers who all use the hotel and will not be doing so again. Or you could have nipped out to Ikea and replaced the lamp.Anyway, I hope the correspondence helped your husband to feel better - nothing worse than being insulted and then ignored.

  7. We did consider going to Ikea, but it would've taken too long. Found a scary story on a website about someone who stayed there and then they took £60 from his credit card, claiming he'd stolen something from the room - which he completely denied.

  8. Kinda makes the customer want to grab a beer and release the chute (I'm sure you heard about this in the UK).

  9. Where's Esther Rantzen when you need her?

  10. That is hilarious. And I'm very impressed with your husband's emails. And patience!

  11. Brilliant! Glad your partner was so persistent as many others would have caved in. There are all to many similar stories. I purchased a voucher for my partner to stay for a weekend in a spa hotel last year. The voucher expired and the hotel refused to refund us the £400 or even extend the voucher even though they had incurred absolutely no loss. I saw this as essentially theft - they had not taken a definite booking from us .They had only to extend the period of the voucher and we would have undoubtedly spent more money on a meal and drinks etc. I wrote 3 letters and forwarded them on to the Guardian with no result. Daylight robbery.

  12. Just read this and I have to say I am disgusted by the way your husband objects to being charged for replacing the lampshade. The hotel manager is being entirely reasonable in covering costs that were caused by him. It's not just the cost of the lampshade. Accidents happen but Jo Public need to take responsibility for themselves and realise that running a business is tough and the overheads are brutal. You can't just absorb costs all of the time.

  13. As he says 'I accept that I should be liable for the cost of replacing it,
    providing that's a reasonable amount.' We felt that up to £25 would have been reasonable. £40 feels like a rip off.