I pit stingy motels

I understand that everyone’s out to make a buck these days, and keeping your overheads low is a priority. However, I think the following is taking stingy to a whole new depth.

My boss had to attend meetings in Canberra and stayed for 3 nights in a mid-price motel, which still cost him $220 a night (Hey - it’s Canberra). The boss rings and tells me this morning that he’s left his phone charger in the room and he’s now in Melbourne, could I organise to have the charger sent back the office. Too easy.

Now here’s the conversation:
Me: Myemployer in room 123 checked out this morning and discovered he’s left his phone charger in his room.
Them: Yes, housekeeping found it.
Me: Would you please send it back to the office here?
Them: Yes, that’s fine. Please send us a self-addressed stamped envelope and we’ll do that.
Me: Pardon? I have to send you a postpak with stamps on it and you’ll then send the charger back? Is this your policy?
Them: Yes, well, you know, we’d be broke if we had to send stuff to people left behind all the time. (laughs) You’d never believe the things that some people leave behind and want sent on.
Me: Okay. Thanks.

Now, if people regularly left behind, for instance, enormous plasma screen tvs or children or motorcyles with sidecars I could perhaps understand this policy, but hey people, it’s a phone charger and the cost to you would be what it is for us, $4.80.

I would have thought that customer service and the future guarantee of returned custom would have been worth $4.80, after all, they got $660 out of him. :mad:

Honestly, while good customer service may be to spend the money on postage, it would never have occurred to me to expect the hotel to pay postage to send back something I left behind.

Sorry - in my haste I forgot that I did ask if they could send it COD (so we’d pick up the postage) but again was met with ‘not our policy’. So, they were not even prepared to part with the 85 cents for a postpak?

Why doesn’t your company just buy a new charger?

I have a view that this is just poor customer service, but maybe only because I’ve been on the receiving end of outstanding customer service in the past. I had occasion to contact a motel I stayed in when in Melbourne a couple of years ago because I’d left a concert t-shirt behind. They rang me on my mobile which was on the booking form and informed me I could either pick it up from reception or they would post it home. They posted it home, no charge.

It depends on who you are, too. I stay at one quite expensive CBD hotel in Sydney a lot. I get good treatment. I’ve asked about them helping me in some way and they say, “Well it’s not really our policy to…[look down at screen with my details]…ah, Mr Princhester yes we can arrange that and does your ass need a little licking while we’re at it?”

For some reason, “stingy motels” is for me forever associated with the places that use 5 watt bulbs in their reading lamps.

In my experience he could have got a free charger from the next hotel he stayed at. People always leave them behind so hotels get quite a collection.

While I understand the policy, and the hotel has every right to not spend their money on sending things their customers leave behind – my response would have been, “imagine how broke you would be if our company made it a policy to never use your services again, and make sure that all of our clients and friends know how stingy you are. Because that is exactly what is going to happen. Have a nice day!”


Given the enormous number of things people leave behind, the hassle that would be involved in packaging them up and sending them out, and the flak they’d take if things got damaged or lost in the mail, I wouldn’t imagine any motel would offer such a service.

As part owner of a stingy motel, I can tell you that our housekeepers find at least a dozen items worth enough to consider returning to the customer- and that’s just the stuff that the housekeepers actually report/return.

It would cost something like $100/day to return all that stuff.

I have left things at hotels several times (actually my gf has). Every time we get great service and have never been charged for the return of our property. What pisses me off at hotels is the nickel and diming. $5 for a bottle of water, come on? Either offer it at cost plus a buck or two, or don’t offer it all you bastards. I like free internet access if I’m paying over $150 per night. (the cheaper hotels all offer it for free, the high end ones seem to think you won’t mind the $10 a day.

Probably you won’t mind: if you’re staying at a high-end hotel, either you’re rich or you have a company credit card. At least, I’m guessing that’s the rationale.

“We’re sorry you feel this way and regret the fact that your manager left his charger. It will be here for the next three weeks if someone stops by to collect it. Have a nice day.”


Our company policy is to never dignify hostage-taking in this manner. On a few occasions we have also reciprocated and blacklisted companies between us and our friends, i.e. the rest of the hotels in the vicinity, but those were for rather egregious offences. (Insulting the staff, being unpleasant to the maids, trashing the room and usually all of them at once.)

We get between 3-10 items left in rooms every day. We have a “no return” policy that we deviate from depending on the receptionist and the situation. Baseline courtesy is that we keep items for four weeks with name tag and room number to be collected in person. If someone pleasantly negotiated a COD with our receptionists or if the item was important (wedding bands, laptops, expensive clocks and the like) we’d ship it. I’ve been known to eat a few kroner for stamps, myself. (And we’re a very cheaply priced hotell - down to $70 for a room, 200-metres-from-the-central-station-downtown, open for 24 hours and including breakfast. We’re more of a bed & breakfast than a hotell, to be honest, but since we qualify for the hotel denominer we have to use it to get an ASA)

I’m just not sharing in the outrage here. They provided the service of a night of lodging very adequately. Your boss forgot his charger and wants them to foot the bill to get it back?

I stayed at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago a few weeks ago. At $180 a night, I expect a fucking coffee machine in the room and a newspaper in the morning. Given that it’s supposedly a high-class place, I expected to get hosed twenty bucks for Internet + VPN access. But no coffee maker? Are you kidding me?

You don’t want me stumbling through the lobby in my underwear at 5:30am to buy a $2.00 (that’ll go right up Paris’s nose, I’m sure) to-go cup of your crappy coffee from the restaurant? Then give me a fucking $5.00 coffee maker and something to read while I drink it and take a shit!

I see a business opportunity here. A flat $15 dollar fee and you get your stuff boxed and shipped to you via 3 day UPS.

I have paid the shipping before (wife forgot her favorite bathing suit). I have also benefited from the free (with a small tip for the bellman) extra chargers at the front desk (got something for a motorola down there?).

Is this something common to Chicago? Some years back, my wife and I stayed at the Fairmont in Chicago, and also found no coffee maker. A fax machine, yes; but neither a coffeemaker nor a morning newspaper. When I roll out of the sack, I don’t recall ever needing to urgently send a fax, but I do have the need for coffee!

Maybe I’m just a food snob, but even when I’ve stayed in hotels with coffee makers in the room, the coffee provided in-room has been so nasty that I’d rather have gone without or stumbled down the block to an actual coffee shop.

$180 bucks a night in downtown Chicago seems cheap.