Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Curmudgeon Speaks!

Stayed in a Hawthorne Suites hotel last weekend and was asked for the first time to sign a statment swearing that we would not smoke in a no-smoking room upon penalty of severe retribution. While admitting that on occasion there have been some strangely smokey smells in supposed no-smoking rooms, this strikes me as a bit over the top. I cannot be required to swear that I am not actively involved in overthrowing the government, but I can be required to swear that I will not light up in a smoke-free place. Just go ahead and and throw the book at me if I do. The signs are posted. Why bother with a disclaimer?

While we are on the Hawthorne people, has the unannounced charge for using the provided room safe (even if you don't use it) gotten in your craw. This could easily be parleyed into an extra charge for movies on the TV even if you don't watch them, and an extra charge for providing the snack fridge even if you don't eat any of the overpriced goodies.

Granted a buck is not a bank breaker and they will remove the dollar for providing a safe if you complain and state that you did not use it, but it does raise an ethical issue. Since they pop the bill under your door in the dead of night and tell you that you can just leave without checking out, my guess is that they are banking (literally banking as it turns out) that about 80% of their tenants will not notice the buck as it is stuck in there with all those neat little taxes that you also didn't know about when you signed up for their bargain rate. Another 10% will notice it and pay it anyway without asking questions. In a large chain I would suspect that there can be thosands of little bucks in profits piled up before you know it.
I seem to recall that some time ago there was a corporation that was rounding up all their bills as a convenience to you. Not down, but up of course. A few pennies here and there not weighing down your pocket and over a month a couple of million pennies weighing up the corporate balance sheet.

And then there are the "convenience fees" for purchasing event tickets or using a bank's ATM machine. The servicer handles a transaction by conveniently buying a machine to do what an employee would have to be paid a good deal more to do. Yes, yes, machines cost money. But once they are amortized, they don't get vacations, sick, peevish, or strike for higher wages. Sure it is convenient to pick up your cash at 9:30 PM on Sunday night, but let's get real. They really ain't doing it for your convenience; they are doing it because in the long run it is cheaper for them.

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