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tough day to be a good socialist…

with one comment

…and a card-carrying union man to boot.

Arrived at Schipol this morning only to find that the flight to Stockholm had been cancelled on account of a baggage-handlers’s strike in Sweden. Go labor! (Seriously, these euro baggage guys strike a lot, don’t they?) But after many trials and tribulations, we seem to be booked in tomorrow. But for tonight, Amsterdam again and exhaustion.

For discussion: seems to me that each Greater Cultural Unit has their own distinctive modes of dicking the customer. I’m trying to figure out exactly what the American version is, but I am sure I know what it is that goes on on the continent.

Here’s how it went today: SAS booked us a room back in the city – since we are three, they explicitly booked us a double + another bed. They also threw in some comped meals. When we get to the designated hotel, the guy at the desk says, no, the voucher is only good for a double – an extra bed (and room that it will fit in will cost an extra Euro 75. This is so much bullshit, but as always happens in Europe, they claim that it was the last guy, the guy who booked the room in the first place, who has screwed you. (The first time this sort of thing happened to us, when we were kiddos on the Eurail Pass, we bought round trip boat tickets from Brindisi, Italy to Patras, Greece. When it came time to return, the guys in Patras assured us that whatever it is that they had sold us in Brindisi, they sure as hell weren’t tickets, but a mere $25 each would make them, as if magically, into valid tickets… Reader: we paid.)

At any rate, back to tonight in Amsterdam. So we go to the bar to get dinner, and ask to use our vouchers. The bartender scrambles around for 15 minutes asking what to do with these, only to return and assure us that we were comped up to an astounding Euro 160, and that we should order whatever we like, drinks and all, and they’ll put it on our tab, and clear it up in the morning. So we eat and drink profusely. He tells us to come back for a drink later – it’s free after all.

This starts to seem a bit fishy, so, in the course of figuring out something else at the front desk, I ask about the vouchers to make sure that what we’ve done is OK. “Hmmm. The bar. No, no, no… That will not work…” I think we’ve settled on the food being free, but me picking up the drink bill. On the other hand, after much “we’re not very satisfied” type stuff, the manager has agreed to give us back our Euro 75 for the big room, but insists that he himself can’t actually do this, “there isn’t a button,” and so the morning staff will take care of it. Sure, right…

Good christ, what a whine. But hopefully you see my point here? So what is the American equivalent? There certainly were some very threatening scams you could get caught up in as a tourist / young Jersey kid back in the pre-Giuliani period, which I will not discuss here out of Jersey-kid embarrassment.

Does it go like this: Europe commits active sins against you – fucking with the reservations, drilling you for more cash to make things right, whereas America’s sins are passive, bureaucratic: without enormous amounts of arm-wrestling, the US-based airline simply won’t find you a new flight when yours has been cancelled? Or, say, Expedia and its cancellation policy. I ate a night at a Stockholm hotel tonight without grumbling, as their “policy” is no changes after a certain point….

Written by adswithoutproducts

May 25, 2007 at 2:59 pm

Posted in meta

One Response

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  1. Whatever the American version is, it almost certainly involves “getting a manager.” The average employee is as petty as possible, to avoid getting in trouble, while the manager takes a more holistic view of the situation. The problem is that the manager takes forever to come!

    Adam Kotsko

    May 26, 2007 at 12:32 pm


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