Chris van Schaick: I’ve started to get stubborn at hotel check-in desks
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Chris takes a swipe at hotels which demand his credit card details up front. And as for those automated telephone systems...
I’ve started to get stubborn at hotel check-in desks. It’s about the contemporary obsession with taking a swipe of my credit card for ‘any extras’.
More often than not, the cost of room and breakfast has already been sorted before I arrive. Either the client I’m working for has picked up the tab or I’ve paid in advance online. So I often refuse to swipe.
Yet in some hotel groups, the card wheedling just won’t stop.
The other night, I was checking in to a Hilton. It was quarter to midnight so ‘extras’ hardly applied. The moment for a bottle of Moet on room service had long since passed. Credit card swipe, my arse, as Jim Royle would say.
There followed a comic routine in which the perfectly agreeable check-in clerk had to undertake several rounds of shuttle negotiations, relaying my refusals to an unseen manager in the back office and then bringing back their rejections of my refusals. In the end, we compromised on a photocopy of my driving licence.
It’s nothing to do with being over charged. It’s a small and probably futile stand against the rapacious harvesting of digital information about me.
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Every online interaction seems to try and suck more data from me. Renewing my driving licence I was even asked my marital status. What that has to do with my fitness to drive, I have no idea.
So no, hotel guys. Too many people already know my card numbers and their expiry dates. You’re not having them again just to plump up your database.
It’s a generational thing. My digital era twenty-something kids seem airily unconcerned about shovelling all their particulars into the void. But the on screen box called ‘sign up’, always puts me on the defensive. Questions about date of birth, mother’s maiden name and first pet are never far away.
Yes, I know. Swings and roundabouts. Innovative technology has made life smoother in so many ways. Cashpoints, search engines, paying bills online.
So I will try to keep the grump in proportion. But while I’m here, let me just loose off at another source of contemporary aaargh. Telephone menus. Press 1 for this and press 2 for that. Half the time I don’t believe what you press makes the slightest difference to who you end up talking to. It’s time-wasting corporate vanity, I’m sure.
So I think I’ll strike back by setting one up on the home phone. Press 1 for Chris. Press 2 for Mrs v.S. Press 3 for suggestions that we all go down the White Lion tonight. Press 4 if you want us to look after the dog while you go and watch Saints. Press 5 for dinner party confirmations. You get the idea. And on dinner parties, the next time we invite anyone round, I’ll take a swipe of their card when they arrive. Just in case they break anything or try to nick the iron.
In the Meon Valley, after all, you can never be too careful.
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