Thursday, October 26, 2006

Can I Part You From Your Money

I've been spoiled. For the last several years, I've traveled so much that I've acquired frequent traveler status at hotels and airlines and have been able to maintain some level of "status" year to year. Frequent traveler status is easily reached when you use one or two specific airlines and/or hotels.

Travel was minimal this year. What travel I did was not with my preferred carriers. I got to be treated like an ordinary customer. No perks in sight. No seats at the front of the plane. No priority boarding. No free calls. No free internet. No free breakfast. No free social hour.

This past weekend I attended a convention in New Orleans and stayed at the Sheraton New Orleans -- not one of my usual hotel chain. It's a refurbished hotel which still needs lots of help with their plumbing -- temperature coming out of the shower head was not the same as the tub faucet. You can scald yourself. The hotel looks very nice and the bed is great. Room kind of smallish for a high end hotel.

Anyway.... When I'm at a hotel that does not offer free internet, I use dial up. I was not going to spend money for the internet if I don't get to use it optimally. If I'm going to pay for 24 hours worth, I want to be able to use it for 10-12. So, no high-speed internet on this trip. I don't really need the speed as I use it to check my email. Dialing locally is a lot cheaper than paying for internet service that you only need for about two hours. If I had to, I would have stayed dial up because I'm a money pincher and am old veteran with dial up. Well, that was not possible for this trip.

This is the first time I've seen a hotel charge for local calls the way the Sheraton did. It's $1.50 for the first 60 minutes and 10 cents for each minute thereafter. Whoa, the hotel is really slamming you for using their phone system. Am I right? Is it going to be an additional $6.00 for talking locally for another hour? It's best to hang up and call again.

Help me understand this. Lower end hotels, like the Hampton Inn, offer a set price for a local call (under $1.00 for unlimited time) and even offer free internet. And, you might even get a free continental breakfast. Higher end hotels give you a lot less for the buck. You are paying for the prettiness and the convenience of onsite services like a room service, a bar, a restaurant and a Starbucks :) that want your money, too.

Remember, don't touch those bottles of water in your room. You will definitely pay. Noooooo....not free.

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