I could accept that the hotel had made a mistake and charge me the wrong amount.
What I could not accept was the shoddy and irresponsible immediate reply over the phone that the hotel had not made a mistake, and that I was liable for the additional taxes involved.
Which part of the phone conversation had the customer service officer not heard? I had clearly explained over the phone that the website showed me that I was to pay US$1275 for my booking. I had received an email that US$1275 would be charged to my card.
When I received my credit card bill this week, it showed that I was charged in local currency at 17973038IDR which was US$1625 based on xe.com today. I emailed the hotel and tried calling them. Eventually, my call was routed to the Singapore reservation office.
The customer service representative told me that I would need to pay an additional 10% + 11% government and service tax on top of my booking of US$1275. It would work out to US$1542.75. I was puzzled because in no way had this extra amount been reflected in any part of the booking. The person was quick to brush me off and I got really annoyed. It was as though I had made the silly mistake of not realizing on what I should be paying for.
The customer service representative was firm in his mentality that it was MY FAULT, not the hotel’s fault and only wanted me to accept his explanation so that we could end the call as soon as possible. It was my fault for not realizing that I needed to pay an additional 10%+11% for my reservation. It was not the hotel’s responsibility that they had charged me a different amount from what I saw on the website and on the email.
I insisted on speaking with a manager whilst I dug out the reservation email.
It read very clearly “Service Charge: 10% per room per night is in the rate. Government Tax: 11% per room per night is in the rate.”
When the second representative talked to me and suggested the same thing, I told him even if the taxes had been the cause of difference, why was there such a big difference of US$1542.75 and US$1625? He actually asked me on the date of transaction to track back on conversion rate. Excuse me, how could the conversion rate differ so much? Furthermore, if the website had quoted in USD, you jolly well charge your customers in USD!
It irked me that instead of collecting the right information to investigate, they actually implied that I was not aware that I ought to pay 21% service and taxes (when it was clear that I did not have to and they failed to verify) and to suggest the difference was due to currency fluctuation.
For goodness’ sake, I hate customer service representatives who tend to shove the blame (or call it responsibility) on the customers. Was I dealing with a 3* hotel chain or a 5*? In fact, the property claimed itself to be 6*.
Thankfully, the bank was helpful and had dished out appropriate advice such as raising dispute to the claim. In this way, I would not need to settle the payment by the due date and would not be liable for late charges or interest charges whilst I ironed this out with the hotel. It was indeed an exclusive and extraordinary experience. It was a very spectacular boo boo by a renowned brand which I had never experienced at other leading hotel chains.
Could you have imagined if they had the fortune of meeting a less investigative customer? They would have gotten away with surplus, unexplained revenue.
At the moment, it was still investigation-in-progress but it had already marred my impression of this hotel chain.