Crappy Hotel Gran Melia

June 22nd, 2006 by Potato

What a goddamned fucking mess these bills are from the Gran Melia are: do not stay there, especially if you need receipts to get reimbursed.

In addition to the general shittiness that we knew about when checking out (not honouring the quoted conference rate, charging for 3 people after 1 had checked out, weird, non-translatable spanish only), we’ve uncovered a new wrinkle: they charged us twice. Not double, not quite that bad. No, what they did is they charged our credit cards for $168 US before we even got there.

A week before we got there.

What $168 US is, we have no idea: the student rate on the room was $115, the supervisor rate was $150, and the hotel’s regular rates weren’t actually too far off from that, with rooms starting as low as $109 (which is why it was a double piss-off to not honour the conference rate: we got like 25% off at the other place, but this place the conference rate was quite close to their normal rates). So, what they did is they put in a credit for our accounts for $168 US (in Pesos, so we probably got screwed on the double exchange) as soon as we checked in, then racked up the charges on top of that. It means a few things that really screw with our heads: first, is that the grand total I signed off on was *not* the grand total charged to my credit card, since there was that extra at the beginning ($1,481.50 was the bill I approved at check-out, but I was actually charged $1,669.66). Next, the receipt is only for $1,481.50, so I have to somehow explain to the hospital’s accounting department that they need to look at the first line of a 3-page bill and see the credit there as something else they need to pay me. I have my credit card statement, and hope that will help me, but they’re notorious for not accepting statements on the same footing as receipts (especially when it’s dated a week before the conference you were ostensibly travelling to attend!).

It’s also strange that we had this charge since they never told us that there was an advance charge/deposit (and, in fact, had a seperate deposit charged upon check-in). It was also charged well before their published no-fee cancellation date, so it’s not like we were being locked in at that point.

Talking with others now that I’m back in Canada has added new dimensions to this affair as well: they knew very well that early check-outs from rooms with 3 people checked out, despite continuing the charges, since they got in a fight before they let them go. In order to prevent one person from a room fleeing and sticking the charge on the other person, or leaving without paying by claiming that someone else was still there when you were really the last to leave, they require you to present a check-out pass before the bellboys at the front door will let you off the property. If you’re just doing a partial check-out, and sticking the bill with someone else, they need to call that person and get their permission. I was out of touch, so they almost didn’t let my roommate catch his bus back to the airport… I’ve got to call shenanigans when they claim they don’t have a record of him checking out.

The bills of other students are even more pockmarked, where not only were the conference rates not honoured, but they changed every day they were there. Correcting entries (“traspaso cuentas”) were made on various days, adding hundreds of dollars to the bill, then taking almost all of it back off.

All of this is on top of the general non-communication from the hotel: no 1-800 number to call, getting put on hold when calling regular day-time long distance, not answering a single email of ours, and not telling us any of this billing stuff until we find, with a shock, that VISA wants the money from us. I can’t do much about it: arguing with them for 20 minutes in person didn’t do much, so calling them long-distance is probably just throwing good money after bad. Hopefully work will sort all this out and I won’t get stuck with it (my Accountant is better than my Spanish). In the meantime, I’ll just do my best to pan them here and on other travel review sites.

We didn’t get a chance to stay there since they were destroyed by the Hurricane, but the Marriott was much better about at least responding to emails and phone calls while we were setting up our booking in the first place (even if they, er… lied about their ability to open on time and host the conference at all).

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