All I was trying to do was confirm an accommodation booking. Seriously.
As you know, I am stuck some 3 hours way from where I am meant to start work next Tuesday teaching a first-year undergraduate unit.
Because I am in the middle on dental treatment and physio, I put the move off for a week so I wasn’t traveling back and forth more than once. I have already missed a tutor’s meeting on Tuesday so I made arrangements to go up early-ish on Monday, have the meet, go to the first lecture for good measure, be there for the usual, weekly 8:30am meeting and then teach 11-1 followed by 2-4. I am leaving here at 7:45am Monday and should be in town by 11am. (Oh, I also have to scoot across the other side of town – by public transport – to sign my contract with university # 2 where I am teaching online. This university also requires a police check & thank goodness my teaching card fulfills that criteria – although, I got a letter from them yesterday saying I have to re-apply as my 3 years are up – but that is yet another story).
So, just to clarify. In order to go and start my new job I have to pay for my son to travel down (and feed him for the week) so he can take care of my dog while I am in town. I am taking the coach on Monday morning, will arrive Monday lunchtime, meetings for 2 hours, dash across to university #2 for contract signing, back to university #1 for lecture, back to accommodation to sleep, up for 8:30 meeting, teaching for 4 hours, back on coach for 5:45pm, home by 9-ish. And let’s not forget that I have removalists coming on Thurs or Friday (not confirmed as yet) plus major dental work on Thursday. The other son coming down to collect me and the dog – travel to new house, unpack on Saturday/Sunday – start at university #2 and #3 (university #3 involves traveling back down close to here – 2 hour coach trip – overnight at a local home organised through free classifieds (I hope to god she isn’t a serial killer – I don’t have the time) – teach 1 x lecture and 2 x 2 hour tutorials and then back up to town by coach at the end of the say. University #2 being online involves no travel but means checking in on my 90+ students daily.
Now, going to town for meeting/lecture/teaching means staying in town so I went online and made a booking for visitors accommodation on the Student Village website. The page had a clear link that said ‘Book Online” so, I clicked, filled in my name, the date I wanted the accommodation for and hit the send button.
Late this afternoon I realised I had not had confirmation on my accommodation so I called Student Village to confirm my booking & to make sure that they were expecting me on Monday. Lovely girl on the other end of the phone proceeded to tell me that they do not allow less than a three-night stay and so they could not help me.
I explained to her that nowhere on the page describing the accommodation was this mentioned and also asked why they had not responded to my booking to advise me of the problem? Lovely girl on the other end suggested that I try elsewhere and that sorry, she couldn’t help me.
I was getting a bit upset at this stage as I there was no mention of this -three-night’ caveat on the page and I asked her to please have her supervisor call me.
Ten minutes later, at nearly 4:30pm, Friday (where the hell was I going to find a booking for Monday on a friday night? – mad search on ‘cheaperthanahotel.com revealed nothing cheaper than $499 for the night! left with a vacancy). Lovely girl number two listened and sympathised as I explained about being stuck several hours away, of needing to come up by coach, of having meetings/lecture/teaching but became quite belligerent when I mentioned the ‘booking form’:
Her: “It’s not an online booking form, we don’t have the facilities for online booking.”
Me: “But the link clearly says ‘book online'”
Her: “That isn’t a booking, it’s an enquiry form”
Me: “I appreciate that it may come through to you as, and be considered to be a query form, but it says quite clearly, book online and in clicking on the link and filling out my details, I assumed, quite fairly I think, that I had made a booking.”
Her: “We don’t do online booking” (seriously, that’s what she said)
By this stage I was getting pretty frustrated
We went on like that for a few more minutes when she interrupted and said that “she couldn’t help me with accommodation and recommended I check ‘the internet’ for alternatives”. Given the three-night minimum, I had given up on the idea of staying with them at this stage, for the ‘privilege’ of going to work I was already going to be out of pocket at least $400 with accommodation, coach fares for me and my son, food for my son and taxi fare – in fact, it will most likely be more. So, given that I was now facing the probability of an expensive hotel on top of other costs together with the travel to university and back 3 times in 2 days, I was kinda grumpy. But, had lovely girl (who was not so lovely by this time) simply agreed with me that the lack on information regarding the three-night minimum, the book online form that wasn’t AND the fact that they had not responded to my booking ‘query’ (that allowed me to enter just a one night stay) had all seriously screwed up my trip and were contributing, at that very second to my escalating stress levels I think I would have accepted what she was sating. But, she stood firm, insisted that I had misread the entire website and kept stating that she ‘couldn’t help me’ so I asked her to please give me the name of her supervisor (the supervisor’s supervisor).
10 minutes later lovely gentleman called. He had obviously been given the total rundown of the ‘psycho’ (geddit?) woman who had called and he was on the defensive from the start. I explained to him that I had been told that they could not help me but that I wanted to let him know what my circumstances were and to suggest that they fix the bloody ‘book online’ link AND place the ‘three-night minimum’ stay rule clearly on the page.
He proceeded to take me through the same
bullsh spiel that the two previous girls had and was just as adamant as they were that the website is fine as it is – there is no facility to book online (irrespective of what the link says), it is quite clearly stated at the bottom of the rates page that they require three nights minimum and that is also ok, and they would have responded to advise me possibly by Monday (the day I was arriving) that I did not have a booking and that they could not help me and that way ok to. You can no doubt imagine this call – I was trying to explain the same thing over and over for the third time and he was refusing to concede that they had indeed screwed me.
So, I lost it.
I started yelling at this man and telling him that the situation was ridiculous, that the website was ridiculous, that he was indeed, ridiculous. At one point he asked me if he could “just finish” what he was saying and I found myself saying “no!” I was being told the same thing over and over and I was getting nowhere. My insistence that having used a book online form led me to believe that I had indeed ‘booked online’ was getting nobody anywhere and I was getting sick and tired of hearing about how the there was no online bookings – it was farcical.
Then he did interrupt me. To help. Or so he said, he told me that he was prepared to offer me a room but that I would have to pay for the minimum three nights, even though I am only staying for one. He then said he would do me a ‘special deal’ and only charge me for two nights. On top of that, the room would not be ready until late afternoon, if I was lucky.
God forgive me I accepted.
So, at this point I am going to pay close to $500 for being able to go to work. I will need to travel for six hours and run around getting contracts organised etc before I teach. Irony or ironies – I was leaving my teaching job because of the stress and added strain of all the running around and planning etc … all I want is to teach in my own actual discipline. Leaving my teaching job was huge and scary and it has been incredibly stressful dealing with stuff like this on an ongoing basis. It is making me question my sanity in leaving and confirming my worst nightmares that I have “made a huge mistake”.
Only time will tell. Things will improve when I am settled into a new house and have my teaching under control. Days like today are going to happen, they could happen with regard to anything, I just need to see beyond it and into the big picture. Or go insane.