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Getting Hostile At The Hostel

, , , , , , | Right | CREDIT: wandering-black-cat | February 3, 2022

I was working in Japan as a property manager, managing a set of hostels and guesthouses. This happened during the high season, called the golden week. Prices were getting ridiculously expensive, even in guesthouses and hostels.

I was training a new receptionist, a lovely young girl from Michigan who was absolutely amazing and friendly. She was a perfect fit for the job; she was a fast learner, friendly, and positive. I told her that she was ready for her first shift alone, but if she needed me, she could send me a text anytime and I’d get straight to the reception.

We have cameras in the lobby, recording all the time, to protect my staff from furious guests.

[Receptionist]’s first guest arrived: one man, in his early thirties, looking friendly at first. They spoke a bit, and in fact, he was also from Michigan.

A few minutes later, I received a simple message.

Receptionist: “H. E. L. P.”

I went to the front. The guy was pissed off and wanted to talk to a manager.

I introduced myself and asked what problem we were facing.

Guest: “Your staff showed me ‘my room’ and it seems it is just a bed! And other people were inside, too!”

Me: “Yes, this is a dorm. Did you book a private room?”

Guest: “I’m not sharing my space with people who potentially have diseases or are snoring. And your staff—” *pointing at my poor, confused receptionist* “—told me I had one bed in this massive room. I want a private room!”

Me: “Let me check your reservation, sir.”

I got onto the computer and checked his reservation.

Me: “Sir, it seems you booked a bed in the ten-person dormitory room. Therefore, there is nothing we can change about it.”

Guest: “Okay, then I want an upgrade. Get me a private room.”

Me: “I would love to, sir, but unfortunately, we are full for tonight.”

Guest: “Okay, then I want a refund. There is no way I’m going to stay here. I’m looking for another place.”

Me: “Up to you, sir, but unfortunately, I cannot refund you. You made a reservation on [Travel Agency], and this travel agency has its own cancelling policy. In your case, you had to cancel two weeks prior to your arrival to be eligible for a full refund.”

Guest: “That is bulls***! And I never wanted to book a bed in a dormitory! Who does that? Are you crazy?”

Me: “Sir, calm down, please. We just have received your reservation the way you made it. Plus, it’s a very good deal. You made the reservation more than six months in advance when our price was the lowest possible.”

Guest: “I don’t care! Get me my refund!”

Me: “Sir, you paid online. The only one who may be able to refund you is the booking service you have used to make a reservation. Not us.”

Guest: “You guys are just trying to screw me over. I demand to speak to a manager!”

Me: “Sir, like I said, I am the manager. I really apologize for the trouble, but I cannot refund you. And I would personally advise you to stay. It’s a nice place; you’ll meet nice people here to hang out with.”

Guest: “I don’t care about people. I want my privacy.”

Me: “Sir, why did you book a bedroom in a dorm if you didn’t want it, if I may ask you?”

Guest: “I did not know. I just booked the cheapest place I found on the Internet.”

Me: “So… you booked a place and did not even read what you booked?”

Guest: “Correct.”

Me: “And you want us to refund you… for a mistake that you made?”

Guest: “I did not make a mistake. I just did not know what I booked. So, please, can I get a refund?!”

Me: “One minute, sir.”

I call the travel agency and put the call on speaker.

Travel Agent: “How can I help you?”

Me: “I have a guest, booking [number], who wants to get a refund for his reservation.”

Travel Agent: “All right, what is the reason?”

Me: “The guest made a mistake and did not know what he booked.”

Travel Agent: “Underst— Wait… What?”

Me: “You heard me. The guest clearly made a reservation for a bed in a ten-person bedroom and did not expect to have to share this space with other people.”

Guest: “That is not it! I just booked the cheapest place I found. I did not expect it to be a dorm.”

Travel Agent: “Sir, you made a booking on our website, right?”

Guest: “Yes.”

Travel Agent: “And you did receive a confirmation email, right?”

Guest: “Yes.”

Travel Agent: “And did you read it?”

Guest: “No need to — all those emails are the same anyway.”

Travel Agent: “Sir, we send those emails to make sure that you know what you have booked. If you did not read your reservation, the establishment cannot be responsible for that mistake, and unfortunately, a refund cannot be processed.”

Guest: “That is bulls***! I wanna cancel it! This place sucks! I’m not staying here anyway!”

Me: “Sir… I really don’t want to sound rude, but I would strongly advise you not to cancel. Prices are crazy right now! The single bed you have on your reservation cost you only 1,000 yen (about $10 US) plus tax; prices at the moment are about 12,000 yen (around $120 US) per night for one bed in a dorm room in most hostels.”

Guest: “Bulls***! You just want to take my money away!”

Travel Agent: “Please, sir, try not to swear. We have all remained polite so far.”

Guest: “I want to cancel this reservation right now!”

Me: “[Travel Agent], did you hear that? [Guest] with reservation [number] wants to cancel. I will therefore cancel the reservation according to the guest’s wish.”

Travel Agent: “Confirmed. [Guest] with reservation [number] will have his reservation cancelled. Have a good day.”

The guest grumbled and then swore before leaving.

Guest: “I’ll get my money back, one way or another! Your place sucks, anyway! Service is terrible!”

I exchanged some eye contact with [Receptionist] as the guest stormed away.

Me: “Don’t worry. Not all guests are like that.”

Receptionist: “Don’t worry. Not everyone from Michigan is like that.”

We laughed and got back to business.

Later, around 7:30 pm, when it was raining incredibly hard, guess who came back?

Guest: “Sorry for earlier. I got a bit carried away… Could I still have my bed?”

Me: “Sorry, sir, as you requested,your reservation has been cancelled, and someone already made a reservation. We are totally full.”

Guest: “But where am I supposed to sleep? Everything is either too expensive or fully booked!”

Me: “In Japan, you can sit in some places such as [Fast Food Restaurant] and Internet cafes, but you need to order food. And of course, these places cannot be held responsible for your belongings.”

I wanted to be fair, so I gave him a few addresses for hotels that MAY have availabilities.

We sold the bed — which basically was 1,000 yen — for 15,000 yen.

The man sent an email to the travel agency stating that he never came to our place, nor to Japan. The travel agency emailed us, and I simply sent back footage of the conversation we had during the afternoon.

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