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Everybody makes mistakes. What’s important is not making them twice.

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The smallest detail can have a major effect. That’s why there’s such a thing as the importance of being earnest about customer service, and I learned about it recently while wrestling naked with a surprised Japanese man in an Amsterdam hotel.

I check in, take my electronic door key and head upstairs. Put the key in the lock, wiggle it, try again. Look at the card. 107. Look at the door. Yup, that’s it. Try again, fail, and head back downstairs. Bloke on the desk points out that with his handwriting it’s really difficult to tell the difference between seven and one, then sends me back to the right door.

Fast forward a couple of hours, and a shadowy figure enters my room. At this point you’ll all have guessed that he’s merely the latest poor guest to fall victim to our illegible receptionist friend, but at that moment, suddenly woken and confused, he struck me as a clear and present danger – so I jumped on him.

I don’t know which one of us enjoyed the encounter least. Waking up to find a strange man looming over your bed in the middle of the night is kind of unsettling, but then again the last thing any Japanese traveller really expects when arriving in their hotel room is to be leapt on by an aggressive and extremely naked Scotsman.

Fortunately we realised the mistake before blood was spilled. Needless to say though, neither myself nor my accidental roommate formed a particularly favourable impression of the receptionist, his alleged five star hotel or the group that owns it.

To make a mistake once is forgivable. Make it twice in one night, on the other hand, and it looks like you just don’t care.

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