The blog has been quiet lately since we have been on the road. We drove from Kokkola to the Eastern Finland and spent some time at our friends summer house, visited Nightwish exihibition in Kitee, travelled to Russia and back, stayed the night in Porvoo. Before I tell you about those adventures, I wanted to address a thing I have come across many times during our trip to Finland; the curse of the Finnish perseverance in the customer service situations.
Those of you who follow my blog regularly know, that I don't like to write about negative things or complain. It will only make me feel bad and I'm sure the readers too. This thing is not very serious either, but I still wanted to write about it. I hope I haven't treated my customer this way. Or have I changed while living abroad and maybe forgotten the local way?
A SERVICE EXPERIENCE IN SCANDIC LAPPEENRANTA
We arrived to our hotel late in the evening. We were all very tired after getting up 4 am., driving two and a half hours to Lappeenranta and travelling to Russia, Viaborg and back that day. So we were anxious to get into our room and get some sleep. We had some problems finding the parking lot for the Scandic Lappeenranta and when we finally found it, I hopped out of the car and went to the receptions to get a parking validation. Yes, I didn't even read the signs at the parking lot since I had checked multiple times while making a reservation, that there is free parking in this hotel. It even was one of the reasons I chose to this hotel from Booking.com.
The first thing the receptionist asked from me was: "What happened with the parking?" I guess I should have realised at that point, that parking really is a problem at this place. I told her that I hadn't even thought about it, I am here to find out where should I park and what to do. I quickly learned that there is only a handful of free parking spots at the parking lot, and that you have to arrive very early in order to get one. But that was not what was said in Booking.com, it clearly states: Free parking. According to the receptionist, there is free parking spots in the city public areas, so in that sense, the hotel does offer free parking to everyone. I was too tired to argue with her, and I figured that maybe in the morning I would understand this point of view better, so I left and headed to our room.
Next day we checked out from the hotel and I asked if the receptionist could write off the amount of the parking from our bill, since I went ahead and checked what my reservation details say. And again, it clearly said: Free parking. I was a little bit surprised that she decided to argue with me about what it says in Booking.com, and wanted to check it. Soon she told me that I was indeed right BUT... the she gave me a list of BUTS why she was still right even though she already admitted that I was actually the one who was correct.
Receptionist: BUT we only have 30 parking spots and that is not enough for everyone.
Me: But the cutomer can't know that since that is not said in the reservation details.
Receptionist: BUT the rest will have to pay that 6€.
Me: Yes, but that is not mentioned at the details and even my confirmation states that there is a free parking.
Receptionist: BUT there is some free parking close by.
At this point I noticed that the small print somewhere mentioned: "Free public parking is possible close by. Reservations are not possible." So it turned out that I hadn't read the fine print, I had only read the hotel details at the reservation page where they say that the parking is free.
Me: Ok (laughing), well the customer will for sure got the impression that the parking is free from this.
Receptionist: BUT it used to say that the parking is 6€, who took that informations off from the page? We used to be a Cumulus hotel and it used to be there.
Me: Well, I don't know who.
I was very surprised that here I was, arguing with two different receptionist about the unclear parking info. No one was willing to write the amount off from our bill or had promised me that they will fix the details to Booking.com. They did apologise, but in the same sentence there were always explanations that made me feel like I was wrong. And maybe I was, but the details were not clear. In the U.S., at this point the receptionist would have apologized, given us a discount or in some other way made us feel like we are important to them. I wonder why it is so hard in Finland to give such a credit to a customer. It is often so difficult to us to let someone else feel like they might be right. I'm very willing to pay for the services I use, and I'm not running behind discounts or things like that, but I do think that very easily they could have had a happy customer if they wanted that. If they would have apologized and made an effort to fix the unclear information, I would have been perfectly fine with paying the parking fee. But arguing about it made me feel really irritated.
THE SCANDIC LAPPEENRANTA ROOM AND BREAKFAST
Not only was I disappointed how they treated me, but we also weren't impressed by the quality of the hotel. Our room was dirty. I could see that the papers under the classes were re-used, the toilet was not properly washed and there was some dust in the room. The furniture was old and had some dirt spots on them, and the walls had many holes in it. Tiles in the shower had started to get brown. There was some paper in the room but when I needed to write down something, the pen was no where to be found. It was also quite warm in the room and there were no airconditioning. Instead, they had something I never want to see in a hotel; a small table fan. I especially don't want to see one when the room costs 158€ plus parking.
In the morning I went downstairs to get a cup of coffee and was happy to see that the breakfast at least looked promising. But when we came back to eat, all the tables were dirty and full of dishes. I understand the busy hours in this business very well since I used to work in a hotel myself, so we were fine cleaning up a table for ourselves. But when I saw the high chair they had for kids, I was horrified. This was maybe the dirtiest high chair I have ever seen. It seemed like just the basic cleaning was missing in this hotel.
I liked very much an organic blueberry soup and the vegetable chips they had. Our daughter wanted to have some crepes but they had all gotten hard in the pot they were served. The typical Scandinavian breakfast fish and fruits were missing. There was some herring, and some pineapple and water melon which seemed old. Do you know how some fruits get when they get old or freeze? Mushy and dark. I didn't feel like eating it. So the foods they had were quite heavy but at least I found some fat free yogurt which went nicely with the blueberry soup. The staff was friendly and they were smiling all though I'm sure they had a busy morning. There is something good about every place!
As you noticed, our visit to Scandic Lappeenranta was not the most successful one. But oh well, that happens! At least we only stayed for one night and the next day we headed towards new adventures! So stay tuned...