In June 2015, I was offered a club membership with the Accord Metropolitan Hotel, T-Nagar with several privileges (a mix of food, beverages and stay). It was more or less identical to the one I had with Hilton the previous year. Being a Chennaite, you would know that travelling all the way from Kilpauk to Guindy could be frustratingly insane at times and because T-Nagar was closer, I decided to move from Hilton to Accord. Though it now seems like a very bad move!
The first bummer experience with Accord was while I took the kids and Prema to Pondy. We made a reservation for two days and were to use two vouchers for it, one which offered a night’s free stay and the other which gave 50% off on second night’s stay. Disappointingly, on reaching we realized that the rooms were very small and the additional bed they provided was a basic one. Having kids aged 2 years & 5 years along we felt that it is going to be a night mare and so we informed the front desk that we will shorten our trip to one night. The next noon while we checked out, the hotel wanted to bill us at 50% off rather than using free stay voucher. On top of this, the brilliant plan suggested by the hotel was that we use the free voucher on our next stay. Being a lawyer who drafts contracts, agreements and terms & conditions for my clients’ day in and day out, I failed to understand this interpretation. I was then basically offered a series of upgrades, one to the next category of room, and then to a Presidential Suite, but unfortunately none of them worked out. So finally I requested him to give it in writing on their letter head that they cannot use the free stay voucher and rather will bill me on the 50% off one, and Bingo! It worked. Our stay was free, thanks to the free stay voucher and we were at liberty to go. Not surprising, Prema & Kids were not impressed with the lawyering skills I put to use. The only saving grace was that the guys at the back office or the guys who sold me the membership were very helpful coordinating the whole thing with the hotel, though there was nothing much they could do sitting somewhere else.
The second unpleasant incident was when I wanted to meet a friend of mine and ultimately we decided to catch up for a buffet lunch at the Seasons restaurant at the Accord Metropolitan. Both of us being utter carnivorous, decided to embark upon our journey of tasting some really great food. But on landing there, we encounter a rather disappointing surprise that the Seasons restaurant was closed for renovations. And so we moved into a nearby restaurant and enjoyed the buffet there. Being a club member the least I expected was an email from the hotel.
The third, and most probably my last visit to the Accord hotel was on December 26, 2015. Like the earlier year we decided to have a small get together of friends over dinner and since a majority of the guests preferred vegetarian, I decided to go for the Royal Indianaa restaurant at the Accord Metropolitan, which is a veg restaurant offering Veg Buffet. Earlier that week I had called them twice to check if the Seasons restaurant was open and was informed that they are not expecting to open it until the New Year, so I made a reservation at the Royal Indianaa. I have been to this restaurant and the food is just awesome and my friends who came in from Malaysia liked the interiors and the traditional set up as well. If I am not wrong, the restaurant is managed by celebrity chef “Venkatesh Bhatt”. More so I had several food vouchers unused of which one was “HALF PRICE LAVISH BUFFET” which entitles a 50% discount on buffet meals for a table of 10 guests at any restaurant at Accord Hotel.
As always the food was great and the guys enjoyed the food, though some cribbed that they miss the chicken/mutton and the drinks and being a pure non vegetarian myself, I can relate to it. In fact, I’d say that the only place I don’t mind paying for veg food is at the Royal Indianaa. After the food came billing time and I gave across the voucher and was informed that I cannot use the Voucher as the Royal Indianaa is a specialty restaurant.
Then I had to run him through the conditions on the voucher that says “buffet at any restaurant at the hotel” but he seems to be under the impression that this restaurant does not fall under the definition of “buffet at any restaurant at the hotel”. Probably I need to check the new version of the Oxford Dictionary for the new meanings. Then the ‘tamasha’ began.
Hotel Staff: I can give you only 20% off as per the card.
Me: Sorry, but you have to give me 50% off as per the voucher.
Hotel Staff: This voucher you can use only at the Season’s.
Me: There are 5 restaurants in the hotel of which 3 do not serve buffet. In the remaining two, one is closed for the last few months for renovation. The voucher clearly says “buffet at any restaurant at the hotel”. The only other restaurant that has buffet is this.
Hotel Staff: No. They serve buffet at the Seasons restaurant which is now closed.
Me: Right. How do I eat in a closed restaurant? I have nothing more to say. I have to leave without paying.
Hotel Staff: You cannot leave the hotel without paying.
Me: Great. No issues. We’ll use the stay voucher then. 😉
Hotel Staff goes back, makes a couple of calls and then comes back and talks sense finally: There are 11 guests, but this voucher will only cover 10.
Me: Makes sense, but you tried playing the fool with me first so I am going to play it back to you. I don’t even know who the 11th guy is and I am not going to pay for 11. We are only 10, so use the voucher.
Hotel Staff: We never issued the Voucher. I cannot use it as you are 11 now.
Me: So now you take a different stand. Brilliant. And you did not issue the voucher.
Hotel Staff: Gives me a smile.
Knowing that this conversation is heading nowhere and with three lawyers and 7 CEO’s staring, he finally decides to go ahead and agrees to use the 50% off voucher. He gave me his card and wanted me to forward the email that was sent by the membership team. While I informed him that the email will be forwarded, I am just curious on his understanding of similar language used in the email.
Growing up with my grand dad, I have heard him say more than once “It takes a lifetime to build your reputation and a bad case to lose it”.