One of the things that gets me are those unbeatable deals. You know the kind of thing, fly from here to Timbuctoo for £20 or stay at the New York Hilton for £1…… but it turns out the flight has a million dollar surcharge for the seat…. and the Hilton room is only available if you spent a billion dollars in the restaurant.
There is an inherent irritation in seeing that unattainable deal advertised, a feeling of the little man under the thumb of the international conglomerate, a con that we can’t do anything about.
There are two companies in particular that really get me. The first is Travelodge, £19 per night which really jars when you are staying in the same place and paying £70 per night! That brings up a second point, they have the cheek to charge you £10 early check in if you want to get into the room before 3pm. I was booking in at an exhibition the other day and a guy was trying to book in under this deal. I had already given up, realising that it was a no win scenario. This other poor sap needed to be broken into submission. Importantly, he asked why he could not have a room for £19 as there was a six foot sign advertising the fact you could get them at that rate. The girl behind the counter informed him that the room rate that day, set by head office, was £90. I watched on as he argued his point for nearly 20 minutes. I felt like telling him….. “My friend, give up hope now! There is more chance of a rich man passing through the eye of a needle than you getting a room at that price”. But something stopped me, maybe it is that vague hope we cling on to that just one day someone will get the room at the offer price and wouldn’t it be great to be there just that once to see it?
Another example of this charlatan’s approach to marketing is a certain airline that I couldn’t possibly name… oh, go on then… Easyjet. The ads display unbelievable prices to draw people in and then you are subjected to a surcharge if you want to take luggage, a surcharge for a guarantee that you can sit with your partner. Then, of course, there is airport tax and fuel surcharge duty. It was one of those discount airlines that tried to abolish seats, preferring to herd you sheep-like into pens, presumably so tight you can’t fall over. It made me think a little of the slave ships. When I think of it I feel all nostalgic looking back to a time when I didn’t feel conned trying to get on a flight, that you will want little extras like seats and that ridiculous notion that you might have luggage.
I believe the price advertised should be the price paid. Going back to discounted rooms, a little tip that I have tried and it does work…….. Ring up the booking desk and say you want one of the special rooms at that illusive promotion price. When they say it is not available inform them that it is ok…. And that you will look on their website for the next 24 hours and if the offer is not amended you will inform trading standards… I got my room….
With airlines, it is a lost cause…. Yet I have dreams of doing an art commission for the CEO’s of one of these discount airline companies. Yes, I will gladly paint you a picture….. it will cost you just £1. Oh… Did I mention paper tax?? Pencil tax?? Eraser duty??