I was staying in a hotel in Christchurch last week. A very mid-range hotel for which I was paying an exorbitant price.
As you do when you’re travelling for work, I had a lot to catch up on. So I settled in for two to three hours of work for which I needed an internet connection.
Looking around for free-access instructions, I seriously couldn’t believe it when I realised they were going to charge me.
Obviously I don’t stay in hotels much! I thought it must be a Christchurch thing but I’ve since heard this is common practice in New Zealand.
Not only was I expected to pay but I had to call reception, arrange for the appropriate number of half hour periods and be given a code to grant me access for a set period of time.
The very idea of working with an internet alarm clock ticking was stressful. I had no idea how long I’d be – as long it took!
I was in Christchurch to do some filming for Fair Go and came back to the hotel later with Gordon Harcourt’s booming voice in my head.
“Be noisy” he’d been telling the Christchurch family we were visiting. I inquired at reception. Very politely.
"Could you please confirm whether or not internet access is included in my room rate?" I said.
And then - “You’re kidding? You mean I’m paying a crazy rate for my room and the internet is not included?”
The receptionist was very nice. It was obvious my complaint was a common one. She didn’t cave immediately but I stood my ground and got the free access I felt strongly I was entitled to.
Come on New Zealand, seriously?
Karen McDonald is Consumer NZ's head of marketing and business development.
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