(Note: Update at bottom of page.)
My elderly parents planned to visit a friend of theirs in London this weekend and take my teenage daughters on a bit of a tour. They booked the Holiday Inn Express in Croydon for the duration of their stay (Friday to Sunday).
However, as a result of the riots over the last few nights they decided to alter their plans. They didn’t want to disappoint the girls so they opted to stay in Holyhead instead and meet their friend outside London.
Today my mother contacted the Holiday Inn Express in Croydon to cancel the booking. From what I can gather, the bones of the conversation went pretty much like this:
Mum: Hi. I’m phoning in connection with Reservation No. XXXXXX. I’d like to cancel that booking please.
Receptionist: I’m afraid you can’t cancel that booking.
Mum: Considering recent developments in that area I really don’t think it’s a wise decision for us to travel there. I’d like to cancel the booking please.
Receptionist: You can’t cancel the booking. The area is very quiet here anyway.
Mum: We’re an elderly couple travelling with two young girls. I’d really prefer to cancel the booking please.
Receptionist: You can cancel the booking but you’ll forfeit the full amount for the booking.
Mum: (getting quite upset) But we can’t drive into that area now.
Receptionist: The area is very quiet. You can cancel the booking but you’ll have to reschedule it if you don’t want to lose all your money.
Mum (very upset): Ok, I’ll reschedule the booking.
Receptionist: When would you like to reschedule it for?
Mum (becoming flustered): October?
Receptionist: October. Ok. (confirms dates) That will be an extra £xxx
Mum: (gives details of credit card) What’s it like there tonight?.
Receptionist: The roof of the hotel was damaged last night by the rioting but everything’s quiet at the moment.
My mother phoned her friend then – the one she’d been planning to visit and who happens to be a Special in London – and the friend advised her not to come near the place.
I am upset for my parents. I am appalled that a major hotel group such as the IHG (Intercontinental Hotel Group) would pressurise my mother into re-booking her hotel stay, given the present situation in London (and the fact that the roof of the hotel they’d booked had suffered damage in the riots).
My parents are good customers of the IHG hotel group and have stayed at the Holiday Inns many times while in London. While on holiday in Oregon we stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Portland, and the last time my parents were in Portland they stayed in the Candlewood Suites, another IHG brand.
I’m not suggesting that because they’re good customers my parents should be given a refund. But, I will be contacting IHG tomorrow and, in the event that I don’t find them sympathetic towards my parents plight, then I would certainly reconsider any future possible bookings with them.
I’ll post again tomorrow with the outcome of the phonecall to IHG. Comments welcome.
Update: 10th August 2011
Just a quick update in relation to the above. The General Manager of the Holiday Inn Express in Croydon (Stuart Clay) contacted us today through the hotel’s Facebook page. He also emailed my mother. He apologised for the situation, is investigating the story regarding the damaged roof (which he claims isn’t damaged) and refunded my parents for their stay.
Katie Jolley from IHG also contacted me earlier this evening in relation to this and provided me with a cancellation number for the booking.