September 9, 2009

The Squeaky Wheel

Yes, that's a person at the bottom of the waterfall. No, it's not my husband or I. No, I didn't get them to sign a release form to be featured on this blog.

Yesterday I mentioned a conversation my husband and I had with a clerk at the Fall Creek Falls Inn and Resort. I'll try to recount it to the best of my memory. It's amusing, and proves that when you're looking for deals, you have to ASK.

My husband is quite good at haggling. He views it as a kind of game. He's got a lot of patience, and he's not afraid to ask for their best price.

The day before we arrived at Fall Creek Falls State Park, my husband had been online at a friend's house and saw a special at the park's lodge for $59 per night. Since he knew it was nice, he called to see if he needed reservations, and they said there were plenty of rooms available.

When we got there and asked for their cheapest room, we were told it was $92. When we asked about the $59 special, the clerk said she didn't know and directed us to a few places just outside the park. After checking one of those places and finding out it was over $100, my husband called the phone number he'd called the day before and was told there was no such rate. It was confusing because the guy at the expensive Bed & Breakfast told us that phone number was for the Fall Creek Falls Inn. Why were they telling us there was no special, when they'd just told us about it the day before?

We decided to pay the $92 because at least we'd be right inside the park and it was nicer than the Bed & Breakfast. We went back and got the same clerk as before and here is the conversation to the best of my recollection:

My husband: What's the rate for one room?
Clerk: $92.
My husband: Is that your best price?
Clerk: Yes sir.
My husband: You don't have any special offers?
Clerk: No sir.
My husband: Okay, we'd like a room.

Pause. The clerk stares at her screen and punches in numbers, asking for our information, etc.

My husband: I called yesterday and there was a $59 rate and I think it included breakfast.
Clerk: That wasn't us.
My husband: There's no off-season rate?
Clerk: No sir.
Me: A mid-week rate?
Clerk: I'm afraid not.
My husband: No $59 rate at all?

Clerk glances at something off to the side of her computer (a calendar?)

Clerk: Oh, the "super summer special." That's good for two more days.
My husband: So that's good for tonight?
Clerk: Yes.
My husband: (Teasingly) Keesha, you've been holding out on us. (She was wearing a nametag)

Keesha gives a slight smile and continues typing without any apology or acknowledgment of the confusion.

This illustrates a few things to me:

If there IS a special, not every clerk is going to tell you about it or even know about it.

You must ASK.

It pays to be persistent.

The squeaky wheel gets the grease. (Is that the expression?)

So don't be afraid to ask, you might get a better price with a lot less effort than we went through. It's hard to express how hilarious this interchange was. We laughed about it and replayed it in our room afterwards. "Oh, the super summer special!"

Do you like to haggle or does it make you uncomfortable? Please share your stories in the Comments section.


Julie said...

I HATE to haggle, it makes me very uncomfortable (goes against the people-pleasing stuff I was taught as a child in the 1970's) but I used to work in travel. So I know you have to push sometimes, because 1) hotel desk clerks can be lazy and it feels like they are out to get you and 2) sometimes they honestly don't know what rate you are asking about, and it's the management's fault for not cluing them in to online specials etc. So when I travel, I'm more aggressive than I am in my daily life. Good on your husband and you for being persistent! And boo to Keesha for not being mature enough to admit she was wrong, apologize, and practice some good customer service skills on you.

Jill said...

In Vietnam this year, I had to learn to haggle. It was challenging because things were inexpensive to begin with, but apparently, the folks there expect it from Americans and get a little offended if we don't do it. So I had to put my uncomfortable feelings aside (these folks make so little money as it is) and haggle away - just to make them happy! At least that is how my hosts explained it.

Funny story, Angela!