Jeddah, Jun 10: Reception employees in hotels and furnished apartments have to deal with all kinds of problems, the biggest of them being guests that escape without paying their bills. The reception employee ends up paying the bill or part of it if the guest has failed to do so, according to a study by Al-Watan daily.
Marzook Al-Jadaani, receptionist at a five-star hotel in Jeddah, said that seven years ago when he was in training, he was taught to ask for a SR1,000 from guests as a security deposit or, failing that, a credit card. In some way, he said, the reception employee must make sure that the guests pay their bills or otherwise, the employee will pay from his own salary.
Al-Jadaani said, “I encountered a customer in the past. When it was time to check out, he came to the reception and paid his bill. As he was leaving, he apparently decided to stop in the restaurant for lunch and he charged the food to his room. When I was about to close the account for the room, I discovered that there was an outstanding SR300.
“Then I realized that he had eaten and left. I called him on his mobile phone to ask him to pay the amount. He refused to pay it and accused me of charging him with theft. I told him that if he were not going to pay it would be deducted from my salary. To my surprise, he came a bit later, paid the amount and left.”
Abdul Salam Al-Tamimi, the reception manager in a five-star hotel, said that the main problem was customers who come to a five-star hotel for the first time.
Al-Tamimi said that they examine the bill and most of the time they do not agree with all the service charges they see listed on the bill. “We say that the customer is always right even if he was wrong. Many times we encounter situations in which customers accuse us of dishonesty when we ask for a deposit. Such a deposit is an international practice but the people tell us they have never heard of such a thing,” he said.
Al-Tamimi said that there were one or two cases a year when customers escape without paying. He remembered a customer who used to visit the hotel regularly.
The customer paid on time and spent a lot of time in the hotel. One day the man told the receptionist that he was going to Makkah to do some business. The man did not return; he left some personal belongings worth about SR100 behind as well as an unpaid bill for SR7,000.
The administration contacted the man but he did not respond. In the end, it was a lesson for the reception employees who ended up paying the amount from their pockets.