Alice Checks out of Hotel Humpty Dumpty (Or Does She?)

“I’d like to check out today,” announced Alice to the hotel receptionist who greeted her with a fixed smile.

“I trust everything was to your satisfaction,” was his polite reply.

“Well, not exactly. The hotel has not really lived up to the 5* billing it received in the tour guide I was given last year.”

“Oh, I am very sorry to hear that. Was there anything in particular that you would wish to mention for the record. “

“Well, not exactly. Rather there are many things in particular I would like to point out. For example, it is not my idea of a private suite that all the children in the neighbouring rooms are free to play on my balcony and watch movies on my TV.”

“But you are equally free to play in their private areas and watch movies on their TV. It seems unreasonable to protest when the children have no different rights from you.”

“Well, apart from the fact the only channels on their TV are in Serbo-Croat. And I paid for a movie subscription for my room. But it was the restaurant which was the last straw, or rather the Diners’ Club I was obliged to join at great expense to be allowed to eat there.

“I should have been more suspicious of the fact that the bouncers were more concerned about stopping people from leaving the restaurant than about who got in. Likewise when the waiter presented me with the bill before I had seen the menu; and then complained I couldn’t make up my mind and the clock was ticking to the kitchen’s closing time.”

“Most residents say the club is very good value.”

“Oh and how long have they been using the facility?”

“Most of them are life members.”

“Well I could see how it might be worth their while to pay upfront for a two-year minimum term membership. But as I have stayed less than a week, it has not been such good value for me. And I certainly would not have signed up if I had been told I will have to continue paying for the upgrade to the kitchens, not only until the end of my membership but until the kitchen upgrade is finished.”

“All of this was agreed with your tour representative last week, including the proposed kitchen upgrade.”

“Well that is as may be, but it wan’t agreed by me and it is I who am paying.” (Alice was as always very precise in her use of first person pronouns.)

“That is perhaps something you should take up with your tour representative.”

“Well now you suggest it I think perhaps I will. What redress might I be able to secure that way under your Ts and Cs?”

“Well, one lady who complained very forcefully was once offered cashback arrangements, although I believe this is against current policy for paid-up subscribers. Alternatively, under article 50 of the customer charter, the tour company is able to declare its intent to withdraw from the present arrangements.”

“And will I then be able to obtain compensation?”

“Oh yes, if all the other remaining tour companies agree. That is after your tour company has agreed to compensate them first for their share of the kitchen upgrade and all the services that they would otherwise have been expected to use in the next two years. Oh, and the pension contributions of all staff.”

“I am definitely cooling off on the idea of this article 50 business. If it is intended to offer redress, it doesn’t really achieve that.”

“I am very happy to hear that you remain so enthusiastic about our project here.”

“I didn’t quite say that…”

“And may I add that we would very much miss your British pantomimes and warm beer if you were to leave.”

“Well, leaving aside the fact I didn’t bring either of these with me, I would have thought the pantomime you operate here would be more than enough to provide all the entertainment and satisfaction you might wish for. And you will still be able to enjoy coming to London and drinking all the warm beer you can manage at half the price of the warm and rather insipid brew you sell here.”

On that Alice turned on her heel and marched straight back up to her room to lie down. It was clearly going to be cheaper and less hassle to live out the rest of her days in the Hotel Humpty Dumpty than to check out and try to get her life back. And with luck she would wake up from her slumber and find it had all been a bad dream…

Categorised as Sketch

By Colin Turfus

Colin Turfus is a quantitative risk manager with 16 years experience in investment banking. He has a PhD in applied mathematics from Cambridge University and has published research in fluid dynamics, astronomy and quantitative finance.

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