Do I deserve a refund for a hotel shower that didn’t work?

Showers not included? / Photo by Muig - Flickr
The Hotel Universo in Florence, Italy, describes itself as a “hyper-modern” property where you can be surrounded by “bright colors and pop art-inspired prints.”

Presumably, that also includes working showers.

But when Ben Backes checked in for a recent three-day stay, he found that might have been asking for too much.

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“Our first morning there we noticed the shower valve handle was stiff and hard to move,” he says. “The second morning it broke right off.”

Backes called the front desk right away. A hotel representative said the Universo was fully booked, so his family couldn’t be moved to a different room.

“Then they sent a porter up to try to pound it back in place,” he says. “That didn’t work. Later, they informed us they couldn’t fix it.”

He decided to accept the fact that his room didn’t have a shower. (Would you go without showering for two days in Florence? Well, I grew up a few hours’ drive north of Florence, and I can tell you the locals probably didn’t think it was a big deal to skip a shower. But I digress.)

He decided to wait until the day of his departure to resolve the problem. And here’s what happened next:

When I went to check out I asked the front desk if they would lower our bill because we couldn’t shower for two days of our stay.

The response was less than friendly.

The owners were upset about the shower, which they said had worked when we arrived. He intimated that we broke it intentionally and not only would they not refund any money but I should count my lucky stars they weren’t charging me for repairs.

Nobody did anything improper with that handle. It was simply worn out.

Wow. If the hotel thing doesn’t work out, I’m sure they can always open a car rental franchise.

Shower handles break — it’s called wear and tear. If Backes were a rock musician, I might see things the hotel’s way. But we was taking his nephew and niece on a high-school graduation trip to Italy. Come on.

What does Bakes want?

At the time I checked out, I probably would have been satisfied if they shaved 50 euros off the bill. But because of their “customer service” I wouldn’t mind more.

The whole bill for three nights was right about 500 euros. But I don’t know, this is my first time having a problem like this… I don’t what would be a fair trade for six showers.

Neither do I.

I think this problem might have been handled (no pun intended) differently. Having 100 percent occupancy in Florence in April is rare, but not unheard of. I think it’s far more likely that the hotel didn’t have any accommodations in Backes’ room class.

Even so, some properties have a hospitality suite they can make available to a guest who doesn’t have a working shower. My point being, I think Backes may have given up too soon after his shower stopped working.

I’ve never heard of a hotel paying a guest after the stay for an amenity that should have come with the room. But I suppose it’s possible.

I’m more concerned with the hotel owner’s statement — as relayed by Backes — that he was lucky that he wasn’t being charged for the shower. Backes has filed a complaint with the Florence Tourist Offices and disputed this charge on his credit card, neither of which will probably do much good.

What do you think he should do?

87 thoughts on “Do I deserve a refund for a hotel shower that didn’t work?

  1. By coincidence, my wife and I are planning a trip to Italy. Thanks for publishing this, so that I can ensure that we don’t accidentally wind up staying at the Hotel Universo while we’re in Florence.

      1. Yeah, we’re excited! I haven’t been to Italy since the late 90s, and this will be my wife’s first trip. All I can say is that I miss the Lira! 🙂 

        So far, I don’t think we’ll be driving, but I suppose that could change. I try to avoid driving abroad, when possible, because it can be a real pain in the neck.

    1. I stayed at this hotel several years ago and had an exceptional visit but I didn’t have any shower issues either. We were too busy sightseeing. I agree that they gave up too easily and should have been more forthright about having their shower needs met while staying there and not after the fact.

  2. Hmmm. At this point, I’m not sure what else he could do. Once the bill is paid, the property has very little incentive to be “accommodating”. I think I would’ve parked myself at the front desk at the very first sign of the shower not working until they came up with a solution there and then, whether that was moving me to another room or reducing the bill or putting me up at a comparable hotel. Waiting for checkout to escalate was an amateur move.  Doubt the hotel will do anything for him at this point…

    1. True – I would have been pushing for a resolution at the 1st sign of trouble, rather than waiting till checkout.  But a letter to the manager might work better at this point than not trying at all.

  3. I’ve had strange things happen to me.  I once got a special with a suite at the price of a regular room (it was a really nice one) with a whirlpool bath complete with TV and waterproof remote.  However, once I tried to drain it the handle didn’t work and I couldn’t get it to drain.  I also noticed some strange crud.  I finished off in the shower and called maintenance.  A hotel maintenance worker came by and said that it needed to be repaired but he didn’t have the parts.  However, the bath itself was separate from the shower, which still worked.  My wife didn’t have the chance to use the whirlpool (which was still full), but at least we still had a working shower.  I wasn’t sure if I should complain given how little we paid for the room.

    Nobody threatened us with having to pay for “damages” and for the most part we were treated pretty well.  However, this was a hotel that relied on repeat business, and I’m thinking that they specifically didn’t try to collect even if people obviously caused minor damage.

    However, I would think that a working bath or shower is one of the things that are implied when someone checks in, as well as a clean bed.  There are other amenities that can sometimes slide, like a pool or exercise equipment, but bathing is the one thing that every room I’ve stayed in provides (although occasionally it was at a communal bathroom with individual shower stalls).

  4. 50 Euros off the bill seems fair, perhaps even too low.  I mean, how much of a discount would you require in order to book a room without a shower.

    I will say though that in my experiences, European hotels are far less accommodating than American hotels, even European hotels that are part of American chains.

    I hope that the OP pursues this, if for no other reason, than to teach the hotel that they can’t walk over everybody.

  5. He should have gotten a working shower while he was there.   But, did he go without showering for two days?  In that case I might have used a health club and their facilities to clean up and therefore incurred a loss that could be asked for with good reason. 

    I’m also curious: the hotel couldn’t change his room at first, before they concluded that the shower couldn’t be fixed. What about afterwards? A that point, I would think Backes would have leverage to say, either move us or get us into a health club or spa with showers.

    But with the way it transpired, if I had to choose my battles, this one would wind up at the bottom.  I’d settle with noting its bad customer service on here and tripadvisor.

  6. In Europe, you are typically charged more for rooms that have private showers. If he paid or it, it should have been repaired when it broke or he should have been moved to another room. It takes a plumber about an hour or two to replace the valve and tile in the shower.

    Being upset with him when he checked out is a common tactic in Italy to make American tourists back off from reasonable claims that woud cost the owner money. I’ve seen it to the point where they threaten to call the police, even if they are clearly wrong.

  7. In most places, I’d say mediate. But this is Italy. Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time there (including myself) knows that it really isn’t worth the time or effort to complain about this sort of thing. 

  8. I had this happen in New York and despite the hotel being “full” there was another room I could borrow to shower.  The air conditioning did not work in over half of the hotel and this was in a July heat wave (the hotel was trying to get it fixed but the wrong parts arrived for the repair) so many people were very upset, no money off on the room, but I did get a shower so I was clean when I packed and left.  The time to act is when you are there, later on it just does not matter much.

  9. I went to Italy with a high school group many years ago.  Our delicate American teenage noses were assaulted by the smell of so many less than freshly showered people when we got on a crowded bus.  But the looks on their faces as they smelled the assorted floral, spicy deodorants, powders and colognes forming a cloud around us was about the same!  We smelled quite absurdly to them as well!  I am sure standards have changed over the years, but our sensibilities and others are often not the same. 

    Recently in India, I noticed that people seemed very clean (and their clothes were often better pressed than mine) but I also learned that the standard way to wash is with one bucket of water, washing and rinsing carefully, but thoroughly.  Perhaps one needs to be a bit more adaptable when traveling …….

  10. I don’t see where the OP is going to get any refunds, credit or whatever for that broken shower, especially if the hotel is intimating that he’s “lucky” they didn’t charge him for it.  The difference that would have been refunded in normal circumstances might not be worth the headache and irritation. 

    But I sure would make my disgust known in a review on a travel website…  

  11. I would have made a bigger fuss at the front desk when the problem first happened if they could not fix it or find another room or hospitality suite.  I would have asked for a discount then, and/or looked for an alternate property and left.  I don’t know if that would have helped at all, but that’s my stance.
     
    I am not sure if the dispute will do much good.  It’s been my experience that most European hotels will make people sign a blanket agreement to pay for all charges when they check in, and this will be presented if the customer disputes the bill.

      1. I can’t think of any hotels in the US that I have stayed in in the past few years that have asked me to sign anything upon check-in.  Yet every hotel in Europe and Asia has had me sign a blank credit clip upon check-in which simply states that I agree to all charges.

        1. Not a credit card slip.  Unless you are a member of the loyalty program ( which implies you’ve signed a master contract) when you sign the contract at the front desk, you will see in the fine print a statement saying that you are responsible for all hotel charges.  The statement will continue with verbiage that you are responsible even if someone else is supposed to pay, e.g. credit card, airline voucher, master bill, etc.  If for any reason those sources of payment fail, you are personally liable.

  12. Questions like these always cause me to pause… If this hotel is located within the US the answer is obvious, the OP is entitled to a refund because parts of the room we consider fundamental to staying there didn’t work but he wasn’t in the US he was in Italy. I’m not sure what are the Italian customs or local laws behind en suite facilities (bathrooms to us). It’s also possible that the manager’s statement about charging for the repair is standard practice in Italy.

    Biggest lesson learned here is not to wait to resolve the problem. Work with the hotel as soon as it happens.

      1. @Michael__K:disqus I don’t necessarily disagree with you. I said I was conflicted because I didn’t know the local standards. For example, local law might say that the hotelier has 72 hours to fix the problem or that the guest is responsible for any damage to the hotel room that occurs during the stay (see rental cars). In either case, the hotel would have met their obligation under local law and may have done the OP a favor by not charging him a legal expense.

        As I travel overseas, one thing that I find the most about Americans is that we expect that our laws, standards and concept of fairness to apply outside the US. Unfortunately, its not always true.

        1. Seems like basic common sense that the hotel is responsible for fixing the problem or offering alternatives.

          Even rental car companies don’t charge their customers for engine trouble or for a dislodged turn signal or steering wheel (the latter happened to me once).

          I wouldn’t presume the existence of an illogical law that the hotel never cited.

  13. Okay the shower was broken….was there a bathtub?  I’d like to know if he was able to use the bathtub.

    I agree with the others and you who question why the OP just “gave up” and accepted the fact that they couldn’t fix the shower. 

    If it were me, it would not have gotten to the point of “not showering for 2 days”…I would have insisted for it to be fixed or checked out of the hotel.

    Now if there was a working bathtub that’s different….we would have just used the tub for 2 days, no big deal.

      1. Thank you for researching that!   In this case if no alternative was offered, OP should have checked out.

        1. I would walk out (after I find another hotel). But maybe it’s his first time there and did not know the area well. Generally speaking though, I have found Italian hotels rather spotty unless you pay very good money. The trendy chic hotels tend to have very small bathrooms. We had a 4 star one in Lucca (Albergo Celide) where I could not turn my body around inside the shower  but the room was quite fancy.  If you look carefully at this one (Universo), it didn’t have built-in closets. All you get is a chrome clothes rack on wheels. Very cheap.

          1. But in Italy closets count as a room, thus your tax basis goes up.  I lived there for three years,  most individuals have moveable wardrobes rather than closets since they are’t taxed.

            Lack of closets is a way to reduce their property tax.

          2.  How about an armoire with drawers?
            Since that is not built-in then it’s furniture, correct? That’s a lot better than a made-in-China metal rack on wheels.

    1. I agree with the others and you who question why the OP just “gave up”
      and accepted the fact that they couldn’t fix the shower.

      _______________________

      Perhaps he is not experienced, not confrontational, etc

  14. I think he deserves a some compensation for the broken shower. 50 Euros seems fair.

    Good luck getting it though…

  15. Pictures of their bathrooms in Trip Advisor don’t look very nice. They are all tiny showers (without baths) so I can’t figure out how the OP and his niece and nephew took baths or showers if the knob control didn’t work.

    One picture was particularly disgusting.
    http://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotos-g187895-d530008-w10-Universo-Florence_Tuscany.html#18686427
    This photo of Universo is courtesy of TripAdvisor

    Makes wonder why some hotels seem to spend more for their website than repairs.

      1. In front of a (very famous) church???
        I wouldn’t pay 500 Euros for 3 nights for this crap. That area has some decent hotels. We have stayed in the Rivoli and Roma nearby and they had working showers.

        1. Regardless of the location, the interior doesn’t look any better than a Motel 6.  In one of the photos, the shower stall looked lovely, but if you look closely, the window frame is cracked and peeling paint.

          It’s probably the snob in me coming out but it just looked kind of tacky.

      2. Hourly rate hotel might be a little extreme but for sure they overpaid for the quality of hotel they received. 3 day stay, does that mean two nights? That makes it 250 euros a night (even for 3 nights at 170 euros a night it seems overpriced) I was just in Florence a year ago and found a lovely apartment for around $100 US very close to Il Duomo and the Medici Palace. 

         What they paid for is being at the steps of Il Duomo and it looks like the hotel is riding on the location to drive business. 

  16. It’s too late to remedy the situation … when something like happens at a hotel, you need to come up with an alternative right on the spot.  There had to be a shower available elsewhere in the hotel, even if inconvenient at least you’d be clean.  The hotel is wrong to be so obnoxious, but a refund is really not appropriate, the problem could have been solved easily.

    1.  Why isn’t a refund appropriate?  Why is it the OPs responsibility to suggest these various alternatives>  If the problem could be easily solved isn’t that the hotel’s responsibility.  The hotel is in a far better position to have a plan to address a nonfunctioning bathroom, than a guest who may have not know the local area or speak the language.

  17. Let’s forget about the fact this is a middling-rated hotel.  Checking user ratings, Ben could have done much better in this price category in terms of prior record of customer satisfaction.

    OK, the hotel was booked without adequate research.  Now what?  Chris is correct, Ben should have insisted on a place to shower daily, even though it would be inconvenient.  Apparently the hotel did not offer one and Ben did not insist on one.  

    The leverage was right after the handle broke off.  At that point, before further nights, the guest should have negotiated a substitute shower and a lower rate.  Or the guest should have walked.  The room could not be rented to others (so one would think).

    Now, after all this, Ben is insulted by the management.  Forgetting the personal affront, Ben should write a review on TripAdvisor.com to alert some readers at to the management’s maintenance and attitude.

    And “Go get ’em!!”  At least cause a bit of work for the owners to keep their unfairly earned lodging rates.

    1. That;s what I was thinking…250 euros a night for THAT PLACE? They paid to be close to Il Duomo. A little research could have found a far better value. 

    2. ” OK, the hotel was booked without adequate research.”

      That’s a huge assumption.  We have no idea why the OP choose that particular hotel. It may have been geographically desirable, the other hotels in the area may have been sold out considering that this hotel was sold out, maybe the physical accommodations worked for his family.

      We simply cannot make such a bald assertion.

      1. Yes, we can make that “huge assumption.”  After 170 guest reviews, this hotel is ranked  #205 of over 400 hotels in Florence by customer rankings at TripAdvisor.  Figure it out yourself.  

        Most experienced travelers and users of TA would never pick a hotel ranked in the middle of the pack of a large city.  Bald or not, I stand by the assertion.  This was a very poor choice.

        1. That’s not all that horrible of a rating. It’s dead-center of the pack. Half the hotels in town would have been better–but the other half would have been worse. If this place was full during his stay, it’s possible the higher-ranked options already were at capacity when he booked.

          And unless you’re staying in Lake Wobegone, most travelers (experienced or not) will end up at a middle-of-the-road hotel.

          1. Wrong.  TripAdvisor is a customer satisfaction survey of actual guests with guest photos featured, not just the perfect studio-like shots by the hotel’s advertising agency.  So do you want to stay at a particular hotel when room guests are more satisfied at about 200 others?  Absurd. 

            If you have a choice in our capitalist system, you speak with your dollars, in this case USD$200+ per night.  Why would you knowingly eliminate over 200 hotels which provided a better total overall stay than this one?   Price, location and facilities are all serious considerations.  With over 200 to choose from, certainly  a better choice could be made.As a quick specific example, it took me about four minutes to find two hotels at the same price point ranked #6 and #24 within 700 feet of the Hotel Universo.   

            The premise that rankings and the choice of hotels are random events is false.  You have a choice.  You have tools.  If you do not use the tools to make an informed choice, then you have created a random event.  I would rather make an informed choice based on tools at hand than trust random probability theory.

          2. You don’t seem to understand how rankings work.  There could be 400 excellent hotels listed and somebody would still come in at #203. It is inevitable.  (There could also be 400 lousy hotels meaning the top-ranked ones would only be slightly less horrible.)

            To say that nobody should ever stay at something ranked that low is ludicrous.  
            A) Better options may be booked 
            B) This particular place may be more desirable either because of location, rate, etc.

            You are saying that of the 400 hotels Trip Advisor lists for Florence, at minimum 200 of them must be completely dismissed as being totally unacceptable.  And, guess what…if you had your way and 200 closed tomorrow, hotels you thought were acceptable yesterday would by default end up at the bottom of the Trip Advisor rankings tomorrow, turning them from a place you’d have considered to unacceptable. 

            Your comments also ignore the details of the actual letter. He never really gripes about the hotel beyond the shower breaking. He was actually happy enough with it a paltry 50 euro credit would have fully satisfied him.  How would Trip Advisor of helped him in this case unless there were a ton of reviews specifically griping about the management or showers?

          3. Apparently you are not aware of TripAdvisor, what customer satisfaction ratings mean, and do not have significant travel experience.

            TripAdvisor loads every hotel from every reservations service and any other source into its system, whether or not it has any reviews.  You could discover this on your own.  There are, according to TripAdvisor, 472 hotels today you can book in Florence.  TA includes them all, even 32 which never have received ratings. Travel Weekly, the industry’s newspaper, lists only 365 hotel properties.  

            Are you being argumentative or simply oblivious when you say all these hotels could be excellent?  Or just playing a game of sorts?

            Customer satisfaction means the entire experience, for whatever reason.  I could say I had a wonderful night in the Miami Beach Fleabag Inn, except for the fact I received 100 bites from bed bugs.  I read Ben’s Universo comments.  This hotel did not provide Ben customer satisfaction. Period.  

            You have taken my language and twisted it, such as, “…at minimum 200 of them must be completely dismissed as being totally unacceptable.”  Never said that.  Creating straw man fallacies is not a credible way to present your positions.

          4. “You have taken my language and twisted it, such as, “…at minimum 200 of them must be completely dismissed as being totally unacceptable.”  Never said that.” 

            Really? Then how do you translate this other statement you made?

            “Most experienced travelers and users of TA would never pick a hotel ranked in the middle of the pack of a large city.”

          5.  For the record, Sobesparky is usually reasonable, but in this case, I concur that his logic escapes me.  If we accept his premise that “Most experienced travelers and users of TA would never pick a hotel ranked in the middle of the pack of a large city.”, then who exactly is filling up this hotel as well as the remaining 200 lower ranked hotels. I guess inexperienced people perhaps?

            The statement is further baffling in that it ignores that there are numerous reasons to stay at a given hotel besides the quality of the hotel itself.  Business travelers will stay at a hotel because it’s hosting a convention.  When I took the State Bar examination, the host hotel was the much vilified Westin LAX, at the time, easily one of the two lowest rated Starwood hotels in all of Southern California and remains one of the lowest ranked Starwood hotels in Southern California by traveler satisfaction outside of the Four Points chain.

            Similarly, leisure travelers may choose a less desirable hotel for numerous reasons, including geographic proximity to a desired destination.  For example, most of the hotels near the Santa Cruz boardwalk look like flophouses.  But they are often sold out because they are the closest properties to the beach.  While I personally wouldn’t go near one, I understand their allure to others.

            Neither the Westin LAX nor the Santa Cruz motels would ever top anyone’s list of great accommodations but reasonable, experienced travelers routinely choose those properties.

            I don’t know why the OP chose that particular property but I stand by my argument that we cannot make any assumptions without knowing the facts.

          6. Totally with you. If he’d simply said “there were better options” I’d have completely agreed, but to say that  nobody should ever stay at a hotel in the 50th percentile was just over-the-top for me.

      2.  Yes, Piazza Sta. Maria Novella is an EXCELLENT Location for three (3) main reasons:
        (1) It is near the train station.
        (2) It is near the PARKING area (note Florence has ZTL so you cannot just drive in beyond certain areas).
        (3) It is very close to the market and the flea (open) market

        Walking to any tourist spot is also near.
        On the other side of the plaza (across the Church) is one of the good gelatos, too. Of course, there are a lot more gelato places in Florence.

  18. I think that the refund request should have been made when the broken shower was first discovered.  After the fact implies acceptance of the accommodations “as is.”

  19. Rookie mistake #1 – letting it slide until you’re checking out.  The hotel has absolutely NO motivation to make things right at this point.  However, they probably already had his credit card so and this owner/manager sounds enough like a jerk the card would have been charged anyway.  However – THAT he can dispute, and probably successfully.

    Rookie mistake #2 – not putting the negative reviews all over the internet the instant he gets home.  (And this is just my personal preference – I tend to strike while the iron’s hot, when my being upset about a bad experience drives my review.  I might not even have waited until I got home.  I might have paid for GoGo Inflight just to do it while I was on the plane.)

    Rookie mistake #3 – not doing all of this through a travel agent.  Having an agent would have probably taken care of it during, if not after.  Travel agents have a lot of pull with places like this and the owner/manager most likely would have caved and either fixed the shower or given then a slight reduction.

    As it is now, I sincerely doubt anything will come of this.

      1. I didn’t know my opinion would offend you so much, Clark.

        First of all, yes, a travel agent would have chosen a different place to stay.  Also, travel agents have more clout than you give them credit for.  An organized group of travel agents can make or break a hotel/inn/B&B/Cave/Covered Wagon, whatever… While an innkeeper might not give a rat’s behind about a customer they know they’ll never see again, they DO care about what a travel agent thinks because this is someone who has the ability to send them more customers.

        Secondly, and this is just my OPINION, anytime you travel anywhere but your home country, the laws change as does ones familiarity with them.  Even road warriors can get caught in a vice like the OP did if they’re in a different country.  What is a minor annoyance to an innkeeper here could be an arrestable offense in another country and no one wants to spend time in a foreign jail.  Using a travel agent might have helped this be resolved more favorably as there is an intermediary who is in a greater bargaining position.

        My guess (and it’s just a guess, not fact, not based on personal knowledge or anything like that) is they made this booking through one of the hotel search engines and didn’t know what hotel it was until after it was paid/booked, thus not able to make a change.

    1. I don’t see how any of these suggestions would have helped in this case. 

      #1: He didn’t totally let it slide until checkout–they were aware of the problem, failed to fix it, but told him he couldn’t be moved because they were full. His only leverage to getting compensation during the stay would have been the threat of leaving for another hotel. But if they were full, were other places, too? He’d have needed to be ready in the event they called his bluff and said “Good idea. You’re leaving now.”  

      #2: Negative reviews after the fact do nothing to help his case. They make it even less likely he’ll get any money back.  

      #3: Travel agents aren’t miracle workers.  The management clearly didn’t give a darn about this guest–they actually threatened to charge him for breaking the shower–so why would they care about his travel agent?

        1. Sorry, but I don’t see how you’ve really addressed any of the questions at all.   If anything, you’ve muddied the waters even further. Where is the “arrestable offense” stuff coming from?  It clearly doesn’t apply to this case.

          The OP sounded happy enough with the hotel beyond the shower breaking. He even took that in stride. The management’s attitude is what got him upset.  How would a TA been able to foresee that outcome? Sure, it’s POSSIBLE they could have, but it doesn’t sound particularly likely. 

          1. So now you’re either a law enforcement officer or attorney licensed to practice in Italy?  Must be nice to be completely familiar with every law in every part of the world…

          2. Maybe you want to read backprop’s comment above, because that’s how you’re coming across. You’re normally a very logical poster, but that’s not how you’re acting now.

            There are no foreign legal issues in this case. Period. Nothing even hinted at. So, why are you talking about “arrestable offenses”?  All this because a couple people disagreed with you that a travel agent would have prevented the OP’s problem?

          3. Clark?  You have two logins? Wow, talk about Type A personality… (Or is that dual personality?)

          4. Sorry that most people don’t think the world of “travel agents,” hon.  But get your facts right.

          5. I am not backdrop.  Now I am offended by that silly accusation. Use common sense. I post with my full name, disclose my professional, even the suffix to my name. To suggest that I am posting under two different names is contemptible.

          6. Wow, and I thought it couldn’t get much worse. Because there’s no way that more than one person could possibly disagree with you?  It just has to be the same person with multiple accounts.

            I suppose it is here where I need to make clear I’m a separate individual from both backprop and Clark, as well.  

            And, btw, extra uncouth to make accusations like that about frequent, longtime posters. If it were somebody new showing up today and piling on, maybe I can see that suspicion arising, but we’ve all been posting here for quite some time, as have you.

  20. I’d like to hear the outcome of this one, Chris, if you do mediate. After all, this is Italy and they play by their own rules. Maybe the realization of the bad press they’ll get if they don’t give a decent refund will convince them, but  I wouldn’t count on it. They also don’t have the same value on taking a shower as Americans do, as you also noted. Hope the OP gets something back; sounds like a poorly run hotel to me.

  21. The first thing any traveler needs packed is their sense of humor.  Yes, this was an inconvenience and perhaps some credit to his bill would have been nice, but at least they could still bathe and wash their hair by using the sink. 

  22. Chris —
    I was disappointed by your comment that said ” If Backes were a rock musician, I might see things the hotel’s way” … I don’t think it matters who the person is.  Each person is entitled to a good stay, thus if you were to advocate for this op I think you also need to advocate for the rock star as well.

    1. Yet another instance where a font for sarcasm/humor would have been helpful.

      But it’s well known that Chris is anti-rocker. It all stems from his uncle losing an eye from a guitar pick violently flung into the audience.

      1. Didn’t someone try to invent a new character called the sark-mark a few years ago?  They suggested adding it to statements to show intended sarcasm.  I guess it never caught on.  Or should I say, “That sure worked out well.”

    2. I think he was referring to the “rock star” habit of trashing the rooms – which in this case is NOT what happened.  (He was referring to the shower handle being broken, and the front desk saying he was lucky he wasn’t CHARGED for the damages).

  23. Of course he should receive some just compensation. It is surprising that so many readers feel nothing is due this fellow. 

    Italy ???? I once had confirmed, written reservations for a stay in Florence.  When we arrived we were told the hotel was filled.  I showed them the written confirmation and they just shrugged and told me a large group of Italian Military booked for the same time (Alpini).  They did find me a room at a nearby hotel.  Italy is wonderful…. Italy is also…. Italy.

  24. If the hotel had a place to eat or was tight with a place to eat, some meals would have been adequate compensation.

    To try for anything now that they are home sounds dismal, as they were not at all generous or sympathetic while at the hotel.

    While in a cabin in the Sierras, we heard tippy-taps on the floor.

    My husband said it was racoons outside, but he knew they were rats inside, but did not want to deal with my hysteria, so he lived with that knowledge all night, and we tippy-tapped out of there the next day for a new place to stay!

    I have to say, compensation of any kind never occured to us.

  25. If the shower was important to him, he should have asked to be walked to another hotel when informed that his current one was full and he couldn’t be moved. Or he should have asked for the discount at the first indication that there was something wrong with the shower. By staying in the room and not asking for the discount as soon as the shower issue and paying the bill, he limited his options. Especially since many people in Europe and other countries around the world don’t understand the American need to shower or bathe as often as we do.

  26. As I’ve noted before, I live in Italy, and am of Italian descent, so here goes:
    Italians (and the farther south you go, the worse it gets) don’t get that when you politely point out a problem to them, they should try extra-hard to help you. Instead, it just registers in their Italian heads that you are a wimp and they can just walk all over you.  That’s why nice people from Kansas, and quiet little old English ladies (e.g.) get mistreated AND ripped off left and right over here. 

    Unfortunately, the correct thing for the OP to do was to rant and rave, loudly and dramatically, in the lobby where everybody could hear him, on Day #1, and keep at it until he got some sort of resolution.  (An Italian would have done this instinctively; and the manager would have resolved it even faster because they’re more quick to help their own.)  Since we Americans are generally civilized, we don’t tend to behave this way–but this is the only thing that works with these people.

    I agree totally with the poster here that said go after them, and teach them a lesson!  It’s polite tourists from honest countries who get ripped off, day after day after day, while this sort of trash walks into the back room smiling, and thinking proudly, smugly, that they showed those stupid tourists a thing or two!  They will NEVER STOP this unless people push back!  And don’t write off the Florence Tourist Office; that’s a halfway decent city by Italian standards, so somebody might actually read the complaint!

    Honestly, this manager sounds like one of my relatives… 

    1. She is 100% correct- and when I did this in Rome with a problem in my room very similar to this – a tub but the tub LEAKED water all over the floor.  I added a few choice italian words into the mix about the owner’s parental lineage that they don’t know about treating guests as guests and giving the guest the best room in the house when they insult them and treat them poorly – all in heavily NY accented Italian – you would have thought I owned the place.  My wife was treated like a queen . . . 

      different cultures have different values – being nice is NOT one that plays on the Italian mindset when there is a problem.  

  27. I sure hope he does a review on TripAdvisor.  A bad review on this website, along with looking at other reviews, would definitely keep me from staying at this hotel.  Some of the descriptions given this hotel on TripAdvisor:  “awful,” small rooms and gloomy,”dark and dingy,” and my favorite, “don’t stay here unless you want your stuff stolen.”
    Pretty well sums things up.

  28. Before the Hotel Universo gets a completely bad reputation, I can say that I stayed there and had a wonderful stay.  They apparently treated Ben terribly, and folks should definitely consider that when choosing where to stay.  But I wanted to give a fuller picture of the hotel.

  29. They should have insisted the hotel come up with some solution at the time of the problem, or checked out.  Now that they have already stunk for three days, there’s not much to do about it.

    I remember one time I had to leave for an early flight and the shower broke that morning (one night stay).  I called the front desk and they said they would have it fixed “today” – which would have been long after my flight.  They could have offered me another room to shower in but didn’t.  It was foolish of them and an inconvenience to me –  I did let them and their chain know of my displeasure, but at no time did I ask for money back.  It wasn’t a “money” issue to me.  Everything doesn’t have to be about money.

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