Good advice: Read every email twice before your first cup of coffee

Here’s a life lesson, courtesy of my friends at Starwood Hotels & Resorts: If you haven’t had your first cup of coffee in the morning, do yourself a favor and read every email twice.

In a pre-caffeinated state yesterday, I only skimmed Sandra St. Germain’s missive, which began,

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I am writing to see what you suggest to resolve this before I am stranded in Egypt with my grandson and no hotel room.

I have been calling, several times, and even emailing as Le Méridien customer service representative told me to do, attaching a copy of my reservation, in an attempt to resolve the lost reservation issue.

Oh no! Grandmother. Stranded in Cairo. Needs help now.

I immediately went into rescue mode.

I called Starwood and left a voice message for my contact (sorry, Helen!). Then I forwarded the rest of the email to her.

In February I made this reservation on-line at their website for an arrival in Cairo, August 5, 2010. I have attached a copy of the confirmation. I called to find out some information about the hotel in Egypt and was advised there was no record of my reservation in the computer.

No one at customer service seems able to resolve this. I even offered to send a copy of my reservation in the mail or fax it. I was told they have no mechanism to do this. I am at a loss.

If you can suggest what I should do, I would greatly appreciate your advice. My grandson and I are arriving in Cairo late and I do not want to be without a room or get in an argument over this when I get there. I have tried to do what I read you tell readers to do and try and address things before instead of after the fact. I have tried.

Thank you for whatever direction you can give me.

Oops. Did she say August 5? That’s a few months away.

I let Starwood know that there were no stranded guests in my follow-up email, which fortunately, reached the company first. Still, much to the hotel’s credit, it responded quickly. By the early afternoon, it had investigated the lost reservation and reported,

Ms. St. Germain is all taken care of. We are still looking into what happened, but the hotel had a different confirmation number for her than the one she received.

She is happy and relieved.

I cannot explain why her calls and emails were unsuccessful in uncovering what we did so quickly and providing her with the assurance that her reservation was intact (which is another of my follow ups).

Thanks again for providing the opportunity to respond and take care of Ms. St. Germain.

I’m happy and relieved, too. I’m glad I’m not the only one who didn’t read carefully, although it remains to be seen who gave whom the wrong confirmation number.

Still, a valuable life lesson for all of us who deal with fine print when we travel. Read carefully.

I sure wish I had.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go make myself a cup of coffee.

(Photo: Jc Olivera/Flickr Creative Commons)