On the subject of letters of complaint, I had sent the following to a friend who has been driving my Mustang once in a while and helping out with other things that are very hard to do at long distance. The first subject is about disk drive problems I had with the Toshiba T1000 laptop I got just before I left. The warranty wasnít international; estimates here for just a floppy disk drive were $300 to $500 – we sent the most expensive one to the insurance company and claimed the problems were a result of the move – we still havenít settled with them yet (I think I really need a Hypertext stack to handle this properly); if one wants to mail something to the U.S., the maximum insurance you can buy is $80; and when even a repaired item comes in, Customs socks it to you. First, I had a guy who was going to the U.S. on business mail my disk drive to the computer dealer where I bought it, who claimed he found a problem and sent me another one under warranty. When that didnít solve the problem, somebody else took the whole computer to the U.S. and another brought it back when it was repaired – out of warranty. My business trips are to Sweden.
I donít know if I had told you the results of my letter of complaint to Toshiba International. I told them the story of my continuing problems, almost from the day I bought it, and said that I thought they should extend the warranty. (It does seem like itís finally fixed.) They said they couldnít do that, but they convinced the guy at Richards Computer to refund the parts (motherboard) charge! That was $280 – the labor was $50, and the warranty wouldnít cover that after 90 days anyway.
Thatís the second time lately a carefully written letter has paid off. I took Betty Lou on a business trip to Stockholm in the spring and we stayed over the weekend on our own money. The Royal Viking Hotel, an affiliate of SAS, had a special weekend deal for a "Royal Club" room which included many extras, including a Royal Club Lounge. When we inquired about the location of the lounge, they said there actually wasn't one – it only applied to the SAS Kuwait hotel!
Although it was a non-smoking room, we discovered cigarette burns on the end table, and we almost immediately found problems with some of the features. The refrigerator in the mini-bar didnít work, and the "No Excuses" brochure guaranteed that things would be fixed within one hour – the technician wasnít even there in an hour, and when we also asked him to replace two non-working lights, he said he would have to call an electrician! He had just finished replacing a relay in the refrigerator, but he couldnít replace a light bulb. The electrician never did come. When we returned from sightseeing, we found a small bottle of wine (alcohol is expensive in Sweden) and two packaged cheeses. Fortunately we had brought a corkscrew because there was none in the room, but the cheeses turned out to be rancid.
That night, when we returned from the Jazz Lounge, we saw that we had received turn-down service. However, that was the first time we noticed that although it was a double bed, the covers were for a single bed! When we called, ones of the proper size were brought. We also had noticed that there was only one robe and no slippers (promised in the brochure). We asked for these; a robe was brought, but no slippers. Perhaps they're accustomed to only having individual business clients, but it was certainly strange about the single-bed size covers.
The next morning we noticed the bathroom floor was not level. That would not normally be of concern, but the shower was not adequately caulked and water ran down the outside of the tub and instead of flowing into the floor drain(!) it ran into the bedroom, soaking the carpet.
Comparing all the advertised features with what was actually available, we found that hardly any of them were, concluding with: "SAS Airline check-in," which was only available during the week – perhaps it was provided by the same person checking for eligibility for entry to the Jazz Lounge. Supposedly a perk for Royal Club room guests, we earlier had noticed that any registered guests were also admitted. Saturday night so was anyone, since no one was checking. And although we realized we would not be able to "check out in the (non-existent) Royal Club Lounge," we also found that the "Royal Club Counter" (consisting of a sign at the end of the registration counter) was only for check-in!
I wrote a letter to the manager suggesting that this wasnít very good business, and his response was to contact him the next time we were there – he would "make up" for the problems. I'm sure he assumed it would be unlikely that he'd hear from us again. However, we did return in July, since monthly progress meetings alternated between Frankfurt and Stockholm, and Betty Lou could attend an International Reading Association conference that just happened to be there that week.
She knew many of the attendees, who were of course surprised to see her, as well as her badge giving "Germany" as her residence. She also confused the Swedes when she fluently confided that she was a "svenska flicka," a phrase I learned from my Swedish grandmother meaning "Swedish girl." Again MITRE paid for the hotel during the week, and for our weekend, we were moved, for free, into a suite on the eighth and ninth floors that would have cost $900 a night! [Recall, this was the 1990 price.]
In the spacious living room awaited a (full-size) bottle of Champagne and fruit basket. Floor-to-ceiling windows slid open to a large balcony, overlooking the harbor, and the City Hall where Nobel Prize dinners are held. It was also a relaxing spot from which to view the occasional colorful hot air balloons floating by overhead, the only capital city where this is permitted. Motorized awnings could be activated to cut the glare of the (almost) midnight sun.
Down the hall was a sauna room whose windows provided the same harbor view. Across the hall was the shower room for cooling down afterwards. Of course, there was a kitchen but also a real bar. Unfortunately, except for the Champagne, and beers, we'd have to provide our own alcoholic libations.
Upstairs was the bedroom with king-size bed and walk-in closet, and adjacent glassed-in Jacuzzi room with speakers. so one could hear as well as see the bedroom TV, or listen to the B&O stereo equipment.
Perhaps this is the only time weíll stay in such luxurious quarters!
I told the BFS project manager I work with that all the letter and report writing I do has really honed my skills!