|Interacting with Americans and Canadians
When travelling or studying in Canada or the United States, you need not tolerate major problems.
However, when you must complain, you should
least during the initial stages of a complaint. Neither should you show anger.
Here's an effective way to initiate a complaint:
[normal voice] "I am very
sorry, but room 208 was not cleaned after the last guest. May
I have another room? I am very tired and want to go to sleep."
Here's an ineffective way to initiate a complaint:
gave me a filthy, disgusting room! There are hairs on the bed
sheets! I want another room immediately, or I will report you
to the manager!"
Most travellers do not need to be told this,
but some come from societies or families (including from
Canada and the U.S.) where the feelings of servants are not of
much importance. This latter group of travellers does need
to be warned against behaviour that is both boorish and ineffective
in Canada and the States.
Escalating a complaint
If your initial request brings no result,
say, "May I speak to the manager, please?" and start
over in the same friendly way, keeping your temper under control. You should
be friendly, but not cheerful.
Only if you get no result to a fair request
after going to a supervisor, should you escalate the confrontation
(without bringing anger to your voice).
"I am very sorry,
but without a clean room I will have to ask my credit card company
to stop payment. For the record, your name is Ms. Maria Zimmer,
the manager? Is that correct? I am sorry, but without a clean
room I will need to report what has happened to American Express
and to your head office. I do not want to do that."
Notice that the "I do not want to do
that" leaves an opening for the other side to move toward
Do not give up
If a solution does not readily come, you
need not give up.
If, for example, a hotel says it cannot honour
your reservation because it has overbooked, stay in front of the
check in queue with you and your luggage blocking the way
until the management offers a fair solution.
If you have brought
along a written confirmation of your booking you are in a far better bargaining position.
Check in desk clerk: "I told you, Madame.
The hotel does not have any rooms available!"
You speaking calmly and leaning on the check
in counter as if you and your luggage will be there forever: "I
am sorry. I don't know what to do. I don't know where to go. I
am so very, very tired. I just don't know what to do."
At the minimum, the overbooked hotel should
find you an alternative room at a similar hotel, immediately refund
your deposit in full, pay for a taxi to the new hotel, and pay
for a call to your friend or relative letting he or she know your
new location. Better hotels will often pay for your first night
at the other hotel in this situation.
Being treated fairly
Getting along with Americans and Canadians
does not mean that you must permit yourself to be treated unfairly.
However, save your energy for the rare big problems, if any, and in my opinion ignore day-to-day minor irritations.
As mentioned, always remember that showing anger
Try to avoid problems from your side by, for
example, scheduling check in during the afternoon or early in the
evening when a hotel is less likely to have run out of vacant rooms
and by showing up a bit early for restaurant reservations.
For more discussion about interacting with Americans and Canadians
Go to >> Making friends
Go to >> Interacting
with Americans and Canadians
Go to >> Avoiding sexism
Go to >> Dealing with prejudice
Go to >> Settling into
North American life
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