Monday, 10 June 2013

T&Cs for Breakfast in Bed

Last week I carried out a very brief comparison of the price of a sirloin steak in a hotel restaurant and also as part of room service - insofar as I could see the only difference was that a 10oz steak was available in the restaurant while only an 8 oz through room service. The price difference was £17.50 as opposed £28 - saving the additional £10.50 at the loss of 2 oz of steak, I asked for the room service steak in the restaurant, but avoided the tray charge.

I then decided to carry out a quick comparison of the price of breakfast in bed in two hotels. By way of context both hotels were household name brands, in the same city, of the same star and giving me the same corporate rate - yes, theoretically they should be same. I can honestly say I have never ordered breakfast in bed with either of the hotels, but this week I noted the prices.

I have always assumed it was quite clear how much Breakfast in Bed would cost. However, for all you procurement legal illegals, can you make a judgment and tell me how much Breakfast in Bed at Hotel A should cost? By way of context, I was on a Bed and Breakfast rate, and prior to reading the T&Cs on the foot of the Order Placing Door Hanger, the headline prices are £10.95 for a Continental Breakfast and £14.95 while a cooked breakfast is £14.95. The T&Cs state:
A £5.00 charge will be applicable to all orders. For guests who have paid for a room package including breakfast, there will be a charge of £6 per room, for room service.... All prices include VAT.
So how what is the extra amount of money I should expect to be billed if I order a cooked breakfast?  Would it be £6, £11, £14.95, £19.95, £20.95, £25.95, or what?

You may of course ask why is there an additional charge of £5 to as opposed to it just being advertised as say £15.95 and £19.95 respectively? Clearly you cannot have breakfast in bed without also paying the £5 to have it delivered! But it appears to be a charge of £6 per room as opposed to per tray, so the ordering two breakfasts should be the same 'room charge' as one 'room charge'.

In Hotel B, even more bizarrely, regardless of whether a continental or full cooked in room breakfast is ordered, the price is £14.95, to which is added a £3 tray charge, therefore £17.95. Neither the room 'door hanger' (where the T&Cs are set out) nor the guide to hotel services appear to suggest the possibility that, if you have already paid for your breakfast in the room rate, that will lead to a different price. I telephoned Reception and asked the price - they used my name which suggested they knew who I was and therefore the rate I was on, and confirmed £14.95.  Then I asked a colleague, who had ordered Breakfast in bed, how much had actually appeared on their bill to learn it was only the £3 tray charge.

How much easier, more attractive and more likely to solicit a "yes", if you were just asked at check-in "Would you like to select a time for breakfast in bed and a newspaper - it will only cost an additional £3?".

Separately, why is the cost of carrying a tray so different between the two hotels, namely, £3 and £5 - that's a significant difference for carrying the same weight, approximately the same distance? (Something I will pick up in a future post)

One thing is absolutely clear, namely, there is an absence of clarity!

You may be wondering what Hotel A, when asked, told me the additional price charged for a full English Breakfast in Bed, if you have booked on a B&B rate, would be? The answer was £11- so. in real terms breakfast in bed in Hotel A is almost 400% more expensive than in Hotel B!

Of course you may think this is no more than a rant, but let me assure you I have seen less thought go into the T&Cs of contracts over £1m.

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