I called to check on room availabilities at a few hotels in Towson for my parents when they come to visit next month. Google, of course, gave me a few pushpins just a few miles up the road so I started calling. What's amazing is that with each call to the front desks, they sent me off to some call center somewhere to field my questions on room rates and availabilities. I'm a mile away asking a question to a lady who could be my neighbor and soon I'm off to another part of the world talking to someone who pronounces Baltimore wrong.
With one call, I get sent to Lilly who speaks remarkably crisp and quite lovely. She asks the standard questions and when given my turn to respond, my questions are standard as well. "I'm wondering if you have any rooms for the weekend of Oct. 4th?"
"That weekend. Let me checking. I am checking. Yes, we have a standard suite available with one king bed and an attached living room for a rate of $116 a night and cancellation up until the day of for no charge. You can book now if you have a major credit card or online at our website."
I ask a follow up. "I may have more guests, can you tell me if you have another room for that weekend?"
"You can cancel up until the day of arrival for no charge either over the phone at this number or on our website." She answers.
"No. I'm not asking that. I have another...."
"I can't answer that," She steps in. "You can cancel for no extra charge by calling this number or online at our website."
"No, I need to know." I start to ask until she jumps in with the cancellation routine. Now I'm thinking. Although very human, she sounds very mechanical.
While she's talking, I interrupt her with some Ferris Bueller, "I'm afraid that in my weakened condition, I could take a nasty spill down the stairs and subject myself to further school absences."
She cut me off mid-stride with, "I cannot help you with that. Good-bye."
God knows I'm a fan of the geeky or side of things and I wouldn't mind having a robot of my own to answer questions directed my way but at some point we the customers need to be right again.