The Deadly Sins of Room Service


While we all do love our hotel rooms and the cosy luxuries they offer, there are some experiences that leave an extremely unpleasant taste in your mouth. We ask business travellers to list their pet peeves when it comes to room service.

What’s worse than room-service disturbing you when you’re fast asleep, after a hard day’s work? Room-service disturbing you when you’re fast asleep, after a hard day’s work AND you’ve hung the Do Not Disturb tag on the door! And when the food comes to you, a good two hours after you’ve ordered it, you just know it’s going to go downhill after that. EXEC asks business travellers what they think the cardinal sins of room are, and about their worst experiences to date.

Narendiran Anbu, navigating officer, merchant navy:

It is unpardonable when cutlery and linen are still being cleaned after you have already checked in. Rude behaviour from staff is another big problem. But, the most inconvenient is when you enter the bathroom in the morning and find the toiletries cabinet empty. Or when you’re snoozing away and room service knocks, even when the Do Not Disturb tag has been hung outside.

Vikram Sagar Ravi, Area Manager of an auto firm:

Biggest cardinal sin- an unclean bed, moist smell and a badly-maintained bathroom. My worst hotel experiences have been in small towns, while in major cities, I can remember only one. It was that dreadful time when I found a used condom in the corner, near the bin. However, when I reported this, I got upgraded to a pool view room. So, it wasn’t all bad!

Shashi, Senior Brand Manager, Times Of India:

I hate it when I find a fridge without water, and when the toiletries aren’t in place. The worst incident for me is when I woke up late once for an early meeting and didn’t find the needed toiletries- and on top of that, room service took their own sweet time bringing the essentials to the room. By that time, I was literally fuming.

Sundaresa Bharadwaj, Marketing Consultant, Xerago Ltd:

I have bad luck when it comes to room service, as I am perennially disturbed by waiters who bring me food that isn’t meant for me. Also, there is no intimation of the time limit or TAT, when it comes to laundry, food orders or valet service. My worst experience was when once, after a long day, I came to my room at around 10:30 pm and called room service for food. I was told there was no food- not even curd rice! Half an hour later, as is my luck, a waiter knocked on my door with food for the next room. I have no clue why I was denied food that night.

Sujatha Ravi, Senior Accounts Manager, Siemens

I cannot stand it when I check in to a room and find that room service hasn’t bothered cleaning up. This clearly shows that you don’t respect the customer. And on top of this, sometimes, even after reporting this complaint, the hotel people take their own time cleaning up. The pits, however, was when I once entered my hotel room and found the room service personnel having a mini-party in my room, watching TV and depleting the mini-bar offerings! Needless to say, I left the next moment and was offered a refund.

Joe Mithun Rayen, Business analyst:

Room service personnel sometimes think you’re giving them an option of whether or not to bring you the food, when you’ve placed the order. Every single time, I have to call up a second or third time to make sure my order has been processed. If not, they just take it as a sign that you were ‘kidding’. I once waited two hours for my food, and then was told I didn’t call to ‘confirm’ the order.

Doreen Compton- Breish, (GMS, CRP, CCHP), Vice President Business Development, Paragon Corporate Housing:

I once arrived at my hotel late in the evening, and was not feeling well. In addition, I had quite a bit of preparation before the next morning’s presentation. The person answering the room service line told me that they were severely understaffed (with great detail about the firing of one employee and the walk-out of another), and suggested that I was better off going out to eat because it would be at least one hour. As a guest, I would rather have had someone softly tell me that it was very busy and that there would be a wait, and perhaps suggest a few menu options that I could get very quickly or direct me to any vending areas that might be in the hotel. Sometimes as hospitality providers… it is all in how we approach issues- a positive spin always gets the best results!

Kamal Gupta, CEO at Delta Petro Additives & EdSeva Software:

At one hotel, lunch arrived three hours late, when I was about to check out. And they added it to my bill saying that I have to pay for it. At another place, the air-conditioner did not run all night. And the next morning while I was having breakfast, I was imperiously told that the GM was ready to see me. I was so angry, I said that he would have to come see me within five minutes or else I would start breaking the plates.

That imperious person started by saying ‘what could have happened…’. I cut him short by saying that he should know what actually happened. He then offered to waive the bill. I told him that I did not want his kindness, and that I would pay what the hotel was really worth. I made him raise a room rent bill of Rs 50. The next time I went there (after six months), I was told he was sacked.

Aflal Madani, Resident Manager, FoRest Villa Hotel:

I cannot stand it when I am not given the exact room that I have asked for. So, this once, I was not given the room allocated to me at the time of booking, and secondly, when my clothes were given for laundry, they never came back. I had to run behind them for a few days to get my clothes back.

Wallace Jackson, Multimedia Producer:

For me, the last time I see a hotel is when room service brings me cold, stale food.

Henri Boodee, Business-Oriented Board Certified Physician:

I find it offensive when an 18 percent gratuity is tacked onto a 20 percent delivery charge. So, when the food is late, cold, stale or wrong, you still get burned for an undeserved tip and can do nothing about it, while the staff has no incentive to see things are right.

Melissa Galt, Success Coach:

When they tack a gratuity automatically onto room service and you’ve already been hit with a 20 percent service charge, it is not okay. Nor is forgetting condiments, which is very common.

Joe Valentine, Director, Global Trade Compliance:

We were booked into one of the largest hotels in Atlanta. On arrival, we were given our room keys and took the lift to our room but found that we could not open it with the room key despite several attempts. There being no intercom outside the room, we had to take our bags and use the lift again to go back down to the check in desk and again wait in line to speak with the check in clerk. They sent a bellboy back with us to try to open the room but he too could not open the room. He talked to the front desk on his cell phone and they apparently realised that someone else was already in the room and had locked it from inside. So the bellboy knocked on the door and it was opened by an off duty hotel employee who had occupied the room with his girl friend and we could see them both smoking cigarettes in the room. The front desk hastily accommodated us in another room.

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