My wife and I took the opportunity of traveling down to Strahan on the west coast for a few days. We were quite excited about the cottage we were staying in, an old chapel dating from the 1870s. On the Strahan Colonial Cottages website it looked like a very romantic spot, the ideal place for a few quiet days away.
Well, when we arrived our initial impressions were favourable, the cottage did have a romantic air to it, and we settled in for the next few days. Well, apparently this was too good to be true, and our experience soon turned sour. The problems started on the first night, when the smoke alarm went off shortly after midnight, and got worse from there.
I won’t go into the full details of our problems just yet, but the list of problems we had is as follows:
- Smoke alarm prevented sleep from midnight till after 5:30am.
- When we tried to contact someone about the problem with the smoke alarm, we were unable to get through to anyone (we were told the next morning that they person whose contact details we had was unavailable that night, due to working elsewhere)
- After an electrician was called in to fix the issue with the smoke alarm (a flat battery), the smoke alarm was removed entirely, leaving no smoke alarm in the cottage.
- The “king size” bed advertised on the web site was in fact two smaller beds pushed together, and which moved apart when the bed was used, leaving a gap between them to roll into during the night.
- When we made the bed after our second night’s stay, we found cockroaches in the bedding
- Light fittings in the cottage did not have bulbs
- Out of three remotes for electrical equipment in the cottage, only one had working batteries
Sure, some of those problems are only minor, but the fact that we had them tends to indicate that the people running the place aren’t taking care of it. I would have thought that things like missing light bulbs or flat batteries would be dealt with quickly, rather than being left for multiple guests to deal with (based on feedback in the guest book). With this in mind, I sent a very restrained email to the operators, outlining the problems we had, and requesting a refund (we’d left a day early after finding the cockroaches). This is the email I sent:
My wife and I stayed in the Church cottage from 26/12/11 to 29/12/11, and I would like to pass on some feedback about our experience. From the first night our experience was, to be frank, quite unpleasant. What we expected to be a king size bed in fact turned out to be two separate beds pushed together, which moved apart, as we found out shortly after going to bed, making for an uncomfortable night’s sleep.
In addition to this, the smoke alarm fitted in the cottage went off around midnight, and proceeded to go off periodically until about 5:30 in the morning, with anywhere from 30 minutes to 5 minutes between alarms. We resorted to trying to sleep, unsuccessfully, downstairs on the couches, as the volume of the alarm was at least tolerable down there. We attempted to contact someone at around 3am in order to get the alarm fixed, but was unable to contact anyone.
When we finally spoke to Russell the next morning he informed us that he would have been uncontactable, due to working elsewhere. Russell advised us that he would arrange for an electrician to fix the alarm for us, and when we returned to the cottage later that morning, we arrived just as the electrician was leaving. He advised us that the issue with the alarm was a flat battery. After the electrician had left, I noticed that the alarm had not had a battery replaced, as I assumed, but had in fact been removed entirely, leaving the cottage with no smoke alarm at all.
Following the previous night’s brief period of uncomfortable sleep in the upstairs bed prior to the problem with the smoke alarm, my wife and I took advantage of the fold down double bed downstairs. While this allowed a more comfortable night’s sleep, we were shocked to find, when we made the bed the following morning, that there were two cockroaches in the bedding. This was enough to put us off the rest of our stay, and we made the decision to leave a day early, rather than continue our stay.
In addition to these rather major problems, there were a number of other issues which detracted from our stay. We attempted to use the DVD player and TV, and discovered that out of 3 remotes (for the TV, Stereo and DVD player), that only one remote had a working set of batteries. Also, we discovered on the first night that the kitchen had a light globe missing from the light fitting from beside the stove. We ended up taking a globe from another light fitting in order to have enough light to be able to see properly while in the kitchen area.
Based on the information and photos available on the cottage’s website, we expected accommodation of a considerably higher standard than what we experienced. Given the unsatisfactory nature of the time we spent in the cottage, I would appreciate being refunded the amount that we paid. I look forward to hearing back from you at your earliest convenience.”
To be honest, I wasn’t expecting the operators to give us a refund for all three nights, but I thought that they might have the decency to perhaps refund us for one night. As it turns out, I couldn’t have been further off the mark. This morning, I received the following reply from the operators:
“Wow. you just got married and this is the way you see the world, did you not read the guest book 99% happy people, yes there is always 1% and you must be one of them, Well I checked location of smoke alarm myself, and it could have been reached, so simply taking the battery out yourself would have helped , the world is full of worse things than cockroaches so if that totally ruined your holiday I so feel sorry for you, Apparently you abused the electrician , a dear man who goes out of his way for all in strahan , I had a basket of chocolates fudge etc to give you but after <name removed> spoke to you he said not to give them to you
We do our best to help our guest and after all the cottages are COLONIAL thats why people choose them and not BEST AND WESTERNS,etc, and <name removed> did let you stay for $195 per night as it is $230 per night he was doing something completely un neccesary,
ther will be no refund , <name removed> . think you cancelled original dates and <name removed> changed dates for you to busiest time of year to help you, ( especially considering we have a NO CANCELLATION.POLICY)”
So, that’s apparently how the people who run Strahan Colonial Cottages believe customers should be treated. There are a few things that concern me with this response. For starters, they’ve glossed over the fact that the smoke alarm wasn’t functioning properly, and their solution to the issue is apparently to just disable the alarm. Also, they’ve ignored the fact that the solution to a flat battery was to remove the alarm entirely.
I’ve responded to this email this morning, resisting the urge to make a smart arse response. I’ll be interested to see when/if I get a response from them, and if I do, what they have to say…