Once again (yes, my social life has picked up...) I am off to be at the mercy of another 'accessible' hotel. I booked with a big hotel chain this time, thinking, stupidly, because there was an access sign on their website, that they might be more on the ball with their premises.
To some extent this is true. They have parking. They have handrails in the bathrooms. They have lower storage space for clothes. But do they let crips loose in a double room? Na-ah. Only twin rooms, cos everyone knows we're all single, right?
Except I'm married. And I'm looking forward to a nice getaway with Mr F, husband of less than one year. And the last thing I want is to sleep in a dratted twin bed - and especially not to find out by a short e-mail the oh, by the way, madam, you know that double room you booked? Sorry. We only do twins for disabled people. That is alright though, isn't it?
No it's bloody not.
First off, I rang the hotel (as always) to discuss access with them. Fine. No mention of only twin rooms, although I said I wanted to book a double - did they do accessible doubles? Apparently yes. When I found out how much it was, I balked, and asked why the prices weren't the same as their website advertised. Because you have to book online, a-ha. Its cheaper on the website. Fair enough, it's common practice - although I prefer not to do this usually in case you can't specify stuff like access, ground floor room, and so on. So, I was concerned whether a disabled customer could make access requests online, and the staff member assured me there was a form where I could specify an accessible room was required. So that was ok. Rightie-ho. (Are any of you shaking your heads yet?)
So when I went through the booking process online, there was no form. Hmmm. But there was a booking reference number given to me after they'd taken my money and a call centre number to ring if you needed to make any further arrangements. So I cheerily rung it and explained the situation. Could I please have an accessible double room?
"No." she said. "Can't change any specifications." and just stopped speaking, like I might say "Oh, thank you" and go away. Bloody fussy disabled people, always wanting something extra... etc...
Instead, I said "WHAT?"
She realised pretty quickly this was the wrong answer. "Perhaps I could ring the hotel direct and make arrangements for you?"
I said "YES!" ans then after a small pause, added "Please".
Now, I'm a bit cantankerous, and frankly in my old age, suspicious of young sounding people in call centres. When I was a student, my flatmates worked in call centres, and it's a crappy job with crappy treatment for crappy money. Consequently, commitment to the job was not high, so to cover all the bases, I dropped the hotel sales department an e-mail saying this was my booking reference, I'd like an accessible room, and was it possible to reserve parking?" It's a bit sad when you're driven to do stuff like this, but honestly, previous bad experiences have the habit of turning you into a bit of a manic sometimes. I mean. look at me.
So I got home recently to find this e-mail saying (but not answering my question) that there was parking, and telling me where I'd find it. Not a direct no, we don't reserve it, which I'd not have really minded about, not being on my own. The real purpose of my contact had been simply to warn them a wheelchair user was imminent. On the end of the e-mail was this little remark, by the way, you're not booked in a double, it's a twin - ok?
Cue fuming and the inevitable question every crip has to face at one time or another... AM I GOING TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT THIS?
Like what? I really can't be bothered to find another hotel and go through all the bloody access foreplay all over again. I decided to ring the hotel and barter.
Could they move a double bed into the room? Where they aware that offering access wasn't really effective if the customers could access specific information about what it was? Would they give me a discount if they couldn't move a bed? Why doesn't the staff, the website and the call centre have anyone able to explain the policy of crips always = twin rooms? Do they swap other customers who've booked doubles into twins? and so on. Worst case scenerio, twin beds and a discount. Best outcome, a double bed gets put into one of the accessible rooms and the hotel staff, call centre and website enable people to specify double or twin accessible room in future. I feel you have to do this went you're a disabled person, or people'll never change. And it's cathartic to get something done, either for yourself or for everyone. Better than just sitting here and venting all this up, then going into a single bed muttering about how unfair life is. Spread it around!
So I'm ready to fight another day tomorrow. They're ringing me promptly at 9.00. Diligence to my concern is good, but I have shot myself in the foot - and done myself out of a lie-in.
You can't have everything, can you?