Donna: Hi, Max. How was your trip to Bangkok? Did your mum and dad enjoy it?
Max: It was an absolute shambles, Donna. The worst trip I have ever taken, anywhere. We were there for four days, and they were four of the worst days of my life. It was Mum and Dad’s wedding anniversary and I wanted to organise something really good for them. But it didn’t turn out that way.
Donna: Oh, no. What happened? Don’t tell me - your flights were delayed. The last time I went to Bangkok, the flight there was delayed by two hours. We arrived in the middle of the night. And flying back it was even worse, a three-hour delay.
Max: No, the flights were comfortable and on time. I booked them myself online, and there were no problems. It was everything else!
Donna: Go on! I’m listening.
Max: Usually when I do a short trip like this, I book the hotel online. There are lots of hotel booking apps, and if you look around you can get good prices. But this time, I didn’t. That was a mistake.
Donna: What did you do?
Max: Well, you know Dave who I work with? You’ve met him a couple of times, I think. He goes to the same gym as we do.
Donna: Yes, I remember him. He talks a lot!
Max: Yes, that’s Dave. Well, his younger sister has just left university and got a job at Ace Travel. It’s that new travel shop that opened near the massive Uniqlo last year. He suggested that I gave her some business, so I rang her about a hotel in Bangkok. She had a choice of about fifty hotels in Bangkok, and they all looked good. She said she could get me a good price for three nights, and free limousine travel from the airport to the hotel.
Donna: That sounds like a good deal.
Max: Doesn't it? I chose a hotel and booked two rooms. It was a four-star hotel right in the city centre, but with lovely gardens and a huge outdoor pool. My mum and dad wanted to mix rest and relaxation with a bit of sight-seeing. The hotel seemed ideal for that.
Donna: So, what went wrong?
Max: Ace Travel’s organisation is a mess. It all started to fall apart at the airport. We waited more than an hour for the limousine that was supposed to pick us up. I found a phone number for the car firm, but no one picked up when I called. So I called Ace Travel, and they said they would sort a car out immediately and call me back. But they didn't! Nothing happened. So we ended up getting a taxi.
Donna: That wasn’t a very good start.
Max: It most certainly was not. But there's worse to come. When we got to the hotel, they had no record of the booking. The hotel manager insisted that he had never heard of Ace Travel. And there wasn’t a booking in our name. So I called the travel agent again. They said there must have been a mix-up with the booking. What's worse is the hotel was full so we couldn't even book then and there. We were in Bangkok without accommodation.
Donna: What did you do?
Max: I called Ace Travel again and got very angry. After an hour, someone - not Dave’s sister, she was mysteriously unavailable - rang me back and said they had booked us into an another four-star hotel nearby. We got into a taxi and went there straight away.
Donna: And was there a reservation for you?
Max: Oh, yes. But the hotel was an absolute dump. Four star? No way. I don’t think it was even one star. There was no garden or pool, and the building was right on a main road. The rooms were small and dirty. I won’t go into any more details, but it was awful. We refused to stay there.
Donna: I don’t blame you.
Max: Fortunately, there was another hotel across the street that was clean and had good facilities - and rooms available. I booked us two rooms there and paid with my credit card. Ace Travel were full of excuses and apologies when I called again. They are such a joke. I’m going to go in tomorrow morning to get my money back and give them a piece of my mind. They ruined what was supposed to be a really special trip. I'm so mad.