Friday, May 31, 2013

The Debate - OK Choose a Side

Joe and I had a spat, which as turned into a dispute. I  am, as I am during our occasional rows, firmly convinced that I'm right. Joe is, as he is during our, ahem, disagreements, firmly convinced that I'm wrong. We agreed to let you all settle the argument.

The background to the Joe v Dave square-off:

We arrived at our hotel in NYC, a boutique hotel there website had told us, and manage to deal with the car, get me into my chair and arrange for luggage to be brought up. We enter the front door and find no way in for me in my chair. There is an elevator, there is a set of stairs. We thought this must be the way because we had followed the bell hop in, he'd have told us if there was another way, right? Wrong. Joe goes in search and we are finally directed around the side of the building to another entrance. We go to that entrance and a met by a security guy who tells us that the hotel is under construction and we're going to have to go in the 'construction entrance.'

The construction entrance is a narrow, dark, steep entrance way with soot blacken walls and ramps built out of plywood. In the effort to get down, most of that effort was controlling the terror that either my chair or I would get hurt. Once down, I turned to look and knew that I was not going to be able to go back up those stairs, or if I did I would be taking a huge risk.

I'm angry.

We get to the desk where I express my anger, at the situation, not at the clerk, I express my frustration that I'm in New York and I'm trapped in my hotel. She assures me there is another way in and out. I say that we should have been notified that the hotel wasn't accessible because they knew I was coming in a chair. She says, 'Your room wasn't booked to be ADA.' At this point I just stare at here, there are few things I'm sure of and one of them was that the room was booked.. Magically, even though the accessible room hadn't been booked, they had one available for me.

We come back down to the lobby to find this other exit. Every security person says there is no other accessible exit. The manager tells me that there isn't one. Finally I get them to talk to her, and yes, there is one. They take me over to an elevator, go down in the bowels of the elevator, we make our way through a hallway clogged with laundry carts, many of which have to be moved, and then get to a newly installed elevator that takes us up to a service entrance, and from there, we access the street. The same needs to be done on our way back, Except, I've got to wait on the street while Joe goes and finds someone to take us through the underground maze.

While we were out, we fulfilled two missions, I got to do a bit of shopping, Joe got to have a Manhattan in Manhattan - we've been doing that for years! While he sipped on his redundant drink, he asked me if we should tip the security guys who we will need to get us in, after we finish at the bar and then in the morning to get us out. We'd already tipped the car guy and the bellhop who took us to our room, shouldn't we also tip the security guy.

My response was the beginning of the dispute, for which we need your perspective, I said, "No, you don't tip for access. The car guy and the bellhop, everyone tips those guys, it would only be people with disabilities who have to tip for the mere act of getting in." Joe disagreed, he said, "It's not the security guy's fault that the hotel isn't, at present, accessible. He's having to go out of his way and will actually be spending more time with us than any of the other people we tip."

I remained resolute.

"No, you don't tip for access."

Joe said, "We aren't tipping for access, we are tipping for service."

This sounds so dry now, here in print, but it was a somewhat passionate and sometimes loud discussion.

So, we agree to abide by you ...


(PS - I'm adding a post script after reading a few comments - be sure, be very sure, that complaints were made at every level it was possible to make a complaint. Everyone knew that I was very, very, unhappy to have entered through a makeshift and frightening construction entrance.)


Anonymous said...

In my personal opinion, they should have reduced your room rate or made accomadations for you elsewhere. Sounds scary. And no, I don't think I would tip the security guy. It is his job to keep you secure.

Andrea S. said...

I'm afraid I won't be much help because I can see both sides here. We shouldn't have to effectively pay extra just to have access. But it also wasn't the fault of most of the front line staff assisting you that they now have to work extra due to the hotel's failure to plan better for ensuring accessibility during construction.

On principle, it should be the hotel's responsibility to pay everyone's tips for their service in assisting you. Or at least that's the only way I can see being fair to both you and the service personnel. I suggest you do this:

1. Tell the management, both verbally and in writing, that it's their responsibility to cover the extra costs of your access and that you're going to tip people at reasonable rates for service and will document these tips to be reimbursed by management later.

2. Tip the service people.

3. Document what you tip them.

4. Draw up an invoice to be sent to management along with a copy of all your documentation.

The risk, though, is that they might never pay you back.

Also consider filing an ADA complaint with the US Department of Justice (though I've forgotten the process for doing this). With whatever documentation you are able to provide.

Shan said...

Hm. I think the issue for me is that a tip is not a wage, it's a thank-you for service given. Not tipping the guy doesn't make any point about access to the hotel, whose fault it is. He's still going out of his way, which the bell hop etc are not: serving you is well within their job descriptions. So yes, I'd tip. I'd make my point about lack of access some other way--via comment card or whatnot.

Leah Spring said...

Well, I'm irritated enough that I wouldn't want to tip ANYONE, but that's not fair to those who are doing what they're supposed to do and its not their fault the hotel sucks..I mean isn't accessible. Somehow tipping the security guard just feels wrong. Probably, like you said, because I'm not used to tipping the guard. The jobs in hotels that are customarily tipped - bell hops, room service, etc. I think are salaried accordingly. Jobs that are not routinely tipped - hotel security guards, the guy at the front desk - are paid assuming they are not getting tips. My imagination says the security guard spends much of his day bored, and you have just given him something a bit out of the norm for him and he's probably enjoying it. Joe has a point. Still...I don't think I would tip in the situation.

Anonymous said...

No, absolutely not. No way, no how, would I tip the security guard. I'm not even sure I would have tipped the other folks. It doesn't sound like you were provided good service. And I agree with the above comment about filing a complaint. This situation goes far outside the realm of a simple misunderstanding.

Belinda said...

Tip, tip, tip. Those guys don't get paid enough for the job they do, just like everyone in the service industry.

Glee said...

No tip! Why should you pay for the right to get in the bloody door.

In the same way I do not "thank" the driver who has to get out of his cabin and put the ramp down so I can get on or off the train. No one else has to thank the driver when they get off the train so why should I. Also the drivers get an allowance for doing the ramp thing.

I do however give them a cheery "see you later", or "have a good day/night".

I will NOT pay or be grateful for something that everyone else can take for granted.

Anonymous said...

Quite honestly, that hotel *should* have found you appropriate accommodations and assisted in transitioning you to the new hotel and should have made up any difference in rate.

Since they didn't I agree that they should be reducing your rate *significantly*--like by half!

I do like Andrea's idea RE the tipping situation. I agree with Shan that not tipping the guard doesn't make any point about access to the hotel.

Umm, so I'm not sure who that means I agree with. Both of you, I guess. :^)


Tamara said...

I'm with Joe. I would tip them as long as they were nice about it. I wouldn't tip them because they were giving good service; I would tip them because they were really going above and beyond and it's a nice way to show you appreciated them.

Not to be rude or anything- but when I was on a trip several years ago with a large number of Canadians, we were given precise instructions on tipping. I was told at that time that it was for the Canadians, who were well-known internationally for not being very good tippers.

I never knew if that was true or not - just one or two people mentioned it. But I wonder if there's some sort of cultural differences in when and why we tip? :-)

Alison Cummins said...

You aren’t tipping for access, you’re tipping for service.

However, you shouldn’t have to tip more either because the hotel made things difficult for you or because you happen to be using a wheelchair.

A compromise: write a nice letter to the hotel about the good service you got from the security guards. If you know their names it will go in their file.

I hate tipping doormen and bellhops (male employees) because they are so obviously working me for tips. I hate tipping the guys who bring room service (male employees) because they make it so easy - I just add it to the bill, get a receipt and can be reimbursed by my employer. But I can’t get a receipt for tipping housekeeping — who are women — because I need to put cash in an envelope. There is no other way. I don’t see them so they have no opportunity to personally work me for tips. I’ve tried leaving a tip for housekeeping at the front desk when I pay the bill and am refused.

Anonymous said...

Tip the security people. Remember that TIPS means "to insure prompt service" (though shouldn't it be ensure?). You don't want to waste half your stay waiting around for someone to come and let you in to the hotel. After you've complained to the utmost you need to tip anyone who can make access easier for you.

Mark Pathak said...

I think you two should simply kiss and make up.

After all, they say that civil wars are always the bloodiest.

Ps. I realise that this comment is of absolutely no use at all!!

Jan said...

If the security guys are pleasant and helpful I would tip. They are performing the service of a bell hop. I would also leave a tip for the lady that found you the alternate entrance.

FunMumx3 said...

Mmmmm.. I think I would tip based on quality of personal service and keep separate from the accessibility issue (which I'm fuming over!!!). Tipping is more of a US culture that I don't quite get so would probably go the standard tip for bellhop, car etc. that is usually expected and offer the same to security, ASSUMING that you receive quality service - warm, friendly, customer-focused, genuine service.

Anonymous said...

You tip for service - if friendly courteous cheerful service is given.

The security guard should then say, with a smile, "Thanks, but it was my pleasure to help you, and there is no need to tip. I'm just doing my job."

At which point you get to offer a second time, and it's up the the security guard.

ONLY for very good service.

For your own satisfaction.

If it would make YOU feel good for having offered a tip.

I probably would offer a tip, just so the security guard associates 'helping person with a disability' with 'helping a nice human being,' which is the more important part, and with 'doing my job.'

Anonymous said...

Let me get this straight:
You booked this hotel in advance explaining you use a chair.
You arrived and could not get INTO the hotel or OUT of the hotel without extensive problem solving, considerable discomfort and unwanted attention brought to your physical needs. After suffering these indignities I would not be tipping ANYONE. I would be enjoying a free stay at another hotel, at the expense of the first hotel (by notifying the corporate office and calling whichever official (Federal) agency that oversees this hotel's compliance to ADA). WHY, one question...What if there had been a fire or an explosion? All the tips in the world would not have done anything to save you.
I hate to sound so cruel. The Marathon Bombs changed my perspective on how I see many things. Safety precautions are in place for a REASON, bad things happen without notice. Please let Joe know I usually over tip (my sister yells at me all the time, but I feel good service should be recognized and rewarded). You received neither in my opinion.
Donna from Boston.

wendy said...

I'm with Joe. I understand why you're frustrated with the hotel but the Security Guard is the one person who is actually going out of his way to be helpful. And it is a bit outside the realm of "security".

wendy said...

I'm with Joe. I understand why you're frustrated with the hotel but the Security Guard is the one person who is actually going out of his way to be helpful. And it is a bit outside the realm of "security".

Unknown said...

I wouldn't tip and it's NOT BECAUSE I'M CANADIAN! LOL.

I don't think I would have stayed at that hotel after seeing what I would have to endure for access - I would have hopefully found somewhere more comfortable to be. I refuse to use back entrances or go through kitchens to get into a restaurant. And after they screwed up and stated you didn't book an accessible room - the service right from the get go was bad.
It's not the security guys fault - true - however all employees represent their employer so they have to suck it up if things are not going well for the client. They obviously put very little thought into the alternate access while renovating so I give them a FAIL.

Louna said...

I'd tip. He's just a guy doing his job, and his job right now involves personal service to a client. If my understanding of US tipping system is right (it's quite different here in Europe), that kind of service, when not done in an overly bad fashion (e.g. in an unfriendly manner), warrants a tip.

Ettina said...

I'd say tip them.

I don't tip for what I *should* get, but for better than what I *usually* get.

We do the same for children with behavioral disorders. We reward the kid for better-than-usual behavior ('you only called Johnnie a poopoohead instead of punching him during that argument'), even if it still falls short of ideal. This is what gives them the motivation to keep improving.

The reasons may be different, but the principle is the same. Even though you have every right to expect a society that accomodates you as a matter of course, sadly, we aren't there yet. But every step in the right direction is a good sign, and should be encouraged.

CL said...

I don't think anyone could fault you for not tipping, but personally I would tip. My general rule is that if something went wrong, I ask myself if it was the particular employee's fault -- and if not, I tip.

Mary said...

International tipping debates can only end badly. I don't know what the Canadian norms are, and I've never stayed in the sort of hotel that has a bellhop.

But I don't think you're obliged to tip for service that you wouldn't have needed if it weren't for the hotel's screwup. That's just adding insult to injury.

I'd take the third path of Alison's idea - thank them by name in a letter to their manager.

Anonymous said...

If the security guy is a man with a heart at the right place, I guess he would be intimidated by being paid for a service that he needed to provide to right wrong planning by the hotel / his employer.

I would feel this way if I were the security at that hotel.


Kristine said...

I wouldn't feel obligated to tip. If the person performing the service is stellar, and sincerely helping you make the best of a bad situation, then I think giving a tip would be the nice thing to do. But I don't feel like it's necessary. And in any case, you should definitely get a huge discount on your bill for your inconvenience.

Belly (Liz McLennan) said...

I am a former guest services hotel agent: tip the guard.

As a former hotel assistant manager, I am horrified that this was your experience and think you should be compensated, 100%. Additionally, the hotel should be responsible for finding you another hotel, arranging for transportation there, etc.

wheeliecrone said...

I come across similar situations from time to time, and no, I do not tip for access.
It is only fair to say, though, that I live in Australia, where tipping is not such a big deal, because people are paid a reasonable wage, and tipping is usually done, except in restaurants.

Rachel in Idaho said...

It wasn't his personal fault, tip him if that's the usual thing. But I would have only stayed there long enough to make them find and pay for another room at another comparable or better hotel, if access was THAT bad. I would not have paid that hotel one red cent aside from that one helpful guy.

Anonymous said...

Being Canadian I certainly understand the tipping only for excellent service slant. I dislike going on trips to the states as I feel "nickel and dimed" to death. Someone hands you a towel in the bathroom, when I'm quite capable of picking one up - and I'm supposed to tip. I'm supposed to tip for someone holding a door open or hailing a cab or making a reservation. I don't even like tipping waiters. They just bring the food that someone else ordered, cooked and plated...the whole thing is absurd. If we really tipped for service - our surgeons would be tipped, our dentist...but no.

If you already tipped the others, might as well go all the way - as it is not a "fault" of the security folks.

I dislike being held hostage by not tipping - for expecting others to do a job just like I do - without tips or bonuses. Sour grapes I know - but things like this tick me off. Why is "thank you" not enough anymore. It is not my job to compensate for someone else's wage.

Oh - I never stay in boutique hotels - they are for the "upwardly mobile" - and they often take the "mobile" seriously - as in if you are not self mobile - you are out of luck.

Sorry this happened. Nothing a hug and another Manhattan won't fix...ha ha.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Well, that was lively! Joe seems to have come out on top in the arguement here - and, by the by, he did tip even though I told him I didn't think we should. He has an independent mind! For me ... I still don't know ... I think when people said that the security guard went out of his way - um, he was at work - and the reason he escorted us wasn't to help us but because we were going through parts of the hotel where guests aren't allowed. Once we knew the route, we didn't need any help, we had to take it because we weren't allowed to use the service and industrial elevators without security present. Anyways, I thought it was a great discussion and though I wasn't convinced, I am really re-thinking my point of view. Joe, however, is dancing happy with the responses!!! Thank you all so much for joining in.

Anonymous said...

I'm agreeing with Andrea S. It's not the service staff's fault that the access was blocked . . . and even though you were inconvenienced - they were able to support you . . .
Just my 2 cents . . .

Shan said...

By the way, regarding Glee's response -- I always ALWAYS thank the driver. I don't need him to raise or lower anything - but I'm being polite and courteous. Jeepers, if no one ever thanked anybody for any service that the person felt they had a 'right' to, what kind of a world would that be?! I'd set meal after meal down on the table, I'd pick up and drop off kids endlessly all day, I'd kill myself with work that my family is completely entitled to - THEY didn't ask to be born, and these are part of my job - and they'd never have to thank me at all. I'd feel bloody terrific about that, I can tell you. Especially when Mother's Day rolls around and everybody says "well, you've done your job just fine, but I'm not thanking you for that because you're my mother and it's your job."

Jayne Wales said...

Yep as a late addition I'm with Joe on this one. I have worked in many places relying on tips for good service and gave it. Many times I would have to make up for my employers lack of hospitality. Sometimes we cannot afford to work for the best we have to take jobs knowing that maybe it will be us that can try and make something different happen. It's nice to get a tip when you're in that kind of job and to be honest completely skint most of the time