Saturday, September 18, 2010

Paris Blog Guestage: 5 tips to dealing with a bad vacation

Check it on The Paris Blog!

I recently blogged about my vacation in a "club", organized by a French company. To say this all-inclusive hotel was sub-par is tantamount to saying Picasso was a dude who liked painting. This place wasn't just bad, it created a whole new genre of shabby, a real masterpiece of merde. A complaint session was more than necessary; it was crucial in order to make the French concierge understand I meant business.

After realizing that my discussion with the manager wasn't going to accomplish anything, my husband and I tried to focus on the positive aspects of our trip: beautiful weather, a great pool, lots of rest and quality time together. It wasn't a total loss!

It happens to us all -- bad vacations -- and Paris is no exception. But hotels may not be the only time you may have to take action. It's September. Not only does 99% of the population come home from vacation, clogging the streets, roads and trains, but the season of strikes begins. With all the airline strikes, you may have incurred extra costs because of the delays. If the companies won't cough anything up for strikes, you may get compensated for the extra costs. Even if it's not much, it's better than nothing and feels like justice.

Here are 5 tips to help you deal with disappointment when your French vacation isn't what you hoped:

1. Dont expect immediate help.
The French aren't known for their customer-service skills. While you're explaining all the ways they've blown up the suckometer, they are most likely singing "It's not my faaaa-aaault, nah nah nah naaaah naaah" in they're heads.

Not only will the dude behind the counter not help you, he'll see it as a personal victory if he can provoke you into being irrational. Then, he can shut down communication and send you outta there faster than you can say bed bugs!

The key is to breathe. Don't let that annoying, pompous, self-serving a-hole ruin your vacation. If you explain the difficulties you're having, tell yourself that it's simply a formality.

2. The art of letter writing
Since oral communication will most likely get you nowhere, you need a different solution; enter the letter of doom.

For some reason, the French respond better to written complaints. I imagine they assume that if you took the time to write, stamp and post your woes, they must have been sincere.

Your letter is documented proof that you complained, and normally they have to respond. Send it "recommandée", it assures a confirmation of receipt. That too will show them that you are serious about getting compensation.

3. Hyperbolize the shit out of it
The French are emotional and superlative-friendly. It wasn't bad staying at their place, it was "not possible". The food wasn't "OK", it was "inedible". The customer is not king, he or she is more like the court jester. So, to convince them you're going to have to lay it on thick.

Try to write it simply if responding in English, not everyone is fluent and if they don't understand your complaint it might find itself in the trash instead of a file.

4. Be relentless, read: super annoying.
I'll give it to you straight, one letter is not going to cut it. They'd sooner use it to wipe their asses than to respond to your request. You're going to have to send two or even three before they realize you're not going to stop until you get what you deserve.

5. Don't take the first offer.
That first letter will most likely not be the best they can do. This goes along with number four, keep it going until you get suitable compensation because often times, they can do better.

Hopefully these tips will help you get something for your troubles, and if not, well then the act of writing all those letters can be therapeutic and get you on the road to catharsis. Also, don't forget, the best way to avoid all these problems is to follow good advice of blogs my friends on the "Holla" page!


  1. If your reclamations are as successful as this post, you'll be able to retire on their recompense!

  2. I'll let you all know how it pans out, thanks Paul you sweetheart you!

  3. Just stumbled onto this amazing blog of yours here. Off to go read some more :) Paris in Pink


Related Posts with Thumbnails