Saturday, July 03, 2010

Innkeepers' Lament (2) : Elderly guests

Here’s something new: at 10:30, I get a phone call.

“The coffeemaker doesn’t work,” our cottage guest growls.

“Doesn’t work?!” I exclaim. “It’s brand new.”

These guests are in their late seventies, two old friends here for a party. One is quite fit, but the other was in a recent car accident and walks with a cane. Yesterday this guest complained to Sven that there was no hot water. I had to explain we have a new energy efficient water heater, which means you have to let the water run before it heats up. These thoughts were interrupted by the petulant voice over the phone.

“Well, the carafe’s cracked. Doesn’t work.”

Then I remember what David Francis taught my kids when they worked at the Lobster Hutt in the 1980s: say “sure” no matter what. ****The client is always right.****

“I’ll take a look at it,” I hear myself say.

I trot over and sure enough, there’s a crack in the bottom of the carafe, a crack that was not there when these folks arrived.

I call Snow’s, in Orleans, not really where I want to go today, with all the holiday traffic on Route 6. Our coffeemaker is white, to match the self-sufficiency kitchen. The store has Cuisinart carafes, but only in black. They cost $26.

I am quite sure the carafe was not broken before these guests assumed residence.

Readers, what would you do in this case?

1.) Confront the man with the fact that he broke the carafe?

2.) Buy a whole new coffeemaker in white for the white kitchen and say nothing?

3.) Bill him for the damages?

Perplexed, I called my friend Suzanne at Bed and Breakfast Cape Cod DOT com. Here’s her advice: If the cottage were a rental, I would have a deposit and could deduct the damages. In a bed & breakfast situation, all I can do is chalk it up to breakage.

But, wait! Sven and I went over to the cottage again and discovered more mischief. Unable to use the coffeemaker, the guest placed the electric teapot on the stove. Not such a good idea! The bottom melted.

The guest just called back to tell me not to worry about the carafe. His friend went out and bought a new one. Will it be the right model? ...

No. Not the right model. But I was touched that he bothered. Off I went to Snow's to trade it in for another coffeemaker....