Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Home and happy!

We are back from an eventful weekend in the Big Apple celebrating DS's impending high school graduation. It was a good trip and many, many memories were made.

An added bonus to a great time is that we came in under budget - I didn't even know that was possible when going to New York City. We found gas to be cheaper as we traveled north, which was a nice surprise. We packed lunches for the trip up and breakfast items and snacks for our hotel room.

Speaking of the hotel room, therein lies the rub. We arrived early Friday afternoon to be told that the room with a roll-in shower that I had reserved was not available. This happens often to us so we were not terribly surprised. Still, having a teenage boy who cannot bathe for days is not pleasant for anyone. Then, after I had signed for the correct amount of our stay, the front desk person swiped my American Express card. We chose to handle this by funneling the amount of our stay from our tax refund onto the card, so we were pre-paying and weren't adding to the debt. We were told the card was declined. After two swipes, they insisted the card was declined, forcing me to hand over our debit card. This caused a rock to form in the pit of my stomach as various scenarios went through my mind. But we had no choice. Finding a hotel with an adequately accessible room is nearly impossible in the Times Square area.

We went up to the room and I immediately called American Express. It was then that I realized that the desk was overcharging my card by nearly $200 more than I had signed for. Back to the desk I went and explained the situation to the person who had just checked me in. She calculated and agreed with me and told me that a manager would have to call my credit union to release the hold and the funds would be available by Saturday morning at the latest. Not ideal, but OK.

Late that night, we found that the sofa bed was broken and there was no place for my son to sleep. A rollaway bed was finally brought in about 1 a.m. The next morning, when the CU had not released the hold, DH took charge. He found the manager and explained that we now had three major problems. (Turns out no manager had contacted the CU as promised and now it would be Monday before the funds were released.) DH was initially met with a combative, defensive manager (note to customer service people: a sincere apology and a little compassion will go a long way), but in the end won her over. He's much better at that than I am - I get too emotional.

The final result of all of this was that we were moved to a room with a roll-in shower on Sunday - for one night. We were also comped one night's stay and given free parking for the duration. So while I wouldn't have chosen to deal with all the aggravation and while we weren't looking for a handout, the result was that we came home with a few dollars in our pocket and no added debt.

The total cost of 4-day trip was $1,652. We had expected at least $2,000. And the Amex balance actually went down as we had pre-paid more than we were eventually charged.

All's well that ends well. And DS hasn't stopped talking!

On to the laundry ...



  1. Aside from the aggravation it sounds like you had a great trip! Im glad you got to make some wonderful memories with your son.

  2. My BFF always said I could write a book about my financial disasters, looks like you are just as unfortunate as me. Still all's well that ends well. Sounds like dh really came through for you.

  3. As a life long NYer I am amazed that your trip here was that cheap...especially in Midtown manhattan. It sounds like a great experience & everyone had a (mostly) good time. Having a special needs son myself I know making lasting memories is important.

  4. Congrats, it pays to be a squeaky wheel. Even if you have to be a squeaky,leaky wheel.