As promised I will tell the story of our arrival at the rental.
First, a bit of history: There are 6 apartments & suites that are part of this rental property. We enjoyed our last visit here so much that we booked atleast 11 months in advance even though the same suite we had last time (which cost 190 euro for 3 people) would now cost 275 euro for 2 people.
When I researched I found this was quite a bit less $ than the Del Senato that a lot of Slow Travelers stay at, so I booked the same suite as we had last time.
Each apartment has a name and a description including size. When you book online you get an email and also an attachment called a Confirmation Voucher naming the specific suite or apartment that you booked with the price and details for the rental.
I was in regular contact with the managers of this property to have them arrange a driver to pick us up at the airport, giving them flight details and just recently confirming the time we would be arriving and another time recently letting them know there was a change in credit card information.
A couple of months ago I noticed on the rental's website that they were offering a Promotion for North Americans which included the dates of my travel and all the suites and apartments. It did not say "for new bookings only".
The price would now be 208 euro per night as opposed to 275 euro per night.
I emailed the manager and asked for the promotion to be applied to the same suite I had booked. She said "no".
I emailed again and suggested that I cancel the current reservation and book the same suite at their new price for North Americans. I explained that I was a returning guest and felt I was being penalized for booking so early.
She agreed to the 208 euro/night promotion price and sent me a new Confirmation Voucher with the same suite's name on it for the same 3 nights, as my original booking. I did not have to cancel and rebook to do this.
Boy, were we delighted with these people who made our last stay in Rome so special. It felt like we were coming back to our home in Rome. Something familiar.
When we arrived at the rental our passports were photocopied, I signed the form for the police and the employee escorted us to a different suite from the one we booked and stayed at last time.
All the while I am talking excitedly about the suite I booked and how we loved staying there last time. We were shocked to see that they had downgraded us to a smaller suite, without a word about this prior to our arrival. Someone was occupying the suite I had the Confirmation Voucher for in my hand.
He said, "You will be staying in here."
I tried to reason with this employee without getting anywhere, so asked for the manager/owner.
The manager/owner (who I believe is the son of the couple who greeted us 4 years ago upon our arrival) came up with our email/booking papers he had on file.
He then tried to justify the switch in suites by saying he was upgrading us to the smaller suite. They do this all the time and people like the smaller suite better. It has two windows looking out over the alley, instead of one. A much smaller space, noiser space and smaller bathroom/shower area.
I told him we considered the smaller suite to be a downgrade. We went in and looked around both suites to get an accurate impression. Lucky the occupants of our confirmed suite were out at the time, as I'm sure it would have been very unpleasant for them to hear us talking.
I refused to accept this smaller suite. He said they had nothing else available, we'd have to stay in it.
I told him I had recommended this rental property to others and people have stayed here after talking to me.
At this point, I'd had enough. I told him I had been traveling for 24 hours and should have been told about this change in my reservation before arrival. I had been in regular contact through email with the rental's employees and nothing was ever mentioned about this switch. When something like this happens, I would expect an Upgrade, not a Downgrade.
I mentioned at home when a consumer/customer has a problem like this we'd report them to the Better Business Bureau and they must have something like this in Italy. I also said, I wonder what the Italian Law System would have to say about my Confirmation Voucher not being honoured.
Well, at this point a miraculous compromise came about. A four room apartment was being offered to us for the first 2 nights and then we would have to move to the small downgraded suite for the last night. He verified that we would pay only the 208 euro per night.
We accepted the compromise.
We love this apartment, location, view, balcony. Everything is wonderful today. I didn't see or hear from the manager or any employee here today--day 2 in Rome.
It is sad that we won't be returning to this wonderful historic building we've actually stayed in 3 times now. Five years ago we stayed on another floor, an associated rental.
I felt the manager/owner was trying to cheat us. I believe this because he kept bringing up the Promotion Price I was paying and saying the smaller suite was an Upgrade in his opinion.
Another reason we won't be back is the way he talked to us. At one point, he wanted to repeat what he had said about the smaller apartment being an upgrade, so he said to me," Will you shut up and listen?"
Good customer service? No.
Are we happy with the compromise? Yes.
I won't be posting the name of this property. I will not be writing a review about this.
My blog is a trip journal, not a hotel/apartment review site.
What a way to start our wonderful trip to Italy!