Visits Where I Didn’t Get Paid - The Life of a Hotel Doctor
By Mike Oppenheim, MD
Searching of over 16,000 visits, entering zero for my fee, turns up 877 files, but this includes 591 when colleagues covered. That leaves nearly 300.
employees whom I don't charge. Most can't afford the fee, and I'm happy to assume that they'll tell their co-workers about the experience. In nineteen cases, I arrived and realized that the guest needed a referral, either to a specialist or an emergency room. I try to detect these during the initial phone call, because I feel guilty accepting a fee and then sending the guest off to pay a second time. In four additional cases, I decided to call the paramedics and remained in the room until they arrived. Naturally, these were distressing events. Everyone was preoccupied, and I felt inhibited about mentioning my fee. On other occasions, the guest or his companions remembered, but these were the times they didn't.
Poor people rarely stay in hotels, but a few cheap motels and youth hostels have mynumber. As a result, I sometime trim my fee and occasionally charge nothing if they come to my home. I've done that a few dozen times.
One guest was dead when I arrived.
Eighteen cancelled. I don't count cancellations that arrive before I leave the house, soall occurred while I was on my way. To this I must add thirteen who weren't in the room when I knocked. This always annoys me because I tell guests when I'll arrive. In my younger, passive-aggressive days, I would phone later. Guests would swear they had told the hotel to cancel and express outrage that the employee had failed to pass on the message. After hearing the same excuse every time, I stopped calling.
In fifty cases, I wanted to collect but couldn't. A minority never intended to pay; a dozenwere clearly mentally ill. Five had called the paramedics before I arrived, and they were already on the scene.
"It's their fault. Take it up with the manager" caused trouble until I saw the light. Hotelsoften pay if guests are injured on the premises, find bugs in the room, or believe they're poisoned by hotel food. Unfortunately, sometimes they refuse, and it's a bad idea to argue. I've learned to stay alert for situations when guests blame the hotel, so I can make sure they arrange matters with management before I leave the house.