The Consumer Complaints Blog

Fighting the trained monkey in modern society.

January 18, 2011

Shangri-La Fijian Resort & Spa Yanuca, Fiji Islands

Filed under: Hotels — Editor @ 12:32 am

I could not recommend the Shangri La for families, Christmas or for Weddings.

The Shangri La resort is without a doubt a beautiful resort, it has 4 pools, 4 restaurants and boasts a perfect beach front environment with pool games in the lagoon family pool, water sports in the lagoon and the property it without a doubt is superb. Such a pity it is so cheap and greedy, and absolutely nothing is complimentary, on the house or as a nice gesture and lack of being able to communicate is definitely an issue. And we were staying in their Deluxe Beach Bure Suite @ $717 Fijian per night. Once you are booked and paid for this resort they don’t seem to care about customer satisfaction or service, you’re at their mercy.

We just spent our 2010 Christmas holiday there with my Husband, 2 daughters one 9 years old and the other 7 months old and our 15 year old nephew. We also decided to renew our wedding vows at the resort while we were there as it was our 10th anniversary and we just had a baby and life at this moment it great so why not.

As a Mum, the food is somewhat important, it doesn’t have to be great because let’s face it only makes our cooking better at the end of the day but what we encounter was 90% below average food and absolutely shocking service. The Fijian people are always lovely and will always answer with yes maam of coarse we can do that, which means whatever, it isn’t going to happen like you think but you will be charged for it.

We had the Indian curry buffet first encounter, it was terrible, no curry sauces were prepared and all the meat quality was fatty. You would be challenged to eat your first plate. When I asked if someone could blend some food for my baby this was an issue, something was delivered however it was over an hour later and I had to feed my Baby “Abbey” custard that I brought from home. Needless to say this was the benchmark for our 10 days stay there.

The resort is huge, which initially sounds great for the entire family but it is tiring, unless you stay right near the Lagoon pool and buffet and everything is a long walk, a major effort with baby. They don’t have a bar at the lagoon family pool; you have to either go to the bar or the restaurant for a drink that cannot be consumed by the pool so the whole cocktails by the pool are gone. Sadly that was the image I had of my holiday.

Our vow renewal was interesting, if I had my first wedding there I would NOT be happy, and the bride from the weekend before was fuming. Our wedding coordinator met with us and went through the details (ours was only a small group of 8 people). When I asked about details of the ceremony my response was always “Yes Maam”, with a pleasant smile, which apparently means, I have no idea what you’re saying. I simply wanted vows on the beach (our vows) champagne we brought and cheese near the pool and to dine in their Fine Dining Adults only restaurant with some candles on the table to make it pretty. I was told to put candles on our 1 table it was going to be $15 per person, when I had words with the Manager about this I was told we would have to go to a private room so we didn’t offend anyone else. So there were dramas before, the celebrant and vow certificate said we had been married for 8 years not 10 and we had no opportunity to say our own vows. The ceremony was over in 5 minutes. The photographer was good, it was all very package deal, not at all personal. We opted for the 36 photo package, it came in a nice ordinary photo book 6×8 picture, when I previously asked for the 72 package with was going to cost a further $350 dollars, DON’T waste your money.

Dinner was excellent and the head chef was lovely, there was only one other couple dining in the restaurant the whole time we were there. Oh, and corkage on our champagne $15 per bottle. Afterwards we went to the Marlin Bar/nightclub, there were approx. 5 other people in the place.

When we arrived we thought the Resort had given us complimentary cocktails for the Bride & Groom, as they brought them over and put them in front of us, we thought that was very thoughtful and so we took pictures of them and only to have someone come over to us and say “Did you order those drink?” and we said “No” so then he picked them up and took them to the table next to us. How rude!!

We are an easy going couple and laughed off the entire wedding evening experience as being dodgy. I would never recommend anyone to get married at the Shangri La Resort Fiji, ever unless you do not care about the little details that make your wedding individual.

At Christmas they had the most breath-taking choir but the Christmas menus for family all round were difficult and tacky. Seafood buffet comprised of stretching the seafood in salads, fish cakes etc. There were no fresh prawns, lobster and seafood that you would expect in Fiji, as a matter of fact the best seafood we had in Fiji was at the Gecko 3 star resort across the road that was packed every night, lobster cheap and free fire-dancing shows etc. They also catered for our group on Christmas day providing 4 lobsters, 4 kg prawns, salads and sauce for 8 for less than AU$250, which is cheap considering buffets were between $50-$75 Fiji dollars.

Our biggest problem with our stay was with the food, Christmas Eve we went to the Beach front Bar and Grill for dinner. We ordered ice cream for my baby, yogurt and ice cream was the only thing she could eat and no one offered to make any baby food or as a family resort that is isolated there was none on the menu. We were still there at 9:30pm, baby screaming her head off and still no ice cream. They serve the kids meals 2 hours after ordering and our meals 3 hours later and the food was particularly sub-standard. Kids spaghetti was dry, fish was too small and all bones, no real meat on it and no one else was happy with their meals either. After I finally got my baby to sleep, I had words with the manager who just answered with “Yes maam” and again nothing was done.

My baby drank a lot more formula than usual and I ran out 3 days early, I went to the shop in the resort and he assured me he could get some in, I told him if he can’t I will go out of the resort and find some myself he said it would be taken care off. Christmas Eve night when I went to pick this formula up I was informed they were too busy to get it in for me, “Sorry maam”.

Exasperated and starving I contacted the duty manager, he promptly arrived on my door step with the head of security. I explain all my issues including the fact that we have had to pay for all our daughter’s meals as they only had pasta, no sauce and mash potato with a minimal amount a mince meat to pretend to be a shepherd’s pie and cordial only. I was told to be “rest assured that the last few days” at the resort there would not be a problem. Nothing changed and nothing improved.

The Shangri La did take the dinner at the beach front bar and grill off our account considering we got up and, walked out as it was coming out after waiting so long, They also deducted the Indian curry buffet which it was hideous, that’s as far as there nice gestures go. Upon paying out account they tried charging us for all buffet breakfast that we had included in our travel itinerary and we had to show cause. They tried to charge us for these meals again and we had to state our argument again. Also without being advised they placed a $3000 security on our credit card that was not cancelled on payment.

We were supposed to have unlimited laundry and had to pay for that, we were supposed to have a $20 credit for specified recreational facilities and complimentary internet. We ended up paying for absolutely everything and the Bures don’t have internet facility.

Just as we were leaving the resort a Manger approached me, he stated he had been trying to find me for the last 3 days. Hardly likely! He apologised and told me that he had a 7 week old baby himself so I don’t understand why they seem to have forgotten about the endless babies that pass through the resort.

The best part of our trip was the helicopter out of there. It was a very exhausting holiday. I would not recommend this resort to anyone with young kids unless you want to dump them in Kids Club every day and go to the adults only section of the resort and don’t care what they eat.

We have stayed at the Australian owned Outrigger Resort in their beach bure and were treated like royalty for the duration of our stay and their food was superb, but we were told that the kids club is better at the Shangri La Resort. We will not be returning or recommending this resort.

This article was submitted by one of our readers. Penciltrick cannot make any claims as to its authenticity but the article was accepted on a good faith belief that it is an accurate and truthful account of the events listed.

November 20, 2010

County Holiday Homes, Prince Edward County

Filed under: Hotels — Editor @ 1:06 pm

Picton – ONTARIO

On August 22 my husband and I (world-wide well travelled seniors)) checked into a small rental cottage owned by Edna but run by Dave Theakston, 11494 Loyalist Parkway, Picton, Ontario and managed by County Holiday Homes (CHH) in Picton at 11682B Loyalist Parkway. (Prior to this, we had spent many great shorter holidays in The County over the past 20+ years – always a great experience.) Dave and Edna also own the Theakston B&B in Picton. This complaint concerns the rental unit only. We had rented this cottage for a week, as it listed all the amenities we were looking for : deck, air conditioning in bedroom , oscillating fan to move air from bedroom to main cottage, satellite TV, DVD, VCR ( all important because, due my husbands health problems, he sometimes can’t go outside when it gets hot and requires a cool environment), swimming, water cooler (this was in the cottage because CHH had recommended not drinking the water from the tap).

As it was important that these “amenities” were as advertised we began to check them as soon as we checked in at 3PM. While the cottage itself was quite nice, by 4 pm we had a long list of non-functioning “amenities” to ask Mr Theakston about, as a note he left asked us to call him with any problems. Guy sat on a chair on the deck and it broke. We couldn’t get the TV, DVD, VCR, Oscillating Fan to work and the water cooler took a lot of coaxing to dispense anything. Mr Theakstons’s response was that we must have done something wrong because when he had left the cottage earlier that day everything was working fine, and he’d meant to take away the deckchair. It was now 4pm Sunday night and he said he was busy at the B&B and this would also be the case the following morning, so we agreed that he’d be over before noon the next day to fix things. When he arrived, we immediately asked about swimming (his ad boasted that his waterfront cottage was “good for swimming, fishing, boating) but that day he informed us “no one wants to swim in Picton Bay” indicating that it was filled with weeds and junk. (Even if we’d wanted to brave it, there was literally no way to physically “get to” the water – there’s a steep drop off to the water, no access ladder..and a broken dock). As for the water cooler and the oscillating fan – he now claimed the previous tenants probably “ wrecked them. After over half an hour with the TV,DVD he also concluded that the previous tenants had done something there too. This, after during the course of that half hour blaming the remote which he planned to replace, and the satellite box which was “no good”. He did manage finally get the TV working…but only using “Guide” on the Bell Satellite. This meant no DVD or VCR., and we’d brought lots of “old classics” to watch in the evenings. Then, as he was leaving he added that he hoped everything was going to be okay, as he would be away until the following Saturday – 5 days! (We later learned from CHH once we were home, that this was not true – I can only assume that he just didn’t want to be bothered.)

We returned from lunch that day and settled in to watch TV as it was raining outside. Of course, it once again refused to work. Guy called the Dave and asked him point blank what he was going to do about the situation. The response…”I don’t know” followed by this pathetic, uncalled for and totally tasteless comment:

“I lost my daughter to cancer last year, and she never complained as much through her long suffering then you two have in the past day”

Guy informed him that we were merely trying to have access to the amenities that which were advertised and for which we had paid – $1200/week for a one bedroom cottage). Dave argued we should be out on the deck – not inside watching TV. Guy repeated the question and Dave said maybe he could get his techie son to come over and take a look. At this point Guy called CHH the first time to advise them on the entire situation (including Dave’s pending absence) , to ask them if any other rental units were available if this didn’t work out (our concern – what if the a/c failed and there was no one to contact). When Guy called back Dave said he hadn’t been able to reach his son, with no offer to try again or come over again himself. (This just before 5PM) At this point Guy advised the owner that we had no choice but to vacate the cottage the following morning, which we did. Guy then called back CHH to apprise them of this and were advised no other rentals were available. I made a third call to them the next morning to let them know we were gone so an inspection could be done. From this point a series of deteriorating e-mails between us and CHH resulted and they sent a $500 refund to us for our $1200 rental. We initially felt that a $857 (app 2/7 of the original rent) refund would be acceptable even though the promised amenities were not there. However the unprofessional actions of CHH ( who we contacted 3 times – never a mention that they provided a service to mediate and also effect repair ). Through e-mails first they said we hadn’t advised them when on the premises (wrong) and then they said we hadn’t given them enough time to fix things. (How could we? – we didn’t know they offered these services or we wouldn’t have left in the first place and nothing was mentioned to us by CHH in the 3 phone calls we made from this rental unit.) They said Dave had brought his son over the next morning and everything was now fine (?????) . On the Thursday afternoon they said we were free to come back to the cottage. Given the long distance involved and the very short time left when this offer was made, and given the way we’d been treated, this was not appealing in the least.

In conclusion, be wary of County Holiday Homes (who rent many, many cottages/homes throughout Prince Edward County and obviously defer to clients of the Theakson’s ilk), could cause you problems you don’t want or need. Many thanks to Joan (CHH) and Dave for making our special holiday so memorable!)

(PS – If you check the Theakston’s ad for the cottage now, please be advised that the “good for swimming” has been removed…CAN’T HAVE ANY FALSE ADVERTISING, CAN WE? )

This article was submitted by one of our readers. Penciltrick cannot make any claims as to its authenticity but the article was accepted on a good faith belief that it is an accurate and truthful account of the events listed.

August 3, 2010 and Hyatt Place Albuquerque Uptown

Filed under: Hotels — Editor @ 6:18 pm

We have a problem with a booking at Hyatt Place Albuquerque Uptown that was made through The booking was mistakenly made for Aug 26 and 27, 2010, but was intended to be booked ONLY for Aug 25, 2010.

The mistake occurred because the online form provided by used an auto fill for the date of the stay, and we did not realize the website had chosen the date of the stay for us.

We immediately called the customer service number listed for to correct the problem. After being on hold for about 13 minutes we talked to a man with a foreign accent that was very difficult to understand. He said he would refund one day and correct the date for the other night. He put us on hold for a few more minutes. We were very happy that he said he would take care of the changes.

The man came back on the phone and said he was going to transfer us to customer service to make the revisions. We were put on hold again but were relieved that was going to make the right decision and help correct the innocent mistake.

After another lengthy wait a person who sounded very much like the first person we spoke with spoke to us. We once again explained what had happened and how we immediately called to correct the mistake. We told him that we were just transferred to him. He said no, that he was the only person to talk to us about this call.

After explaining the situation yet again, he said he would not modify the reservation. He said he would cancel it but we would have to pay the full amount regardless. He said that hotel charges them and he would not refund any money or change the date to the correct night.

We called the hotel – Hyatt Place Albuquerque Uptown and the hotel general manager named Shenaz Mehta said that Hyatt could not make the reservation change or refund any money because pays them.

We would like to continue staying at the Hyatt chain in the future if they resolve this situation. We will never use ever again. We travel often and feel that not caring enough to correct an honest mistake will cost them thousands instead of one or two hundred dollars.

This article was submitted by one of our readers. Penciltrick cannot make any claims as to its authenticity but the article was accepted on a good faith belief that it is an accurate and truthful account of the events listed.

June 25, 2010

Fairmont Hotel Kraft Dinner

Filed under: Hotels — Editor @ 12:50 pm

I wouldn’t be reaching out to you in the event that Fairmont hotel hadn’t charged us $56 for Kraft Dinner and a personal pizza. Now I fully expect to be charged something crazy at these chains, but to serve Kraft Dinner and then delete my customer complains off their Facebook page is uncalled for. You would expect to be paying for something that would resemble homemade or at least not highly processed. I tend to order off the children’s menu when looking for portion control, but if anything our children should be able to get the same quality of meals as adults and it is disappointing that corners are cut when it deals so closely with their health. As a parent I would be very concerned that their health is second to profit margins.

This article was submitted by one of our readers. Penciltrick cannot make any claims as to its authenticity but the article was accepted on a good faith belief that it is an accurate and truthful account of the events listed.

December 2, 2009

Hilton Garden Inn, Ottawa

Filed under: Hotels — Editor @ 8:14 am

An update to this complaint was sent to us by the writer:

There’s a happy ending to my story! I followed up on the customer service email address you gave me. They quickly sent me a message confirming that the Ottawa hotel management would be in touch. Franco the General Manager of the Ottawa Hilton Garden Inn called me to apologize–he was very kind. He also said that the hotel would be purchasing robes and travel kits, and would have combs available for purchase. He also arranged for a refund on my travel and offered me another night at his hotel to stay as he guest. I was so delighted! All’s well that ends well. And that conversation was true to my expectations of the Hilton brand.

Thanks for your help Nick!

And for the original complaint:

Thanks for your website, which I read about in the Globe and Mail today. I thought I would share my experience of last week.

I had a day of meetings in Ottawa and, as I usually do, I arrange to fly in from Toronto early in the morning and fly out in the early evening. I arrived to the airport for my return flight to Toronto only to be told that no planes were flying out due to fog. My flight was re-scheduled for the next morning. The airline staff told me that there are no hotels connected to the Ottawa airport, but there is a free shuttle to the Hilton Garden Inn.

I arrived there with no luggage but assumed that they would be able to take care of me by
providing me with some necessities–things that I’ve been able to get at other hotels when I’ve forgotten an item.

The Hilton Garden Inn had a very limp toothbrush and toothpaste for me. They had no combs
so I decided I would shower and not wash my hair, but there was no shower cap. I didn’t have any clothes except the suit I was wearing, so I requested a bathrobe. They don’t have bathrobes at the Hilton Garden Inn. I was hoping to replace my pantyhose, which had a run,
but there was no tuck shop on site and the only store nearby, I was told, was a five minute drive away–I didn’t have a car and it was nasty weather. The movie channel in my room didn’t work, and the next morning, everyone seemed to get a newspaper outside their door but me. When I checked out and mentioned the details of my unpleasant stay, I was told that this class of Hilton did not provide these items. So much for the poor traveller who ends up combing her hair with a toothbrush, and wrapping a blanket around herself in her cold room
while watching tv.

It was a dispiriting time to begin with, not being home with my family as planned, and the hotel made it worse. It would have taken so little to make time easier. In fact, it was a missed opportunity to make me a fan of the Hilton. I won’t be returning, even with my

Thanks for letting me vent.

This article was submitted by one of our readers. Penciltrick cannot make any claims as to its authenticity but the article was accepted on a good faith belief that it is an accurate and truthful account of the events listed.