A message I posted on a TripAdvisor forum about my stay in a Madrid apartment

I recently blogged about a visit I made to Madrid this Summer with my two teenage children. The purpose of that bulletin was to highlight some interesting things to do in Spain’s capital city with children who are, let’s say, of a certain age; an age where complaints about what to do can be very frequent!

I didn’t mention where we stayed: an apartment owned by a rental company named Friendly Rentals. Apparently they own a lot of properties, particularly in Barcelona and Madrid.

The stay itself was good; the service from Friendly Rentals was bad.

I felt it worth outlining my recent – and ongoing – experience with fellow travellers in TripAdvisor. Here’s what I said:

An uncleaned freezer appeared the least of my worries when I arrived at an apartment owned by Friendly Rentals called Joyce II. This was a five night stay in July 2017.

After reporting by phone that the freezer had not been cleaned I was asked to send an email to the man I had spoken to. This is what I wrote to him within minutes.

Hi [name witheld],

I attach a photo of the freezer which has not been cleaned.

Please let me know what happens next about that.

The wifi password on the paper you gave me has two errors in it which we have now corrected on the paper. It should read […].

Thanks for putting on the air conditioning before our arrival,

Jim

***

What happened next? No reply. I called and spoke to someone else. He said a cleaner could come but I wanted make sure we would be in the apartment when she arrived, and because that was not possible we agreed to leave the freezer as it was until the end of our stay. It wasn’t a big deal and we were unlikely to use it much.

Later that day the cleaner appeared, unannounced, letting herself in with a spare key. No knock, no ring. Fortunately we were there and so could monitor that the job was done properly, and it was.

The stay in the apartment was absolutely fine. I had no qualms. Aircon in all rooms, nice furniture and all appliances worked well.

But that poor service on day one proved to be an omen.

One of our party was my sister, and during the stay I commented that I was a little concerned about getting my deposit back when we were due to leave. Since nobody was going to be available to give it the ‘once over’ on the day of our departure, she suggested taking photos of each room so I would have proof everything was in order should any subsequent problems arrive. Good idea! I took photos.

That concern of mine arose because I had paid a 200 euros deposit to Friendly Rentals which I knew would be witheld for a few days after our departure.

Anyway, after leaving I deliberately kept a copy of the contract I had signed on arrival. I did this until I received back the deposit into my bank account about 5 days later.

3 days after that I received the following email:

Dear Mr Porter

This email is to inform, that we have charged €60 from your deposit, to replace the broken lamp at the Joyce II apartment during your reservation

Please see attached photo.

I hope you can understand.

Best regards

[name witheld]

***

Now there’s motivation if ever it were needed for action to be taken!

I called and made it clear that Friendly Rentals had made an error I expected them to apologise for, and what I noted next was that: NOBODY WAS GOING TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY. I spoke to at least two different members of staff, neither of which was interested in looking into what I had to say. I was to be referred to a supervisor.

Meanwhile I replied to the email:

You have made a mistake.

Look into this more carefully and you will find my stay in this apartment ended more than a week ago, since when my deposit has been returned.

No lamp was broken in the time I was there.

I await your apology.

***

Notice that point about the deposit having been returned.

I then received a reply:

Mr. Porter

I would like to apologize before hand for the inconveniences. As I spoke to the Cleaning Department they assured me that said lamp was in optimus conditions when you checked in.

Regarding to the charge on your credit card, allow me clarify something. There’s been no extra charge to your account, what you see on your balance is actually the Deposit or Preauthorization being unlocked by your bank minus the 60 euros from the broken lamp

I understand the inconveniences caused by this issue and hope you understand.

***

At the moment I received this message I was at my bank asking about reversing the 60 euros charge. That I could do but I first had to visit the police station and make a formal complaint before the bank would reverse the payment, the upshot of which is that I had to order a new bank card.

Well, you might think that was the end of the matter.

But Friendly Rentals are not giving up on this without a fight (try fighting when you only have one leg to stand on). Only yesterday I found out they are contesting the payment reversal, still unaware – or perhaps aware! – that the payment they took from my card was done AFTER returning my deposit.

So the latest in this saga is that I have had to write, by hand, a letter to the bank explaining the situation.

Fortunately, I’m fighting with two legs.


Jim

Jim Porter is a co-founder of Speekee®, the most comprehensive Spanish for kids learning program ever to appear online. Jim’s work includes this homeschool Spanish curriculum and this homeschool Spanish curriculum (not a misprint – he wrote two!) and this Primary School Spanish curriculum.

Jim began his Spanish learning journey in 1990. He has been a language teacher since 1994 and he lives in sunny southern Spain. He has two bilingual children. More…

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