Friday, July 20, 2007

Vegas gets you with weight sensors in the fridges

Vegas gets you with weight sensors in the fridges | Tech news blog - CNET News.com: "Because the fridges are now equipped with motion sensors, the helpful woman at registration told me. That is, if I move a drink to make room for something of my own, it'll charge me. If I accidentally knock something over, it'll charge me. If I put something of my own on top of something, it'll charge me."

The practice could be a couple of years old in Vegas. From the comments, there are other hotels installing sensors, but I don't see why except for Vegas. In the world's largest Venetian for example, at bad times, it can be 20+ lines of check in and check out, with more than 50 to may be 100 person in each line. Am I correct? They just couldn't cope. If they can cope, that means they are wasting resources on average.

If you drink from the mini-bar but forget to put it on the bill, you expect that the hotel will check and bill you later. In Vegas it's a different matter. As long as they can spend more resources to reduce the check-in and check-out times, I'm all for it. But suddenly if I cannot use the fridge that I expected at the time of booking, I'm not happy about it.

Before I arrived, I booked an additional day due to change of plan. I didn't remember the details, and there could be some misunderstanding. But I was sure that I told the front desk about it and I was sure that I could stay in the same room. I ended up locked out of the room after returning wet from the swimming pool. Had to take the long walk to the front desk to get another key.

I think there's a short notice on the fridge, or received at the front desk, warning about the sensors. I am sure it was not as serious as they put it now, maybe the practice was rather new at the time. I was already pretty annoyed by that. If they told me that I had to pay if I knocked something down, I would certainly call them to send some supervisor up as my verbal sandbag. I just ignored it, but emptied the fridge without consuming anything.

But I still needed my verbal sandbags. After lining up for a long time at check-out, to check if I would be charged for anything in the mini bar. Of course they had the electronic record and would charge for the things that I didn't consumed. I told her just that. She knew it was an explosive situation and she agreed to everything without saying much. I agreed but I wouldn't go empty handed, without a piece of paper in case of future dispute. So she went inside reluctantly for a few minutes and got me one.

Right after I left the front desk, I wasn't satisfied with the bill. I changed my mind and returned for a written statement and signed, whatever it would be. Respecting the privacy of the other visitors, I went to the head of the lines and waited for any of the first in line to complete their business. While I wasn't looking, a check out clerk was available, but the guy in charge of the lines sent somebody first in line to check out. I was on fire. This guy looked like a management trainee and security guard, 6 feet + in dark suit. He was just what I needed as a sandbag. Unfortunately he didn't come over to talk to me. So I walked towards him like Clint, stopped right in the middle of the lines, took a look at him, and sent brain waves to him with unmistakable terms that I would beat him up if he did that again. He pretended not to notice me and walked away subtly, keeping the same distance from me. When I looked again, he disappeared, leaving me in charge of the lines. Damn, no sandbag.

I would say I'm a mellowed person. But the way he reported it, the words brought back angry memories. Can that be legal? Say if I knock something down by accident and put it back without consuming it, can they charge for it? Will they need a signed consent form first?

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