This blog has been around for more than six years and during that time we have picked up a number of regular e-mailers. Some of these are people who, for whatever reason, refuse to comment on the blog, even anonymously, preferring to leave their “comments” via email. Then there are the people who have a regular agenda/theme. There is the person who for years has sent me emails “proving” China’s economy is a bubble that will inevitably pop. There is the person who thinks China is amoral and that will eventually cause it to rot from inside. This person is constantly sending me emails showing how “bad” the Chinese people are. On the rare occasions when I respond, I usually do so by pointing out something similar that just happened in the United States. Or I sometimes just say that one can certainly expect a lot of bad apples in a batch of 1.5 billion of them. I have always thought this person keeps emailing in the hopes that we will eventually take one of his emails and do a post on it.
Well that someday is now.
And here’s the problem. I am not sure whether I am seeing something where there is nothing simply because the constant barrage of emails has worn down my critical thinking skills, or if for once, the e-mailer is right. China is different than anywhere else. Note though how I said “different” not anything having to do with morality.
So here’s the email:
I was booking a hotel the other day for a friend of mine coming into Shanghai and as a part of that, I compared the reviews of two American hotels in Shanghai. One of the hotels had a comment by a guest complaining about a very high level of noise. The manger of the hotel responded to that complaint with this:
Thank you for sharing with us your feedback on your recent stay. After looking into our records, we are unable to find any entry close to your comments. Hence, I think it is likely that you may have been given a room near the guest lift. During high occupancy there is heavy foot traffic in that area which may result in load voices. May I recommend that on your next booking you may request for a room not close to the guest lift. I hope this will be helpful. Look forward to welcoming you back soon.
You have to admit that no hotel manager anywhere else in the world would go online and treat a guest like this. The manager starts out calling the guest a liar because there is no record of any complaint and then he blames the guest for not requesting the right room. Despite this, he still thinks the guest will return but just ask for a room not near the elevator the next time. This is typical of China and you know it. Anywhere but China, the manager would apologize and say that he is looking into the problem and that it will be fixed. This lack of introspection and blaming the foreigner for everything is going to doom China to mediocrity.
Okay, so I hate to take one tiny incident and one hotel manager (at an American hotel no less) and say that it is going to doom a country of 1.5 billion people, but I really don’t have a very good response beyond that. Do you? My problem is that I cannot imagine a manager of a fairly high end hotel (American no less) saying something like this to a guest, much less online. And yet the fact that a manager of a hotel in China said this does not surprise me at all, which means I must think this sort of thing is “typical of China.” But at the same time, this really is just one person out of 1.5 billion and so I really do hate to use this tiny incident to extrapolate.
People, help me out here. Should we view this one bad hotel manager as emblematic of China or is this just one tiny meaningless incident? The phone lines are open…