During my stay at the uber chic La Mamounia, Marrakech, only comparable to resorts such as Hotel du' Palais in Biarritz, Hotel du' Cap in the South of France or Villa d'Este in Lake Como, I purchased three hand crafted mother of pearl and wood cigar boxes in the shuck. When I saw the boxes, I had to have them! I know the exact place that I bought them because a day before a snake charmer had thrown his serpent on my shoulder and I passed out in front of the store. I carried the heavy boxes back to the hotel because I was afraid if I had them sent to the hotel, I would never see them again, mind you this is as close to a third world country as it gets. When I got back to the hotel, I turned the boxes over to the head concierge of the hotel and told him to send the boxes directly to my home in Los Angeles, and to make sure they were sent insured. Because I was leaving North Africa and staying on in Europe, I knew the boxes would arrive well before I returned back to the United States. As expected, when I got home three weeks later, my doorman gave me a month's worth of mail and of course, three lovely cardboard boxes wrapped in DHL tape, which to my dismay, appeared as if they were each run over by a Hummer.
When I got upstairs, I opened the boxes and there were my cigar humidors which were reduced to nothing more than a pile of pearl and Bedouin hand crafted wood debris. The next morning I got on the telephone with Morocco and asked to speak with the concierge of the hotel. I explained to one of the concierges what happened and he told me that the person who dealt with these kinds of things would call me in the morning. Granted, there was a time difference and I accept that there is not much you can do at 3AM Morocco time.
Alas the next morning came and wen, and so did the next, and the next. Finally, I called the hotel and asked why I had not received a call back in three days and they told me that the person who deals with this would call me back right away. So I waited for that call and a few days later, I decided to call once again. This time the hotel told me the department that handles this was on "vacation". I did not know hotels took vacations? I mean I know of hotels that are only opened during high season, but "on vacation"? This was something I had never heard of.
Finally on January 22nd, I get an email from the concierge of La Mamounia. It says "Back from vacation... I shall be in the office at 7:30 pm. Look forward to hearing from you." Alright... let's re examine the situation thus far. I am staying in a hotel where single rooms start at $800 a night and a suite that you can't touch both walls with both hands starts at $2500. I buy something... they send it... it arrives broken... I call them... I don't hear from them for three days... I call again... I don't hear from them for another three days... they are on vacation... I email them and finally ten days later they are back from vacation and I can call them at 7:30 pm there time which is convenient for them. By the way, for those of you who can figure out the time difference... that's 3:30 in the morning here... but I digress).
Rather than drawing this out longer than it needed to be, I decided to do as I was told, and called them when it was convenient for them. It was not really a problem, I am a night owl and I am up at that time anyhow. Shockingly (but not really) they were unavailable. So I do not bore you, in what was an email exchange totaling twenty-five messages back and forwards, the situation was finally resolved. But they were not going to make it easy for me!
First, they wanted me to prove to them that the boxes were broken and take photographs. Second they wanted to replace the boxes for me, (at this point, the last thing I wanted to do was ever see those boxes again, I just wanted to be reimbursed, and without disclosing what I paid for my Moroccan gems, you can figure out, the pearl boxes were by no means cheap. They then proceeded to tell me that the laws in their country PROHIBIT them from sending me a check or wiring me money. This is when I lost it. I am generally a very calm person, but when I get excited, let's just say you would rather not be around me. In an email I said very politely "I do not care if you have to open up a bank account in Switzerland, if by tomorrow at 5 pm my time, there is not a wire into my money market account for the exact value of the boxes (plus the cost of the shipping), they would hear from my attorney." I mean really, did I have to go there? I guess so.
Surprisingly, their tune changed rapidly, and they became quite pleasant. The concierge writes me an email and says that his brother in New York is going to go to his local bank branch and deposit the money in my account. At this point, I was no longer upset, but on the floor laughing. A hotel of this caliber had to find an employee's US based sibling to send me a check?
The next day, I called my broker and alas, La Mamounia finally came through! They deposited the money. After 26 days, they finally reimbursed me. Even if it cost me more in attorney fees, I would have fought them to the bitter death. I was not going to let them get away with this! So that is where my story ends. Now I have my money, no more beautiful Bedouin boxes, and a terrible opinion of what is considered to be one of, if not THE finest hotel in the world.
Of course, this is one side of the story, we welcome response from the folks at La Mamounia. So what do you think? What should the protocol be when goods shipped by the concierge to you at your home end up busted in transit. Thoughts? Let us know here.