Meriton and TripAdvisor

I mentioned that I’d received an email from Meriton via TripAdvisor seeking feedback about our stay.   The property is allowed by TripAdvisor to ask customers for feedback. The review when posted has a note to it that states, “Review collected in partnership with this hotel”, and by clicking through on the question mark next to this note,  it’s stated that the “business uses tools provided by TripAdvisor …. to encourage and collect guest reviews”.

I wasn’t aware when I wrote my earlier post that Meriton have been in trouble about the way they solicit these reviews.   It seems that Meriton had been “editing” email addresses so that guests who had raised complaints with reception weren’t sent an email inviting them to submit a review.  From the report about the Federal Court proceedings, it seems that about 14,000 emails were “masked”.  Wow, this number in about a year?

Given that at least some of the reviews now appearing on TripAdvisor are less than enthusiastic about some aspects of the Meriton property that we stayed at (such as the lifts), it seems that Meriton are now playing by the rules.  However, because there are so many reviews, any negative ones tend to be quickly smothered by the ones that are basically favourable. Within 2 weeks my review was on the 8th page  of the TripAdvisor review site.   For the record, we were quite happy with most aspects of the accommodation.

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TigerAir

Well, I certainly wasn’t very happy when Tiger cancelled our 11.10 am flight to Sydney and re-scheduled us to fly at 6.30 pm the NEXT day.

But the offer from Tiger to give us a credit for the fare, instead of a refund, really annoyed me.   I received an email confirming the credit, and then I called the call centre after we returned and asked for a refund instead,   The call centre operator was hard to understand and evasive, but the essence of his response was that the call centre couldn’t depart from the “policy”.  However, he did refer me to the website for the contact details of a “customer support” address, which was a postal address (in Gladstone Park).

I’m a bit old-fashioned, I suppose, and I’m OK with writing a letter.    So, doing the best I could to keep my emotions under control, I composed a letter to “Customer Support”.  By my calculations, on the same day that the letter would have been received, I received an email response,  to the effect that “as a gesture of goodwill” the fare would be repaid.

The letter also stood by the assertion that weather conditions had caused the flight to be cancelled, and hinted that I ought to have taken travel insurance!   Just the same, credit to Tigerair for responding quickly, and for (eventually) doing the right thing.  I guess some compensation towards the much higher fare we had to pay to Jetstar would be step too far for a low cost carrier.   In the meantime, I’ve posted reviews setting out our experience on both TripAdvisor and Skytrax, so they allowed me to let off a little steam!

Losing stuff…..

We got back from Sydney on Virgin (we’d booked the return flight with them from the outset).  The flight was 20 minutes late leaving, but after the hassles on the way up, it all seemed a breeze.

But a couple of days after returning, I was taken aback when I went to my wallet – and my credit card wasn’t in its place.   I guess it’s part of the aging process, but I find I often mis-place things.   This particularly applies to my reading glasses.   That said, it seems a lot of people have issues with reading glasses!

But the credit card?    Normally, I’m very careful with it.

However, this time I had a vague recollection that last time I’d used it, I’d put it away somewhere safe, but not in its usual place.   After looking around the house, I was on the verge of ringing the bank to cancel it, and then things clicked into place.  I’d used it to exit the carpark at the airport, and because I was driving, I had put it beside me in the car (instead of in my wallet).    And, yes, when I went to check, there it was.   Sighs of relief, and a mental note that next time, I must remember to put it back in my wallet as soon as I’m able to do so, if I can’t do so immediately after I use it.

Reviews

I noticed that there were a lot of reviews on TripAdvisor for our accommodation in Sydney.  Many of the reviews were by “1-time posters”.

So it didn’t come as a complete surprise when I received an email from “owner.emails@e.tripadvisor.com”  inviting me to post a review of the property on TripAdvisor.

I have posted a review on TripAdvisor, but not as a result of this prompt.   However, prompts such as this raise the interesting question whether reviews which are prompted or solicited have the same credibility as unsolicited reviews, and whether TripAdvisor ought to facilitate them.   In one sense, if every guest is solicited to post a review, perhaps the sample of reviews is in fact likely to be broader than “self-selected” contributors to TripAdvisor, on the basis that “self-selected” reviews tend in some circumstance to be negative (that is, only people who have an issue are likely to post a review).  However, I’m not sure if this is true in the case of contributors to TripAdvisor, where I think reviewers who have a record of many reviews usually seem to be objective.

Just the same, when looking at TripAdvisor reviews, I always rely more on the reviews written by contributors who have a lot of reviews to their credit.

Monuments around Sydney

I had a little spare time in Sydney, so I got out from our accommodation and wandered around nearby.

The Archibald Fountain is in Hyde Park.    It is named after J. F. Archibald, owner and editor of The Bulletin magazine, who bequeathed funds to have it built.    He also bequeathed the money for the Archibald Prize.  The fountain was designed by François-Léon Sicard, and its classical figures are in keeping with the European tradition.

The fountain commemorates the association of Australia and France in World War I.

 

 

 

Nearby is St Mary’s Cathedral with a statue of Pope John Paul II in the grounds.

 

 

At another entrance to Hyde Park is the Oddfellows memorial.

Meanwhile, over at the QV Building is a statue of Queen Victoria.  I read that this statue was originally erected in Dublin, but it was removed in 1948 and was located after some sleuthing in a yard from where it was transported to Sydney where it was renovated and unveiled in its present location in 1987.  On the day I took the photo, a bagpiper was busking in front of it, hence I took the photo from the side.

Sydney Rowing Club

We’re back home now, but I thought I’d mention that we went to Sydney Rowing Club for Sunday lunch with M and G.  It’s at Abbotsford, on the Parramatta River upstream of the Gladesville Bridge.   Once there, I was slightly disoriented because of the twists and turns in the river, but that didn’t detract from the pleasant outlook.

It was certainly popular:  a lovely day, an efficient food and drink service and, as I’ve mentioned, a great view out over the river.   However, we managed a table.   In addition, there seemed to be a number of functions occurring:  a post-christening lunch, and at least one wedding.

We caught the Parramatta River ferry back to Darling Harbour.   The ferry wharf is right alongside the club, but being Sunday, it seems that many Sydney-siders take advantage of the low daily cap on Opal fares for a very reasonably-priced day out on the Harbour.

Abbotsford ferry wharf

We squeezed on to the ferry, but it by-passed a couple of the scheduled stops on the trip down the river.

Eating at The Rocks

We headed to The Rocks for dinner.    Of course the area is historic, so it’s pleasant from that perspective.   However, to be frank, I’ve found in the past that it’s hard to find anywhere there that’s half decent to eat at, probably because it’s over-touristed and under-restauranted with the result that quality declines and prices rise (a corollary to Parkinson’s Law?).       So it was with a little trepidation that we asked for a table at Caminetto.   In fact, I was pleasantly surprised:  my veal chop with mushroom sauce was nice and S’s vegetable lasagna was quite acceptable too (but surely it’s hard to get lasagna wrong)?   We opted for a ½ litre of “house red”,  in spite of being told when we asked about the style that it was an “Italian blend” (whatever that means).   But even that went down well after the first couple of sips.

At the outset the service was just a little ordinary, but it was a busy time of the evening.   As the evening progressed, and things slackened off a little, the service improved.    Hence, when an unexpected heavy, but short shower came by, we were quickly moved from our table in the courtyard just outside the reach of the umbrella to an adjoining dry position.

We then headed through the Argyle cut and ended up walking all the way back to our accommodation on what turned out, after the shower, to be a very pleasant evening.