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.

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.

Balmain and all that

S was off investigating the retail therapy opportunities (with M) so I was left to my own devices.    In the interests of doing something that I’d never done before, I headed to Balmain, just to see where those basket-weavers come from.    A quick trip on the 442 bus from the QV Building, until slowing to a crawl through the traffic in Darling St – yes, caught up behind all the Beemers and SUVs.    And lots of Saturday morning latte drinking, too.

The Balmain market seemed very quiet indeed.   Perhaps everyone’s got enough of the up-market products on offer?

The total time required to tick Balmain off my “list” (including walking from the Balmain East wharf to the top of Darling St) was less than an hour, so I was back on the bus and coincidentally ran into S and M and enjoyed an opportunistic coffee.

Balmain East Wharf from Barangaroo Reserve

So, what next?     It ended up being the new Barangaroo Reserve (next to the construction site for the new casino).   Yeah, nice (hard to believe that it was once a container terminal) but it will probably be better when the trees have had a chance to grow.  And then, just because it was there, a walk across the Bridge (windy and cage-like), a train back from Milson’s Point (only to Wynyard, because of track maintenance), followed by a rest and a decision-making process about dinner!

Daring St, quieter down at the Balmain East wharf end
Old Watch house, Darling St, Balmain
Balmiain – a decision between 4 bins for your garbage!
Humour in Balmain
Barangaroo Reserve
Circular Quay from Harbour Bridge footpath
Bridge footpath is certainly “enclosed”, and very visible security, too

What a disaster…….

Our day, which was supposed to involve a routine one hour flight to Sydney, ended up as a disaster, costly in financial and emotional terms and in terms of time wasted.

We left home in good time to make the Tiger flight.    It subsequently emerged that Tiger had sent us a text, received  shortly before we left but after I’d checked my phone, informing us that our 11.10 am flight had been cancelled due to “weather” and we’d been re-booked on the 6.25 pm fight tomorrow.   How they knew at 7 am that the weather was going to affect a flight at 11 am remains one of life’s mysteries.  Be that as it may, our response when the news was broken to us as we tried to check in can be imagined.    A delay of a day and a half before the next flight to, of all places, Sydney?     But Tiger was adamant;  all the flights before then were fully booked!!

We were obviously not impressed and certainly don’t intend to accept Tiger’s offer to credit (NOT refund) us the cost of the airfare as being the total limit of their responsibility.

So, we compared availability at other airlines, with the cost of walk-up fares at all airlines being, well, outrageous, but what can you do?    We opted for Jetstar because their’s was the earliest available departure (a wait until “only” 3.20 pm).   But when we lined up to board – oops there was a technical  hitch, and we were informed there would be a delay.   15 minutes turned into an hour and then another hour and a half, then some more.   Jetstar’s approach was not impressive;   passengers were drip-fed information (clearly the technical people weren’t communicating with the customer-facing staff).    By the time 6 pm arrived, we were fearful that the flight would be cancelled, and we took advantage of Jetstar’s offer to book us on a flight at – would you believe – 8.25 pm.  By then the assurance that we were going to get to Sydney that day was some comfort.   This involved the hassle of having our luggage returned to us and re-checking it.    In the meantime, it was announced that the original flight would in fact operate at 8.15 pm because another aircraft had been found.  I think that the Jetstar flight that took off immediately prior to us may have been the original flight.

All in all, NOT satisfactory, and as might be imagined, I could elaborate on our feelings!    However, on finally landing in Sydney at about 10 pm, our baggage was on the carousel waiting for us, and it was only a 5 minute wait at the easy-to-find train station from which the comfortable train took us to Town Hall, which was even closer to our accommodation (spacious and comfortable – but not cheap!) than I had hoped!