Hospitality Scams shams cheats crook and thieves.
Max Hitchins
Tuesday, 27th November 2007
In keeping with my old man's saying of "Trust everyone - but cut the cards" here are some more great stories about scams, shams, cheats, crooks and thieves who pervade our industry and sneak off with either our money or the customers money.

Free accommodation
On November 12, 1992, Troy Evans was sentenced to 13 years in Federal Prison. He was convicted of five armed bank robberies, in three states, over a six-month crime spree, and was sent to the Federal correctional Complex in Florence, Colorado. His neighbours included such notorious criminals as Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. Troy was released on December 13, 1999, over seven and one-half years later.

Troy is now a professional speaker who shares his story and lessons learned with audiences of all ages. See http://www.troyevans.com/ Troy speaks to young people about the dangers of drug use, peer pressure, decision making, and accepting the consequences of those decisions. I got to know Troy when we shared the same platform in Washington DC. He's a good bloke. I asked him if there was a scam he'd like to share with me for my latest book on scams. Here's one he sent me.

I used this scam while touring the country robbing banks as a way to get out of paying my hotel bill. I would stay at top notch hotels and resorts, thus being assured of great customer satisfaction policies. I would use a 'good' credit card upon checking in and over the next several days would treat myself to all of the amenities the hotel had to offer, room service, massages, etc.

On the last night of my stay I would go into the bar and pay my tab with a 'bad' credit card. Upon running the card through the tender would be instructed by the issuer to destroy the card (they are or at least were paid money to do this by the issuing bank).

I would of course put on a scene suggesting that there was some kind of mistake, and that I was furious that they would cut up my credit card. On my way back to the room I would stop at the front desk and demand that the manger call me first thing in the morning upon his or her arrival (I usually made this a Sunday morning knowing it would be impossible to contact anyone at the bank who could dispute my story)

The manager always called me first thing in the morning and asked me to come to their office. I would stomp in demanding satisfaction for the injustice the night before. I would claim that I was the CEO of some fictitious company, and that my employees stayed regularly at their chain throughout the country. I would contend that there was some kind of mistake, my card should never have been cut up, it was embarrassing and I wanted to know what the manager was going to do to rectify this injustice and humiliation.

Many times it started with the offer a few nights stay for free, but I always held my ground that this was not good enough (of course constantly reminding the manager that they were in jeopardy of losing tens of thousands of dollars of my company's business), and almost each time they would eventually agree to comp my entire stay. I pulled this of dozens of times.

Watch out for telephone researchers
Bill Marvin the American Restaurant Doctor, www.RestaurantDoctor.com shared this telephone scam story with me. Apparently it is running hot in America at this time.

If anyone represents themselves as being from the phone company and asks you to touch nine-zero-pound sign (or "90#"), refuse and hang up. This combination gives full access to your telephone-number account to anyone. They can then make any number of calls to anywhere and it will be billed to your number. DO NOT PRESS "90#" FOR ANYONE!!

My dress needs dry cleaning
Recently I spoke at the AHA Western Australian annual Convention. While there Phil Cockman shared this scam from the UK with me. It usually happens around Christmas time, or other festive seasons. On this occasion it was just after Christmas.

A letter was received from someone claiming that at a function over the Christmas period one of the staff members spilled red wine on a cocktail dress. The letter included a bill for dry cleaning, for $75. Phil said most hotels pay such a small amount rather than enter into any form of argument with a potential customer. He said he was aware of one woman who sent the same demand to 100 hotels.

It is very hard to guard against, and would take an awful lot of investigation to try and discover the truth. Hence many GM's simply take the easy and expedient way out and pay the amount - no questions asked

And remember my old man used to also say "It's important to learn from the mistakes of others. We are not going to live long enough to learn from all the mistakes we will make in the hospitality industry."

Max Hitchins is known around the world as The Hospitality Doctor. He is the author of seven book and the above is an extract from his latest book about Hospitality Scams which retails for #US26.00 + postage. It comes with a guarantee to save you at least $1000 otherwise you can send send the book back and have your money refunded! Check out the book and order it from his web site www.HospitalityDoctor.com  or contact him byE-mail at: max@hitchins.com.au   
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