This post is more about balancing karma on the internet than any other thing. Well, also to provide some advise to people who are thinking of going to Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City.
While I was staying in Saigon last January I stayed at a hostel named Nga Hoang because a friend I was meeting up with was staying at this place. I had a bad experience with this hotel and got really really annoyed, even more when I found out what they did a few weeks later. This is my way of paying back by not recommending people to go there. As I couldn’t go back to discuss the issue, I’m hoping this will make it to google and level the karma a bit. (See http://justinvincent.com/page/1874/yelp-you-cost-me-2000-by-suppressing-genuine-reviews-heres-how-you-fix-it for something background information about reviews on the internet)
The hotel is the Nga Hoang Hotel, or backpackers, whatever you want to call it. It’s got good reviews on hostelworld.com, but if you read carefully on the reviews, you’ll see that there are some people who are not having a nice experience there. I usually think there are a lot of whiners on the internet leaving bad reviews to places based on minimal stuff. And I don’t usually complain about minor things, unless I’m paying $100 a night. And so far this has been true on many hostels where I’ve stayed at. But when someone tries to rip me off blatantly and being a bad person, I feel really annoyed and I don’t let it slip.
My idea was to spend 3⁄4 days in Saigon before heading south to do a Mekong Delta tour so I booked one through this hotel. I booked the Mekong Delta tour (three days, two nights) through this hotel because it had affordable prices and it’s always more convenient this way, less hassle. I booked it with two extras, going to Phnom Penh via the Mekong River on a slow boat (instead of returning to Saigon) , and a paying for a single room, otherwise I would be sharing with someone else. For the extra single room I had to pay $4 per day. So I did pay $8 extra for that.
I did pay her the money for the tour, the money for the extra trip to Cambodia and the money for the two nights in a single room and asked to have a receipt. She said that was not necessary. I insisted and got the same answer. (You can see where this is going). But hey, what am I going to do? Punch the owner of the hotel? Speaking of who, the owner (or well, the person who sits there all the time) is a woman of an interesting character. Interesting because she’s normally not nice and borderline rude sometimes. Maybe something to do with the culture. Anyway, I did not have any massive problems except asked to pay the money upfront for my room. Which by the way, despite having a booking, was not available. So the first night I had to sleep at a different hostel nearby, and then I went back to this hostel for the remaining 3 days.
During these days, I saw some huge arguments between her and some customers regarding breakfast, which was included in the price but she was not offering at all. I did not involve in those as I didn’t care much, but I did not have breakfast there, for the record.
On my last night there she reminded me of my upcoming tour:
Remember, tomorrow be ready at 07:30, three days, two nights accommodation, single room to Phnom Penh.
And so I was picked up the following morning at that time and I went on my tour.
Now, whilst going on this tour, on a boat, the guide came to me and said there was some kind of problem with my booking and he gave me a mobile phone and talk to someone. So I grab it, and here’s the owner of Nga Hoang Hotel who says:
You have to pay the extra single room to them. Excuse me? You have to pay $8 dollars to them to get the extra single room Sorry, I paid that money to you **
I couldn’t believe it. She hung up on me. So I went to the guide and expressed in no unclear terms that this woman was a lier and that in no way I was going to pay the extra money as I already paid to her. Their problem, they go and sort it out, as they are the ones doing business with this woman.
End of story, I got my single room and I didn’t pay anything else.
I then left a bad (which is not that bad) review on hostelworld, warning about this woman. And I got a reply to that review (owners of establishments can reply to reviews. Now look at what they wrote there (You can find the reviews here, but they might disappear as people leave more and more reviews). I got a screen shot just in case it disappears:
So, read the reply, in perfect English (which she didn’t speak, just broken). I had a disagreement and I booked somewhere else, comments are meant for another hostel… Well played, but no, I stayed at your bloody hostel for 4 days you moron.
I really hope this makes to google so other people get a warning about this. I know that this hostel is recommended in the Lonely Planet Guide, so I will send them a message too.
And before you tell me that this might be excessive, think about how pissed off I was about this woman to write this long post.
Anyway, I’ve not had any other thing like that except one thing that happened in Thailand, but that was a Thai woman ripping off some other Thai people, but that’s another story for the future.