22 October, 2007
Wotif.com – Complaints
Australia Head Office
13 Railway Terrace
Milton, QLD 4064
To whom it may concern,
The purpose of this letter is to serve as a formal complaint against Dengiz Taner and his administration of the Saray’i Hotel in Palm Cove Beach, Queensland.
Our experiences with Mr Taner and Saray’I on October 9 – 12 of 2007 were alarming, and we are compelled to advise as many business associations and fellow travellers as possible as to the negligent practices and violent behaviour of Mr Taner.
We selected Saray’I based on descriptions and photos displayed on Wotif.com. Specifically, we were enticed by the following statement: “Downstairs you can enjoy the ocean view and breezes as you sample meals in Neptune’s restaurant (prepared by our Fijian award winning chef) or sip on cocktails in our popular bar.”
We arrived at the Saray’i Hotel at approximately 7:30 pm on Tuesday October 9, 2007 to find the registration desk unattended, the lobby deserted, and a sign attached to a telephone indicating to ring for after-hours check-in. Since there was no response after 20 rings, we approached the restaurant to make inquiries. We were disappointed to discover that Neptune’s restaurant had been converted into a take-away pizza service. We rang a bell on the counter. Several minutes later, a lone pizza cook emerged from the kitchen. He seemed distraught and confused by our presence. We asked if he knew how to contact the caretaker as per our late check-in instructions provided by Wotif.com. With uncertainty, he said that he could check us in, but we would have to wait a few minutes while he tended to some pizzas as he was the only employee present.
Several minutes later, he came to the front desk and we presented him with our reservation confirmation # 7389360. Our names were not in the reservation book and he could find no record of our reservation. He explained that he does not really handle check-in, that he was just the pizza cook. We asked if there was a night manager or a caretaker that he could contact, and he then said that he was the caretaker. We began to lose confidence in the credibility of this establishment.
After leaving us once more to tend to his pizzas, he returned and offered to show us to a room, saying we could sort out the reservations with the owner in the morning. He lead us through a darkened lobby in which was parked a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and out onto a brick path that was overgrown with bushes such that we had to bend aside branches to make our way. He left us to inspect the room while he went to check on his pizzas and get us two towels.
The room may best be described as dreary, hot, and odorous. The overhead lighting was cold and weak. The toilet leaked. The door to the rear patio, a small concrete enclosure, was unlocked, causing us immediate concerns regarding the security of the facility, as there might have been an intruder concealed in the room – imaginative perhaps, but personal safety is a serious concern for women travellers. The beds were worn and lumpy, and the springs could be felt through the tired covers. In no way did this room resemble the elegant boutique rooms shown on the website.
Returning to the lobby to retrieve our luggage, we asked if we should park in the rear as had been indicated on our instructions from Wotif.com. He asked where we were parked now. We said out front to which he replied “It’s safer out front. You’re alright there.” This statement raised further concerns regarding the security of the property, and we determined that we did not feel safe enough to remain at the hotel. We informed the caretaker/cook of our feelings and our intentions to depart. Although he did offer to show us to another room, we did not feel that solution would provide us with any further security or allay our doubts as to the integrity of the hotel.
We departed the hotel and found another facility that was brightly lit and well-staffed with friendly competent personnel who made us feel welcome, safe, and secure.
On the morning of October 10, we contacted Wotif.com to inform them of our experience. The reservation agent said she would contact the Saray’I Hotel on our behalf. She returned to the line and said the owner would not offer any refund, and that he “wasn’t very nice…in fact, he was most unpleasant.” We stated that we were less concerned by the refund, as we were by the fact that the property was entirely misrepresented on their website and that we had concerns regarding its security, since we had felt in danger upon our registration. She advised that we lodge a formal written complaint to Wotif.com.
At 5 pm that evening, Audra returned to the Saray’I Hotel to speak with the owner directly. Mr Taner was sitting at a table out front drinking a large beer and smoking cigarettes. She explained our experiences of the previous evening and offered our sincere apologies for having caused him any inconvenience. He immediately became agitated. He said we had been offered an upgrade. She said we had been offered to see another room, but that was inconsequential since we did not feel personally safe staying at the property. He became more agitated and asked for further explanation as to why we had felt that way. Audra explained about the unlocked door, the comments made about the safety of parking out front, and the fact that a motorcycle was parked in the lobby, to which he replied that it was his motorcycle and he parked it there to keep it safe, thus confirming our perception that the property had security concerns.
Audra informed him of our intentions to lodge a formal complaint with Wotif.com because, aside from the security concerns, the property had been grossly misrepresented on their website. She told Mr Taner that one of the features that had attracted us to his property was “an award-winning Fijian chef”, yet we arrived to find a deserted pizza kitchen. She said that was false advertising. He responded that the chef had quit some months ago, but that didn’t matter because there were plenty of other restaurants up and down the street. Audra went on to explain that the features of the room were unsatisfactory and did not meet expectations based on what was described on Wotif.com. He became visibly angry and said his property had been independently assessed and given a 4.5 star rating. Audra then explained the level of quality we were experiencing down the street to illustrate the contrast for value. He raised his voice and leaning forward in his chair yelled that he wasn’t going to give us any “damned refund”. Becoming frightened, Audra explained that she had not asked for a refund and that it was worth the sacrifice to ensure safety and comfort. At this point, Mr Taner became enraged and shouted “That’s it, you fucking bitch. Get off of my property you fucking bitch!”
We were intimidated. Audra felt distinctly threatened by his aggressive behaviour and his abusive language and was worried he might assault her. She promptly left the premises.
No one deserves to be threatened or intimidated in the course of a business dealing, particularly in the hospitality industry. We feel obligated to convey our experiences to the relevant authorities, associations, and agencies to establish firm documentation of Mr Taner’s aggressive behaviour and hostile attitude towards his guests, in the event that in the future he loses his composure and becomes physically violent.
Thank you for your attention and consideration to this matter.
Linda Dydo Audra A McKinzie
Smithfield Police Station
Australia Hotel Association
ACT Office of Fair Trading
Council of Small Business Australia
Australian Turkish Business Council
Restaurant and Catering Association
Municipal Employees Credit Union of San Jose