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PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 September, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 September, 2005, 12:00am

Beatriz Marino Tancock of Happy Valley tried to book two rooms at the Marco Polo Hotel for a client last month and was quoted different room rates varying from $900 to $2,135 within 48 hours.

Worse, her overseas client managed to book the cheapest rate by e-mail, leaving her embarrassed.

'I was left feeling rather stupid so I called and cancelled my booking,' she said.

She first called on August 19 and was quoted the daily rate of $1,350 to $1,450, plus 13 per cent government tax.

'On September 1, I called back to book two rooms, one single and one twin, but this time the quotation had gone up so much that the best quotation available was for the Marco Polo Gateway at $1,945 for a single room and $2,135 for a double room.

'I e-mailed my client and within 24 hours, the client e-mailed back having obtained a reservation at one of the Marco Polo hotels via the internet for $900 per night!

'Are hotels in Hong Kong milking the tourists? This is not a reasonable situation.'

The hotel chain has apologised for the confusion and promised to enhance internal staff training. The Marco Polo hotel chain replies: 'We would like to sincerely apologise for the obvious confusion and embarrassment that Ms Tancock faced.

'When she first called, she booked a deluxe room in the Marco Polo Hongkong Hotel. When she called again on September 1, the room types quoted to her were our continental club floor rooms, our premium brand, in the Marco Polo Gateway Hotel, unfortunately not knowing that she had wanted the deluxe at the Hongkong Hotel.

'When her friend booked on the internet, the room category booked was a superior room in the Marco Polo Gateway, which is the least expensive room. We have three different hotels all on Canton Road, with at least four different room categories - unfortunately, this does not make it any easier for our guests to understand.

'We will review our internal training procedures to ensure this confusion does not happen again.'

Mother Shih Yan-ting took her one-year-old son to the emergency ward at Happy Valley's Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital early this month. Though she was happy with his treatment for gastroenteritis, she was appalled by the attitude of the nurses and doctor who were unwilling or unable to explain her son's progress while he was kept in the paediatric clinic.

'I spent five days with my one-year-old who was admitted for an upper respiratory infection and gastroenteritis with a high temperature,' she wrote.

'Despite the effective medical treatment, I found the patient-doctor relationship sub-standard, which left me thinking that the amount I had paid was unjustified. Despite their competency in administering medication and carrying out routine tasks, the nurses were unable to answer basic questions, which I found highly disturbing.'

Her son was kept on a drip the entire time. When she asked the nurse who was giving her son an injection what it was, the nurse said she wasn't sure. 'Surely, all nurses should know exactly what they are handling?

'At this stage, I realised I hadn't been briefed on what was being administered to my child from the start. On day three, I had two questions: 1) How long would my son have to stay in hospital, since he had no temperature by then; and 2) Why was the medicine for the gastroenteritis not proving to be effective? The response was that only the doctor could tell me.'

However, the nurse told her the doctor was away and she did not know when he would be back.

'So I didn't have access to the doctor when I needed to and my only option was to wait till the doctor appeared at his convenience. When finally the doctor did appear, he seemed exasperated that I challenged his decision to keep my son in hospital.'

The hospital has defended its service.

' It is highly regrettable that Ms Shih felt she had a bad experience in our hospital,' wrote assistant medical superintendent Patrick Wong.

'Her complaints were mainly due to poor communication. We shall investigate the case more fully and try to improve our shortcomings.'

On September 8, Dr Wong said the paediatric clinic was closed because doctors had to attend the funeral of the late medical superintendent, Li Shu-pui. The doctor in question was contacted on his mobile phone and did come back as soon as possible.

Dr Wong said there was always a resident medical officer on call at the hospital.

'When Ms Shih said she wanted her son discharged from hospital, the doctor explained to her that her son's temperature had not settled completely. He took a long time to explain to her the situation and she finally agreed to stay for the night.

'The doctor could only explain and advise. He could not implement his decision if the parent did not agree.'