Thursday, December 12, 2013
Whacking my head on the bus’ luggage door was a great way to start my early and sleep deprived day. Even a week later, I still have a bruise and nice bump on my forehead. That really helped kick start my hangover for our four hour journey up to Greymouth. The bus driver continuously caught us floating in and out of numerous naps, and lovingly nicknamed us Lumpy and One Eye for the duration of our ride. Apparently Emily sleeps with one eye open. It really freaks everyone out.
Once we arrived, Greymouth wasn’t half as bad as everyone made it out to be. We got to our accommodations at Duke Hostel, and was only mildly freaked out that we were literally the only people checked in there at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Despite the dumpy vibe we got, we proceeded to prematurely pay. In hind sight, the owner, Dory, seemed a little too eager to get our money. He “upgraded” us to a private room free of charge, and after we settled in a little, something just did not feel right. It wasn’t an unsafe feeling in any way, but when you are the only guests in a huge two story hostel, it feels a bit eerie.
I roughly did the math in my head, and realized after the fact that we had both been over charged. We had already paid a 10% deposit to hostels.com and were both BBH members who should have received at least a $3 discount. (BBH is a hostel organization where you can buy a card for $45 that includes a $20 international calling card and gives members $3 or more off on the daily room rate.) I decided to confront Dory about the numbers in hopes for a logical explanation. It wasn’t long before the conversation turned hostile in his hostel, and his condescending and aggressive tone made us feel so uncomfortable that we demanded our money back.
He was adamant that the deposit money we had paid went directly to the booking site, and was trying to convince us that he was losing money from this third party. He then proceeded to deny us our BBH discounts since we did not make a reservation through them. Neither of these things has ever been true in the past, and he was clearly trying to take advantage of us. I called Ben back at Glow Worm Cottages in Franz Josef to confirm his lies, and he told me that I need to file a complaint with BBH against him. Even if we were arguing over a couple of dollars, it is the principle I was trying to stand up for. If unethical hostel owners think they can scam backpackers, they better pray I never walk through their doors. Emily and I eventually got out money refunded in cash, and happily carried on out of the Duke Hostel in Greymouth. I do not suggest staying here.
Disclaimer: This situation is very uncommon, but it still happens. Feel free to ask to see your accommodations before you pay for your stay. Owners are more than happy (or at least should be) to show you around and make you feel comfortable. After all, this is your temporary home away from home. I have had nothing but beyond pleasant experiences with the Kiwis thus far, and seeing as Dory was not a native, the integrity of the hospitable Kiwi reputation has still been maintained.
Since we were hiring a car for the next couple of days and were currently homeless in a fairly uneventful town, we decided to call Thrifty to see if we could adjust our pick up time. They were more than accommodating, and we commenced our road trip part deux one day early. We ran into one of our friends, Elliot, at the train station, and he was looking for a ride up to Nelson. Emily and I looked at each other, and seeing as we didn’t have any agenda whatsoever, Nelson seemed like a fun place to go. So off we went! I have no doubt we showed Elliot a good road trip full of games, sing alongs and frequent pit stops. You’re welcome, friend. I hope you enjoyed the crammed back seat of el cheapo.