May 272011

I have just spent a few days in Orlando, where my wife was attending the national conference of her professional organization at the Marriott World Center Resort.

Orlando, Florida. ©Calvin Palmer 2011. All Rights Reserved.

On these kind of trips we travel with a cooler bag filled with Diet Coke and those not consumed on the journey are then placed in the fridge of the hotel room.

I am then instructed to buy a 12-pack of Diet Coke to last the week and the cans are placed in the fridge when space becomes available.

Carrying out my orders, I happened to notice a sticker on the fridge that said it was not for personal use. The note went on to say that the fridge employed sensors that monitored what was used.

Now something about being monitored by sensors attached to a central computer did not sit easily with me, especially in a country that is supposed to be the Land of the Free and where one political party continually campaigns against big government. This fridge smacked of Big Brother.

I passed this information on to my wife and her colleagues; the general consensus of opinion was that the presence of sensors in the fridge was just BS.

Perhaps I took things a little too far by rearranging part of the contents of the fridge. The Bud Light went in the space previously occupied by the Pepsi and the Canada Dry Ginger Ale also found a new home courtesy of me.

The next morning, I came to get a Diet Coke and found that the door to the fridge was locked. Several strong tugs failed to force the door to open.

I called Guest Services and explained the situation.

“I am sorry about that,” the girl said. “We can unlock it from here.”

Sure enough, a few moments later when I tried the fridge door, it opened with ease. That got me thinking that the claims on the sticker were not so far-fetched as I had originally believed. But just for good measure, I rearranged a few more of the drinks in the fridge.

The sensors may be able to tell if a can is removed but it cannot determine whether the contents of that can have been consumed and therefore rightfully be charged to the room.

I told my wife about the fridge being locked and released from some remote point and said that we may face an interesting exchange when we came to pay the bill.

In the course of the next day, the fridge door became locked again and I once again called Guest Services to get it released.

The morning of departure and the bill pushed under the door of the room revealed a charge for one soft drink, which we had not consumed. But all my switching the cans around had not registered with the sensors. Damn!

At the desk, our protestation about the one soft drink was readily accepted and the amount deducted from the bill. My case for the defence was never used. Perhaps it was just as well. Look what happened to Winston Smith!

Orlando, Florida. ©Calvin Palmer 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Have a good weekend, y’all!