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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Uncoding Online Reviews!

"These are dark times, my friend, " said one fictional character to another....... and my friend who is a big fan of the series, kept on repeating it all day, for days on end, until one day I punched him on the face and gifted him dark times around one of his eyes.

I quote this incident, because currently I do feel that these are dark times.

I will be visiting a far off city, for the 1st time, for a couple of days, a couple of months later. And so, the preparations are in full swing and most of them "a-swing-and-a-miss". One of the things I am very worried about is my accomodation. They say the city is safer than Mumbai...... which should make it the safest city in the country, but then the true-blue Mumbaikar will not accept that claim.......

So, to be on the safe side, it's good to be assured that you have booked a good accomodation.
In the era of the internet, everything is online..... e-mails, e-payments, e-transfers. We Indians, anyway, have been making hay of the internet even before it was in its stage of genesis. For centuries we have been e-smiling at each other, talking and gossiping about the e-smooches in E-nglish e-stories converted to films, playing all sorts of e-sports, going on e-strikes and what not in our own e-special e-styles. But, all this doesn't bother me. What bothered me was my first experience of booking hotel rooms the e-way.

In the e-ra of social media, communications have broken down. In those olden days, people would inquire with friends and friends and relatives of friends for such queries. But, the confident youth of today (such as myself) more often than not, e-mpowered by the e-nternet, take things into their own hands, go to google and get all our querries answered.

So, I rub my magic lamp, and a Google comes out of it. "Hukum mere aaka! Aaj kya maangta???" As if reading my mind, it has already given search results before I have finished typing........ "You know, interrupting others is ill manners" my mother stills reprimands me, but the standards for Google are different.

Cheap hotels....... and some 200 pages and 200,000 search results in 0.0025 of a second. E-mpressive! I look up the first few results........ Click on photos for preview..... I am blown out this world into the outer e-space! Such beautiful rooms at such throw away prices!! Why rent an apartment, when staying in a hotel is profitable.

But, one must always read reviews...... So, I began reading.
Everything seemed very pink and rosy. A particular site had a good system of having classified their reviews from family to solo and business, excellent to terrible. Might as well see, what problems people had with it...... (Just to see if it's worth taking a shot)

Under terrible:
#1: No windows...... rooms nothing like the ones shown in the photos.
#2: Flush not working.
#3: The room on the ground floor has a broken window....... people from the neighbour building just kept peeping in the room all through the night...... made me very uncomfortable...... (Yeah, that's what Indians do.)
#4: Very noisy.
#5: Rude manager.
#6: The toilets were not clean.... The sofa had molds..... AC wasn't working.
#7: No maintenance. The bathroom was filled with hair of the previous visitor.....
#8: Area is surrounded by brothels...... Not good for women travelling alone!

Those under Solo and Business read
# 1:Excellent place, warm people.
# 2: will come back again.
# 3: Excellent room service.
#4: Reached there at night for a stopover on a trip to Delhi.... could have done with better sound proofing as it is located on the highway..... But, great place at this price.
#5: I've been here thrice, gets better each time.
#6: I never write any reviews, but this place is so good that I am writing it. (That was all, and indeed that user had this lone review to his credit)

Eventually, since I am going for an exam, I have decided, this is definitely not the place I want to stay at. I have gotten in touch with a couple of people who know people residing in the said city to refer me to a safe place.

By-the-by, the following review requires a special mention. Categorised under the one rating the said hotel as excellent-

Stayed here for three nights. Poor ventilation, poor room service, charged me more at checkout. But on the bright side, J.W. Marriot is bang opposite, so you can pop-out of here in the middle of the night and go there.

What do you mean???

This hasn't been my first experience reading online reviews....... A month ago, my old laptop crashed and I had to buy a new one. Read online reviews and bought a Leovo..... which crashed on day one.... Went back and exchanged it for an HP.... which was reviewed to be bad..... Has been working e-smoothly!

Conclusions:
1. When Indians write reviews, they can't be trusted. Either we don't know what we are writing or forget to include the "pun intended" in brackets.
2. It all boils down to the price..... If its cheap its e-xcellent.

Contact someone who you know personally and follow their advice.