Thursday, April 11, 2019

Finally! "The Full Comaneci!"

CLEVELAND ROCKS: But at least one
joint was a real eye-roller.
This short blog has a surprise ending.

I already know that because I told my friend Richard the story you’re about (I hope) to read, and when I got to the end, he literally took a half a step backwards and said, “Man you gotta, like, tell the world about that.”

Here goes.

A few weeks ago, my cell rang in the middle of the afternoon and the caller i.d. showed a long number with “Hong Kong” written under it. Ignoring every instinct in my body to answer the thing, I didn't pick it up.

Same thing happened 24 hours later.

Then a third call, a day later. 

The call on day four came with a twist. Hong Kong left a message. I punched in my password. A female voice in perfect but accented English: “Hi my name is Carol I’m calling from Agoda....”

She went on with the message and wound up with, “Please note it could take up to 30 business days to transfer the amount. Thank you.”

I hung up. In disbelief.

Here’s why. 

A month earlier, my wife Helena and I were going to spend a few days in Cleveland so to find accommodation, I Googled something like “places to stay near the Rock&Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.”

It came up with an establishment that sounded economical but decent and I booked and used my credit card to pay for two nights.

We drove to Cleveland and drove around until we found the place.

Glad to be done driving, we checked in.


I’ve stayed in some skuzzy joints, but this place outskuzzed them all. It bordered on scary, from the lobby in. I’ll just go into detail about one single lowlight: There was a huge patch of icky wet carpet that we had to walk across to get to the bathroom. From there, it was all downhill.

One night was enough.

Next morning, I courageously told the desk clerk we were leaving and please could we have our second night’s payment refunded?  He looked at his computer and said something like, “You booked through the agency; you have to ask them.”

HARBOUR INN: Was close to but couldn't
compete with our skanky hotel
I didn’t know of any agency. He told me it was called Agoda.

More than a week later, we were back home and I Googled Agoda. It was an online booking service alright, but there was no phone number or street address.

It had a menu to register questions and concerns but in order to do so, you had to fill in things like your order confirmation number and the last four digits of the credit card you used and I had neither handy. 

There was one little space to leave comments so I just fired off the same story you just read including the detail about the smooshy rug and us bailing on the second night but not being able to contact anybody and please could I get my money back. I left my phone number.

Turns out, that’s what the mysterious phone calls were about.

My curt little memo found its way across the globe and somehow somebody somewhere in Asia read it then tried to get hold of me not once, not twice but four times, finally leaving a message telling me I would get the requested refund; an amount of money  which I had—as you might expect—long written off.  


Until proven otherwise, I’m awarding that company called Agoda what I call-- a bit in honour of the famous Romanian gymnast who won a gold in '76 but mostly because I like the way it sounds --“The Full Comaneci!:” 10 outta 10!

Agoda. You read it first here folks. Agoda
(In case you were wondering.)

And that’s what Richard thought I should tell the world about. 

You’d like Richard. 

Smart guy, he is.

And here's a weird thing I just remembered. Many years ago, he diagnosed me as a classic pronoiac.

Pronoia, in case you don’t know, is the opposite of paranoia.

Heres Wikipedia on pronoia: "Where a person suffering from paranoia feels that persons or entities are conspiring against them, a person experiencing pronoia feels that the world around them conspires to do them good.

"In 1993 the writer and Electronic Frontier Foundation co-founder John Perry Barlow defined pronoia as "the suspicion the Universe is a conspiracy on your behalf."

With stuff like Agoda happening to me on a regular basis, how can I be anything but? 

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