Are your employees cheating the system?

Two things that stick in my mind from my Cornell education include how nasty hotel rooms are when you hold a black light to the sheets and walls, and how you can cheat the system by presenting the same beer bill to multiple guests and pocketing the cash. The second lesson was a probably a fleeting comment made by a professor, but what I took from it was that if I knew how employees could cheat the system, I’d be better equipped to prevent them from doing so.

I recently stayed at a hotel in Bali. I won’t mention the brand, but let’s just say it was a branded hotel (that was neither the Pullman nor Bambu Indah, for those of you who knew where I stayed during and after the hotel conference). At any rate, I was a walk-in, I gave them my passport, I paid cash, got a receipt and a key, I stayed, slept and 18 hours later I checked out. And that’s when I caught it.

Me: Salamat Pagi! (With a big smile) I’m checking out of room 201. (I hand the key over to the front desk agent.)

Front Desk: Thank you. (He looks at his computer) Are you supposed to check out today?

Me: Yes. Why?

FD: No reason. Thank you for staying.

Me: (Bulb lights up) Can I get a copy of my receipt?

FD: Sorry, we don’t have receipts. Did my colleague give it to you when you checked in?

Me: Yes, but I misplaced it. Can you print a new one?

FD: After you check in we file it away. (He waves his arm towards the back office, grimacing like it’s a faraway planet.) Sorry.  

Me: But you must have a record in your computer that you can print out.

FD: No, we don’t have that.

Me: So how do you know who stays in your hotel?

FD: We have this printout. (He places both hands on a stack of papers in front of him.)

Me: Great. Can I take a look at it? (He passes them to me and I flip through until I find room 201 — different guest name, different reservation altogether). Mind if I speak to your manager?

FD: Okay. 


Manager: Can I have your email address so I can find your reservation?

Me: Well, I never gave it to them.

Manager: Are you sure you stayed in room 201? We need your e-mail to make a reservation.

Me: I was a walk-in and gave them my passport and cash. Actually, here’s the receipt they did give me. (I pull it out of my bag and upon looking at it realize that it isn’t a receipt at all, but the booking form of an online booking with my name and price breakdown. The bottom line read, “Hit continue to reserve this room.”) Hey, I’m not trying to be difficult, but I think your employees are booking one rate, and pocketing the cash from walk-ins at a higher rate.

Manager: I’ll have to check on CCTV to see who checked you in. Can you wait?

Me: Not really.

Manager: Well, I have to investigate this. I’ll email you a receipt once I figure it out.

Slightly frustrated and amused, I got his phone number and left the hotel. Later on, the manager confirmed that what I had suspected was true. I thanked him for sending me a receipt, but now I wonder if maybe he was in on it too! 

Over the years, what are some of the more creative scams you’ve come across?