Monday, March 30, 2015

A $10K fine for a bad tenant review? Yelp!

I’m not much of a Yelp user.

Oh, I’ll occasionally take a look at what they say about a restaurant or hotel I’m thinking of going to.

But mostly when I’m trying a new restaurant, it’s one that I’ve heard about word of mouth. And for a hotel, I’ll usually do a flea-bag check on TripAdvisor, and google the hotel’s name and the word “bedbug.” (Hmmmm…I just checked the place I’ll be staying – on the recommendation of my client - in NYC tonight, and there was a bb incident last year. I’ll have to flip the mattress when I get in, which won’t be until nearly 10 p.m. Rats! I mean bedbugs!)

But once I started thinking about Yelp, I decided to search for what was being said about the property management company that manages our condo building, as well as a number of rental properties in the city. Their rating was 1.5 starts out of 5, which seems about right, if not a tad generous. I have no desire to get on Yelp and trash them, however. They’ve been generally responsive when I have had a problem that was “caused” by the building and not particular to my unit. And a lot of the problems we have working with them are no doubt due to the flakiness and inconsistency of our condo board (composed of all the owners, me included). That said, they have pulled some real boners in the past, and I would not recommend them.

But maybe I should start listening to vox populi more often.

What brought Yelp to mind was a story I saw a few weeks back on the ridiculous reaction that an apartment complex in Florida had to its frequent negative reviews in Yelp and elsewhere on social media. Windemere Cay began forcing:

…new tenants to sign a "social media addendum" that threatened a fine of $10,000 if they gave the place a bad review online…[The addendum] also forces tenants to sign away their rights to any photos, reviews or other material about the complex posted online.(Source: Huffington Post)

Specifically, the addendum stated:

“Applicant will refrain from directly or indirectly publishing or airing negative commentary regarding the Unit, Owner, property or the apartments,” the addendum reads. “This means that Applicant shall not post negative commentary or reviews on Yelp!, Apartment Ratings, Facebook, or any other website or Internet-based publication or blog."

Well, people have been complaining about landlords for as long as there have been landlords.

I well remember my first apartment, in Boston’s Fenway area, which I had my senior year in college.

Our landlord was Maurice Gordon, one of the most notorious slumlords of the era.

And, guess what? We knew he was a slumlord before we signed the lease, which just goes to show you that even before the days of social media, it was possible to actually know stuff.

Despite what we knew about Maurice Gordon, but he was pretty much the only game in that part of town, and all our other off-campus going friends were snapping up apartments on Queensbury and Peterborough Streets. So we did, too.

If this had been the age of social media, we might have had something to say.

Sure, they had painted the rooms before we moved in, but they hadn’t cleaned a lick.

Under the claw-foot bathtub, we found dust kitties the size of coon cats, and all sorts of empty liquor bottles.

The stove/oven was a relic from the 1920’s – a little enamel number on spindly legs called the Detroit Jewel. It was replaced somewhat early on, but it took a while to get a real refrigerator with an actual freezer to replace the archaic fridge (same era as the Detroit Jewel; a one step improvement over an ice-box). Of course, the old fridge was replaced with a new fridge that didn’t work.

Our complaints to the landlord fell on deaf ears, so my roommate and I took that train down to Dedham (I think), where there was some sort of GE appliance facility. After going haywire for a bit in front of a kindly manager, we got a fridge that worked.

I am blocking out what the floor in the kitchen originally looked like. All I remember is that we bought a blue and green linoleum rug remnant, which my roommate’s boyfriend – now husband – put down for us.

I remember Tommy going the extra mile to edge it with wood trimming, which he painted. (Hey, Tom, did I ever thank you for that?)

Our trash was thrown down a chute in the hall, which blasted out hot air when you opened the chute’s door. In my mind, the trash emptied directly into the furnace, but that is not, of course, possible. (At least I don’t think it is.)

The bad news was that some of the tenants left their trash outside the chute, in open paper bags.

Any wonder there were cockroaches? (I guess we can’t blame Maurice Gordon for  that.)

Once we settled in and got the appliances worked out, I don’t remember actually calling the landlord for anything. We were pretty self-sufficient. We knew how to use a toilet plunger, and Tommy – who was up most weekends – was plenty handy.

The place was a dump, but the public areas weren’t that bad. The front area – some grass and a walk – was reasonably well kept up. We were ultra neat and ultra clean in our own cozy little apartment.  (Although the one and only time my father saw the place, a few months before he died, we had to step over a drunk sleeping in the entry way to get into the building.)

Anyway, Joyce and didn’t really have much to complain about, but I’m quite sure that if the blogosphere had existed when I was in college, I would have gone to town on the move-in condition of the place and about our quest to acquire a fridge that worked.

Good luck to Maurice Gordon if he’s tried to collect $10K from us. He was lucky to get the $150 a month we paid him. Two bedroom flats in that area now go for $2-$3k. Even with inflation, that’s lot of money, so I suspect that expectations are higher than ours were. Which is probably true of Windemere Cay tenants as well.

As it turns out, Windemere Cay has rescinded the $10K gag order, claiming it had been put in place by earlier management.

But what were they thinking to begin with?

They should have just done what sensible companies do when they’re criticized in social media: a) calmly reply to the complaint; and b) if it’s your fault, do something about it or suffer the consequences, which will include more bad social media, in which folks challenge every calm reply you’ve given, claiming that you’re nothing other than a big bad of lying wind.

Did Windemere Cay actually think that the threat of the $10K fine was going to work? That there aren’t workarounds – as in ‘my friend lives in Windemere Cay…’ for someone who really wants to get after you?

I understand that it’s difficult to deal with online complaints, which may not always be legitimate and are generally anonymous, which no doubt makes some people more spiteful than they would be if there name were attached.

But the complete and utter stupidity of trying to stop the tsunami of social media by imposing an unenforceable fine on someone for participating in it.

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Welcome sweet springtime…

No Pink Slip today, I’m afraid.

Two client deadlines yesterday, and no reserve posts in the queue. (Which never happens, but apparently just has.)

So I’ll leave you with this:

Crocus

Which is, admittedly, a terrible picture, even by my exceedingly low standards.

So if you can’t quite tell what it is, other than that it includes someone – that would be me – casting a mighty shadow – it’s the first crocuses that popped up out front just yesterday morning.

Now, I don’t know whether I accidentally ordered mini-crocuses last fall, or whether my normal-sized crocuses were stunted by all this year’s snow and cold….

All I know is that, when I went out to the cobbler yesterday a.m. to drop off a pair of shoes, there were no flowers out front. (I know this because I stepped into our, ahem, garden to pick up some recently-revealed winter trash, including someone’s discarded parking ticket, and there were no fleurs in sight.) By the time I returned, 10 minutes later, those little suckers had burst through.

Even if they are mini versions of what I expected to see, they were are sight for some very winter-sore eyes.

And last night I dreamed about forsythia.

Welcome sweet springtime!

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Spec house, schmeck house. (The bigger the better? I think not.)

As anyone who knows me well realizes, I am quite interested in – perhaps even obsessed with – the Tiny House movement.

I am not a johnny-come-lately to this.

In fact, I’ve been fantasizing about living small, and designing compact living spaces in my head, since I was a kid, when I’d lounge in the tub until the water got cold figuring out what would go where if I were going to convert the bathroom into a house.

As an adult, visiting my sister in Wellfleet, I always look with longing at Brownie’s Cabins on Route 6 when I pass by. Sure, it seems ridiculous to pay for accommodations when a lovely home (and a wonderful host and hostess) are just around the corner, but someday I promise myself that I’ll spend a night or two at Brownie’s.

So, yes, I do have a strong interest in Tiny Houses.

I don’t think I could go as far as the 100  square footers. But I could definitely survive , if needed, in a 200 foot house. And could live large  - and comfortably – in 400 square feet. (Been there, done that, now that I think of it. I did live for a number of years in a small studio.)

And then there’s the other end of the spectrum. That would be the Ginormous House movement which, in contrast with the Tiny Houses. While Tiny Houses tend to be small footprint and green-built, Ginormous Houses are both big-arse and de luxe. As in the spec house built by Shelly and Avi Osadon in (where else) Beverly Hills which includes:

…a custom chandelier with 25 handblown glass balls for the entryway. They installed $5,000 “hands-free” toilets with heated seats in most of the home’s 10 bathrooms. They even bought $350 electric toothbrushes custom designed by “dentist to the stars” Jon Marashi.

Now all the Osadons need to do is find someone who wants to buy their dream—ideally for their $35 million asking price. (Source: WSJ Online)

Oh, I almost get the heated seat – I live in a cold climate. And “hands free”? Why not? (Although I don’t see how a trip to the toilet is ever going to be fully “hands free”) But a $350 toothbrush? Does it guarantee ‘look my, no cavities’? Permanent fresh breath? No plaque build up? No gingivitis?

Just part of a new trend in which:

More developers and investors are racing to build increasingly lavish homes on spec. Built on prime lots with master suites larger than most homes and spas and entertainment spaces comparable with those in hotels, many of these homes are also attempting to break new price records.

In Florida, a 30K square foot is going up, complete with underground parking for 20 cars. ($45 million.)

Not to be outdone, there’s another place in Florida – in the aptly-named town of Golden Beach – that’s gong for $36M. This baby:

… has a 5,000-square-foot spa and five kitchens. And in Los Angeles, a $55 million spec home with expansive city views includes an air-conditioned “auto gallery” with a spinning turntable and room for 15 cars.

As a Tiny House aficionado, it’s my head that’s spinning, not my car. (Which, of course, I don’t own anymore.)

Much of what’s driving this is the usual roundup of Russian oligarchs and Mid-eastern oil-princes, who are looking “to park money.” (Vs. a Tiny House purchase, in which you park the house.)

But some are being snapped up by home-grown moguls. (Think young software guys and handbag designers.)

Hey, it’s only money. And it’s only their money. So if someone has $45M to throw at someone-or-other’s spec dream house, they’re entitled.

Me? Even if I had $45M, it wouldn’t go into a house with a 2,500 square foot master bedroom.

But if I had $45M, I’d sure be willing to shed $45K for the Tiny House of my dreams.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Traitors, beware!

Was it just  yesterday that I was at least quasi-decrying using data to figure out whether an employee was in danger of saying ‘sayonara?’ (Not that, as a manager, I couldn’t have used such data analysis tools in couple of situations…)

Well, in today’s episode of “What Software Can Do For You,” it’s not about worrying whether your employees are leaving. It’s about worrying whether those employees have got cheatin’ on their minds. As in making off with your company’s intellectual property.

Nothing new about walking out the door on that last day with a few  little goodies to bring to your next gig. And we’re not talking about a stapler and a couple of pens here. We’re talking about customer lists, product specs, business plans. Stuff like that. Which will sure come in handy, given that the next company you’re going to may well be a competitor.

Sure, you may have signed a non-compete, but your non-pen-holding fingers were crossed. Besides, that non-compete is probably not enforceable, and, let’s face it, you’re much more apt to get a better offer from a company in the same industry.

In the most notorious instance of making off with the goods I was ever witness to, a couple of techies – including the lead engineer – who thought we weren’t getting to market fast enough and/or were going about it the wrong way walked out the door with a server. Which they returned after they’d stripped off the code they wanted.

They then went off to found a competitive company that, because it was able to get investment money behind it that we were not, managed to more or less eat our lunch. (We, unfortunately, had already exhausted our sources of capital, that’s for sure.)

Anyway, the upstart start-up also hired away a number of our employees, including a few folks I was very friendly with.

Not that I’m a saint, but when I was approached to join them, I didn’t feel right about it. I knew too much, and didn’t want to be disloyal to the leave-behinds. (The closest of my friends who went over to the other side – who was the one who attempted to recruit me – knew nothing about our technology or our plans for it.)

While they (now “the enemy”) may have eaten our lunch, we got a few just desserts.

Our president decided to sue them, and the settlement money, while not a huge amount, helped us survive for a while.

I was heartsick over the lawsuit when I learned about it, as it specifically named my friend, who had a quite senior position in the enemy camp. I was okay with the suit in general: these guys were definitely double-dealers and the founder and president, in fact, had been “working from home” and largely inaccessible for months before their coup. He was collecting a big, fat paycheck from us while pulling together his new company. He deserved to be sued! But my friend?

Unfortunately, my friend stopped speaking to me. More unfortunately, she died before we could mend the rift.

Anyway, I do know that people steal stuff from their companies that goes well beyond what they can grab and go after a quick riffle through the supply cabinet.

Another incident I lived through was during the height of the tech run up of the late 1990’s, when companies were hiring like lunatics (and paying like lunatics while they were at it).

Someone in my group decided to help a recruiter friend out by sending him the list of everyone in our business unit so that the recruiter friend could contact them, presumably to place them elsewhere and earn a big fee.

This charmer was caught because she was using a company fax to send the list out to her friend. She compounded her stupidity by leaving the fax in the machine, where it was found by someone in HR.

(Yes, she was fired.)

Anyway:

The problem predates the Internet: the salesman who takes the entire customer list with him when he quits, or the engineer who makes off with key product designs. But technology has only made it easier; now the salesman e-mails the data to his Gmail account, and the engineer can put product designs on a USB drive. In an embarrassing episode for Morgan Stanley, the bank dismissed an employee earlier this year for taking information about an estimated 350,000 clients of its wealth-management division…

Guarding against such risks is an expanding niche in the security industry, with at least 20 companies marketing software tools for tracking and analyzing employee behavior.  (Source: Bloomberg)

Software can analyze emails (privacy, what privacy?) or look for something that’s out of whack – like downloading information you’d never accessed before.

But, as with all good things, it can go a bit too far:

Some of the methods at companies that hire Securonix make even [Chief Scientist Igor] Baikalov wonder how much is too much. He cites the practice of matching information on user behavior online with feeds from video cameras and other systems that monitor physical locations. Some companies, he says, have created ticket systems so employees can report suspicious behavior by colleagues. “Is it too much, or is it actually the right amount of diligence?” he says. “I’m really curious how much we will get out of it. It’s really the extreme in kind of Orwell-like monitoring.”

Love the idea of have a ticketing system for reporting suspicious behavior. (Is the product name “Stasi” taken?)

But, ah, if we’d had tracking software in place, and if our faxing young friend had been sending out a list she’d downloaded, rather than one she’d photocopy, we might have caught her before the recruiter got his greedy mitts on it.

So traitors, beware!

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Retaining walls.

I count myself blessed to have dropped out of “corporate” before the rage for all sorts of employee analytics began.

Oh, sure, back in the day we had HR departments, but there never seemed to be much of a scientific overlay to what they were doing.

Sometimes they’d come around and tell all the managers that they had to do annual reviews; sometimes the managers ignored them. (I went years during my career when there was no such thing as a review.)

Sometimes reviews were tied to salary increases. Other times, they weren’t. Sometimes managers rated employees the way they were told to, sometimes they did what they damn well pleased.

In one classic example, the managers in my company were forced – after years of doing nothing – to give everyone a performance review. Managers were told that they should be very parsimonious about giving high ratings. The vast majority of employees, they were instructed, should receive a “3” on a 5-point scale. If there was someone really terrible in a group, they could be given a “4” or a “5”, but “2’s” should be scarce. And no employee in the history of mankind could ever be given a “1” for uber excellence.

It almost goes without saying that my manager followed orders from headquarters, and gave us all a “3” rating. Other managers Lake Wobegone’d their folks and gave out “1’s” and “2’s” like M&M’s. Which mattered because, come raise time, “1’s” and “2’s” got better raises.

Overall, in most places I worked, the evaluation, promotion, and pay increase processes were haphazard, at best.

But although much of my career was spent in companies trying to figure out who and how many to lay off, there were also occasional schemes to try to retain key employees.

It was all completely arbitrary, and generally came down to whether your manager liked you or not.

Sometimes the retention initiatives meant getting to go to training, sometimes it meant a bonus, sometimes it meant a raise.

My favorite reward was a week long trip to Hawaii.

What happened was that my company had booked an expensive resort for its sales winners’ reward trip, but ended up with not enough sales guys making quota. So they picked a couple of dozen non-sales folks to fill in the already paid for slots.

Great trip, but did it help retain me?

Nope. A year later, I was begging to be put on the layoff list, which actually took some maneuvering, as I’d just been one of the anointed who’d been sent off to a weeklong mini-MBA program at Babson College. There, we watched films of Jack Welch in action and worked on a company strategy that no one was ever going to implement. But being part of this mini-MBA initiative meant you were exempt from layoffs.

Fortunately, the need to fill the layoff lists was so great that, with the support of three VP friends, I was able to weasel my way on to it.

Of course, after that layoff round, the halo around the Babson Fifty had lost its shine, and they were booting my fellow strategists out left and right. I’m sure I would have eventually been given the heave-ho.

So I really have near-zero experience in companies that tried to be at all scientific about how employees were rated and retained.

But I suspect that if I’d stuck with corporate a while longer, the analytics would have caught up with me and I would have been contributed data that would enable analysts to scientifically rate members of my team, and, in turn, been scientifically measured by my manager. (Weighed-and-found-wantings, all around, I’m sure.)

Anyway, there are now analytics packages that predict which of your employees is likely to leave. Given how costly it is to train an employee, let alone go through the trouble of hiring and training their replacements, this has become a big expensive deal.

Corporate data crunchers play with dozens of factors, which may include job tenure, geography, performance reviews, employee surveys, communication patterns and even personality tests to identify flight risks, a term human-resources departments sometimes use for people likely to leave.

The data often reveal a complex picture of what motivates workers to stay—and what causes them to look elsewhere.

At Box, for example, a worker’s pay or relationship with his boss matters far less than how connected the worker feels to his team, according to an analysis from human-resources analytics firm Culture Amp. At Credit Suisse, managers’ performance and team size turn out to be surprisingly powerful influences, with a spike in attrition among employees working on large teams with low-rated managers. (Source:  Wall Street Journal)

Interesting that, at Box, pay doesn’t matter. (Hah!) But does it take an analytics expert to determine that a crappy manager is a “surprisingly strong influence.”

And what might companies do with all this data?

Sure, they want to retain the folks they want to retain.

But do not organizations also want some people to go without their having to lay them off, give them severance, and incur the costs of them collecting unemployment benefits.

I can just see the HR-ers: let’s put these three guys on a large team with a lousy manager. They’ll be gone in no time, and we won’t even have to confront them. (Surely, there are few managerial satisfactions the equal of having an employee who’s on some type of performance plan hand in their resignation? Oh, we’re not suppose to say this, but sometimes there is addition by subtraction.)

VoloMetrix Inc., which examines HR data as well as anonymized employee email and calendar data, found that it could predict flight risk up to a year in advance for employees who were spending less time interacting with certain colleagues or attending events beyond required meetings.

Man, forget concerns about employees with flight risks, it gives me the willies to think that someone’s out there collecting data on what colleague interactions people are having, and whether they showed up for the company holiday party.

Glad I’m no longer in this particular game…

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Monday, March 23, 2015

“Race Together.” Well, their heart’s in the right place, and, you know what, their head’s kind of in the right place, too. (Almost…)

By now, you have no doubt read about Starbucks’ “Race Together” initiative, a noble idea intended to get folks talking about an issue that – for all the attention it gets – most of us actually tend to avoid talking about.

Racism has been the elephant on the American table for, oh, a couple of  hundred years. And for all the self-congratulatory headway that’s been made over those years – Look! A black president! – we’re still quite a long way from race-blind anything.

It’s such a tough and complex (not to mention divisive) issue. Frame any conversation on race that’s around the  structural, and you’re playing the race card.  Frame any conversation on race that’s around the cultural, and you’re a KKK-level racist.

What’s a country to do?

Well, part of what Starbucks thought it might do was have tis baristas write “race together” on latte cups in hopes of engaging customers in conversations on race.

Just what the average bleary-eyed caffeine addict wants first thing in the morning, no? Not to mention the bleary-eyed caffeine addicts lined up behind the person engaged in said conversation, who just want their damned vente…

Not to mention that this conversation, which is apparently impossible for the elected and media powers that be to conduct – think of all the flak the president got when he tried to make an empathetic statement about the hypothetical: if he’d had a son, he might have looked like Trayvon Martin – might be a bit tricky for the average barista to conduct in anything other than an awkward manner. Would they all have been given training on how to  introduce sensitive subjects and diffuse difficult reactions? This is a such a heated topic, perhaps best not addressed when someone’s holding a cup of scalding coffee.

And yet…

I laud Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz for trying to take the conversation out of the one-hour-a-year-devoted-to-diversity-in-the-workplace and make it subject matter for the day to day.

Anyway, baristas will no longer be writing “Race Together” on cups. That’s been rescinded as of yesterday. If Shcultz withdrew that program element he did so:

…while laying out additional activities for the coming months. These include employee forums, dialogue with police and community leaders and a commitment to expanding stores to urban communities…Starbucks [had]announced the Race Together initiative March 16 to “stimulate conversation, compassion and action around race in America.” . (Source: Bloomberg)

Well, good for Schultz.

At any rate, I wouldn’t have been part of any of the store-based conversations.

There’s a Starbuck’s less than 10 seconds from my front door, but I never go there.

I don’t drink coffee, and if I did drink coffee, I’m a Dunkin’ Donuts kind of gal. (I do drink DD iced coffee.)

The last time I stepped inside the local Starbucks was shortly after my husband died. I wanted to get rid of  the heavy-duty prescription drugs we had around, and the FDA had a list of what you could flush (I believe morphine was on the list), and instructions for how to get rid of the rest. Which was to embed them in coffee grounds and put out with the trash.

A barista quite kindly gave me a big bag full of coffee grounds.

Anyway, I would be happy to talk about race. Just not in a coffee shop.

Other than a couple of acquaintances, I don’t really know any black folks.

I grew up in a mostly Irish Catholic (i.e., white) neighborhood, and went to mostly all white Catholic schools, up through college. This wasn’t a deliberate plot to avoid the “other”. As they say, it was what it was.

The city I grew up in – Worcester – had a relatively small African-American population, well below the national average.

My career was in high-tech, where the black faces were few and far between.

I live in a pretty-darned lily-white neighborhood.

As they say, it is what it is.

Although I am one of the most white-bread looking people you’re ever going to find – fair skin, lightish hair, blue eyes - I actually thought that I might have some African blood in me.

My father had black hair, hazel eyes, and – unlike my mother – could tan without burning.

I always thought that, since some of his family was from the West of Ireland, there may have been some Moorish blood in there.

Alas, when I got my reading back from Ancestry.com, there was no African. (The exciting bit was some probability of a trace of Mongol horde…)

When you get down to that level of granularity, of course, you realize that race is a pretty BS construct.

One that, I hope, we’ll all manage to grow out of someday.

But that won’t happen unless we start admitting that there’s an elephant in the room.

So thanks, Howard Shultz.

And please do consider running for public office.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Day Stay

When my husband and I traveled to Europe, we sometimes took our chances that we could show up at a hotel at near crack of dawn and get into our room. Or we reserved (and paid for) a room for the night before.

When we took the former option, we  mostly got lucky. Sure, sometimes we ended up sitting in a lobby, slacked-jawed and drooling while waiting for our room to become available, which, given our slack-jawed and drooling presence, was probably a few hours earlier than it would have been if we’d dropped our bags and headed off for a zombified tourist day, obediently returning for a 4 p.m. check in. One time, in Limerick, Ireland, our room wasn’t ready, so they checked us into a smaller room where we were able to take a couple of hour nap and a shower and were, thus, good to go and un-jet-lagged for the trip. gOnce we were refreshed, they moved us into our grander digs. (This was Limerick, so it wasn’t all that much grander.)

When we took the latter option, we mostly go lucky. Reserving a room for the night before is not as easy a task as one might imagine, especially in the days before the Internet, when the reservation involved phone calls, faxes, and – in some countries – incredulity that anyone would actually pay for a room they weren’t using. One time, in Bunratty, Ireland, we tumbled off the plane at Shannon at 6 :30 a.m., delighted to know that we had lined up a one-night stand (but paying for a two-night stand) at a nearby hotel (where we had stayed several times), and that we could just roll right into our room. Not so fast. When we tried to check in, we were told that our room wasn’t ready. How was that possible, I asked, brandishing the confirmation fax. We’ve already paid for it for last night.

“Oh, darling,” the clerk told me. “There were some people who came in last night, and we were full up. They needed a room, and we knew that you’d want them to have yours.”

Well, they obviously didn’t know us if they thought that was what we wanted.

In fact, we wanted nothing more than to have that room for ourselves.

“Of course, you won’t be charged for it,” the clerk said, as if this were some magnanimous gesture he were making.

On another trip, this time to Prague, we had a six-hour holdover in Frankfurt.

We rolled our bags across the road in front of the terminal, and into a colossal hotel (Sheraton maybe) and asked if they could give us temporary shelter. They could and they did. Six hours worth of room for one-third the overnight rack rate. Sold!

We never did one of these partials again, but it always helped in planning to know that, at the big European airports at least, it was a possibility.

And now it’s a possibility that’s becoming possible in Boston:

Beginning this spring, visitors to Boston will have the option of booking day-use rooms through a website and app called HotelsByDay. It’s a burgeoning category of lodging: Book your room online, check in at 9 a.m., check out at 5 p.m. (or 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.), and pay from 30 percent to as much as 70 percent less than for an overnight stay. (Source:  Boston Globe)

Well, in by 9 a.m. wouldn’t work on some of those dawn flights to Ireland, but it would sure beat hanging around the lobby or the streets of a strange city until late afternoon.

HotelByDay, which is available in Europe and in a few cities in the States, is mostly:

…aimed at business travelers, families who want to shower and change after a day at the beach, or people waiting for departing evening cruise ships in foreign ports of call.

Of course, as the article notes, there is at least one further application that springs to the mind of any normal person, and that’s the use of the day rate for No-tell Motel purposes. (Speaking of which, in Tucson last week, we actually passed a rather seedy looking joint that was, in fact, called the Notel Motel.)

The burgeoning day-stay business is out to dispel the “sleazy stereotypes.” My first reaction is to hope they don’t try too hard. Why not grant that middle-aged couple, staggering off a too-hot, way-stuffy, sleepless overseas flight that little tryst frisson?

Although I wasn’t aware of it, day stay has apparently been working in Europe for the past decade. There are now 1,500 hotels there that offer day stays via sites like HotelsByDay and others. (As an aside, doesn’t HotelsByDay sound a bit like it’s something else by night, in some sort of half whore/half madonna kind of way?)

Over the past decade, we mostly rented short-stay flats when we were in Europe, and were generally able to arrange an early availability. Traveling in the States, you’re often able to arrange your arrival to better coincide with room availability. And, in any case, unless your going to/coming from Hawaii, or taking the red-eye from the West Coast to the East, you’re not going to suffer the jet lag you do heading for Europe.

Still, when I was in NYC with my niece Molly before Christmas, it was kind of a drag that we couldn’t check right in. We weren’t jet lagged, and were able to check our bags and take off for the day. Still, it would have been nice to be checked in right away.

So far, daytel-ling is already available in NYC, LA, Chicago and Miami. And, as noted, coming soon to Boston (where I have my own day stay, so won’t be needing one). Acceptance of the concept has been somewhat slow-going.

The founders of these websites confess that it’s been an uphill battle changing attitudes of US hoteliers who fear they will sully their brands by selling daytime rooms.

Ah, yet another instance of American Exceptionalism: prudery.

“They’re used to seeing dodgy walk-in customers during the day,” said Peter de Lorme, president of BookaDayRoom. “But we’re trying to alter that mindset. We’ve had initial opposition to the idea, but I think once you explain other uses it becomes clearer.”

Beyond the sleazy-dodgy factor, daytel does raise a couple of potential issues. Will folks now have to pay for early check in, which most hotels will now let you do if the room’s available? And, more critically, with the average hotel room experiencing more and more turnover, are we going to be seeing more bedbug infestations?

Oh, no, I thought I was over EFOBB (extreme fear of bed bugs)…