This is not a cliché.

The stories of February

Every day a new story
12 February 2016

My letter to Mr Amazon himself

Just as one can learn from a disappointing episode one can also believe in the impossible and better oneself
"‘Alex, it’s arrived. Come and get it.’ Alexander all excited practically rips the package apart as a baby does on receiving a new toy. Well, you can imagine the look on his face when he discovered that the package was empty, totally and completely empty."
Everyone tells me to be a bit more realistic but I cannot help but dream. The advice received often extends to recommendations to be a bit less chatty and be more critical about things in general. But I guess I am the way I am and even at work I try to work with my staff in a constructive and not over critical way – more an approach of constructive advice in an educational sense rather than any wielding of a big whip. I am one of those types who really do love their work and believe in achieving extraordinary results in all I do. I tend to imagine that all will work out well as in a sentimental film. However it is not always the case that things turn out as one wants and just as we have horrible nightmares at time we have actual things which happen to us and throws us off course - for example just imagine the delusion and sadness when something you order on line ‘arrives’ through the post but instead of finding the object of your desire the package turns out to be empty – empty I say! How is such a thing possible when we now buy almost anything and everything online, for after all it is so safe, fast, and economical to do so. Is it not so?
Let me tell you the story. Alexander is a 20 year old waiter working in grand style in our Michelin "La Stüa de Michil" restaurant. One day he asked me which was the best site to purchase from online as he was keen to buy a new smartphone. ‘Oh come on Alex, you know the answer to that yourself’ was my direct reply. I myself had often made use of this celebrated supplier for many a purchase without the slightest problem, and my requests had been as varied as one can imagine – a kindle, a watch, a book or three, and even my work-out apparatus. Keen to help Alexander who had no credit card available I helped out with the purchase by using my own card, even if the amount was somewhat more than insignificant.
Buying online is a little like booking a hotel which you have never been to – there is a certain amount of good faith involved, and expectation, and a period of waiting to enjoy the exciting moment to come. In effect you are paying for something which will only materialise at a later date. But this is the nature of the game and often we are happy to place our trust for we are confident that the result will be to our liking, and indeed it adds a little drama to the whole transaction. Similarly in this instance we were happy to await the delivery of the package.
‘Alex, it’s arrived. Come and get it.’ Alexander all excited practically rips the package apart as a baby does on receiving a new toy. Well, you can imagine the look on his face when he discovered that the package was empty, totally and completely empty. I could have cried too, such was the disappointment.. Action was called for so I put pen to paper and wrote immediately to the complaints department of the largest online purchasing company in the world. It seemed to do the trick for not much time passed before another pakage arrived. Happy the mistake had been rectified Alexander feverishly opened his prized possession a second time. Horror of all horrors – it was empty again. This really was too much to take and my pen sprung into action fast and furious. The reply took me back for the essence of what I receive is an accusation that I myself had emptied the packages on both occasions. This is where my real character which I have dutifully carried behind me all these years really came in to play. There was nothing else for it but to write to Mr Bezos, the top man of the world’s largest online purchasing company. I know many think I am a little mad, a Don Chisciotte from Sardinia who has lost himself up in the Dolomites. Notwithstanding the pessimism which my plan of action encountered I got down to the matter in hand and was successful in locating the direct email I required. ‘Dear Mr Bezos, my name is Valerio. I am from Italy, Sardinia, but I live in the Dolomites. Have you ever been here? It´s just magic…’. Of course my opening lines then took on a different tone but without any hint of anger or outright criticism. I adopted more a sense of disappointment and raised the question of trust, pointing out that if the company were to lose the trust of its clients it would lose all. The reply was quick in coming and was from Mr Bezos himself, apologising and assuring that things would be sorted out promptly.
What is the lesson to be learned from this true tale? Well, it is certainly that Hotel La Perla has the utmost respect for its employees. Many, like myself, come from far away and the hotel and the family we are in is home and trust and reciprocal Iespect are essential. I had spoken about Alexander’s dilemna in our heads of department meeting and when I explained that I had writtten to Mr Bezos and that I was waiting for an answer there was a general outbreak of hilarity. But now that I have had the reply and we are confident that Alexander will be reimbursed we all can reflect on the fact that we have learned an important lesson from Amazon - how to respect the trust which our guests place in us. Never ignore someone who says they wish to speak with a Head of Department, never doubt the word of a person. Our vocation is one in which we need to place trust and believe in others. It is all similar to life itself – questions of trust and questions of realising dreams. At times we need to believe in the impossible and in a happy ending as in the sentimental films. It is with this concept in mind that we have decided to thank Mr Jeff Bezos with a gift as a token gesture for having replied to me ( and not just with a coffee as I had dared to mention in my first letter). In fact I have written saying that the hotel will offer a voucher for a future stay of his and which will be equivalent in value to the cost of the object which had gone missing. Given the type of person I am and the character and dreams I hold true to I now await a second reply from the gentleman in question and I very much look forward to welcoming him to Corvara.

Valerio Cabiddu