This morning I woke up at three o clock at a hotel in Phoenix.  I had a perfect plan.

  • 3:30 AM: I will get ready and leave the hotel.
  • 3:50 AM: Return the rental
  • 4:15 AM: Will be in the airport and enjoy a cup of coffee before boarding my flight.
  • 4:40 AM: Ready to board my flight back to Denver.

I walked into the bathroom, with sleepy eyes, ready to get into the shower.  I looked at the shower and said, “Oh Boy!”


On top of the shower knob was a sticker that said “Turn knob for water. Turn lever for temp.”  I realized immediately that if a shower knob needs a written instruction to operate, it cannot be any normal knob. I observed closely to determine which one was the knob and which one was the lever.  Then I started to turn the knob.

The darn knob would not turn. I got a face towel to get a better grip.  After few minutes, I realized that the knob had won and I chose to call the front desk. The person at the front desk picked up the phone on two rings and it did not take her too long to understand my problem.  She explained to me that I should simply follow the instructions on top of the knob.  I told her I tried but it did not work.  She then informed me that it will take maintenance few hours to get there. (I didn’t blame her as it was 3:15 in the morning). So, I tried again with her on the phone, but this time turned the knob the other direction.

To my delight, I sensed movement. I turned the knob the other direction, the knob came off and was in my hand.  There was no water.

When I explained my dilemma, Laura (by now I knew the name of the front desk person) told me that it is good news that the knob moved.  “Now all you need to do is put the knob back, turn it the other direction and there should be water.”

She was right.  Soon I was enjoying my shower that I had worked very hard for.

As I got in the car and started I driving I reflected on my shower challenge.  I realized the following:

  1. The sticker on the wall told me that the management was aware of the problem and thought that putting a sticker up will solve the problem. I agree that they checked the box of taking an action but it did not solve the problem.
  2. The ease with which Laura understood my challenge told me that this was not the first time this happened.

I felt good realizing I was not the only one.  Others must have had the same challenge and made the same phone call. The hotel management had no clue about how guests were constantly getting stressed by shower knobs.



  1. First and foremost, Laura did the best she could. Her attitude was amazing and she tried to help me to the best she could.
  2. If I was the manager, I would have made it a point to spend nights in the hotel once a month and go to work from there. Only then he would have experienced the true inconvenience caused by this.
  3. Finally, if a problem needed a custom user manual (referring to the sticker on the wall), that problem needs to be completely eradicated. The hotel should have replaced the knob with a new one that did not need any instructions.

Brands everyday feel that taking some action on a problem shows that they care. Not true.  There is only one yardstick and that is the customer.  Unless they feel the brand cares, it truly does not matter.

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