Ten ways to tell your hotel is too much of a bargain

When the registration card asks you to fill in next of kin and a sign in the lobby says: ‘Llamas can’t be left unattended in room.’

Thanks to the World Wide Web, many holiday travelers are now using electronic reservation services to get discount rates on air fares and hotels.

But in these times of economic uncertainty, savvy consumers should be careful not to focus all their efforts on finding the lowest possible price, especially when seeking lodging.

Sometimes the information provided online is inaccurate, or conditions at the chosen venue may change drastically prior to your arrival. Let the voyager beware.

Here are some warning signs that your “bargain” hotel isn’t such a great deal after all:

1. A banner above the main entrance proclaims “Still open during Chapter 11 Proceedings!

2. Sign in lobby says “Llamas, sheep, or other livestock must not be left in rooms unattended.”

3. The registration card requires you to fill in your name, home address, and next of kin.

4. The desk clerk asks, “Would you prefer a view of the bombing range or acid pits?”

5. The clerk hands you a box and says, “Here are the light bulbs for your room. Be sure to return them when you check out.”

6. As you pass by the swimming pool, a guy holding a fishing pole grins at you and exclaims, “The crappies are bitin’ great today!”

7. In place of a TV set, there is a leather-bound songbook titled, “Favorite Doughboy Tunes of World War I.”

8. Box of graham crackers and packet of instant cocoa are bound with decorative ribbon and labeled “complimentary continental breakfast.”

9. When you call the front desk to ask where the ice machine is located, the voice on the other end says, “We don’t have ice right now – the river isn’t frozen.”

10. After you’ve unpacked and settled in, the phone rings and the manager says, “The bad news is we’ve accidentally overbooked the hotel with a troupe of carnival sideshow acts. The good news is your new roommate is The Human Bat, so he’ll spend most of his time hanging upside down in the closet.”

Jeffrey Shaffer writes humor from Portland, Ore.

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