IamCraig.com Rotating Header Image

IDstation and London Drugs passport photos

IDstation logo.

IDstation logo

I have had passport photos taken at London Drugs for years, but no more.

Turns out they are an agent of IDstation, to whom I was referred by the passport agency of one of the countries of which I am a citizen, who are advanced enough (unlike Canada) to take passport applications online. Great! So off I go to the nearest London Drugs to get my picture taken.

After waiting in line for a while I was finally served. I stated my reason for being there and confirmed that they used the IDstation service/system. They did, and then there was a lot of faffing around while they — three of them! — consulted the passport-photo requirements for my country … because, you know, they’re all so different! (According to the blurb at digitalphotosystems.nl, “Photomatic software is being used on many systems all over the world for passport photos …. Photomatic software automatically processes any image into a perfect passport photo. … The passport photo is checked on all official requirements for passport photos, as specified by the ICAO …. The ICAO check is a very important part of the Photomatic software because it will make sure the passport photo will not be rejected when used in offical [sic] applications for a passport, driving license of Visa. [sic]”) They eventually determined that the passport authorities for a number of countries (including mine) had recently been rejecting their passport photos, so they only agreed to taking my picture if I agreed to waive their guarantee, about which you can read on their website. (No surprise there, considering how bad the photo was!) Being the idiot I am, and with no other reasonable choice given my time constraints that day, I agreed. I mean, how hard can it be to fuck up a passport photo?! The people who had their photos rejected probably did something wrong that I won’t do.

London Drugs passport photo receipt.

London Drugs passport photo receipt

But since they were refusing to give me their guarantee (see scan of London Drugs receipt, across the top of which is handwritten, “Xxxx passport online Not gaurenteed [sic]”), and since they were presumably more adept at taking photos for Canadian passports, I decided to get photos for my Canadian passport taken as well, since it also expires in the near future. Looking back at the two pictures now, they’re like night and day! The Canadian passport photos would almost certainly have been accepted by the other country, but said country doesn’t accept scanned pictures, only the original JPEGs.

Anyway, when I submitted the JPEG to the other country’s passport office they rejected it because the “camera was too close”. With the benefit of hindsight I can now see that, as the requirement on their website is, “The photo must capture your image from head to mid torso.” (The Canadian one does.) The photo that London Drugs took barely took in my neck! If someone who takes passport photos all day can’t detect that error immediately they should be fired!

On the IDstation website they have a “File a complaint” option. I suppose they must get a lot of complaints! The problem is that the free-text field where you are supposed to describe your complaint severely limits how much text you can type (I can assure you that this blog post is far longer than my complaint!), but it doesn’t tell you how many characters you are allowed to submit. So this was what I ended up submitting:

My passport picture was rejected by the Xxxx government because they claimed the camera was too close.

I have more information, but your system says my “description is too long”, so you’ll have to reply by email to get the full description.

How do I have the $25.46 I wasted returned? Hmm, I paid using my credit card, so I suppose charging it back is one option.

They replied thusly:

From: IDstation Online <idstationmail@digitalphotosystems.nl>
Subject: You have a new response to the Complaint number 12906
Date: Wed, 06 Mar 2024 21:28:27 +0000 (UTC)

Request number 12906

Dear customer,

You have a new response to your request from IDstation.Online. The response is as below:

I Suggest going back in store with the rejection letter. London Drugs will retake the photo and work with you on the issue.
Please do not reply to this email, it may not be tracked efficiently. To add any comments/response to your query, please click on the link below:

The above link will be valid for 72 hrs.

Navigate to FAQs (Sendgrid tracking link removed)

(I love the “Please do not reply to this email, it may not be tracked efficiently.” A complete load of bullshit. Either it will be received [and likely ignored] or it won’t be! Don’t give me this “may” crap.)

So I copied and pasted the link (because it was not a clickable link, as opposed to the tracked “Navigate to FAQs” link in their signature) but their system informed me, “An error occurred while processing your request.” I tried twice, both within about 24 hours. So I filed a new complaint as follows:

I received a response yesterday, but the response link provided failed. So I’m back here with your ridiculously short length limit. This is not going well for you in the public-relations department.

In that vein, I have decided not to bother returning to London Drugs to fight for my money. I will just focus my efforts on publicly discrediting both IDstation and London Drugs.

That’s all the space I have to explain my position! So long! See you in the court of public opinion!

That was 476 characters. My original attempt at this message was rejected as too long again because I had included the text of the error message (48 characters) their website gave me, so it seems their limit must be about 500 characters. Not sure how much useful information you can communicate in fewer than 500 characters, unless you’re just calling for “Help!” (4 characters, not including the exclamation point).

Ironically, in the Third World country where I’ll be travelling to, every bureaucrat wants a passport-style picture of you to attach to paperwork (the locals carry them around with their wads of cash), so I’ll use the four hard copies of my “digital” photo when I’m asked for one.

London Drugs logo.

London Drugs logo

Lesson learned: Take a list of the photo requirements and carefully inspect the photo against those requirements before you accept the photo. Don’t trust a gaggle of poorly trained amateurs/idiots to have a clue about what they are doing.

Nice music

Here are a couple of videos of Mitchell Cullen, who does a great job of playing two of my favourite instruments: the twelve-string guitar and the didgeridoo.


Some random musings, mostly about morons apparently

Some bonehead named trump

I’ve had a note for several weeks to address the moronic comment some idiot named donald trump made about NATO members who don’t spend 2% of their GDP on defence spending. He seems to think that NATO members can simply be evicted from the alliance like delinquent tenants in one of his run-down tenement buildings. One of those countries is Canada. I’m not defending Canada’s apparent lack of spending on defence, especially in this day and age of increased Russian aggression, but here’s the thing, don: If Russia attacks and takes over Canada — we’re the country that is largely between you and Russia — as you have explicitly encouraged them to do, your problems on your southern border would look like a walk in the park compared to the problems you will have on your northern border!

Fucking moron.


I know, I’m the last to note this, but Twitter feeds used to feature regularly in the search results for various things I look up online on a daily basis. But since that no-name idiot — Musk I think he calls himself — took it over, said results are less and less useful. For starters, you only get the one tweet, and Twitter refuses to display any replies. Given how often in the past I’ve spent way more time on reading replies that I should have, in some ways this is a good thing. But I’m sure my buddy Elon wasn’t worried about how much time Craig is wasting on Twitter. I don’t know what Musk is worried about, but maybe it’s his bandwidth bill. Or maybe he’s actually doing what he seemed to be setting out to do, which is kill Twitter. I wish I had so much money that I could literally piss $44 billion down the drain.

I also note now that when you try to load a Twitter feed you are often/usually forced to log in. You can no longer simply go to a Twitter feed (e.g., twitter.com/ninernet) and peruse the posts. If you can, the posts are all in random order rather than chronologically. Yeah, that’s exactly how you generate interest in your service, by restricting people from even viewing it and confusing them!

Dilbert / Scott Adams

Speaking of Twitter and rich people who can piss away their wealth, Dilbert came back up on my radar recently. I used to read Dilbert daily, but one day it disappeared. Turns out it was unceremoniously dumped by its distributor after the author, Scott Adams, made what some people described as racist comments. Whatever. Now he continues his comic but you have to pay him US$7 a month for the privilege of reading it, or you can follow him on Twitter for US$3 a month. (I note that I can load his Twitter feed without being forced to log in! I don’t know why or how Twitter differentiates between one feed and another in that regard.)

But on his Twitter feed I note that he’s re-Tweeting Tucker Carlson and videos of teenagers fighting. Seriously? Teenagers fighting?! If that’s what this idiot considers to be “entertainment”, no thanks. I’ll pocket my hard-earned cash and not support some idiot who supports trump and considers teenagers beating each other up as entertainment.

Charities and their begging calls

I’ve just blocked the fourth number I’ve added to a list of Red Cross numbers that call us constantly. Why do they call us? Because we give them money every month! So we give them hundreds of dollars a year but they still want more! And they’re willing to call us many times a month/year for that purpose, and continue calling even though their calls don’t go through. I don’t get it. Maybe I should answer the next call and get them to cancel our monthly donation.

Android 12

I think I’ve made reference to Android 12 a couple of times on here. Actually, once. But goddammit, the idiots who made it are stupid. I know, I’m probably the only person in the world who plugs their phone in at night when they’re in bed, next to their bed (there are reasons), and I’m the only person in the world who crawls into bed with an already sleeping partner; so forgive me for thinking that I’m so special that developers should think of me. I’ve gone to great lengths to try and turn off just about every stupid, unnecessary bleep and bloop that my fucking phone makes, and yet, occasionally and for no obvious reason (but not every time!), my phone decides to let me, my sleeping partner and the fucking neighbours know that I’ve plugged in my phone! Hooray! Craig has plugged in his phone successfully! I can’t tell you how much my partner loves being woken up by this news. I have “Charging sounds and vibration” turned off, so I don’t know why Android ignores that directive … but only sometimes!

And while I’m on a rant about Android 12, let me give a special shout out to the 3CX app. For years I’ve had that running on this and previous phones and it never once “broke through” the do-not-disturb setting, but now it does. I don’t know whether or not I should blame Android or 3CX, but my money is on Android; after all, it’s the operating system, and that should control the installed apps, not the other way around. So now I have to remember to shut down that app so that it doesn’t wake me up in the middle of the night, as it did twice in one night a few nights ago!

RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) vaccine worth its weight in gold

In case any of you think that the communist government of Canada pays for all things medical, let me tell you that relatives, pensioners, just plonked down $540 for the two of them to each get the RSV vaccine. Wow! And I’m on the verge of plonking down $350 for the Shingrix shingles vaccine. One thing I can tell you though is that I won’t be getting the Shingrix vaccine at Shoppers Drug Mart. I have not been happy with the fact that they have virtually eliminated staffed check-out cash registers at their stores. I’m not a Luddite (says the guy writing a blog), but society needs to deal with the fact that we still have unemployment to deal with, and you don’t deal with it by bringing in machines to replace humans without a plan. They were also in the news recently for billing the Ontario government for unnecessary medical checks on patients.

In other news in Canada

Turkeys terrorize residents of small Quebec town. Sorry, apparently there was a serious aspect to this, as they were becoming aggressive and that was a danger to children, not to mention adults who don’t like to be scratched by sharp claws. But this video had me cracking up, as well as the woman shooting the video! 🙂

Brian Mulroney

Brian Mulroney died on Thursday, 29 February. As one would expect for a former Prime Minister, this was big news in Canada. It reminded me of the fact that he was the first and last Conservative Prime Minister for whom I voted, in the first election in which I could vote. As many people have said over the last few days, politics have changed since then and the Conservative Party itself has also changed since then. Now they have a leader who used to be known as a pit bull in Stephen Harper’s government, who caters to his “base” of anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers and anti everything! Now you couldn’t make me vote for that party even if you put a gun to my head. Sadly, as Canadian politics go, he will be Prime Minister Pierre Poilievre in 2025. 🙁

Updated, 2024-03-08: Added the fact that Twitter/X posts are now all in random order rather than chronological.


For many years I’ve been told — mostly through reading, but also in person — that passion is the key to advancement and success. If you’re not passionate about something, you’re not going to succeed at it, or at anything else. In fact, if you’re not passionate, you might as well pack up and go home. Just resign yourself to a life of failure.

That advice my be well-meaning, but it’s rather depressing, especially for someone who doesn’t wake up in the morning and jump out of bed passionate about diving into a bowl of cornflakes and washing it down with a glass of orange juice, and heading off to their job … the same job they had yesterday, and the day before that and the year before that too!

It really struck home for me when I was reading an article: “Inside the exclusive world of Supreme Court clerks driving America’s legal controversies“. In that article I see a bunch of passionate people, and I see the root of much of the discord in American society. If I’ve been learning anything over the years it’s that passion may be the key to advancement and success, but it also creates fundamentalists and extremists. If you’re passionate about your belief that people of the same sex having sex with one another are “opprobrious”, guess what? You’re going to stop at nothing, in your passion, to ensure that they be stopped from doing so! And guess what? If you’re going to do that you’re going to run into and make enemies out of passionate people who want to have sex with people of the same gender! And if you’re passionate in your belief that Jews should be eradicated from the face of the planet, guess what? Do I really need to pull out that example of where passion can lead, both in the 1940s and in October last year?!

Bingo! Passionate sides at war with one another for the rest of time.

Something that also struck me in this article was that, apparently, some of the judges on the American Supreme Court in 1978 thought that racism would be a thing of the past twenty-five years hence, by 2003. It’s stunning to me that the apparently highest minds in that land actually thought that millions of years of human nature — and hundreds of years of American history! — would suddenly reverse itself within one generation! But beyond those millions of years of human nature lies “passion”. If you’re a passionate supremacist of any colour — White supremacist, Black Supremacist, etc., both “-ists” — what logic is going to convince you to tone down your passion and stop being a racist? Pretty much exactly none! After all, you’re passionate, and nobody with passion just gives up their passion because some idiot with an “agenda” came by and tried to use logic on you! “I have to show my fellow racists (‘passionatists’?) how passionate and committed to the cause I am by sticking to our mantra!”

So with what do we replace passion? I don’t think it’s really reasonable to suggest that if you’re just moderately interested in something, keep at it, slog through it, you’ll become successful at it. Yup, doesn’t quite ring true. On the other hand, we can’t all become successful billionaires (society’s objective barometer of success) because we’re passionate about something, because there will likely always be someone who is just that tiny bit more passionate than you, and he/she gets the top job, or a higher position on a list of rich people.

We all know passionate people. They’re a hoot at a party, going on and on about their passion. Actually, they’re probably not at parties, unless their passion is parties! But such people don’t fit into general society, which is why they’re (again) not generally at parties. But society needs positively passionate people; I don’t think I really need to pull out any examples, but we can all think of them. As much as I can’t stand the idea of “Swifties”, they exist because of a passionate person named Taylor Swift. (Or is she? To be honest, I don’t really know. Is she passionate about being a good singer? Does anyone know a Swiftie to ask?) But yeah, society would be a black hole if there were no positively passionate people.

The point is that passion isn’t always positive, and people who vaunt passion as the key to advancement and success need to realise that it also creates division in society. So, like many things, it ironically needs to be touted in moderation. Perhaps truly passionate individuals can’t be moderate — and nor should they, if their passion is positive — but people who claim that you cannot succeed in life without passion need to find something else to harp on about and write different books, or their books and mentors in general should counsel passionate people to think things through a little more carefully.

Death of a martyr: Alexei Navalny

Alexei Navalny. (Picture courtesy of <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/aleshru/6268649551/" target="_blank">Mitya Aleshkovsky</a>. <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/" target="_blank">CC BY 2.0 Deed</a>. Cropped.

Alexei Navalny. (Picture courtesy of Mitya Aleshkovsky. CC BY 2.0 Deed. Cropped.

Speaking of “fools”, I awoke this morning to news that putin has murdered Alexei Navalny. Instantly the word “martyr” sprung to mind but, sadly, that word has been diluted over the years by Islamic fundamentalist terrorists. (The “fool” in this case, to be clear, is putin, not Navalny.)

But it immediately occurred to me that a martyr is someone who gave their death AND their life to a cause. Any crazy person can die for something ridiculous; only a real martyr walks back into the jaws of death willingly, knowing that the jaws can and likely will close on him again.

And they have, they did. The State of Russia has murdered someone who actually cared about his country, as opposed to putin who only cares to sacrifice his citizens on the altar of his ego.

Far-right business hacks at the “National Post” / “Financial Post”

The National Post: Who's the biggest fool, Eby or Trudeau?

The National Post: “Who’s the biggest fool, Eby or Trudeau?” (No author.)

With respect to my comment on Eby on Tuesday, I noted a piece in the “National Post” (apparently in the “Financial Post” section) by some nameless entity (see screenshot above) — perhaps the Post itself, or perhaps an individual named “Corcoran” (see second screenshot) — but not marked as “opinion” (see first screenshot) even though it clearly is, titled “Who’s the biggest fool, Eby or Trudeau?” It’s hilarious that anyone who disagrees with the almighty Bell is considered a “fool” or an “ignoramus”. That’s what’s called an ad hominem attack; if you can’t explain why you disagree with someone, call them a name. The words “fool” and “ignoramus” work. And if you run short of names to call people, just pull up a recent campaign speech (or any speech) by a guy named donald trump to get some more words … although not that many, since the guy has a very limited vocabulary.

But hey, I get it, people disagree! So I’ll raise the bar a little and respond intelligently instead of calling the “National Post” (or Corcoran) “fools”.

I don’t believe anybody — Eby, Trudeau or anyone else — is suggesting that BCE should subsidise their subsidiaries until the end of time. But big business(es), and those on the right in general, are big on the fact that people should take responsibility for their own actions. What a concept! But that only applies to poor people on skid row and drug addicts, not big business. It’s completely unreasonable, foolish even, for us idiots that don’t run BCE and other massive companies to think that BCE should take responsibility for their own misguided, stupid and even foolish decision to attempt to buy up the media industry, and their own foolish decision to run said media industry into the ground with their ignorance! It’s foolish for us to believe that BCE should pay back various levels of government the money that they/us — Canadian taxpayers! — will pay in (un)employment insurance to the unemployed journalists, cameramen, teleprompter readers and various other human beings that will become unemployed.

Of course not! It’s their own fault they’re unemployed! The fools! And if it’s not their fault it’s the big bad government’s fault for forcing us to work within the confines of decent, modern, civilised Canadian society!

“Bullshit”, as described by the “Financial Post”, is quite clearly the domain of big business press releases (viz. “moving forward”, at least for the employees that won’t be moving backwards in lifestyle) … and the fools at the “Financial/National Post”. I hereby award the “Harry G. Frankfurt Award for Demagogic Bullshit” jointly to Corcoran, their shitty newspaper and BCE Inc.!

The Financial Post: Who's the biggest fool, Eby or Trudeau?

The Financial Post: “Who’s the biggest fool, Eby or Trudeau?” Corcoran?

Updated, 17 February 2024: Made notes about the possible author of the article in the captions of the screenshots.

Encrapification: My vote for word of the year, even though it’s only February

David Eby

David Eby. (Picture courtesy of BC NDP. CC BY 2.0 Deed. Cropped.)

The frustration of David Eby, premier of British Columbia, was palpable in his “2½-minute tirade” on Thursday (8 February 2024) against BCE Inc., parent company of Bell Media and therefore CTV News and all of its many holdings. But it was his invention of the word “encrapification” that stole the show for me. My web search for the word turned up the above CBC report as the first search result on Friday.

The great thing about the English language is that it is constantly evolving, and that it has building blocks to create words like this. I can’t speak for other languages, of course; I’ve studied several over the years, for which I’m grateful (especially Latin), but besides English there’s only one other (French) that I can say I could speak reasonably well in a pinch, but I don’t know it well enough to invent words in this way.

But Eby is completely right. I used to be all in favour of companies like BCE doing whatever they reasonably could to make more and more money but, as we’ve seen over the years with the likes of Facebook, Google, Microsoft (remember them?!), Amazon, etc., real people are hurt when companies become too big to care about both the people they employ and the people to whom they sell their products and services. I don’t imagine that the CEO of BCE woke up one day and decided to gut the media landscape in Canada, but he has. Eby’s characterisation of what BCE has done reminds me of what Canada Post did on a much smaller scale years ago: When I left college I expected to be quite movious — another great addition to the English language courtesy of Zambian English meaning to move around a lot — and so I rented a post office box. I rented it at the Vancouver International Airport because, working in the aviation business, I expected to be there often and so it would be convenient to be able to collect my mail there when I happened to be at that airport. It was going to become my “permanent” address.

Canada Post had other ideas, of course. They stopped renting new mail boxes at the “Airport Postal Outlet” (as it was known) and then, in a remarkable turns of events that nobody without an MBA could ever have predicted, they then claimed that there was not enough mail going there to support the existence of said outlet! Despite my attempts to “Save the APO“, it was taken away, and thus began my never-ending quest to set up new “permanent addresses”. What a gong show. I have had no fewer than seven “permanent addresses” in thirty-three years, when really, I should have had ONE!

BCE/Bell logos

A few random logos of the involved entities. Trademarks of the respective corporations.

Anyway, back to BCE. The day after Eby made headlines there was another politician who was evidently jealous of the attention that he wasn’t getting, so Justin Trudeau got on the horn (apologies to those of you for whom that phrase has a more lurid meaning!) and called it a “garbage decision” and said he was “pissed off”. Good effort Justin, but not nearly as cool as Eby! 🙂

At least CTV’s newly unemployed former employees will be able to count on Canadians’ thoughts and prayers for a day each year when Bell does their annual “Let’s Talk Day“. Thoughts and prayers certainly helped Lisa LaFlamme a lot when they fired her for letting her hair go grey, just as they helped me when Bell ripped me off for $11.27 for a one-minute phone call!

A compendium of reactions to recent news

Danielle Smith in a time warp

I note that in Alberta the Danielle Smith government has done a time warp and thinks they’re living under a 2035 federal government led by none other than 63-year-old Justin Trudeau! (I wonder if he’s still as beautiful as he is here and now in 2024?!) It’s Trudeau’s fault that whoever is in charge of electrical power in Alberta dropped the ball and had to buy power from the nasty, commie pinko NDP government in British Columbia! Yup, those nasty, commie pinkos are really good at running economies into the ground and then begging for help from right-wing economies, as we all know. Even Washington State in the good ol’ (definitely non-commie pinko) US of A had to buy power from us commie pinkos in the recent cold snap in this part of the world!

Editorialising teleprompter readers

I noticed last night (18 January) that Chris Gailus, one of the Global BC teleprompter readers, tried to make some sort of off-the-cuff editorial remark during the six-o-clock news, but stumbled and ended up dragging it our for more seconds than was really necessary. I can’t even remember what it was about, but I think it might have been about driving in Vancouver snow. Weirdly, a BBC teleprompter reader also made an editorial comment yesterday! I’m actually quite shocked at that, because I usually hold up their teleprompter readers as the epitome of professionalism, but I suppose standards are slipping there as well!

The Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services (CCTS)

There was a report on the news about the rise in the number of complaints from the public to the CCTS. It was a masterpiece to see the nuanced, massaged reactions from the cell-phone companies to the complaints they had received! “Yes, we know we have a huge number of complaints, and even one compliant is too many, but we have the fewest complaints per subscriber with ringworm!”, said the spokesperson for RogersBellTelus! Jesus H. Christ! What kind of warped and twisted upbringing and education do you have to have to come up with their beautiful lies?! (I think they call it “positive spin”!)

Milani Plumbing Vancouver review

Every time I see one of their ads on TV I just shake my head. We used to be good customers of theirs. Then we moved, and I guess we just used a plumber that was familiar with the townhouse complex in which we lived. Then we moved again, and when our first plumbing issue came up, who did we call? Milani, of course. There was no question and no hesitation. I don’t remember whether or not I was informed when I made the appointment or afterwards that they had a minimum $200 charge just for showing up (I’d have to re-read my notes), but it wouldn’t have made any difference because I assumed that the person who came out would do the job we needed and the bill would likely come out to more than $200 anyway. No problem.

But the guy that showed up essentially just told us what we already knew about the problem (“You have a problem!”) and had no intention of fixing it and installing what we wanted on the gas line! He was just there to collect the $200. When he left I was standing there $200 poorer and still with the plumbing problem! So I called Milani and complained, and I was informed several times by the person I spoke to that their service technicians don’t carry around the full stock of a Home Depot in their vans! WTF??! Who thinks that they do?! (Obviously that’s something drummed into their heads in what little training they get, and I’m sure they love telling stories around the water cooler about their stupid customers who they think expect that!) The problem we had needed just some expertise, and may have required some parts that any journeyman plumber would have in his tool kit, never mind in his spacious three-quarter-tonne van or one-tonne cube van. I will grant that we didn’t expect him to have the part we needed for the installation on the gas line, but we expected that we’d pay for the hot-water issue to be fixed, and then he’d come back — maybe another day — with the parts needed for the gas work. And we expected that the work for both would add up to more than $400!

Anyway, after I had been treated like an idiot by the idiot on the phone at Milani, I told them not to bother coming back with the part for the gas-line installation. Presumably it became part of the huge inventory that their plumbers carry around with them in their Home Depot-sized vans. We have never called them back to come and work on our plumbing ever since, and never will. But clearly they still get a lot of suckers paying them $200 a shot to come and do nothing for them; that’s how they pay for these expensive TV ads!

Instead of a flashy plumbing company who can afford to run TV ads we got an old guy (named Gabriel [Gabe] Khoo) in to do the work, and we’ve used him ever since. He shows up with a white van full of tools and parts and doesn’t rip us off for $200 a shot just to show up and tell us what we already know. He’s better than Milani Plumbing in Vancouver and their painted trucks and flashy uniforms any day!

The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas, Review

Welcome to Shitty Las Vegas, Nevada

Welcome to Shitty Las Vegas, Nevada. (Picture courtesy of Joao Carlos Medau. CC BY 2.0 Deed. Modified.)

OMG! Where do I start?!

TL;DR: Don’t stay at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas! NEVER EVER stay at The Cosmopolitan! That’s what we’ve been telling everyone we know.

Our troubles with our Christmas getaway started before we even checked in, with their wifi. It wouldn’t work, despite the fact that my phone connected to all other wifi hotspots with no problems. At the check-in desk the agent suggested I try other of their multiple networks from our room. I did … of course. I also rebooted my phone and reset wifi settings back to their defaults. I managed to connect another phone (not mine, and my laptop) by using the web browser and bypassing all of the SSL errors with which I was presented. Cool, so I try that on my phone. No go. Call “guest services”. Their position is that the wifi is working, so it’s my phone that’s the problem … or my phone company! (WTF?!) I should call them instead. They also helpfully suggest I should reboot my phone, but my suggestion that they reboot their network doesn’t fly, despite the fact that the problem is obviously not that their wifi isn’t working, it’s that their own connection and authentication process is broken.

Keep in mind that I’m not trying to get online to play Wordle; I’m trying to get online because my business requires I be connected 24/7 (or as near as possible) to monitor systems and be available if there are problems. My ability to do that is what allows me the ability to go on holidays and patronise hotels!

So after a sleepless night worrying that things could be going wrong and I’m incommunicado, I try again in the morning. This time I managed to connect with my browser by bypassing and dismissing all of the SSL errors (caused by the configuration of their systems!) in my web browser. Wifi worked for the remaining four days we were at the hotel.

Back to the check-in: We were early. We knew that, and we politely asked (not demanded) if it would be all right if we checked in early and got our room, since we had taken a very early-morning flight and hadn’t slept much the night before. After appearing to hammer out “War and Peace” on his keyboard, the agent very kindly informed us that the type of room we had booked wasn’t currently available but, for an extra $75(!) per night (which he made sure to point out that he had reduced to $50 a night!) we could upgrade and move in right away. (At other of the many times we were at the front desk we heard other guests being “helpfully” upgraded. Not that I’m suggesting it’s an ongoing scam at all!) Anyway, we reluctantly accepted the “upgrade”, as we were exhausted. We went straight to our room and passed out for three hours.

The next day we returned to our room and our key cards wouldn’t work. Great! Back down to the front desk — not a short walk! — for at least the fourth time in two days. The agent (who seemed reasonably competent and on-the-ball) immediately identifies the problem as being the battery in the door lock, and says that someone will be right up to fix it, in five minutes. So we dash up to make sure we’re there. We could have left the hotel and gone and spent our time doing more touristy things instead of waiting at the hotel, but we were told it would only be five minutes! After mentioning the problem to the cleaning staff member on the floor after waiting for some time (way longer than five minutes), she calls security (the only party she can apparently contact) and asks them to relay to the facilities department that we’re waiting, and that at least one of us needs to go to the toilet … having just availed ourselves of the most expensive buffet I’ve ever seen in my life! After another while a security guard shows up but he cannot get in either, and he also identifies the problem as being the battery! (Congratulations, Einstein!) We pointed out that the problem had already been identified. He then suggests I’d better go and find a public toilet to use.

So off I go to find the toilet to which he directed me. It’s closed! I eventually find another. I sit down and immediately my body relieves itself; I was that desperate. As my back end does its business, my front end realises that there’s no toilet paper! No effing toilet paper when it’s too late for me to find another stall with any dignity! After having a few minutes to contemplate my problem I decide to use the disposable seat covers to wipe my ass. Have you ever done that? Well, they kinda work, but they’re smooth, so there’s no real friction to do the job properly. When I’d used a few of those to my relative satisfaction I pulled up my pants and made the third trip to the front desk to enquire whether or not we’d ever be able to get back into our room. As I was dealing with the agent my partner texted me to tell me that the technician had finally arrived. I told the agent how disgusted we were — about waiting an hour and forty minutes, and having no toilet paper with which to wipe my ass — and she said they would refund us “a couple of nights of the resort fee“. (That is a direct quote.) My partner’s response to that via text was, “I’ll take $100 off!” (The “resort fee” was about $50 per night!) So we were relatively happy with that — even though you’d think this significant extra fee (on top of their published room rate advertised with Expedia!) would be an incentive to the hotel to provide decent service, but the story continues when we check out.

Besides the check-out process, here’s a bullet list of several other issues:

  • Plumbing noises!: Apparently this is a new building, but the all-night plumbing noises were crazy!
  • Creaking toilet door: Can’t use the toilet in the middle of the night without waking up your partner. I suppose we could have had this fixed, but we’d had enough of dealing with guest non-services by then.
  • Regular TV seemed to be continuously interrupted by in-house adverts, in the same way that Youtube videos are interrupted by ads.
  • Slow Internet: I noticed when my laptop was doing an operating system update that the download speed seemed to be slower than molasses in January.
  • Smoke: Whether we were in the lobby or on our balcony, we were surrounded by smoke. On the balcony it was marijuana smoke, and in the lobby The Cosmopolitan must have paid a bargain-basement price for their HVAC system.

If that list was all of the issues we had, they’d be no worse than any other hotel. But The Cosmopolitan went the extra mile to ensure that we were well and truly dissatisfied, pissed off, and angered.

Finally, on our last night there we phoned guest services to enquire about a late check-out the next day, as our flight was not until late at night. Again, we realised that we were asking for a courtesy, but considering how much trouble The Cosmopolitan had already put us through we didn’t think it was a huge ask. We were told that it would likely not be a problem because they were not fully booked, but that we should check in the morning. Cool. So in the morning we checked as instructed, but suddenly in fewer than twelve hours they were now fully booked, and a late check-out was not possible. So we scrambled to shower and pack. We tried to check out on the TV, but it didn’t work. At the desk we were told that the “couple of nights of resort fees” we were to be refunded was actually only one night! Despite our pointing out the lie, the agent wasn’t budging.

So from start to finish — literally! — The Cosmopolitan fucked us over and lied to us. There is not a snowball’s chance in hell we’ll ever patronise this establishment again, and we’ve been telling everyone we know this story in great detail!