The Sheraton Macao Accused Me of Stealing Coffee (And Showed Up to Investigate)!

Several days ago I woke up a little after 6am at the Sheraton Macao Hotel (full trip report to come) and decided to order up coffee from room service. They explained that I could tell them how many cups of coffee I wanted, and that’s what they would fill the pot to. So I asked for 6 cups.

A short while later room service delivered the coffee. It seemed awfully light for 6 cups. I poured two cups, and the pot felt nearly empty. So I called back down to in room dining. The same person I ordered from answered, and she remembered that I had ordered 6 cups. She said she’d send up 4 more cups right away.

So at 6:30am there’s a knock on the door, and the man who delivered the first pot of coffee appeared. He didn’t have a pot of coffee in his hand. Instead he declared: “I am here to investigate.”

I told him that we had ordered six cups of coffee, I poured two and that’s all there was.

He lifted the pot of coffee and said, “there’s still some left”.

He then said it’s not possible that we could have gotten less coffee, because the machine is electronic. They specify how much goes in the pot.

There I am, standing in a bathrobe in my hotel room, being told that it’s not possible that I could be missing coffee and in any case the coffee I ordered was right there, in the pot!

What was I trying to pull, anyway? He thought I was trying to cheat the hotel, to get extra coffee without paying for it.

He then poured the remaining coffee from the pot into an empty cup. It filled only half way. I said, “You were right, there were actually two and a half cups.

He harumphed, walked directly outside the room, and handed me the pot he had brought along with the four replacement cups of coffee I had been promised — once I satisfied him that I wasn’t actually trying to steal coffee.

I was embarassed, I was angry, I don’t remember ever having been told by a hotel before that they didn’t believe me… let alone over coffee.

And then I told myself that I was in Macau, over Chinese New Year, and that the hotel must find that people do try to scam them for little things. And that they believe they’re better off insulting an honest customer and catching the scammers (they must lose that much to scams) than assuming their guests are telling the truth.

Coffee must be expensive to make, after all.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I am a “mainlander” and stayed at the Sheraton Macau on Xmas eve without an incident. For those “avoiding China”, I guess no one is particularly missing you guys on this side 🙂

  2. I’m with Daniel on this one. I have to brew about 2.5 “cups” every morning to fill up my ~12 oz mug (what most normal people would call “one cup of coffee”).

    Also, Gary, was your wife watching this all happen or was it just you? Because 6 real cups of coffee is kind of a ridiculous amount for one person, if you ask me. That’s more than a full pot in most normal coffee makers. If I drank that much in one sitting I wouldn’t be much fun to be around the rest of the day, for a variety of reasons!

    Before making broad inferences about hotel policy, ethnic/cultural differences, etc., just consider the possibility that you got unlucky with one new/awkward/overzealous guy who didn’t understand the nuances of “cups” vs. “coffee cups” and had just been told he didn’t deliver to your room what he thought he had.

  3. Lucy, you are so correct. I mean, politically correct. Blame China for everything, that’s what we should do.

  4. We also stayed at the Conrad Macao, last Fall.
    Lots of hospitality from happy employees
    hoping to provide you a fabulous stay.

  5. Macau as a gambling mecca is a den of thieves. Glad I visited the place in 96 before the handover and the influx of uncouth and in-your-face mainlanders. Uh, even the ‘natives’ of Macau and H.K. have had it. The quaint days of the colonial era are over and in its place they came to be part of the rude cold world that’s globalized. Agree with comments re: Conrad hotels. Top notch as I found in more or less friendly Seoul, South Korea. The Sheraton chain is a 3 star operation at best.

  6. I have stayed at Sheraton Macao in December and I had a GREAT experience, upgraded to an amazing suite, very friendly employees (checked in at the club lounge), great food (morning AND evening) at the lounge, etc.. Only the Chinese hotel guests were very rude.

  7. No kokonutz, Walter does not make an important point. Gary said nothing about his treatment being related to the fact he was a foreigner in Macau. You two reveal your own prejudices by assuming he was treated the way he was because of his race. You have zero evidence to make the claim the hotel employee’s actions were racially biased. You would be better off leaving race out of your discussions until you learn not to assign racial motives to people’s behavior when the only proof you have is your own internal biases.

  8. Wow Gary I am amazed by your reaction to this, and some of the comments here arent much worse.

    How in the world are you trying to defend and make excuses as to why you were confronted like that? You go and make excuses such as the new years eve and everything, but how does that ecen matter? You’re a guest at the hotel. That is an UNHEARD of act of disrespect.

    Stop being apologetic and figuring out what goes in their minds. It doesn’t look well. When there are things wrong, you point them out – You don’t make excuses like a rape victim defending the attacker and saying “oh it was because I looked so pretty and so and so..”

  9. @Shannon @Lucy,
    Not wanting to go to China is fine. Being bigoted against all Chinese, including those living in the USA (and presumably anywhere else) is warped prejudice. I have little doubt there are other groups that Lucy does not “tolerate” well. Saying that she likes Travelling to a few other Asian countries in no way excuses her prejudice(s). It is fine to not like some aspects of some cultures. It is not ok to be bigoted against a group wholesale. It remind me of the boss (in Belgium) who refused to hire a well qualified secretary because she was an adopted Asian (but never lived a day in her life outside of Europe. Why the long post? Because Evil grows when good people remain silent.

  10. @JL – this wasn’t cups vs coffee cups, I’m talking about the smaller coffee cup amount here. And six of those wasn’t just for me.

  11. @Vitt – If I thought this was ok I wouldn’t have mentioned it, I also don’t think it was a huge deal that I carry with me. There’s no universe in which being treated this way by the hotel is akin to rape.

  12. To @JL100 who wondered why I didn’t stay at the Wynn, and @Kris who recommended the Conrad, virtually everywhere in Macau was sold out for Chinese New Year. The Sheraton was asking > US$500 for a room night, I booked a standard room on points. The Conrad was sold out, the Wynn was sold out, the Venetian was sold out, etc. The Grand Hyatt was exempted from evening honoring their Diamond reservation guarantee.

  13. @Rob wrote, “When you choose to stay at a remarkably inferior hotel, ostensibly for no reason other than because you have and/or are chasing status (I can’t imagine what other reason could’ve drove you to stay there), where they apparently treat you worse as a platinum than a hotel right next door will treat a general member…. it just reinforces Seth’s point in your continuous “loyalty” argument.”

    This had nothing to do with status. I am not a Starwood Platinum.

    The only “5*” hotel that had any availability at all besides the Sheraton was the Sofitel, which wanted ~ $550 per night.

    I booked the Sheraton because it was available and I could use 10,000 points instead of spending $500++.

    Truth be told though even if I were willing to spend $500++ I couldn’t have gotten a better hotel. I could not get into the Conrad even as a Hilton Diamond. I could not get into the Grand Hyatt even as a Hyatt Diamond. And I couldn’t get into any of the non-chain hotels either.

    This was Chinese New Year.

  14. “That is why I NEVER go to China, do not need it, i can never deal with these people, cant tolerate them” what’s wrong with that statement? cant say what’s your mind anymore, gotta be sensitive/unoffensive to whoever??? how about those infringes upon you to begin with?
    I am with Lucy for saying how she feels. I am a Chinese American but that does not offend me 1 bit. Come see some of us poop and pee on exhibit floors at Shanghai World Expo 2010, before passing on that hypocritic world-be-one ideology.

  15. Gary, you deserve that because you actually are scammer, not only coffee but the ideas from other blogger and FT. If you are a decent man, please do not read FT, you can definitely go your cofounded milepoint. Loser!

  16. Well this story goes quite well with the time a family let their child take a dump in a plastic bag and then put it under the seat in front of them, where I was seated!

  17. @Gary, why did you even want to go to Macao for CNY in the first place? Of course, there are no rooms available in town except at the biggest Sheraton in the world. It’s like expecting a nice room at the MGM in Vegas the night of a big fight. You should have stayed in Hong Kong, or flown to Shanghai, Taipei or Singapore (all places that usually have hotel rooms during CNY and where there is a lot more to do). Unless you are into gambling, there aren’t enough reasons to make a trip to Macao from the States, even as a side trip from HKG. For those that care, there is a nice science museum and zoo for kids, while the Westin can still be a nice weekend break.

  18. Gary, I am now just so very disappointed with you also, not just Lucy and those who agree with her.

    You have time to respond to comment after comment on coffee cup issues and service issues, but no standing up for decent human values other than saying you don’t get involved.

    How many hate-filled racist comments would it take? One, two, ten, twenty?

    Lucy’s racism is so sweeping ….obviously it includes my adopted daughter who is Chinese by birth and all Chinese-Americans in the U.S. And every single one of the over billion people who live in China, including courageous dissidents, humanitarians, intellectuals, and any number of kind humane people.

    This is YOUR blog. Agree with the sentiment evil prevails when good people stand silent.

    Are you afraid of a offending Lucy and those who agree with her?

    What would it take for you to take a stand?

    You have responded to many comments…would appreciate if you could respond to mine.

  19. @John – it was part of a larger trip to Vietnam, Cambodia, and also Hong Kong and I guess the best I can say is that I’m sometimes known to be the kind of person who touches the stove even though my parents say that it’s hot. 😉

  20. I was in Hong Kong during Chinese New Year 1996, and before the handover. Loved it. Returned to HK and the mainland 2006 and was disappointed. As someone wrote earlier, it seems like the former “peasants”–or for that matter, anyone who has come into money AND a major change in culture–have changed the tone of China. On my first trip I did not see the spitting and street pooping (sorry) whereas on my later trip I did. Maybe this is what

  21. the Sheraton Macau had to deal with?

    Also I am reminded of the difference between 6 cups of Chinese tea and 6 cups of American coffee.

    (sorry for the split)

  22. Gary – I have to say that I agree 100% with your policy of not dignifying ridiculously racist comments with a response.

  23. @Dave: the point isn’t so much about race as it is about being in a culture where you are not accustomed to being treated a certain way.

    Just because one is in a Sheraton does not mean US customs will always prevail, nor that as an American you will be treated differently than local customers are treated.

    It doesn’t matter if you are an American visiting Amman during Ramadan…you’re still not getting a lunch cocktail, for example (and yes, I learned this the hard way. :))

    This hotel has strict policies with regard to paying for what you get. And that policy is a result of the hotel being scammed quite a lot. Just because one is an American or Caucasian does not exempt one from those policies.

    In any case, frankly i agree with others who say ‘avoid Macao.’ My wife and I are gamblers and that’s why we took the side trip from HK. But unless you love baccarat and thick cigarette smoke, you’ll be as disgusted by Macao’s gambling scene as we were.

  24. I have a similar story, but at the opposite end of the spectrum. I was at the IC London Park Lane and ordered room service double espresso. They brought it up and it seemed really small compared to the double espressos I get in the US. So after drinking it, I apologetically called back to room service and asked whether they had recorded the order as a single or double, just in case they had accidentally sent me a single. When they heard I thought it seemed like it was maybe a single, they insisted on sending up another double shot. Which was the same size as the first. Clearly I’ve become used to the American super-size everything mentality.

  25. Gary, I kon Lucy might speak out what you think. But as a well-known blogger, you are a kind of public figure. We do not know Lucy, We know you. Do not try to be mainland China, Hong kong and Macau. I promise you are not welcome there.

  26. love our time in Macau staying at the Hard Rock. was a quick stay then on to HK, but enjoyed to city and the service was fine.

    the shuttles around to the different casinos were great, and coming from Vegas (originally) was interesting to see the namesakes on that side of the world. atmosphere was obviously different. the food was good, the sights were nice, i would go back for a day trip again.

  27. James Yellen, way to validate Lucy’s remarks by telling Gary he’s not welcome, despite his clear denunciation of Lucy’s comments as being so bad as to not merit a response.

    I would just like to point out as well, that while Lucy’s remarks were over the top, rude, and wrong, there does remain the underlying truth that the AVERAGE Chinese person has a… different disposition than the average Thai person, for instance. There are many lovely Chinese people I know and have interacted with, but cultural differences are a reality.

  28. wow, I’m jealous! Sounds like the majority of you have 100% fault free satisfactory experiences at every hotels/chains you’ve ever stayed in. Must be nice…As for Gary’s misfortune, seems to me the hotel reception did as requested when called upon and the problem came from the person “accused” of preparing the coffee. Anyways, I’m glad you love Thailand Lucy, cause I do too… make sure to rent yourself a jetski during your stay 🙂

  29. It appears the casinos don’t like you Gary. You gotta be “in the know” in Macau.

    Stayed at the Westin Macau and the Holiday Inn in Macau, both never wanted me to leave.

  30. @Ed – My last stay at the Westin Macau was fantastic. It’s either a fantastic or terrible location, though, depending on your needs.

  31. Gary, I would have been angry too to be called a thief. Glad you brought it to their attention.
    As for the comments.Funny how everybody can be a “bigot” in this world but lucy. Have you ever lived in Hawaii “haole?” Have you lived in Tokyo “gaijin, or round eye?” I have. Nice places to visit, you’re treated like gold, just don’t decide to live there.

  32. Belated as it may be, I must agree with Gary’s handling of the ‘Lucy’ situation. There is very little point in bothering to respond. For one, ‘Lucy’ hasn’t been back, and getting worked up over five little lines of text simply isn’t worth it.

    In any event, what should Gary have done about it in the first place? Written a manifesto on racial equality? Proclaimed from the rooftops that he is not in fact a racist? Launched a tirade about how bad a person this ‘Lucy’ is, based on five lines of text on a blog post comment?

    What would any of this accomplish in the end, except to assuage the suspicions of those who equate the internet version of the cold shoulder with implicit endorsement? Would ‘Lucy’ somehow see the light and change her views? Would the world suddenly become less racist?

  33. Wow! This thread reminded me of a line out of the movie anchorman, “Boy, that escalated quickly… I mean, that really got out of hand fast…. Did you throw a trident?… You should find yourself a safe house or a relative close by. Lay low for a while, because you’re probably wanted for murder.”

    Any thoughts of me being a blogger died a horrible death after reading all this.

  34. Not sure why some of you have such reaction with what Lucy has said, someone like Lucy, Shannon and Michael just living in their own little well. Obviously they are very small minded people and never really see the world or just low class and think they are superior than a certain race in order to make them feel better (very pity)that’s why they made those comments and agreed with each other. I hope they do not tell anyone what nationally they are or someone might just think their entire race just as low as they are.

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