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August 15, 2005

Pulling the plug on dysfunctional hotel alarm clocks


Today's USA Today story by Roger Yu about how hotels are dumbing down their alarm clocks called to mind last fall's post here about travel alarms.

Long ago I abandoned wake–up calls and hotel alarm clocks in favor of bringing my own.

The first thing I do after I arrive in a hotel room is unplug the alarm clock and tip it back behind the nightstand so I don't have to look at its useless, dysfunctional–even–when–working–as–it's–supposed–to corpse.

My current iteration is pictured above and below: it's the Oregon Scientific model AS316NE-S Nightfinder and costs $13.95 here.

I wrote about it last year on September 13 and you can read that post here if you want the juicy details.

Suffice it to say that Kevin Kelly even liked it enough to feature it in Cool Tools so you know it's not just me blowing smoke and hot air as usual.

Bonus: the Cool Tools review told the amusing story of one of my favorite self–inflicted personal disasters. But I digress.

You shouldn't have to wonder if your alarm clock will work: I mean, this isn't a computer — it's a clock.

Yet most models in hotel rooms, as Yu notes in his story, don't show you the time for which you've set your alarm or, in an obvious fashion, whether or not it's armed.

So you repeatedly check it as is your semi–compulsive wont, disrupting your relaxation the night before an important presentation or case or what–have–you.

Some people have even been known to wake up in a cold sweat wondering whether or not they forgot to set their alarm clock.

Know anyone like that?


You don't say — good thing you can trust me not to tell.

First rule of alarm clock design: if you are required to press two buttons at one time to do something then that clock is poorly designed and will bite back and fail you when you can least afford it.

Like when your flight out is the only one that can get you home that day and you sleep through the alarm that never was.

Relying on a hotel alarm clock or a wake–up call from the front desk is like expecting decent food on a plane trip: ain't gonna happen.

You do it yourself if you want it done right.

Mom's moved on.

In the end, you're the only one who cares.

Trust me on this; I've learned this lesson via way too many personal disasters.

No reason you should have to reinvent the wheel: after all, that's why you're paying me the outlandish price I'm charging for my advice.


And, as always, it's worth every red cent.

August 15, 2005 at 03:01 PM | Permalink


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At the Opryland Hotel, when you come in every night they have turned down your bed and left the radio on. Somehow, which I still haven't figured out, on my second night here I set the alarm clock while turning the radio off. (I know it was me because it did not go off the first morning.)It is a really confusing Panasonic CD player clock radio. I had called and asked for a 7 a.m. wakeup call. At 6:50 a.m., the alarm goes off. I'm confused. I turn it off and lie there in bed wondering if that was my wakeup call - maybe they had programmed the clock from downstairs (because they sure as hell didn't call at 7 a.m.).

(Don't laugh, Joe. It could happen. It could be programmed from downstairs somehow surely.)

Well, the mystery is solved at 7:10 a.m. when I get my computer-recorded voice, "This is your wake-up call." Click. How is that warm and fuzzy? The Experience Economy be damned.

But in one of life's happy accidents, the system has worked for me all week. The alarm which I never set goes off at 6:50 every morning and I get up and turn the air off to let the icicles begin to thaw, plug the curlers in and then lie in bed till the computeratron calls me. Then I have to get up. And I hate the wallpaper in my room so much I'm almost happy to go.

Posted by: Shawn Lea | Aug 16, 2005 2:00:14 AM

Oh the number of times I have stayed in hotels with worthless alarms.

Posted by: Medical Billing | Aug 15, 2005 4:09:28 PM

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