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Op/Ed:
CROWE'S CASH SHOWS UP ESTRADA'S LACK OF CHARACTER

28/8/2005 - By Andrew L. Urban: Russell Crowe’s phone rage incident has made lowly Mercer Hotel clerk Josh Estrada US$100,000 richer after Crowe reached a settlement that ends Estrada’s law suit against him. But the settlement only serves to highlight Estrada’s lack of character, his lack of professionalism and his greed. And the Hotel should be apologizing profusely for having such an inefficient telephone system while charging guests a reported $3,000 per night.

Crowe, who has very publicly apologised for his phone throwing and is paying a hefty professional price on top of the cash, is clearly a bigger man than Estrada is; and the hotel also has plenty to answer for, including its staff selection and training methods, as well as its lousy phone system. Obviously, the Mercer (Mercenary ?) Hotel in New York is the place not to stay.

The other aspect of the incident that forms part of the context is the impact of Crowe’s inability to get his call through to Danielle. Danielle couldn’t know why he wasn’t calling her, and as Crowe has made it clear, it is a part of their relationship deal that he keeps in touch and tells her where he is and what he is doing. When he can’t get through, all sorts of tensions can escalate. This would be perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the phone failure for Crowe.

As reported in The Times Magazine, Crowe tells journalist Martyn Palmer how the incident developed:
"We had already been communicating for 15, 20 minutes and he (hotel clerk Estrada) has been trying for me and he was like, 'Stay on the line, I'll keep trying, but if you hang up I'll stop.'

"And I'm like, 'Dude, I want to go to the bathroom. If you get her on the line, just call.' And he's like, 'No, no, I'm only going to call if you stay on the line.'

"And I thought that was a little unreasonable, so I made a speech about being a long way from home, I've got a wife and a little baby who will be sitting down for dinner right now, and how he should be really helping me out, and he goes, 'Yeah, yeah, whatever,' and hung up on me.''

That's when Crowe asked Estrada for his name, and marched downstairs. Crowe may have been misled by the hotel’s policy as stated on its website: “At the Mercer we regard every staff member as our guests’ personal concierge and the front desk as their private secretary – an impeccable level of service that only a small luxury hotel can provide.”

Palmer said that two days before the phone rage incident, he sat with Crowe in his suite at the Mercer Hotel while Crowe tried, unsuccessfully, to put a call through to Sydney.

"You just can't get an international call out. It's driving me f******* nuts,'' the actor is quoted as saying.

Given all that, Crowe showed considerable restraint before he avenged the phone system: repeated provocation by a useless phone system over several days and a sullen, unprofessional clerk whose job is to ensure that guests at this hotel are provided with a very high level of customer service giving him attitude instead.

(Note: Crowe could not use his mobile phone to call his family, as the US cellphone system is not compatible with the Australian system.)

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