Just before Richard Garber’s Groupon for a two-night stay at the Scottsdale Marriott expires, he falls ill. He can’t contact Groupon in time to cancel. Is he still entitled to a refund? “Why won’t Groupon accept my cancellation?”
All Jim Gissy ever wanted from Marriott was an apology.
An apology for allowing thieves into the hotel his wife and daughter were staying in, he says. And an apology for the way the hotel staff treated them after their purse was stolen.
Gissy wants it to mean something, too — not one of those “I’m sorry for the way you felt” mea culpas.
His wife and daughter recently checked into a Marriott property in Little Rock, Ark. His daughter, Katie, was participating in a soccer tournament. On a busy Saturday night, his wife’s valuables were pilfered from their room under regrettable and completely avoidable circumstances.
This feature is called Should I Take The Case? and in it, I ask you, dear readers, if I should get involved in a completely unvetted reader problem. I have to make hundreds of similar decisions a week as I triage consumer queries, so your comments and votes are very helpful.
Let me hand the mike to Gissy’s wife, who describes what happened:
Katie left the room about 10:10 p.m. to get something quick from the vending machine and left the door slightly ajar.
I was lying on the bed against the bathroom wall so I didn’t have a view of the door and thought Katie was coming back in when I heard the door open.
Then I heard a man’s voice say, “We got it!” and turned to see a man’s back as he raced out of the room with my purse. I think he had someone holding the door open for a quick getaway.
By the time I got up, the door had closed and when I opened it I heard the door to the nearby stairs slam. I opened it and yelled, but they were gone and I wasn’t going to confront two thieves in an isolated stairwell.
By then I was locked out of my room because the door had slammed shut behind me and I had to go down 14 floors in the elevator to alert the front desk.
Gissy’s wife contacted the hotel’s management and filed a police report. But according to her husband, the hotel “didn’t seem concerned” about what had happened.
“No one from the hotel asked how she was or if they could help her in any way,” says Jim Gissy. “The security officer was nice but in over his head. The local police were very good.”
Marriott didn’t really need to be worried. A review of Arkansas lodging law, suggests it isn’t responsible for thefts that occur on the property.
The only thing to fall back on is Marriott’s commitment to exceptional guest service, which, Gissy might argue, it didn’t meet.
Eventually, they found Gissy’s purse four flights down in the stairwell with her wallet, checkbook, and prescription sunglasses removed. There were no cameras in the hall or stairs.
Gissy thinks there’s a valuable lesson for all of us.
“I think you should warn travelers who are staying at a hotel,” he says. “I think most of us think that when we are in the room no one will just burst in and grab our belongings and run out. But we need to be reminded of that fact.”
Definitely true. I travel with a family of five and it’s often impractical to close and lock the door when a child leaves to run down to the ice machine. Now I’m going to think twice.
Should I ask Marriott to review this case? Technically, I think the hotel is right. I don’t believe it has any liability beyond the Arkansas lodging laws. A meaningful response — assuring Gissy that steps are being taken to make the hotel safer — would help a lot.
“Her money was stolen,” says Gissy. “They could have offered breakfast or even a free night.”
They didn’t. Should they? I don’t know, but I can find out.
It’s for your own good.
Travelers are hearing these words more often than ever, and they are being applied to increasingly unwelcome scenarios. The latest example: being unable to access WiFi in your hotel without incurring an added charge. In August, the American Hotel & Lodging Association and Marriott filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission asking the government for permission to block wireless devices in hotels.
“Beware of travel industry doublespeak”
Rick Magill’s recent trip didn’t end well. When he and his wife returned to the Miami Airport Marriott Hotel to pick up their Infiniti from the “secure” parking lot, they found it was undrivable.
“Hey Marriott, where are my wheels?”
Joseph Gordon’s recent stay at the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino did not go as planned. Actually, that may be something of an understatement. It was a disaster.
“Sickened in Aruba – does this guest deserve a vacation re-do?”
When Donna Larkin booked a room at the Hotel Ashbourne Marriott near Dublin last year, she had no way of knowing it was about to change owners. Or that some of the information on the hotel’s former website was less than accurate.
But that’s exactly what happened when she and her family arrived in Ireland for a two-week visit. The hotel was no longer a Marriott and it wasn’t as close to Dublin as promised. And that’s not all.
“Upon arrival at the hotel, we were informed that the hotel was not 10 minutes from Dublin but 40 minutes from Dublin,” she says. “It was not near any public transportation and it did not have rooms that would accommodate our party as requested on our reservation. Of course, we were told that no room was guaranteed, even though we booked well over two months in advance so that our party could be accommodated in a comfortable manner.”
“What does Marriott owe me for a reflagging nightmare?”
Theft happens. Even at a hotel with a sterling reputation, like Marriott.
“How much is your stolen property worth? Who can say?”
Gretchen Kenney thought the $232 a night rate at Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club was pretty darned good, considering that Marriott’s own website showed the same two-bedroom unit at $589 a night.
But not too good to be true.
Question: I made a reservation at a Fairfield Inn in Philadelphia earlier this year. I prepaid for two nights and received a confirmation.
The day before I left — six months after I made the reservation — I got an email from a manager at the Fairfield, saying that they were moving us to another hotel due to a “situation beyond our control.” It turns out there was a convention in town, and my room had been given to a platinum customer.
Fairfield promised to move me to a hotel with the same amenities. I was further told that a Fairfield Inn could cancel confirmed reservations any time in order to book platinum customers.
The motel they moved us to was inferior by any standards. No complimentary breakfast, no airport shuttle (we nearly missed our outgoing flight), farther from the airport, smell of paint as they were under construction, and no working phones in the room.
I have written to Marriott, which owns Fairfield Inn, and the Pennsylvania attorney general, as well as the manager of the property. I have only received an email thanking me for writing them.
I would like a refund of our stay at the hotel. Can you help? — Karen Johnson, Gering, Neb.
Answer: You were “walked” to another hotel, which is a fairly common practice in the hotel industry. Hotels sometimes accept more reservations than they can accommodate, anticipating that some guests will cancel. But on a busy weekend or holiday, when everyone shows up, a property has to turn guests away.
“The Travel Troubleshooter: Help! I’ve been ‘walked’ to a motel”
Question: I need your help to resolve a situation that I encountered recently when my family and I stayed at the Brussels Marriott.
I generally book directly on the hotel’s website. So in this case, I went to Marriott.com and entered the number of guests — my wife, two young children, and me.
My reservation was for three nights. When we tried to check in, the clerk said that the room had a king bed and could not accommodate us. I mentioned that my kids are quite young and can easily share the bed, as we do this often when staying at Marriott properties in the United States.
I was told that the only option I had was to upgrade to a larger suite, pay for an additional room, or walk away. I asked for the manager, who told me the same thing.
I pointed out that there was no way I could stay in two separate rooms, as I would be separated from my family. I also pointed out that I have a child who is autistic, who cannot be separated from us, but they firmly held their ground. They said that the only thing they could do was to upgrade me to a suite for an additional cost of 300 Euros.
Eventually, the hotel agreed to lower its surcharge to 200 Euros for a three-night stay.
We had a miserable time in Brussels and had to cut short our sightseeing activities to somehow compensate for this extra expense. In short, they ruined my vacation. Can you please help us? — Hari Doraisamy, Newtown Square, Pa.
Answer: The hotel shouldn’t have forced you to upgrade. I reviewed your correspondence, and it appears that you did almost everything you could to alert Marriott that you were traveling with your family. Something may have gotten lost in the translation.
“The Travel Troubleshooter: Two extra kids equals a 200-euro surcharge?”