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?
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.
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.
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.
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.”
Theft happens. Even at a hotel with a sterling reputation, like Marriott.
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.
Question: We recently made arrangements to go to visit the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino through a company called Cheap Caribbean. The hotel has an all-inclusive option, which includes meals, beverages and activities, and quoted us the price of $5,701.
Imagine the absolute horror we encountered when we got to the Marriott and were told that our reservation with them was for the room only — no all-inclusive. Since we booked an all-inclusive we took only a small amount of cash, which would not have been enough for a week’s worth of meals and liquid refreshments.
When we called Cheap Caribbean Customer Service from the Marriott check-in desk, they wanted another $3,000 to make it an all-inclusive. After many, many phone calls between Cheap Caribbean, Marriott and my daughter, Cheap Caribbean and the three of us agreed to split the additional cost just to get the matter resolved and behind us. We had already lost what equaled a whole day of our vacation and wanted to get on with enjoying the short time we had left.
We feel that we were ripped off by Cheap Caribbean. We were quoted a vacation deal and they should have honored it. We wrote to the president of Cheap Caribbean but never received an answer. Can you help us? — Esther Mikula, Tinley Park, Ill.
Answer: You shouldn’t have to pay twice for your all-inclusive vacation. Cheap Caribbean and Marriott should have honored your reservation without charging you more.
Question: My husband and I have been members of Marriott’s loyalty program, Marriott Rewards, for decades. We’re also Marriott Vacation Club owners. We have a problem with a rewards stay we were hoping you could help us with.
About a month ago, I contacted the Marriott Vacation Club office to make a reservation for a vacation stay next year, and I asked the employee to check on a seven-day hotel award, which I thought was about to expire in a few months. I was informed that the award had been converted into 25,000 points and credited to our account.
I asked to speak with a supervisor, since I preferred seven days to 25,000 points. The supervisor said the only thing he could do was to offer us a five-day award. He said some mass emailings went out last year notifying readers that our type of seven-day hotel award would expire at the beginning of the year. I expressed my disappointment in having to accept his offer.
I searched the Web and my saved mail messages for the announcement of the hotel awards expiring in January. I found nothing. So I went to the Marriott’s customer service website and emailed from their site a note asking them to please send me a copy of that mass email announcement about the awards expiration. I also expressed my concern that we did not receive a personal call, letter, or email notifying us of a change in the expiration date. After two weeks, I mailed a letter. I still have received no response. Can you help? — JJ Mortensen, White Rock, NM
Answer: Can Marriott arbitrary downgrade all of its seven-day awards to five-day awards? In a word, yes.