The other day I wrote about a hotel guest, Mike Puno, who encountered a very odd situation. He checked into the Four Points by Sheraton Columbus Polaris hotel, went out for a little while, and returned only to find out his belongings had been moved out and another guest moved in.
See: Man Tweets that Hotel Moved His Belongings Out of Room and Moved Another Guest into Room Without His Knowledge or Permission
To his chagrin, Mike Puno says that there was no meaningful follow-up on this matter by the hotel or by Marriott.
But then, to make matters really bizarre, Mr. Puno received a creepy, outrageous text from the hotel’s manager saying he resigned over the matter, that it was a rookie mistake, that he hopes that makes Mr. Puno happy and karma’s a bitch.
As if the snafu was Mr. Puno’s fault?
HERE IS THE STORY IN MIKE PUNO’S WORDS
I asked Mr. Puno if he wanted to write about the experience. Here is what he had to say:
Last Tuesday night, I checked into the Four Points by Sheraton Columbus Polaris for a business trip. I arrived at the hotel with my co-worker around 10pm and we checked in to our separate rooms, dropped off our bags, and met back in the lobby. From there we had a beer at the hotel bar, and walked next door to get some food – a total of maybe 2 hours.
When I went back up to my room, neither of my key cards were working, and I could hear the TV on inside the room, which I thought was strange. I went down and explained this to the front desk attendant. She looked through her computer and said matter-of-factly that they had checked another guest into the room. She said there was some kind of mistake by a trainee that checked me in, where he did not press the “Check-in button” on the computer. My bags were already taken out of the room, and had handwritten notes that said they were left behind.
She then told me that the hotel was fully booked and there were no rooms. Of course I said that was unacceptable, that I had a corporate booking that guaranteed late check-ins, and that my bags were IN THE ROOM. She started going on about how she wasn’t the one that did it, and I shouldn’t be getting so upset. She insinuated my co-worker and I were drunk saying “I know you have been to the bar”, to which my co-worker replied we each had one beer. Not once during the entire ordeal did she apologize on behalf of the hotel, or show any kind of empathy for my situation
She hand wrote a note and stapled the hotel manager’s card to it, which asked a hotel down the road to take me in as they were overbooked, and to charge back the Four Points by Sheraton Columbus Polaris. I begrudgingly took the letter and she then started talking on the phone to the hotel manager about how I was so rude. I walked out the door and waited outside for my co-worker to give me the keys to the rental car.
I made the short drive to the other hotel and told them my story. The woman there tells me she was not surprised and . . . shared with me some other stories from other guests that got “walked” there. But the attendant told me the only room she had available was a smoking room, which I did not want to take since I am asthmatic. This woman very apologetically said the only thing I could do was go to ANOTHER hotel next door.
Somewhere around this time I called the Four Points by Sheraton Columbus Polaris manager’s number on the business card – he didn’t pick up so I left a voicemail. I then quickly started getting texts from him from a different number. He texted that there was an error made by not pressing the check-in button. He was taking ownership of it, but that hotels overbook all the time. I expressed my frustration and basically said I looked forward to speaking to him the next day. I finally checked into a room and got a very poor night’s rest.
The next day I had to be on-site at work all day, and I did not get contacted at all from Four Points by Sheraton Columbus Polaris, so I asked the manager until what time he was going to be at the hotel. He messaged back that he was there earlier, and was already gone.
So not being able to talk to anybody at the hotel, I shared my story on a Facebook travel group. Everyone encouraged me to tweet about it, so I started a Twitter account to do just that. I got a response from someone running their social media asking me for the confirmation number, so they can look into the matter. And then I waited. And waited. Days go by and the only follow-up response I got was that there was a case file open and they were looking into the matter, that they would contact me.
Fast forward to Sunday afternoon and I received this text message from the hotel manager:
“I just wanted you to know that I resigned. It was a rookie mistake, but it’s obvious you need revenge. So, if that’s [sic] makes you feel better I am happy. You know it was an error. Remember karma is a bitch. Thanks and have a great day.”
Needless to say, I felt outraged that I could not get anyone from corporate to contact me, yet a disgruntled now-former employee was sending what can reasonably be taken as a veiled threat to my personal cell phone.
On Monday I finally received a call from Catherine E., a rep from Darpan Management Inc., the company that owns and operates the Four Points by Sheraton Columbus Polaris, along with four other hotels in the Columbus, OH region. She starts off saying that she didn’t have my number that whole time, even though I included my contact number, and email to the complaint I reported to their social media accounts. She said she Googled me and found my cell phone number, which I certainly couldn’t find when I looked myself.
She tried to reassure me that the former employee no longer had any access to their systems and that the rest of my information was secure, but I frankly cannot be certain she’s being honest there either. She said that it was not their fault (seeing a trend here) the former manager had my cell phone number, since I first contacted him on his business line Tuesday night.
Eventually she asked how I can be made happy, and I gave them a number of points based on what I had to endure, how long the ordeal has lasted to this point, the hotel category, etc. Their response was basically “No”. They said they paid for my room in the second (third?) hotel I ended up at, but that really only benefits the company I work for. What they counter-offered is far below what I think is fair compensation, considering the utter lunacy of the entire situation. Now we are at an impasse, and she didn’t return my two calls yesterday afternoon.
A pretty standard response when things go bad in the service industry should go something like this:
- Acknowledge the incident and apologize
- Have open dialogue with the customer
- Compensate the customer appropriately
- Retrain staff to never repeat an incident
When a company bungles one, it’s a little annoying to the aggrieved party, but when it messes up on all of them, it’s dumbfounding. This should have been an easy “mea culpa, let me make it up to you, three cheers for customer service”.
Instead, this whole debacle is opening up tons of questions and thoughtful comments on my posts about security issues for giving people keys to occupied rooms, privacy violations for messing with my belongings, and questionable use of my personal information by this fired GM. Darpan Management Inc. & Four Points by Sheraton Columbus Polaris have, from start to finish, chosen to take the worst imaginable approach towards the customer.
I would very much like to speak to someone at Corporate SPG/Sheraton or Marriott, rather than deal with this franchisee, who has severely tarnished the good name of SPG and Four Points by Sheraton.
Wow! What do you think of this?