Friday, November 23, 2007

A Different Adventure - Fear in a Missouri Motel

Ok, so I'm usually telling you about the quirky and strange things that I fall into while traveling the American West. And, while this may not be nearly so fun or exciting, it rates in my top three worst travel experiences, and my number one worst hotel stay. So, Days Inn, Lebanon, Missouri, while traveling Route 66. Yes, I know, if we were doing this "correctly" I would have stayed at the vintage Munger Moss Motel, a Route 66 icon, but I need high speed internet to do my business.

So, we landed at the Days Inn. What a nightmare!! We check in, it's dark, there are workers redoing the concrete in the front and we are redirected to another door. Odd time to be doing concrete, but obviously not enough to steer us away. Drive around back, park several doors away from the room and lug the luggage across the parking lot to the room. Big surprise as I step into wet concrete, complete with roller bag, across a very recently reset "roller ramp" onto the sidewalk. No signs, no plastic tape warnings, just $200 boots and luggage in the midst of a wet concrety mess. I'm not happy. I'm even less happy when I get to my room and my key won't open the door.

Leaving the concrete soaked luggage at the door, I march the approximate half block back to the office in my quickly setting concreted boots. I state first that my key doesn't work and then inform the desk manager of my walk in the concrete and am in need of a place to clean my boots. Directed to the public restroom, I find no paper towels nor a trashcan. In the meantime, she calls her husband (manager), who comes in and proceeds to yell at me how about how stupid I am for walking through the concrete when they had a trashcan placed in front of it. Now, "in front" was not my "front" as I was coming from the side and, besides, since when, does a trashcan mean "wet concrete." I'm offended - he has no right to be yelling at me. This drama goes on to include where I can and cannot clean my quickly setting boots before he threatens to throw me out. He's yelling the entire time.

I've been traveling for 10 hours and am hungry, let it drop and return to my room. We go out to dinner, return. I'm in my jammies when the phone rings. It's the same "screaming manager" demanding that I come to the front desk within 5 minutes with my driver's license, or he will "prosecute" me. For what, I'm not sure. I refuse. He then threatens to come to my room and physically evict me because he is sure I have washed my boots in the room, and the concrete residue is going to clog his pipes. He's also saying he's going to add "damages" to my bill. I tell him we will gladly leave, if full refunds are given.

As we are packing up, he enters both rooms, without knocking, to "check" to make sure there is no concrete in his pipes. As we are leaving he states that all charges will be reversed. We leave, checking into the Econo-Lodge next door. Great people! We tell the story. Seemingly this is not a surprise to them, as this particular manager has often "kicked" people out for less. He also refuses to rent to "locals," stating that they "tear things up," and has a reputation of being extremely disrepectful to women.

I am not prejudiced, but this place is not benefiting from this middle-east manager's attitude towards women, his cultural biases, or extremely poor customer service skills.

Were I a 6' cowboy, would he have screamed at me and called me "stupid?" If he had been taught better customer service skills and respect for guests, would he be consistently kicking people out?

As a side note, while the rooms were decent and clean, there was no coffee, shampoo, and two of the four lamps in the room had no bulbs.

Why am I writing this? Because, I have an avenue! Because it's the worst lodging experience of my life, because this is unacceptable behavior; whether he's Indian, an American redneck, or just a terrible manager. Because I'm pissed, my boots are ruined, this is somehow my fault for walking through concrete in the dark with no warning, being yelled at, and being kicked out.

I have worked for years in the customer service business, and customers ARE NOT "always right" and challenges need to be addressed individually. But managers such as this should not be in their positions and having a franchise name behind them. It damages the entire franchise, if not the entire town (were it my only experience in Lebanon.)

Update: This terrible manager also charged both me and my travel companion for our rooms so am now having to fight that as well.