Warning: not a post for the impatient...i.e. semi-rant.
I checked into a Sheraton in New Hampshire with my teenage daughter this past week for one night. The trip started out great. Valet was quick and courteous. We got an upgrade. Awesome dinner in the hotel restaurant. They even grabbed me a specialty tea I was craving. The next morning, I asked valet to bring out my car and when I got to the lobby, they told me they couldn’t find my keys. The Valet Manager was truly the kindest man ever. He had not even been there when we checked in, so the misplaced keys were in no way his fault. I didn’t panic because the only commitment I had that day wasn’t until noon. It was only 10 a.m. Yes, I did want to go shopping and grab coffee with my daughter, but it’s not the end of the world. They told me they would call me a cab and pay for it so I could make my engagement, and in the meantime they would look for my keys. No biggie.
An hour later, I was told that they had lost the keys, had tried calling every locksmith in town, and the first appointment they could get to make a new key was Monday. Mind you it’s only Saturday morning and I’m out-of-state. With my kid. Who has school on Monday. And I have to work. I still kept my cool and told them we’d figure it out when I returned from my engagement. I took the cab (which they had not paid for, to my surprise), went to the event, and was about to return to the hotel when I received a panicked call from my daughter at the hotel. Despite my request for late check-out and the fact that I’m PP, they came by the room and told her she had to get out. Someone stood outside the room waiting for her to leave. As if there was even a way for us to get home. In tears, she said, “Mom, I’ll just get the luggage and wait for you outside the hotel.” I hung up with her and called the front desk, reminding them that I had requested late check-out and warning them against contacting my daughter again until I got there.
10 minutes later, I got back to the hotel and was told they had managed to find a locksmith and my keys would be made within the hour. Awesome. Everything even-keel now. It’s late and we still have a long drive home, but at least we’ll get to do a little shopping first. I stopped by the front desk to check out and to inquire about some incorrect charges on my bill, and they offered to waive the valet charge. Cool. When I finally get the car back, I’m handed the sorriest, dinkiest, flimsiest key I’ve ever seen in my life. Like my 1st car in the 80s type key. Without any fobs like the original set I had given them. No lock/unlock buttons, or panic button, or trunk button. Just a tiny, lonely key. The Valet Manager gave me the card for the locksmith because he would be able to make the key fob I was looking for, and also his personal business card in case I needed anything else. Again, awesome guy. Felt terrible for the whole ordeal and did everything he could to make the situation less inconvenient. He took my receipts for the cab and my address so they could reimburse me. He was the only employee who showed any concern whatsoever about us. The front desk was basically staffed by kids. One had already felt my wrath after my daughter was harassed, so I understand why no one wanted to look me in the eye. But all things considered, I had one mama-bear moment in a 12-hour stretch of being Marley-esque chill despite their screwup. Even my daughter gave me credit for staying calm, and trust me, I don’t get credit for anything from my teenager.
We left the hotel and parked at the mall. I jumped out and realized my daughter was stuck in the car. The stupid automatic locks on the door didn’t allow me to unlock her door without a key fob and she couldn’t find the manual lock to let herself out. It was actually pretty funny trying to use my crappy new key in the dark and discovering I had to turn the key to the left twice to unlock the door. That’s new. But I saved her and we went shopping. And the night went on.
When we got back to the car and did our fancy-new-turn-left-twice-trick with the key, I finally realized how stupid this was that I was just sucking this up. I’ve been incredibly loyal to Marriott (should hit 125 nights this year) and the hotel hadn’t given a flip about trying to make this right. At all. In fact, they did the opposite and tried to boot us (which I was later told was the result of the front desk not communicating the late check-out nor telling housekeeping about the hostage-situation at play with my car). I called the platinum elite line and spoke to the CSR about the situation. I was calm and I actually praised the Valet Manager. But I let him know that the hotel didn’t do much to make things right and I thought it was unfair that I had to pay for a new key, which wasn’t cheap. He put me on hold and called the hotel. All of a sudden, I’m told the Valet Manager is on the line and he’d be taking over the call. He told me he would file an insurance claim so I could get reimbursed for the key. Or he could have his local guy make it for me and do the leg-work. I live hours away, so I opted to be reimbursed. And that was that.
Why do I feel soooo unsatisfied? I don’t beg for anything. I’m not looking for comps. I thought the room was great. I’ll gladly pay for it. But seriously, I spent more on tips during my one-night stay than the amount of the valet charge they waived. And I was never once contacted by a hotel manager. No one besides the valet staff apologized for the situation. Yes, I get that it was a valet screw-up but I’m YOUR guest, Mr. Front Desk Attendant. Try acting like you care. I need a reality check. Am I overreacting? Please call me out if I’m being entitled. Shouldn’t the CSR that answered the phone have done something besides pass the buck? Isn’t it a bit awkward to be put back in touch with the hotel you’ve called to complain about? Ummm...hello. I’m calling you because they did nothing to help me. Now you’re sending me back to the poor valet guy, as if that’s going to yield something new. All I got out of it was an agreement that I’m fronting the cost of a new key. Worst dispute resolution ever. I’m not even sure what to do at this point because if I escalate the situation, it’s only going to bring heat on the one staff member that did try to help. I feel like it’s the front desk and the CSR who shirked some responsibility here. Advice? I love, love, love Marriott, but I also know that I can status match anywhere given my frequent corporate travel. Ugh. What a crappy end to what was a fun trip.