Bad hotel experiences are not unusual, we've all had them, despite their promises that our satisfaction is key to their success, we'll continue to have them. It's not a perfect world and mistakes do happen. The pain of a mistake can be greatly lessened by sincere concern on the part of the offender. The memory of a mistake can be forgotten by the belief that the offender has learned from his mistake.
But when a business consistently fails to perform, when apologies become redundant empty words that are meaningless, then it's time to stop and ask yourself if this business has the will/power/ability to change.
If there was a hall of fame for the hotels to most avoid, The Quality Inn Hotel on 8008 W Broad Street in Richmond, Virginia deserves top honors.
Our daughter attends the University of Richmond. We felt it was important to establish a home away from home for our certain frequent trips to move her in and out and to visit. The Quality Inn seemed a natural choice based on location, quality and the generous discount for parents of these collegiate offspring.
Ah but do facades deceive!
Our first stay was basically uneventful, more likely because our time in Richmond was so eventful. We barely had time to notice more than that there was a roof over our heads as we said goodbye to our baby.
However on each subsequent stay we were treated to small problems ranging from unclean rooms, faulty plumbing that went uncorrected even after requests to the front desk, to general inadequate service and lack of concern. On one such occasion I felt such behavior should not go unreported. And report I did. I wrote to the hotel as well as to the corporate headquarters.
Apologies profusely flowed my way, along with offers of free and discounted nights from both sources. Being the frugal type, I decided to take advantage of their apparent desire to make me happy.
My next few stays there were basically uneventful as well, not perfect, but not worth the time to mention. Although on the first visit after my complaint, I know that my name must have been tagged somehow... for when we entered our room, it was obvious that extra care had been taken to be positive that the room was fit for a king.
However, all good things must come to an end. You can paint over things, you can cover up, you can gloss and fluff all you want, but eventually the truth will come out. If it's rotten underneath, the rot will surface.
On this last, and I do mean 'last' visit, we checked in, dumped our luggage and went to meet our daughter. After dinner, we decided to return to the room and rent an in room movie that was another hotel amenity. Apparently the previous occupants had 'blocked' all but the basic channels perhaps because of children so I contacted the front desk to have this remedied.
No one there knew how. No one at the front desk could find anyone who knew how. They'd 'make a note' and when a manager came in the next day they would fix it. The next day. Not the night we wanted to watch the movie. The next day.
So, early to bed and early to rise for the 'free' continental breakfast served till 10 each day. Well...every day but THIS day... as by 9 AM they were out of coffee, juice and all but three stale bagels. Well, okay... so they had several boxes of muffins and doughnuts and pastries in the little room off the 'breakfast area'... but some 'uniform' went in and closed the door behind him, only to reappear shortly with several platters brimming with these delicacies.... taking them down the hall to parts unknown. And the place was filthy!!
Ah...but the hotel promises and I quote: "FREE Deluxe Continental Breakfast is served daily offering waffles, French toast, Danish and muffins, bagels, yogurt, cereals and fresh fruit, juices, hot chocolate, Coffee and tea."
There was no French toast, no danish, no muffins, no fresh fruit, and "cereals" consisted of rice krispies. That is not plural.
So, we left ... what good is free if it's nonexistent?
We enjoyed a nice day with our daughter, returning at 4, seven hours later, to a room yet untouched by the housekeeping staff.
I zipped down to the front lobby and reported this, requesting that as we were trying to get ready to go out for dinner that if they would just provide us with clean towels that would be fine.
After the two personnel at the front desk talked among themselves about items of a personal nature, decided who was getting what for whom on their break...cigarettes...etc....they noticed me still standing there and asked when I wanted the maid to clean the room.
Again I explained that we needed to shower, that I only wanted clean towels. I was assured they would bring them up, even though I offered to take them myself.
A half hour later as I was about to call down and tell them to forget it, as we were running out of time to make our dinner reservations, my husband was preparing to take a shower with wet towels...the door opened.
My first instinct to be appalled that the maid wouldn't knock before entering an occupied room was quickly squelched as a group of strangers holding a key to our room entered with bag and baggage.
Did I mention my husband was standing there naked?
Now...it occurs to me that these people then went to the lobby where they explained what happened. You have heard the apology from the front desk as well as I have. What I did hear the people say as they backed out of the room was "Oh God...they've done it to us AGAIN".
It is small comfort that I am not the only guest mistreated.
So, out we went, showered and dried with wet towels, to our dinner. About ten that night when we returned...I joked as I walked down the hall. What else was going to happen? Should I knock before entering?
Didn't matter if I knocked at all...our keys were deactivated ... we could not get in our room.
Back down to the lobby I went for assistance from the same two uncaring individuals. I'm sure they would have helped me immediately if they hadn't been talking to six people with confirmed reservations that they had no record of. Or perhaps the group of people standing there who had just walked in a room full of sleeping occupants who were just as startled as I was earlier?
My explanation from Mr. Uncaring Clerk was that we had never actually been checked in. We were checked in....but not CHECKED IN. So they couldn't clean a room that was not occupied. Or give towels to a person that does not exist. Or apologize to anyone who hasn't actually been CHECKED IN.
We got CHECKED IN and our keys were activated and we made it back up safely to our room, sharing an elevator with people sharing the same tales of woe.
Oh God just let me live to check out!
Determined to get something good out of our stay we attacked the free continental breakfast the next morning by 8:30. Gee...does it come as any surprise to you that there was no coffee? Does it seem odd that the bagel/doughnut selection was paltry to barely existent? That the rice krispies were still the only plural cereals only staler? That there was no fruit, fresh or otherwise? And once again, the French toast was still in France, the danish were still in Denmark, and I was reminded of an old nursery rhyme... "Have you seen the muffin man?" AND once again, the area was filthy.
Just get me outta here okay?
At checkout we were only charged on the bill for the second night. Since we weren't CHECKED IN on the first night, we were considered a 'no show' and our charge card was to be billed for our confirmed reservation for the first night because we weren't there.
We weren't there being unable to rent a movie, being unable to have a clean room, being unable to get dry towels, being unable to have a decent morning repast. We weren't there to be ignored by uncaring unconcerned desk clerks.
Oh I should complain but truthfully I don't want any more free nights there, I don't want them to appease me, I don't want them to prove to me that they can be a 'quality' Quality Inn.
Because I know that they can't. It's not in them.
Update I received a call from the manager of this establishment, and he had more excuses than you can imagine. But my point went right over his head. He blamed the breakfast being gone on senior citizens eating too much in the early hours. Yet, cognizant of that happening on Saturday, they didn't plan for it on Sunday. He blamed the room problems on current redecorating which keeps them unaware of what rooms are available? Basically he proved my theory, that they cannot learn from mistakes, that it is hypocritical to apologize for something they will do again. And again. And again.