I thought I was in love with this place the night I arrived. Warm baked chocolate cookies with chocolate chip candies. And nice people and a perfect location for less than $100 a night. Wow. I have family who live down the street and I thought I had found the ideal arrangement for visiting.
And now I am not sure whether I will return ever.
I am not easily shaken up. Let's just say that a single bug is not enough to upset me. Not one bug and not even two bugs bother me. It's when I have asked to have a new room, when I have brought dead bugs that I killed myself to a manager and asked for a new room that I start to wonder. Later when I find strangers in the same buggy room and my key doesn't work anymore and I am treated like an intruder.... that's when I get upset.
Why would you put new people in a room that has been reported to have bugs? How do you let an accident happen that could make a polite person feel like a criminal.
And I would not be writing this now if I had received an appropriate level of response today from a local or regional manager.
I brought two dead beetles to the manager and asked that he be prepared to provide a new room to me so I could sleep without wondering about new bugs. He offered to move me immediately. I explained that I had a work deadline. I asked if I could expect the service when I returned later. I explained that I did not have very much stuff to move but I would have to return later to make the transfer.
At this point I was polite and even joked about the relative small size of these bugs and their lack of resemblance to roaches. Sure, it is disturbing but because I know the difference between a bed bug and a cockroach, and because these beetles were not either one of those, I chose deliberately to react in a very measured way.
I set up in the lobby with my laptop and finished my work. I returned to the front desk about an hour or so later. I spoke again in a friendly manner with the manager who had arranged for a new room. He nodded to the desk attendant who handed me the key cards for a new room. I explained that I would be going to get my belongings to move them to the new room.
My key no longer worked in the door of Room 207. I was unphased and tried several times to get the key card to work. It had failed me the first few times when I first arrived. After a minute of this, the door was opened by a woman I had never seen. She was not a housekeeper or hotel employee. I asked what was going on and stepped back to look at my surroundings, wondering if I had the wrong room. Upon confirming the door number, I explained that this was still my room and I had left my things in the room.
Did you find my things in the room? I asked. And she did not answer. I pointed toward the bathroom counter, at her left elbow... "I left a bag there...on the counter, is it still there?"
Again she would not confirm that she whether my things were there or not. This young woman wouldn't say anything at all. There were other people in the room with her. I started toward the elevator to return to the front desk when I saw a hotel employee exiting the elevator. I turned before entering the elevator to catch her eye as she approached the door of Room 207.
She had knocked already when I started to walk back. I explained that this was still my room and I had left my things there. I explained the new room that i needed to transfer to. The door had re-opened to the strangers in my room.
This young hotel employee told me to go to the front desk because she could not help me. I explained again that I wanted to simply be told whether my belongings were in the room or had been removed from the room. She again told me to go to the front desk and I became upset.
I asked that she enter the room with me and allow me to investigate. Finally a different person from behind the door came forward and said that there was a sweater and some other things in the room. By this time the employee had offered to assist in moving these people to a new room and she had brought them their new key.
What was so shocking is that she never once THOUGHT to ask the other guests why they had asked to be moved, nor whether they had seen my things in the room. CLEARLY they had asked to move because the room was occupied. What is profoundly unintelligent and unkind is that NOT ONE PERSON for 10 minutes understood why I needed an immediate answer to my simple question: Are my things in that room? Is there something in the refrigerator, is there something on the bathroom counter? Are there books and clothes?
I'm asking these people to assure me that they did not TAKE my things and they won't even say that they've asked for a new room!? BUT the employee remains my primary complaint.
By this time, I have stopped the charade of not saying there are bugs. I have told everyone involved, "Why would you put people in a room that I have not vacated!" and "Why would you put people in a room that I reported has bugs." AND "Why would you ask me to go to the front desk before telling me if my things are in the room that I have paid for and had been given keys to?!"
When I say that my standard is not too high. I mean that I did not react when it was one bug that crawled from under my pocketbook on the night that I arrived. I even wondered if the beetle had come in with me. Maybe it was the result of leaving my pocketbook on the floor of the bus from Milwaukee to Madison.
So the next afternoon when I sat on the couch and propped up my feet to work on my laptop, I had forgotten all about that first bug. Then I saw a beetle on the coffee table and killed it. It must have been the same bug from the night before I told myself. But twenty minutes later, another live bug, exactly the same type, crawled along the top edge of my laptop screen. I jumped up trying not to drop the computer. After disentangling my feet from the laptop power cord, I located that second bug and killed it.
I picked up a paper from the desk and scooped the two dead bugs into it. I folded it carefully and brought them to the manager. I didn't ask whether this was the first time it had happened or part of an infestation. I just didn't want to know. I just wanted to finish my work and get into a fresh room.
What I did not want, was to be treated like a lesser guest when I returned to a room that the staff had accidentally given to new people while my stuff was stil in it.
Is it a hard thing to think through? Don't give out new keys and disable the old keys for someone who told you she is not ready to transfer yet. AND for goodness sakes, don't give out the same room to new people while the complainant is still in the hotel!
If you want to ignore a bug problem, there are better ways to handle it!!
Later than night, I had more trouble because a room key wouldn't open the door to my new room. By this time they had offered to compensate for the new room and I had asked to speak with a manager. I had asked for the next manager on duty to call me to discuss what had happened.
At breakfast the next morning, on my way to the airport, I stopped for breakfast. I was sure that nothing more could go wrong. While waiting for my waffle at the well-appointed breakfast counter, I saw one more beetle. I crawled along a half wall behind the breakfast set up. I flicked it off and looked around to see if any of the ten other people sitting at tables had noticed. They were undisturbed. Lucky for them, they seemed to be oblivious.
Simply enough, if a manager had called me today I would not be writing this now. One night of compensated stay is a gesture. When a guest tries to handle bugs quietly and is repaid in this way, it is an incident that requires a bit more than one night's free stay.
Am I asking too much?
-- Kathy C
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