This weekend I was in Kansas City with my parents and my sister to attend a family wedding on Friday evening. We stayed at the Westin Crown Center Friday night, had a great time, spent Saturday tooling around Kansas City, my old stomping grounds, and a place I love dearly.
We could have stayed another night at the Westin, a lovely hotel built next to the international headquarters of Hallmark Cards near Union Station, with elegant on-site shopping, beautiful fountains and gardens. But my sister, Kim, had a 6:00 am flight back to Philadelphia on Sunday morning so my mom booked a hotel near the airport where someone could either easily drive her or she could catch a shuttle to the airport. KCI Airport is not particularly near downtown, so it seemed like a better option.
My dad lectured me this morning not to “go and libel someone” on the internet when I got back home today, so even though in the one semester I spent in J-school, I did learn that one of the key elements of proving libel is that the assertion must be false, and my retelling of our incident will be 100% truthful, I will still change the names to protect the reputations of the “Qwality Suites KC Airport” hotel, and “motels.com,” through which the reservation was made.
After going out for dinner and doing some shopping nearby, we returned to the airport hotel, watched some baseball, got ready to turn in. The reason we ended up at this particular place was because there was a NASCAR race at the nearby Kansas Speedway, and rooms were booked all over town. We were told this hotel was completely booked when we asked for a suite with two queen beds, but were only able to get a king bed with a sofa sleeper.
Kim and I weren’t especially thrilled with our luxurious pull-out bed accommodations, but weren’t complaining. We all settled in, Kim was trying to sleep, having been in town since Tuesday for work, and needing to get up for her flight, then drive the hour from Philadelphia back to her house, then tend to her dogs, a dog she would be dog sitting, her two year-old son, and go back to work on Monday morning.
I was reading in bed when I heard my dad trying to turn on the floor lamp by their bed in the other room. Suddenly he said, “Sonofabitch, there’s a rubber over here!”
Yep, it sure was. A used condom right there on the floor next to the bed. Suddenly I was happy to be spending the night on the sofa sleeper. We kind of were paralyzed with shock and disgust. Our options were limited. The hotel was full. It was almost 11:00 and Kim had to get up at 5:00. We just left it there, obviously not touching it. I fired off an e-mail to the corporate website, and we had a fitful night’s sleep.
And naturally the next morning, Kim’s flight was delayed until 10:40. We took photographic evidence of the condom. My mom and I marched down to the front desk, told the manager about the situation, to which he replied, “I don’t know how that could have happened. We go through each room before check-in.”
I knew what would happen next because I have had earlier experience with motels.com. He said he would not be able to refund the room charge because the room had already been paid for through the site. He offered my mom a lukewarm apology, and a complimentary stay for the “next time,” to which she replied she didn’t think there would be a next time.
We went back to the room, and found that as Kim had put the sofa bed back together, there was a piece of paper in between the cushions. It looked like a set of instructions, my mom said something about buying a booklight when we were shopping earlier, and I thought it was probably from the packaging. Kim had already left for the airport by this time and it was on the end table. I went to pick up my book that was underneath it. As I picked the paper up, I happened to see the word “erotic,” which seemed like an odd word to show up in a technical manual, and read further. It was instructions for a game called “A Hot Affair.” Billed as a game “devised for two consenting adults who wish to have fun and enjoy an intimate liaison with each other.”
Suddenly I was not feeling so great about having slept on that sofa bed.
Then we called the motels.com number, and they replied that it was up to the hotel management to resolve the situation, they spoke to the manager while we were on hold, and told us that he refused the request for a refund. An endless repeating loop of non-accountability.
So we went downstairs with the motels.com customer support person, probably in nearby India, on the line, and handed the phone to the dweebo manager, who claimed he was the general manager and “top dog,” and he once again refused to do anything, even after we presented him with the Hot Affair business, while defending himself to the motels.com rep, saying he had “no idea” how this could have happened.
So I put everyone on speaker and said that someone needed to step up and resolve this, I didn’t care who it was. We were given a room with a used condom, a biohazard, on the floor, and someone had better refund the credit card. I made sure to say this loudly enough for the guests eating breakfast to hear.
Finally the director of housekeeping stepped in, got on the phone with the motels.com rep, and asked her to refund us the full amount, and they would refund motels.com. A simple solution that the manager should have offered us initially, instead ended up taking 45 minutes of phone calls, three hotel staff members, two call center reps, and two guests to resolve.
My mom wasn’t done, though. Now she let the manager have it for implying that we were some type of grifters who go around planting shit in hotel rooms to get a free night’s stay. I think she would have kept going at him, but I grabbed my backpack and started out the door, “Thank you,” I said, and she followed me out.
© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2011