Customer Service Failures: How To Make A Bad Hotel Review Much Worse

2015-07-11 06

The Balcony

Years ago, I was bad with customers. I didn’t “get” it. I thought when a customer complained, it was a fight you had to win – not a truth you had to accept. I couldn’t open my eyes to see the truth of the customer’s complaint, because I took it too personally. I argued back. I argued when I was right, and I argued when I was wrong. And I made the company I worked for some life-long enemies before I figured it out. Before I finally internalized the goal of the company, which should be the goal of every company: to make the customer glad they came to you. Once I saw the light, I embraced it. Customer service is a game, and it’s easy when you know the rules. When you know the rules, you come out a champ every time. The rules are all simple, and the simplest one is the one that’s easiest to break. Rule number one: don’t argue with the customers. Really. Just don’t do it. Here is what happens when you do.

Outside Our Room

Outside Our Room

Today I’m going to talk about an idiot who doesn’t understand customer service, and also apparently doesn’t know much about the hospitality business, either. I’m going to talk about the Indian Hills Inn in Taos, which was where I spent a yucky couple of nights.

Now, for those who don’t know Taos, it’s… well, it’s Taos. It’s full of rich people being artists and rich artists being people. It’s full of movie stars. It’s beautiful, Taos. It’s like Santa Fe but better. Smaller, richer, cooler. I can’t say enough nice things about Taos. So we went up there for a mini-vacation. Just to spend a weekend not here in Albuquerque, and ride some horses, and walk around the plaza. You know.


Beautiful Decay

We got to our hotel and I could tell immediately from the looks of the place we were in for a rough stay. The front of the place looks really adorable and quaint. The back, however, looks like something from a war zone. It’s absolutely falling apart at the seams. And the stairs were scary, like something in a horror movie right before some toothless maniac grabs you and turns you into a piece of artwork.

There was no remote control for the television, and when we went to call the front desk about that, the phone didn’t work. (It was unplugged, and the cord was rolled up and stuck behind the bed.)

I'm Not Kidding

I’m Not Kidding

Ok. Fine, these things happen. No biggie. We found it and got it plugged in and called about the missing remote. Front desk says sure thing, be right up, and maybe fifteen minutes later, there she is. With a remote that she’s taped batteries into because the battery cover is gone. Ah… alright, whatever. The television works. I don’t whine too much about things like that generally.

Shortly, I found other things to whine about. The chairs, for example. They were covered in black stains. Just covered in them. I didn’t want to put my things on them, but I didn’t want to put things on the floor either, as it was also covered in

One of the Chairs

One of our Chairs

stains. I piled all my things on my suitcase. I took a shower. In the bathroom, there was a plunger with toilet paper stuck to it from a previous use. Also a huge gloppy wad of mystery stuff that apparently was used to fill a hole in the floor. But at least the shower was nice and hot. (Hey, I give credit where it’s due.)

The Glop

The Glop

The sheets weren’t white – they were this odd brown speckly pattern. Looking closer, I decided this was intended to hide stains. It didn’t work; there were tons of stains. Which was disgusting. The sheets were also full of holes. (I counted four holes before I quit looking.)

Ah, but wait. There’s more! The light fixture in the bathroom was missing a bulb, and it had a good eighth of an inch of dust on top of it. And the counter looked pretty clean, but on closer

Hot Mess On Light

Blow It Off?

inspection, the sides were dirty; all along the edge where the sink meets the wall was sticky and covered in dust. There were black stains all over the carpet in the bathroom area, and in the hallway area, and by the bed. And on the wall.

Oh, well… it’s cleaner than my bathroom probably. I mean, I paid this place to be a hotel and all. I sort of expect it to be really clean.

But fine, I’ll live. It’s my vacation, just blow it off, right?

Filth From Mirror

Filth From Mirror

But then I couldn’t sleep. The sheets I was trying to ignore didn’t feel clean. They felt gritty. I got out of bed six times to check for bedbugs, too. You know how it is, you feel the place is dirty (because it is) and then your skin keeps crawling and you keep jumping… well. I finally got to sleep. There was no alarm clock.

No clock at all. No hairdryer. No vent in the bathroom. The A/C unit looks like someone took a hammer to it. Amenities galore, yeah?


Sticky Sink

I got up in the morning and took another shower. We went out for several hours. When we got back the room had not been cleaned, and the tip we had left for the housekeeper was untouched. We went out again. Still no service. A little after 4pm, we called the front desk to ask when the housekeepers would come with clean sheets and towels. The woman said we were listed as having especially requested no service.

Well, that’s not true, obviously. Mixup. Ok, fine. Fine. They will send someone “right up.” 45 minutes later, they still hadn’t come. So, unshowered (no dry towels, remember), we went out for dinner, and we stopped at the front desk to tell them we were going out and it would be a good time for housekeeping.

Lovely Paint Job

Lovely Paint Job

We waited patiently for almost ten minutes for our turn at the desk. The lady said “Oh, our housekeeper had an emergency and had to leave early, that’s why your room wasn’t cleaned. I’ll try to send someone in a little bit.”

Dirty Plunger!

Dirty Plunger!


We Can See How Nice It Is From Here

This made us angry, because it was obvious bullshit. My husband said the room was disgusting and he wished we had stayed somewhere else. That prompted the other woman at the counter to say, “Well, it IS the older building!” As though they get a free pass for dirty sheets and broken remotes because the building is old. As though we asked for extra filth with our ancient building experience. Then the first lady said if we weren’t happy we could just go stay somewhere else. The other one said it was a perfectly nice room and we were complaining for no good reason. (“You didn’t get a bad room,” she said, and glared at me. “It’s nice.”)

So my husband told the first woman there were big stains on the chairs. When she blew that off he told her there were stains on the floor and the place was filthy and we were just asking for normal service and with this attitude she was copping, did she actually WANT us to go stay somewhere else?

One of Many Stains

One of Many

Then the woman said, “Well, which is it? You said there were stains on the chairs, but now you’re saying it’s the floor.”

I blew up. At the top of my voice (if you know me, you know how strident I can be) I announced: “There are stains on the floor AND the chairs. And the wall. There are holes in the chairs, there are holes in the carpet, there are stains on the wall and stains on the sheets and the sheets are also full of holes and the place is filthy!” I drew breath to continue but they cut me off with, “Fine, fine we will send housekeeping.”

Here's Another

Here’s Another

So they sent someone while we were at dinner. (I didn’t want to go; I was afraid to leave them alone with my luggage at this point, but we were really hungry, so we went.) “Housekeeping” changed the sheets. They took the dirty towels. They did not leave new towels. They did not leave shampoo packets. I use the term “housekeeping” because I think it was just this guy that they had sitting out front all the time. The guy probably spit on my underwear. That’s how much faith I have in him as a housekeeper. When we called down for towels, this is the guy who showed up with them and handed them to me with a grunt. Yep. That was our housekeeper. Grunt guy didn’t bring shampoo this time either, and I didn’t want to wash my hair badly enough to call again. (Now I know why they hide the phone cord.)


I Can Do This All Day (aka: Look At That Patch Job!)

The curtains were all jacked up and wouldn’t close, and there was no screen, so flies and bees flew in and out, and people saw me naked. And even after “housekeeping” came, there was still old toilet paper stuck to the plunger. None of the dirt ever went away. I only know they changed the sheets because the stains on them (and holes in them) changed positions. For all I know they might just have moved them from one bed to the other. I’m glad I didn’t have a blacklight available to see anything else. God, I can only imagine.

So before we checked out, we took some pictures. You know, if the staff hadn’t been such

Drippy Wall Stains

Drippy Wall Stains

assholes about it, we wouldn’t have bothered. But we did, we took pictures all over. Allllll over. And when we got home, Paul reviewed the place on every site he could find, including the Facebook page for this crap hotel.

And then the owner proved it’s not just his employees who are idiots – he’s the biggest idiot around.

Fine Furniture

Fine Furniture


He posted some bullshit in return about how we were only unhappy because they hadn’t “allowed” us to check out early.

We never asked to check out early. We asked only for our sheets and towels to be clean. It’s just that we had to ask about this so many times, apparently the girl assumed we’d have been happy to leave. (We would have been. I’d have slept better in my car. I know my car doesn’t have bedbugs.)

Who Needs Housekeeping?

Who Needs Housekeeping?

Then the hotel posted a whole post about how they got a bad review and it was all lies, how we had “bulled” our way in front of all the nice guests just so we could make a big stink for no reason, and how people are always asking for this room in particular because it’s so nice. And when we replied with the actual truth, they deleted our posts and blocked us from the page.

Behind the Bed. (Pills!)

Behind the Bed. (Pills!)

So now I’m blogging about it, telling people all over the world about this shitbox hotel they should avoid if they ever get to Taos.


Hoses as Landscaping

You should get to Taos. It’s very nice. Just don’t stay at this place. There are dozens of hotels in Taos and I doubt there are any worse than this one.

For the idiot hotel owners of the world, here’s a tip: Don’t argue with customers in public. It only makes you look like the idiots you are. Especially when we have pictures of your shitbox to show everyone we know – and a ton of people we don’t know – all around the world. You can delete me from your page, but you can’t delete me from mine. And you won’t so easily scrub away the reviews we left on Orbitz, Yelp, Trip Advisor, and every other place we could find. Replete with pictures such as you see here, and more.


Outside The (Dirty) Window

All you had to do was say, “Sorry, we will take care of the room as soon as possible,” without rolling your eyes. All you had to do was listen to our complaint. (For fuck’s sake, idiots, go look at the room. No way in hell people are special-ordering that craphole. Quit deluding yourself.) All you had to do was accept our complaint and move forward. But instead you are trying to pretend we just made it all up and your hotel is gorgeous.


Well, it’s not gorgeous. And here are the pictures to prove it.

Can I Request The Room With The Broken AC Unit?

Can I Request The Room
With The Broken AC Unit?


Getting Along

coupleThis is me with my husband. We’ve been married twenty three years. We get along really well; I don’t know what I’d do without him.

Still, about twice a month I end up in an argument with him; I am talking and he is answering and neither of us are getting a thing out of it.

I ramble on about my day, how my boss said this or that, how it made me upset or confused, how I solved an issue, how I need to figure out a problem, talky talky talk, talky talk, chitty chitty, blah blah… and my husband, when he’s on his game, just says “aw” or “oh” or “wow” and then I wind myself down and I feel better. Continue reading

Innocence Lost

These are Mung beans. You know… what you make bean sprouts out of.

It took me a while to find them: they don’t sell these just anymungwhere. And then I had to modify a jar to sprout them in.

I put them in and wet them down and they sprouted perfectly! I was so proud of them.

And then I discovered something.

When you’re into plants – I mean, really into plants, like I am, you know: you talk to them, they talk back, that kind of thing – when you’re into plants like that…

It’s damn near impossible to eat them.

How can I take little ittybitty sprouted seedlings, tiny newborn babies, and throw them into a stir fry? Babies I watered lovingly that morning, when – for all they knew – they had their whole lives ahead of them? They were my plants and I, their god. Then suddenly: Wham! Sizzling oil! Roasted flesh! Watching them wilt. Seeing them suffer. Surely that can’t feel good.

And raw on salad? Well… that’s just eating them alive.

I can’t do it. I just…. can’t.

An Interview With W.D. Frank

I recently interviewed writer (and self-professed lunatic) W.D. Frank. Here is what he had to say:

Some have described your work as dark and frightening. How would you yourself  describe it?

That is an excellent question to start off with. It is also a difficult one to answer.

I agree that my work can be dark…and maybe some of it is scary. I know that I write a lot of characters that my readers know would toss them aside like empty banana peels without hesitation. It is probably wise to be frightened by them. Although, fear has never been a consistently present partner of mine. Maybe it is simply whispering to me instead of shouting most of the time, but sometimes I am not sure exactly which emotion is speaking. Is that odd? I suppose it is. Continue reading

Wanting to Kill

reddog This is my mother. I recently visited her in the nursing home that has taken charge of her. We went to buy her some clothes, and my uncle found this toy dog to give her. She loved it. Talked of nothing else for an hour. Look at the teeth, she said. See the teeth? This dog has great teeth. Have you seen this dog’s teeth? Look at these teeth.

My mother is eighty. She has alcoholic dementia.

She was a genius, once. Literally, over the top brilliant. She made it hard to learn anything from anybody but her. Now look. Nothing much left to learn from her, I think. She’s done. She’s very much done. And it’s such a shame. Continue reading

Look! It’s a Begonia!

This is an experimental post of sorts. Having nothing in particular to say, I am blogging about one of my plants. This is an Angel Wing Begonia. I have a lot of plants, and if this goes over well, I may post future plant articles.

Angel Wing Begonias are striking to look at and very easy to grow. I never intended to have one, but there you go. Sometimes these things just happen.

angelwing2A woman I worked with said she had this really pretty plant and offered me cuttings. She didn’t know what kind of plant it was. Soon enough she comes with a few little slips of Angel Wing. I stuck them in a pot and put them in my kitchen window. That was then, you know. Back when it was three inches tall. But Angel Wing is a Cane Begonia, and as you may have guessed, it is no longer three inches tall. It outgrew that little spot in about two weeks. I’ve shifted it from place to place since then, trying to find a good spot. And all the time, it grows and grows. It was nearing six feet high last year before I cut it back. I took the cuttings and gave them to a woman who blogs about plants here in town. (While I waited for her to arrive at the coffee shop, people mobbed me with questions about the cuttings. Quite a conversation starter; who knew?) Continue reading

Some Things

flagThere are some people one street over with a flagpole in their yard. When the war on terror began, they put the flag at half-mast.

I drive past their house very often, and at first I thought that was quaint. The flag was quaint, having it at half-mast for wartime, that was quaint. The little kids playing catch under it, so quaint. I wondered what the kids thought of that, the flag being so much closer than usual. I wondered what their parents had told them about the reasons for it. I wondered if they had brothers or uncles in the service. That was back in the day, you know. That was 2001. Continue reading

The Year of Cupcakes

cupcakeWhen I was younger, I made resolutions like the rest. Lose weight. Don’t bite my nails. Improve my posture. Quit smoking. That kind. And I’d be planning it a month or more ahead of time. So the net result was an increase in the behavior for two months, because I was about to quit, then quitting for a few days…and then going right back to normal. I’m going to quit smoking soon anyway, so I can smoke more now. I’m going to start doing situps next month, so it’s fine if I lie around doing nothing this week. Yeah? And then you try and fail and your year is off to the same old start. Damn, fucked it up again. Maybe next year. Continue reading

Getting Rid of the Elephant

I’m writing a book. That’s nothing new, really. But I’ve been struggling with it. I have this scene I was trying to get to, a scene I had envisioned months ago. I built steps to get to this scene, I planned it out. I put in references ten chapters ago that would become relevant here in this scene. I looked forward to getting there. I finished the last two chapters in a bit of a hurry, saying “Oh, I’ll go flesh that out later, I need to get to that scene!” I finally sat down a few days ago to write it…

And it didn’t work. I mean, at first I thought it was maybe just a little tweak I needed. I sat back and thought about it. I talked it over with some people. I gave up for the day, and right before I went to bed I got an inspiration and scrawled a bunch of notes. Went to bed thinking: ok, relief. It works now. Tomorrow, I can write it that way.

But I woke up at 2am, knowing better. It still didn’t work. I lay there for hours, rotating it in my head. He has to get there… she has to say this… he can’t do that… so he does this… no, that means… no. No, no. nonono… And before too long I was pretty upset. This wasn’t working in a lightweight, gee I need to tweak this a little way, but in a great big, ohmygodthisdoesn’tworkwhatthefuckwasIthinking sort of way.

So then it was morning and time to get up. I headed to work. But I was distracted by this, mulling, chewing on it like an old bone. All day. I get to work and am faced with a heap of fabric. A previous effort has fallen down, literally, onto the floor. And now, we have the elephant to consider again.

Photo by ArranET

Photo by ArranET

See, my boss is redecorating a room in her house. We’ve been working on it for some weeks now. Last week we bought fabric to hang on a wall. She had a batik elephant (beautiful thing) hanging there on the near wall, and we struggled to find things that went with the room, the situation… and this elephant. Not that fabric, clashes with the elephant. No, that goes with the elephant but not with anything else. This goes with the elephant if we get rid of those pillows. These go with the elephant if we remove this table. It went on and on. Last week, we thought we had it licked. Yesterday morning, not so much. On top of my failed writing, it was really wearing on me. Simple creativity is lost and lost. I am old and cannot function. Did I think I could select fabrics?

Did I really think I could write a book?

And then she says to me… it’s the elephant.

I nodded, but didn’t hear, worrying. She said it again: It’s the elephant. That’s the problem.

The elephant.

She was right, too. There was no reason not to move it. The moment we knew it, we knew it completely; we moved the elephant to another room and opened the world up for this wall. Much easier. Much, much better. And I stood there, thinking… duh.

Of course I can write this book. Of course I can. It’s not the book that’s stopping me. It’s the damned elephant.

So tomorrow, I’m going to delete my failed effort on this scene and move on to the next one. I am sure it will go much more easily now.

God, I hope so.



Sizing It Up

I just bought a watermelon. I could barely lift it.

They’re breeding everything for size anymore. Whatever size it is usually, that’s no good. If it’s usually small, bigger is better. If large is the norm, then the goal is smaller. Grapes the size of strawberries. Strawberries the size of apples. Apples the size of grapefruits. Horses the size of dogs. Dogs the size of kittens. Cats the size of… well, sort of large cats. They haven’t really gotten around to sizing cats much yet, I guess. Maybe cats the size of goats would be considmelonered dangerous. Maybe they’ll eventually make cats the size of mice. Then we’ll see who catches whom. Until they make the mice the size of lentils. They can do it, I know they can.

None of the improved fruits taste like much. They’ve bred all the flavor right out of them. But the one that’s really getting me down is the ghastly thing they are calling watermelon lately: Tiny “personal” watermelons that have no seeds and no flavor. Finding a normal, large (30lb) plain old-fashioned watermelon chock full of seeds is a rarity. Something I never thought I’d have to worry about: whether fruit would continue to be delicious.

I just bought a watermelon. I could barely lift it.

That made me absurdly happy.