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.
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.
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.)
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
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 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
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?
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?
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.
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.”
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?
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.”
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.)
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
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.