My dad taught me many things in life, but one of those was not giving up quickly, especially when you know you’re on the right side of a customer service issue. I wrote about this back in 2019 when I first started my blog as Dad was always a man of principle. https://petespringerauthor.wordpress.com/2019/05/27/a-man-of-principle/
Having gone through similar situations many times, I’ve tried to embody the same philosophy. I’ve passed on this trait to our son, who is quite capable of standing up for himself. I’ve had to be vigilant to correct a wrong these past few days. Persistence paid off and reinforced the notion that we need to be our own best advocates.
We live in the redwood country of northern California near the coast. Our temperatures are typically moderate, and we seldom experience extreme heat or cold. We drove north to Portland, OR, to spend Christmas with family. It’s a more than seven-hour drive, even in the best of conditions. Storms were in the forecast, so running into inclement weather was not unexpected.
While Portland didn’t have a white Christmas, the snow began falling in earnest late that evening and into the early morning hours on the 26th. We should have purchased snow chains in advance, but we neglected to do so. It was a boneheaded move on my part, and I’ll be more prepared if we’re in a similar situation in the future.
Checking the Internet, I saw that the roads were all open when we left for home on the 26th. We hoped that we’d be able to get home without any delays but knew there was a chance we’d have to stop somewhere along the way if the snow continued. Once we got on the interstate, conditions improved somewhat, and we felt more optimistic. As we got further into the drive, the snow began to come down harder, and going over the mountain passes became questionable.
About halfway into the trip, we came to a spot requiring chains. Neither of my vehicles has four-wheel drive, and we realized we weren’t going to be able to go on until it stopped snowing. We immediately got a room at a hotel/casino in the area, realizing that lodging was likely to fill up soon with others facing a similar situation. We decided to book our room for a second night if the snowstorm continued, understanding that we could cancel our second night as long as we notified the hotel by 11:00 a.m. the following morning.
We decided to get a suite and live in luxury for a day or two. Shortly after checking in, we grabbed a meal in the hotel’s restaurant and headed back up to our room as we were tired and not in the mood to gamble. The room was nice, but we hadn’t been there long when we realized the heater wasn’t working correctly. We called the front desk, and they sent a maintenance man up to fix the heater. He worked on it and thought he had found the problem. Within a half-hour, it was clear the heater still wasn’t working. The man returned and realized that the repairs were beyond his capabilities.
We asked for a different room, but the hotel was full, and no other rooms were available at that point. They brought us some extra blankets, I took a hot shower, and we began calling businesses in the area to purchase some snow chains. Unsurprisingly, they were all sold out as we continued to realize our foolishness at not being more prepared.
The weather was supposed to be better the following day, but the snow fell off and on throughout the night. The hotel’s computer server was down by morning, and the restaurant had closed. Employees were in full scramble mode trying to provide coffee and snack food for guests. Around 10:40, we got word that the highway had reopened, and chains were no longer required. We tried to checkout and found that they were understaffed and overwhelmed. One person was working the counter with twenty people standing in line. We decided the prudent thing to do was take off while the weather allowed travel and call the hotel from the road.
My wife began calling right away to avoid the second night’s charge. Unfortunately, their phones were down, and we had no way of reaching them. I drove while she continued calling them at various points to no avail. Finally, at 3:00 p.m., she got through and explained the situation. They said we had not contacted them by 11:00 a.m. and they wouldn’t reimburse us for the second night. I was
unhappy mad, especially considering the situation. I understood the hotel was doing the best they could under trying circumstances, but I knew there was no way that we should have to pay for something that we hadn’t used.
As soon as we got home around 4:00 p.m., I called them to straighten out the matter. There still was plenty of time to rent the room out for the night to somebody who would be grateful to have it. The person I spoke to seemed empathetic and told me she would have her supervisor call me. After not hearing back from them, I called the next day and went through the same song and dance. Once again, the worker seemed to understand our situation but said that her boss would have to issue permission to remove the charge. She told me to expect a call back for the second time to straighten it out.
I’m sure some people would have just let it go at that point when they didn’t call again, but I tend to grind my heels in when I know I’m right. Last evening, I wrote a note detailing the whole story to their contact information on their website. I wasn’t even asking for reimbursement from the first night when the heater wasn’t functioning. I’ve learned that one needs to be polite and firm in such situations. While it wasn’t life-changing money, it had become the principle of the matter.
Today, I received an email from the hotel. They apologized for not getting back to me sooner and for how they had handled the matter. They removed the charges, including the cost of the room for the first night. It was a reminder to me to be persistent and to stand up for ourselves in a respectful manner when we know we’re in the right. I know Dad would be pleased to know I had learned one of the lessons he taught me.