Remember about a year ago, when an American was jailed in Thailand for writing a poor review of the Thai hotel he had stayed at? And the hotel near Disney World that kicked all its guests out the day before Easter this year?
Well, apparently a hotel manager in Georgia just decided to get in on the fun. Read on…
A woman and her granddaughter were forced by local police to leave the Georgia hotel where they were guests, after she left the hotel a 3 out of 5 star review on Hotels.com.
Back in September, 63-year-old Susan Leger had pre-paid for her and her 6-year-old granddaughter to stay for 3 nights at the Baymont Inn & Suites, a brand under the Wyndham umbrella, in the mountain town of Helen, Georgia. However, she got a call from the hotel manager on her first night at the hotel, telling her she had to leave.
The call occurred shortly after booking site Hotels.com, through which she had made the reservation, asked her to leave a post-check-in review. Leger did, saying the property was “run down.” She also complained that her room’s toilet didn’t flush properly and that the pool was closed.
Unfortunately, Leger wasn’t aware that when she posted her review, it would be forwarded directly to the hotel management. And he, Danny Vyas, was not pleased. He called Leger at 8:40 pm, saying he had called the cops and for her leave the premises immediately.
“This guy is on my cell phone ranting at me, and he said that he’s kicking me out,” Leger told WXIA‘s Brendan Keefe. “He’s called the police, and I have to leave the room,” she added.
Vyas had apparently called 911. Yes, 911. During the call, he can be heard telling the dispatcher, “We are getting ready to refund because they have reviewed that the room is dirty and the place is rundown.”
I can’t believe he called 911 for that. #rolleyes
Anyway, a few minutes later, Leger and her granddaughter, already in their pajamas for the night, got a knock on their door from a member of the Helen Police Department, telling them they had to leave the premises.
“They can truly kick me out in the middle of the night, from a hotel for giving a review of three in five?” Leger asked the police officer.
“And he says, ‘yes, ma’am. It’s within the law.’”
The officer then helped Leger and her granddaughter find another hotel room. A Fairfield Hotel was nearby and had availability, so the two walked there, still in their pajamas.
The police report listed, “Leger had given the motel a bad review,” as the reason why the hotel manager wanted the two to vacate the premises.
But Vyas is denying that was his reasoning.
“At the end of the 911 call, I said she’s not happy with the room. That’s why we had to let her go. She can find a better place,” he said.
During a September phone call with WXIA, Vyas suggested that if Leger had problems with the room, she had never told him or his staff.
However, now, two months later, his tune has changed. He now says the problem was that Leger called with complaints several times.
“We let her know lots of times to stop calling us. If you’re not happy, change the room or leave the place,” he said. “They called me at least 10, 11 times in maybe one hour… Everything is not right.”
Meanwhile, Vyas had told 911 they would refund Leger (remember, she had paid for three nights in advance through Hotels.com). However two months later, she said she still hadn’t received her money back.
Not surprisingly, Hotels.com was no help – they told her refunds weren’t allowed (Leger had prepaid for her room – I’m guessing it was a “nonrefundable” reservation). However, when WXIA contacted Hotels.com for comment on the story, they finally did provide Leger with a full refund, albeit two months after the incident occurred.
Well, that’s good.
The morals of this story
Read reviews before booking
This should go without saying. It didn’t take very long to find reviews of this hotel on TripAdvisor, Booking.com, etc. Complaints about the pool being closed had gone on for months, and there were multiple comments about toilets not flushing well and the whole property being run down (there was also more than one comment about the personality of the manager, but that’s admittedly being read in 20/20 hindsight to Leger’s incident; no one expects to have to deal with the manager during a typical hotel stay).
Discounters will never have your back
Even if the price you pay is amazing, a hotel is only a good stay until there’s a problem. And if there is one, third party discounters such as Hotels.com, Expedia, etc. will never, ever be in your corner.
Never complain online while you’re there
It goes right up there with complaining about the food or service in a restaurant, before you’ve eaten – like it or lump it, it runs you the (small) risk of someone spitting in your food.
Granted, Leger had no way of knowing that her complaints would have immediately gone to the hotel manager. But assuming they were posted quickly, there was nothing stopping Vyas or anyone else who worked at the hotel to see her review online.
“So, the only way to keep the room in my mind is not to have answered Hotels.com’s request,” Leger said. “If you don’t want to be walking in your pajamas with your 6-year-old granddaughter, don’t leave a review if you’re currently still at the place.”
By the way, as an addendum – I found it interesting that, in researching for this post, we couldn’t find the Helen GA Baymont Inn & Suites property on Hotels.com. Turns out that was on purpose. We received the following statement from Shannon Lovich, the head of PR and communications North America at Hotels.com:
“Hotels.com has a zero-tolerance policy regarding retaliation and we will remove any guests, hosts and/or properties from our website who exhibit or promote such behavior in-stay or offline. We have temporarily removed this property from our sites while we conduct an investigation to determine the appropriate next steps.”
Feature Photo: Snappy Goat
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