My Marriott Experience

UPDATE:  Before you read this blog (which was posted on Saturday the 8th), I’d like to give an update.  I was contacted by John, the Director of Customer Advocacy at the Marriott Hotels.  He contacted me when he heard of my complaint.  He handled the situation with concern and professionalism.  He also made the matter right in the best way I think he could.  All companies make mistakes, attempting to make it right says a lot about a company.  Thanks John for your follow up.

Just yesterday I wrote about the great experience I had at the Apple Store in Southern California and now one day later I have a great example of how NOT to treat a customer.  I’ve been staying at the Marriott Desert Springs Vacation Villas in Palm Desert for the last several days.  I brought more than a dozen members of my executive management team here for a 3 day strategic planning meeting during which time we had all our meals on site, some golfed on site and some used the hotel’s spa facilities. 

Checkout for the facility is at 10am (10am—how many hotel/villas have a 10am checkout!?).  OK, it doesn’t matter—I called more than an hour before checkout time and asked for an 11am checkout.  The Marriott recption desk attendant said, “Sure, if you want to pay an additional $50!”  Really? $50 more to check out at 11am?!!!  I told Melissa at the front desk that I brought more than a dozen people here for the last three days and charging me $50 to check out at 11am didn’t really seem appropriate.  She said they charge everyone—period.

Now here is where it gets really interesting.  I told her, “I brought 12 people for three nights and put them up in three – 2 bedroom villas and you won’t give me an hour later checkout?  If that is the case, I’ll never come back here again.  If you’re OK with that, I’m OK with that.”  And her answer was… wait for it… wait for it…. “Yes,” she actually said: “I’m OK with that.” 

So let’s go back to the “experience.”  This employee could have acted like she cared and maybe even asked her manager (which I requested).  But no, her answer was a “No,” end of discussion.

It wasn’t the $50 that was the big issue for me.  After spending thousands to bring my team there – $50 was not a big deal.  What really frustrated me was the fact that she didn’t seem to care if we ever came back or not.  It was not important to her.   The quality of customer service is so different from company to company and even locations within a company.  My experience here—was bad.  And Melissa should be happy to know that she has motivated me to not come back again.  Well done, Melissa.

Oh, if only Apple ran a hotel.  That would be an amazing place to stay.

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40 replies
  1. Pauline Stentaford-Till
    Pauline Stentaford-Till says:

    Excellent rant Ivan and a good example of how not to treat/retain your customers!

    I doubt if ‘Melissa’ will be receiving the Employee of the Month Award. Looks like a job for a BNI member to get in there and offer Marriotts a spot of staff training expertise.

  2. James Ryan
    James Ryan says:

    Wow!! And if she knew what an influencer you are . . . But then again, that’s part of the point. We never know how influential that one client is in front of us. How many people they know, will tell, etc. All the more reason to treat EVERYONE like the top networker in the world.

  3. Jim Riley (tutor2u)
    Jim Riley (tutor2u) says:

    Unbelievable. The problem for Marriott is that, with the viral power of Twitter, Melissa’s arrogance will cost the business many more times than the loss of your (substantial) repeat business,Ivan.


  4. Rose-Anne
    Rose-Anne says:

    Amazing. Simply amazing. Let me make sure I understand. You asked to speak to her Manager, and she said NO to that too!!! I am shocked and appalled! We had 70 members of our Mediators/Arbitrators group at our annual seminar and held it at JW Marriott in Orlando in 2010. We were very satisfied and had nothing but the best service – personalized too. Nevertheless, your experience is making me re-think ever going there again.

  5. Tim Stockman
    Tim Stockman says:

    This is the second example of poor quality at Marriot that I have heard in the past month.
    Is it possible Marriot has lost the vision that used to set them apart?
    I hope someone at Marriot reaches out to you to settle the issue and make amends.
    Otherwise – this kind of publicity can destroy a compnay.

  6. John Coupland
    John Coupland says:

    Sorry to hear about your experience Ivan.

    Two things come to mind when I read this sort of story.

    1. If it was Melissa’s business, I’m almost certain that she would have simply agreed with your request. Why many employees have a different mindset when it comes to customer service, is anyone’s guess, especially in these economic times.

    2. This is the power of social media and a prime example of what I tell my prospective clients – The customer is not only King, he is one King amongst other Kings and Queens in the e-World and, with Social Media, news like this spreads fast. If the hotel is ‘on board’ with social media, they will pick this banter up quickly and get on the phone to you fast to ensure that you never experience this again and win you back…Knowing that if they ‘wow’ you, you could turn this story to one that has a positive ending. I wonder what the chances of that happening are?! ;-)


  7. Jules Lewin
    Jules Lewin says:

    The only way to deal with a situation like this is to call or write to the managing director and let him or her know otherwise they will be non the wiser.
    I tell them I like to know whats going on in my business see the response you get from the MD taht will show the approach of the group

  8. Ivan Misner
    Ivan Misner says:

    Great comments everyone.

    Jules – I couldn’t agree more, that’s why I informed the manager of the situation. I even referred her to this blog.

    She responded to me with an email. Here’s the last thing she said in her email – word, for word:

    “To accommodate the 4pm check-in time, a 10 am check was put into place. We have had to significantly limit the number of late check-outs. For those that we are able to extend a late check out to, we do charge a fee.”

    Stacey Meyer
    Front Office Manager
    Marriott’s Desert Springs Villas I

    This response (above) speaks volumes. I spent thousands of dollars taking a team to their location, I request a check out at 11am and all that matters is POLICY.

    Well, bad policy leads to lousy customer service and lousy customer service leads to a loss of customers. Unless someone from Marriott makes this right – they’ve lost my business for life.

  9. Entrepreneur Solo
    Entrepreneur Solo says:

    Truly astonishing. Not only because of the employee (Who might well soon be an ex employee) but also for the reaction to your mail. Some companies just don’t get it!

  10. Jean Bjerke
    Jean Bjerke says:

    Business suicide for sure. And to do this to Ivan Misner with your communication reach???!!! I agree if Apple ran a hotel . . . I was just at the Apple store today. They are awesome.

  11. David Ch...
    David Ch... says:

    I hope you changed the name of ‘Melissa’, Ivan. Her apparent bad attitude might be her own. But it might be her bosses’ demand. Or maybe there’s some other reason. Either way, why risk her job or career?

    Jules suggested you tell the MD. (That’s Managing Director, not Managing Desk.) Clearly this front office failed. The Front Office manager seems like the wrong person to change a huge company’s policy, too.

    If the MD was serving you, of course you’d expect something different. (It’s easy to get Marriott’s MD’s number.)

    Too often, big companies fear their employees’ initiative. They try to suppress employees’ human touch because that also leads to inconsistent service.

    So, what’s your suggestion to Marriott and every other big company with distributed service staff? How do you think they should get staff to do what the MD would do?

  12. Edward Tudor
    Edward Tudor says:

    We had a similar experience at an ASK restaurant where on quite week night we held a meeting for 30 members of ecademy.

    When we went to settle our bills for the evening the manageress was very rude to those who had only bought drinks.
    Over half of the people attending had had meals but this was not enough for this young lady.

    Her rudeness cost that restaurant the ecademy meetings and there were several blogs the next day which must have damaged the business.

    We put it down to the difference between an employee and an owner.
    I haven’t been in an ASK restaurant since.
    I am sure that most of the others who attended that meeting have taken the same action.

  13. LaurieJMFarr
    LaurieJMFarr says:

    I worked for Hilton, the competition, years ago when Marriott was famous for leading the way with their “employee empowerment” vision. Every employee was trained and Marriott based their global ad campaign on this. It was unbeatable. What happened??? Where did it go??? Your “Marriott Experience” needs to be shared with JW Marriott, Jr., Ivan, honestly, in person. A complimentary stay would be my expectation.

  14. Dave
    Dave says:

    She should have just asked a manager if they could override the policy of the hotel for late checkouts because of your group.

    But…everyone on here shouldn’t be getting down on the girl because she was following company policy. Employees are bombarded with rules when being trained and the consequences of not following company policies at any job. This is just out of fear of consequences of not following the policy, and she probably gets this question alot from other guests because of the hotels early checkout time of 10am. So, her manager probably expects her to be strict on this policy because of this. I wouldn’t be angry with the girl, I’d be angry with the hotel’s management for setting this checkout time for 10am and then requesting their guests to pay $50 dollars for a late checkout. I’d say, this is Marriott’s fault, not the girl.

    The problem with business today is that employers say, “The customer is always right, but don’t give the whole pie away”. In the old days of business, the customer was always right. You’d give them everything they requested or needed, no cost added to what they paid for. But so many businesses money pinch today. Dollar for this, dollar for that. This is just another case of that practice.

  15. Mary
    Mary says:

    Customer service is absolutely key. We are all indeed human which means mistakes can happen.

    It’s how a company handles a situation-gone-wrong that speaks volumes. If the response is timely and good, that company / professional may have just won some clients / customers for life because they feel like they are in good hands.

    aka ReloMary

  16. Clive
    Clive says:

    “If only Apple ran a hotel”?

    It would look good, granted. But you’d need a new key every time you went back to your room. If something needed changing, you’d need a special person with special skills to do it – even just changing the towels. If the skills weren’t immediately available, tough, you’d have to wait. You’d not be able to get Pepsi or Coke – it would have to be something made by (and charged for from) Apple.

    All access to the outside world would have to come through Apple – and you’d probably have to pay extra for it no matter what. All power sockets would be some weird 17.5V DC connection or something – and there would only be one company that sold 120/240V AC adaptors – guess who?

    If you did get a problem and you managed to get through to the manager, you’d be told in no uncertain terms excatly where to insert your key, somewhere where the sun don’t shine.

    Wrong analogy, unfortunately – I think I’d prefer one bad “apple” in the barrel, rather than one bad Apple as a company. This experience appears to have come about due to one poorly trained and incentivised employee. I’d have moved on to a different person and asked them for the manager – everything could then have been different.

  17. Thornton Holmes
    Thornton Holmes says:

    A perfect example of how an individuals strong social media prescence could be so damaging to a company! Be aware – bad news always spreads more quickly than good and should be a lesson to all businesses that clients are our life blood!

  18. Jim
    Jim says:

    Have you contacted Marriott? I was once “thrown out” of a Marriott after spending 3 nights and waking up with a “stomach flu”. They were overbooked and when I asked for another night they said “no”. I had my corporate travel guy call the hotel and he was told “no”. So he called our Marriott sales woman who called the hotel. She was also told “no”. I was so pissed I just left and managed to fly home with no issues. I took this matter up with Marriott corporate and ended up getting a free Platinum upgrade for all of 2010 plus 20,000 points. I’ve re-earned Platinum for 2011 and, in general, love Marriott.

    Since my one horrible experience I’ve had dozens of EXCELLENT ones (including an upgrade to a two-story room on the 45th floor in downtown Chicago — SWEET room).

  19. John Coupland
    John Coupland says:

    Ivan – Thanks for the update and glad that the Director of Customer Advocacy at the Marriott Hotels has got in touch.

    Ref. my prior comments in #10, may I ask how he found out? Not looking for names of course, just wondered if someone had made him aware of your experience or whether the Marriott do in fact monitor noise on social media after all?!


  20. CJ
    CJ says:

    Wow, after watching an episode of Undercover Boss last night, all I could think was, it might be time for the CEO of Marriott to show up undercover and see how he is treated by Melissa. For all she knew you could have been her undercover boss, and it would be the end of the line for her.

  21. Stacey
    Stacey says:

    OMG…this is the same thing that happened to my husband and myself on Saturday the 8th. We have been owners at the Marriott Desert Springs Villas II for 11 years. We come down at least 2 times a year, if not more. Here’s the deal: You cannot check in before 4:00 and you have to check out by 10:00 so the villas can be cleaned and readied for the next guests. Well, that does NOT give you a full week. You are actually losing a half a day. We also asked for an additional hour and were told that normally, we could get an extra hour for $50.00, but that option wasn’t even available on Saturday. They were too booked. Then we were told “You know, we have 27,000 owners!!! WHAT??? I can honestly say that Desert Springs Villas has lost not only it’s kindness to owners but have become greedy and unfair. By the way, we left an item in the villa and went back to get it. The front desk said they would send someone to get it and it would be in lost and found. They told us it would still be there because the villa hadn’t been cleaned yet. Guess what? IT WAS 12:00!!!! How insulting is that?

  22. John Coupland
    John Coupland says:

    @Ivan, Ref. #10, #27, #28 – The power of word of mouth! ;-)

    @Stacey, Ah well. Look on the bright side, thankfully it wasn’t 4pm when you found it hadn’t been cleaned yet! Then again, what’s happened, maybe 4pm doesn’t sound as daft a probability as it sounds! lol


  23. Tom Doiron
    Tom Doiron says:

    Dear Dr. Misner,

    Johnny-come-lately here. I read all 30 comments ahead of me because I found this very interesting.

    Three things came to my mind:
    1. I don’t want a business with employees.
    2. No one stays at the top forever.
    3. Corporate managment at the Mariott does not understand the power of Social Media.

    Wishing You Plenty To Live,
    Tom Doiron

  24. Shawn McCarthy
    Shawn McCarthy says:

    This kind of stuff happens all the time. I recently went to a sub shop, ordered a sandwich and told them they could leave out the onions, peppers, tomatoes, salt and pepper, other seasonings, cucumbers and alfalfa sprouts. When I let them know I’d like a couple of extra pickles, they charged me 50 cents for them! Are you kidding? Although on a different “dollar” level than Ivan’s Marriott experience, you can bet your last money I will refrain from ever going in to that sub shop again!
    As for Melissa, she was following policy (as some commenters have alluded to),however, that’s what managers are for. Similar to policies in BNI, sometimes there can be “gray” areas and common sense comes into play.
    I did hear that the golf outing was great, although Ivan got stuck in the windmill! :)

    Shawn McCarthy BNI ED Ventura County & Santa Clarita/Antelope Valleys

  25. Norma Vargas
    Norma Vargas says:

    OMG…this is the same thing that happened to my husband and myself on Saturday the 8th. We have been owners at the Marriott Desert Springs Villas II for 11 years. We come down at least 2 times a year, if not more. Here’s the deal: You cannot check in before 4:00 and you have to check out by 10:00 so the villas can be cleaned and readied for the next guests. Well, that does NOT give you a full week. You are actually losing a half a day. We also asked for an additional hour and were told that normally, we could get an extra hour for $50.00, but that option wasn’t even available on Saturday. They were too booked. Then we were told “You know, we have 27,000 owners!!! WHAT??? I can honestly say that Desert Springs Villas has lost not only it’s kindness to owners but have become greedy and unfair. By the way, we left an item in the villa and went back to get it. The front desk said they would send someone to get it and it would be in lost and found. They told us it would still be there because the villa hadn’t been cleaned yet. Guess what? IT WAS 12:00!!!! How insulting is that?

  26. Charles
    Charles says:

    Quote- “29.CJ Says:
    January 10th, 2011 at 4:16 pm
    Wow, after watching an episode of Undercover Boss last night, all I could think was, it might be time for the CEO of Marriott to show up undercover and see how he is treated by Melissa. For all she knew you could have been her undercover boss, and it would be the end of the line for her.”

    CJ. This is exactly why companies need to make a small investment in a program just as I offer. I do agree that she should not be held fully accountable for sticking to the policy. If a customer has a legitimate reason (especially if they have spent thousands to stay at the hotel) then the employee should find some means to compromise with the customer.

    This is where our reporting comes in. This vital information can be communicated to that particular employee to coach her how to listen to the demands of the customer and find some sort of compromise utilizing her resources available such as manager, etc.

    I can guarantee if this employee was aware of a program to get rewarded or coached from an experience of a, “Mystery shopper,” this may have ended differently.

    I like the show, “Undercover Boss.” Every company should either do it or look into our quality assurance program especially in today’s ever changing and challenging world with a huge social media presence. A business can find itself struggling with one bad experience today.

  27. Pete Austin @marketingXD
    Pete Austin @marketingXD says:

    Poor negotiating by both sides. Sorry.

    Melissa may been inexperienced and probably she did not have the authority to waive this $50 charge.

    If you (the reader) find yourself in this position, please try something like the following:
    (1) Keep cool. Take a breath
    (2) Explain your case (I need the later checkout because I have to coordinate all these guests)
    (3) Ask the employee whether there is something that they *can* do to make the situation good.
    (4) Don’t go straight to the nuclear option of “I’ll never come back here again”

    • Ivan Misner
      Ivan Misner says:

      Pete, I agree completely. I did each of the things you mentioned in that exact order. I was very calm in my discussion with them. Even when I made the statement about not coming back. It was more like a question than a threat. The employee didn’t care. The only thing that got a reasonable response was writing this blog and sending it to Marriott HQ. They responded appropriately.

  28. stephanie eberhart
    stephanie eberhart says:

    Below is a letter that I have sent to the CEO of Marriott, Arne Sorenson, in regards to being evicted from the Marriott Hotel located at 8028 Leesburg Pike, Tysons Corner, VA 22182 by hotel general manager, Shelly DiMeglio. Five teenage girls and myself were evicted at 2 AM on June 30 right after the life threatening storms blew through the Washington, DC area and the area was declared in a “state of emergancy” by the governor of Virginia and the hotel general manager. After a week of attempts to report this to a level above the general manager and being pushed back to the general manager and told that she is empowered to handle things as she sees fit I am now escalating this to the CEO of Marriott:

    Dear Mr. Sorenson,

    I have made several attempts to contact a Marriott regional manager since being evicted from the Marriott hotel located at 8028 Leesburg Pike, Tysons Corner, VA 22182. I was evicted with no warning at 2 AM on June 30 along with five teenage girls. Your general manager, Shelly DiMeglio, threatened to have me arrested in front of the girls when I questioned the eviction. I was forced out into a “state of emergency” (a quote by both your general manager and your security guard) storm ravaged area by your general manager. There were downed power lines, uprooted trees and debris all over the streets. I have unsuccessfully tried to reach someone at a higher level than the general manager to discuss this matter and continue to be pushed back to her level by three separate employees. I am writing with great concern about the lack of acknowledgement by the Marriott management staff to address this issue and the safety of the hotel guests. I have attached a document outlining the events of that night and the cover up that I believe is taking place.

    I am asking that you take this matter into careful consideration and that you understand this is a genuine concern for the safety of me and the children I was responsible for as well as future hotel guests.

    I look forward to your response.

    Warm Regards,


    Below is documentation from that evenings events:

    Marriott Hotels & Resorts 8028 Leesburg Pike, Tysons Corner, VA

    June 2, 2012
    Approximately 6:30 PM: Checked into the Marriott hotel at 8028 Leesburg Pike, Tysons Corner, VA 22182
    I had reserved two rooms on-line requesting 2 double beds and a roll away bed in each room for my daughter’s 16th birthday party. The front desk clerk informed me when I checked in that they did not have rooms available on the same floor. I said that I preferred to be on the same floor and preferably adjoining rooms. The hotel clerk said that it was not possible. There were not two rooms available with double beds on the same floor.
    Between 6:30-7PM: My daughter’s five guests arrive. We put their belongings in the hotel room on the third floor.
    7 PM: We all leave the hotel and run into a guest in the lobby, Ed Lawrence, who is there with his son and friend. Ed offers to take several group pictures of us in the hotel lobby.
    10:10 PM: I return to the hotel without the 5 girls. I have bought tickets for them to see a movie at the Tysons movie theatre and made sure that they made it into the movie theatre safely.
    10:30-11 PM: A severe storm blows through the Vienna/Tysons area. Power in the hotel goes out. Only emergency lights are on in the hallways, one elevator is working of the three.
    11 PM: I receive a text from my daughter that the power has gone out in the movie theatre. They are hoping that power will be restored and will wait another 30 minutes to see if it is.
    Between 11 – 11:30 PM: I hear noise in the hall way. It is the hotel staff handing out 4” glow sticks. I take one. There was no knock on my door. It was the noise of the hotel staff handing out glow sticks that made me look outside.
    11:30 PM: I receive a text from my daughter. The movie is not going to reset. They have been issued free passes for another viewing. She has asked that I come to pick her and her friends up.
    11:40 PM: We arrive back in the hotel. I drop the girls off in front of the hotel and ask that they wait for me there. There are no lights in the outside parking area or the garage and I do not want them walking in the hotel parking lot in the dark. I was concerned about their safety.
    11:50: I collect the girls from the lobby and take them to their third floor room. I instruct them that if they need anything that they are to call or text me.

    June 30, 2012:
    12 AM: I am in my room and place my cell phone on the table next to the bed. I change into my pajamas and fall fast to sleep.
    1:30 AM: I am awakened by a knock at the hotel door. There are two security officers at the door. One shares with me that my girls have been taken to the lobby and that I need to pack my bags and leave the hotel. I tell him that he has got to be kidding. He says no. I ask why and he says that there was a noise complaint. I share that it is the middle of the night and a severe storm has just blown through the area. I ask why I was not notified about the noise and why there was no warning given. He says that “it is a state of emergency and that no warning has to be given”. I ask him to give me a moment to get dressed and I will be right down.
    1:40 AM: I arrive in the hotel lobby with my overnight bag in my hand. My daughter and the five girls that I am responsible for are all sitting on the lobby floor. I immediately go over and ask them what happened. They say that there was a knock at the door and a security guard told them to come to the lobby. My daughter asked him why and they were being asked to leave their room. I asked my daughter what they were doing. She said that they had been playing leap frog in the hall way and that they had gone into their room and that 10 minutes later the security officers were at their door. I asked if they had received a warning and all five girls answered no.
    1:50: I go to the front desk to discuss the situation with the manager. I assume that this is the assistant manager who is speaking to me. There is also another guest present, Ed Lawrence, who came over after he heard the person who I assume was the assistant manager tolde us we had to leave. I told her that there we had received no warnings and there were unsafe conditions outside. I told her I was not comfortable driving with five teenage girls in the car. Ed Lawrence asked her to please reconsider the situation and offered several solutions including having all of the girls sleep in one room with me. The assistant said that the situation had gone too far and that we need to leave. I asked her if she was the general manager and she said no. I asked to speak with the general manager, who I would later learn was Shelly DiMeglio. Shelly refused to speak with me or Ed Lawrence. She stood behind the two security guards shaking her head with a smirk on her face. Shelly would not speak with me. I hear her say to the security guards “we are in a state of emergency and I am stressed”. I walked back over to speak to the girls. I asked them where their stuff was. They told me that they were not allowed to get their stuff out of the room. I walked back over to the person who I think was the assistant manager and she said that they were not allowed to get their stuff. I told her that they could not do that. I explained that the girls needed their belongings. At that point Shelly walks over to the front desk counter. I walked back over to speak to Shelly. I told her that I need to understand why we were being thrown out of the hotel in the middle of the night in a “state of emergency”. She would not answer me. I told her that she was a “lousy manager”, I questioned her tenure at Marriott and asked her again how she could allow this to happen. At this time she tells one of her staff members to “call the police and have her arrested”. I ask her what I am being arrested for “saying that you are a lousy manager?” One of the girl’s mother arrives. She has planned to pick her daughter up at midnight after the movie, but due to the storm and damage that occurred during the storm she arrived two hours late at 2 AM. The girl asked the manager what she should do. Shelly responded “You can leave with your mother or you can leave with the police”. The woman that I believe was the hotel assistant manager comes over and says that she is taking two of the girls upstairs to collect all of their items. The hotel staff member and the girls return with the items packed. The girl leaves with her mother. I approach the front desk and ask one of the two front desk employees to get a regionaI manager on the phone. She tells me that there is no one on duty. I question how there can be no regional manager on duty during a “state of emergency”. I ask for the General Managers name and the Marriott Corporate telephone number. I try to get a phone signal and am not able to get one. I decide rather than suffering any more abusive threats in front of my daughter and her now three friends that I am going to take the girls and leave. All six Marriott employees stand there and do nothing as we embark on life threatening conditions. Shelly has a smirk on her face as she appears to think this is amusing. I ask the girls to wait outside the lobby while I go get the car. I go to get the car which is parked in the uncovered back parking lot in complete darkness and I pull up to the lobby. I pack the girls things in the car and before I leave Ed Lawrence and his son Harrison and their friend try to console us. Their friend is so drunk he poors bourbon down my back. To add insult to injury I have been kicked out of the Marriott in a state of emergency and one of their hotel guest who is clearly drunk and drinking alcohol in the lobby then spills bourbon down my back and I question again why I am the one being kicked out.

    I drive through the streets of Vienna and Fairfax in disbelief. Power is out everywhere, there are trees and debris all over the road. There are downed power lines and it looks horrific. It is clear that the area has suffered much damage from the storm. I am now in tears and suffering from anxiety as I try to decide where I am going to go with these kids. I later found this posting on a website to describe the conditions:
    “Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell declared a state of emergency today and authorized the National Guard to assist with clearing trees and directing traffic in the Washington DC area, following last night’s sudden and violent storm. The storm in the DC area on June 29, 2012 – which occurred between 9:30 and 11 p.m. local time, following a day of recording breaking triple digit temperatures in the DC area – killed at least five people, uprooted thousands of trees and left more than 1.3 million homes and businesses without power in Maryland, Northern Virginia and Washington DC.”

    I arrive at my part time residence, a two bedroom condo that I share with a roommate. There is no power. I ask my roommate if the girls can spend the night on the living room floor. She agrees and is in disbelief that Marriott would have kicked me out of the hotel in the state of emergency that the area was in. I spend the rest of the evening recounting the series of events in complete disbelief. How could an evening that was supposed to be a celebration and so much fun turn out so horribly? How could I be threatened to be arrested by the hotel manager in front of my daughter for no reason? I document the events of that evening.
    July 1: The power in my neighborhood comes back on at 4 PM.
    July 2: I return to work at 8 AM. At 8:10 AM I immediately call Marriott corporate in Bethesda. I explain the situation and they transfer me to customer care. The customer service rep listens to my complaint, all of which is stated above, and says that she will turn this over to the general manager of the hotel. I share that the problem was with the general manager and I tell her that is needs to be escalated to a regional manager. She said this is Marriott protocol and I will be contacted in 3-5 business days. I tell her that this is not acceptable. She said that there is nothing else that she can do.
    5:50 PM: I call Marriott corporate. I ask for Bill Marriott. I am transferred to who I thought was his assistant. She said he does not handle these kinds of calls and transfers me to “Consumer Affairs”. I speak to the women in consumer affairs and share the story above. She shares that she will have someone call me.

    July 3: I receive a call from Nicola Hamilton, Regional Sales Manager for Marriott. I do not realize at this time that she is a sales manager. I assume that she is from the consumer affairs division of Marriott. I explain what has happened as it is stated above. She shares that Marriott has clearly failed on so many levels and is also shocked that I was asked to leave in the middle of the night with the girls in a storm ravaged area. I explain that I am not satisfied with this being handled at the General Manager level. I also explain that I understand that Shelly must have been under a lot of stress and that she clearly had broken down under pressure. Nicola said her concern with going back to Shelly was this could turn into a “he said, she said” conversation. My concern was for the safety of the girls and myself and I wanted to ensure that this was dealt with at a higher level than the general manager who had clearly demonstrated poor decision making skills. Nicola informed me that she would look into the situation and call me back on Thursday, July 5 since July 4th was a holiday. We had a nice conversation and I thanked her for caring enough to listen and for looking into the matter further.
    July 5: I receive a call from Nicola Hamilton. She said that she had the human resource manager pull the security logs for the morning of June 30 without the general manager knowing. She shared that It stated in the security log that the security guards had received a noise complaint and had gone to the girls room to issue them a warning. Nicola then shared that the log stated that they received another complaint and the security guards went back to the room and knocked on the door. They reported two boys in the room with the girls. I told Nicola that I was doubtful of the warning and would ask my daughter about it. I then shared with Nicola that I would also ask about the two boys.
    I questioned my daughter about the report in the security log book. She is adamant that a warning was never issued. She said that the boy in the room was Harrison Lawrence. Also, a 16 year old. The girls had left the room after I dropped them off to go down to the lobby to see if there was a working outlet to charge one of the girl’s phones. The boy’s father, Ed Lawrence, had told the girls to let Harrison hang out with them. There was only one boy in the room, not two and he would also be able to verify that they never received any warning from the security officer. I went back to my notes from that evening and saw the documentation of when the security guard knocked on my door. He said that “it is a state of emergency and that no warning has to be given”. I also remember when being questioned repeatedy about why warnings were not given while we were in the lobby in front of the girls that no one on the Marriott staff would comment. It is obvious that the documentation is falsified. That is when it became apparent to me that either security guard or the general manager or both had most likely entered the warning notation in the security log to protect themselves and cover themselves against the inappropriate actions that they had taken. This infuriated me as I realized that a cover up was going on and they clearly knew that they had not followed protocol. I do not sleep a wink this evening as I am riddled with anxiety.

    July 6: I look Nicola Hamilton up on Linkedin and realize that she is a Regional Sales Manager. I call her at 8:10 AM. I share what I have learned and explain that I am furious because I believe that there is a cover up going on and I am no longer comfortable speaking with someone at her level. I want to speak to the VP of Customer Service. She apologies over and over and is speechless. She tells me that she will have someone else call me back later today.

    I receive an email from Shelly the hotel manager. She apologies for the evening’s events and acknowledges that they could have been handled differently. I respond with an email. I still do not believe at this point that the situation has been escalated above the general manager level. My concern is for the safety of future guests and for myself and my daughter and her friends. Although apologetic now, the situation was gravely different just a few short nights before.

    4:50 PM: I receive a call from Michelle Longson, a regional liaison for Marriott. I she tells me that she had been in contact with Nicola and that Nicola has shared the details of the story. I am clearly upset as I now know that this has not been escalated to the level that I have asked it to be and that I am now repeating myself to someone who is not the appropriate level of person to speak to. I have shared now with every Marriott employee that I want to speak to a VP of Customer Service. I am not satisfied with the level of person I am speaking to. Michelle then goes on to question how I could have not been concerned about the safety of the five girls in my room and how could I leave them alone? I share that I had requested adjoining rooms. She continues to that the general manager acted appropriately and that they were looking to her to understand the events of that evening. I questioned how they could put their managers on such pedestals and that I am still concerned that this has been escalated past the general manager level. She says that I need to stop yelling at her and not curse. I at no time cursed at her, but explain that I am getting tired of being passed along and not being taken seriously. She said that she read the email that the general manager sent to me and said that it appeared genuine and it was a fair settlement. I told her it wasn’t about the “settlement”. It is about putting 6 lives at risk in a “state of emergency”. I asked who else I could speak to and she shared that this is as far as it can go. She offered to set up another two rooms in another Marriott property so that my daughter could have a birthday party. I told he that was not acceptable. She said that given the fact that we were “evicted” that we were “lucky” to receive a refund on our rooms since we had used them. Once again I got off the call in disbelief. The service level of all of the Marriott employees that I have dealt with is unacceptable with one exception, Nicola Hamilton. She is the only person who showed any compassion and understand that my concerns were valid.

    I am sharing below the email exchange between me and the general manager on July 6.
    Dear Ms. Eberhart,
    Nicola has filled me in on your conversation over the past few days. I wanted to personally extend my sincere apology to you and your daughter for the situation that occurred last Friday night during the power outage at my hotel. I take full responsibility for all of the events that took place, and wish I had handled your experience in a more positive manner.
    I wanted to let you know that the room and parking charges have been credited to the cards in which they were charged. $86.66 (room and parking) was credited to the VISA card, and $80.66 was credited to the MasterCard I believe you used for the advance purchase room charge. Our accounting department has confirmed the process on our side, and you should see the credit through your card companies within the next 3 – 5 business days. If there are any questions regarding the process on their side, I would be happy to jump on a 3-way conference call to verify with the card company/bank that the charges have been cleared from our system.
    I deeply regret that your daughter did not have the opportunity to enjoy her birthday with her friends as she had intended. I would like to offer to set up accommodations at one of our nearby sister properties so she can enjoy her birthday as she deserves. There is a property nearby that has a nice outdoor pool — Perhaps she could start off at the pool, and I could arrange for a room for her friends to enjoy overnight. Please let me know if this would be nice for her, and I would be happy to make the arrangements.
    Nicola mentioned that you would like to speak with someone at a Vice President level in customer service. I have reached out to their office and will forward their contact information to you when I hear back from them.
    It is important to me that you feel this is resolved to your satisfaction, and I am here to assist you in any way.

    Shelly DiMeglio General Manager
    Tysons Corner Marriott
    8028 Leesburg Pike Tysons Corner, VA 22182
    703.506.2435 direct
    703.442.9301 facsimile
    571.220.5992 cell
    Going above and beyond. It’s the Marriott Way.SM
    My response:
    Dear Ms. DiMeglio,

    I am appalled at the actions that were taken early last Saturday morning by you and your hotel staff. I would like to make sure that you understand the severity of what your actions caused. To begin I am sharing the “state of emergency” report that was issued by the governor of Virginia:

    Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell declared a state of emergency today and authorized the National Guard to assist with clearing trees and directing traffic in the Washington DC area, following last night’s sudden and violent storm. The storm in the DC area on June 29, 2012 – which occurred between 9:30 and 11 p.m. local time, following a day of recording breaking triple digit temperatures in the DC area – killed at least five people, uprooted thousands of trees and left more than 1.3 million homes and businesses without power in Maryland, Northern Virginia and Washington DC.

    Your decision to evict me and the five teenage girls that I was responsible for was both thoughtless and life threatening. After having heard you instruct your staff to call the police and have me arrested I decided to leave your hotel against my better judgement based on fear of what you and your staff may do next. I drove in hazardous life threatening conditions to a friend’s apartment. There were no cell phone signals, no power, downed trees and live electrical lines in some of the streets. As Nicola shared there were many mis-steps in those early morning hours that led to a disastrous ending to what we all believed would be a good experience at Marriott.

    I have documented and will share all of the details of that evening with the VP of Customer Service. There is absolutely no excuse or reason that me and the children should have been treated in the way that we were. You and your five employees, who were in the lobby that evening, allowed this it happen. In addition, I have learned from Nicola that the security log book indicates that a warning was given to the five girls. I know that this is not true and I am very concerned about the cover up that has occurred.

    I expect to receive the information from you for the VP of Customer Service by close of business today.


    Stephanie Eberhart

    In no way have any of the Marriott employees that I have spoken to lived up to the Marriott tag line:
    Going above and beyond. It’s the Marriott Way.SM


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