Steve Schuster and his girlfriend just had an “unacceptable” stay at the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, an enormous convention hotel owned by Marriott. And that’s putting it mildly.
The couple checked into a series of rooms that either didn’t meet their needs or were below the property’s stated standards. They’re looking for compensation, but so far, they’re unhappy with Marriott’s offer.
Our advocacy team jumped in to help, but if you read the header on this story, you can probably guess how it turned out. Question is, what kind of lessons does Schuster’s case offer for the rest of us? One or two, it turns out.
Schuster had requested a king bed, but when he checked in, the hotel sent him to a room with two smaller twin beds.
“We noticed the door security latch was broken, the lamp was broken and there were no working electrical outlets,” he says. “Even the bathroom shaving mirror was broken.”
But that was the least of the problems. He also reported a “strong mildew smell” which triggered his allergies.
“I woke up not able to breathe through my nose, had burning eyes and a horrible sore throat,” he says. “Within an hour or two of being outside, these symptoms eventually dissipated.”
That morning, he asked if they could switch rooms. That evening, the hotel sent them to another room — one without running water. They documented the episode on video.
“I called the front desk and was told it was just an issue with our room and maintenance would be up shortly to correct the problem. Nearly an hour later, no one arrived. I called the desk again and was told that the entire section of the hotel had no running water,” he says.
The hotel offered them another room.
“Our third room was in the unrenovated section of the hotel, and again had a mildew smell, triggering a terrible allergic reaction. All of our clothes will now require dry cleaning because of the terrible odor,” he says.
There were other problems — almost too many to mention. They include receiving only one bar of soap, broken or old beds and slow service. All told, not the Marriott experience, he says.
“Not only was the hotel not up to Marriott standards,” says Schuster, “but neither was the staff.”
(Here are Marriott’s standards, in case you were wondering.)
Marriott refunded Schuster’s parking and resort fees, and also deposited 10,000 points in his rewards account. He appealed. Here’s how Marriott responded:
Thank you for the additional email regarding your stay at the Gaylord Opryland. I am sorry to hear of your disappointment with the hotels compensation of rebated parking and resort fees as well as the 10,000 Marriott Rewards points. The hotel staff is committed to providing the best service possible. I have discussed with the Gaylord Team and support their offer of compensation as appropriate.
We are sorry to hear of your continued frustrations. The hotel staff has always been committed to providing the best service possible. Our records indicate that you have been provided with point compensation on numerous past stays at several hotels. Even with our best efforts you continue to be unsatisfied with the accommodations and services that we offer. We are unable to continue providing compensation on each of your stays.
Although we understand your disappointment with the outcome of your request. We do consider this issue closed and no further compensation or communication with be forthcoming related to this issue.
We value your patronage and trust you understand our final position in this matter.
Particularly vexing to Schuster is the fact that the hotel claimed on TripAdvisor that his case was resolved, when clearly, it was not.
He asked us to help and we happily obliged.
Marriott’s response? Silence.
So we’re left with this question: Is a refund of Marriott’s parking fee, resort fee, and 10,000 points enough for the problems Schuster endured? Or is it more like “three strikes and you’re out, Marriott”?
But who is striking whom out? Marriott seems to think Schuster is a serial complainer. But Schuster seems to think Marriott failed to do what it was supposed to.
I mean, at what point do you start to refund rooms? Does the water have to stop running and the toilets overflow? Is there some kind of compensation algorithm that Marriott is using here? If so, I’d love to know how bad it has to get before the hotel does the right thing.
Reality check: When a guest comes at you with a laundry list of complaints, as Schuster did, a hotel’s instinct is to say “no.” And I’ll admit, some of the items on his list, like the uncomfortable furniture, don’t exactly strengthen his case. Marriott’s offer was, to use a double negative, not ungenerous.
But was it enough?