What can a broken toilet teach you about customer service?


When Tanya Fernandez checked into room 323 at the Microtel Inn & Suites in Colorado Springs, Colo., recently, she was met with an unpleasant but fixable problem: a broken toilet.

Fernandez, a purchasing agent for a flooring company in Sanford, Fla., was in town for the weekend to visit her son, a cadet at the Air Force Academy, and knowing she’d be leaving soon to see him, she decided to give Microtel a chance to repair the bathroom fixture.

It didn’t.

“We came back Friday evening and the toilet was not fixed,” she remembers. “So my young adult children had to come to my room and also use the lobby bathroom.”

Her case offers a lesson in managing expectations: yours and, if you’re running a hotel, your guests’. It’s also a reminder that sincerity matters, when it comes to customer service gestures, no matter what kind of business you’re running.

Stopped pipes

Undeterred, Fernandez asked again for, and again was promised, a quick fix for her toilet. But a day later — nothing.

“We came back Saturday afternoon and the toilet was still not fixed,” she says. She asked about the broken toilet one more time and a hotel clerk assured her it would be taken care of.

“To my surprise, the toilet was still not fixed that Sunday,” she says. “I was frustrated and perturbed by the non-service of the hotel regarding the bathroom problem and would deal with the hotel when I got home and I just wanted to try and enjoy the last day with my son.”

When Fernandez returned, she sent an email to the Microtel’s manager “explaining my displeasure,” she says. A hotel representative contacted her and offered to “fully reimburse her” as well as a $10 per night discount off a future stay.

But when she checked her credit card, she found that Microtel had only credited her $43, which is slightly less than half of one night’s room rate, minus taxes.

Fernandez wrote back, saying that wasn’t enough. Besides, why would she ever want to stay in that hotel again for a measly $10 discount?

In response Microtel credited her another $43.

“I was promised over and over again that the bathroom would be repaired and I believed the staff at the hotel,” she says. Fernandez wants all of her money back for the bathroom-less stay, as the hotel suggested it would do, and turned to my consumer advocacy site for help.

Well, what did you expect?

Microtel is a budget hotel chain that promises, among other things, “free” breakfast and wireless Internet (technically, it should say that those are included in its room rate, since you can’t just show up and eat the food and use the wireless connection without paying for a room) — and, most importantly, a “better” stay. But when you’re paying around $90 a night, you can’t expect Ritz-Carlton service.

The only mention of toilets — working or otherwise — in Colorado’s innkeeper laws is an obscure mention that toilet tissue, soap, shoeshine cloths, clothes bags, matches, facial tissue, coffee and other items available for guests’ use are not subject to sales or use tax at the time of purchase by the hotel or motel. I guess that assumes each hotel will have a functioning bathroom.

Even Microtel’s virtual property tour warns that actual rooms may vary. So technically, it’s possible for the hotel to sell a room without a functioning toilet.

When to refund and when to shut up

Microtel should have provided Fernandez with a room that had a working toilet, of course. And the room discount? That wasn’t the most sincere gesture for a guest who lives thousands of miles away.

But her complaint is functionally similar to the business-class passengers who can’t use their in-flight entertainment or fully recline their seat, and ask for a complete refund.

In both those cases, the desired punishment simply doesn’t fit the crime. The passengers were able to enjoy the ample legroom and first-class cuisine the airline offered, and so also, Fernandez could sleep in the bed, use the closets, the in-room wireless, and the breakfast. It isn’t as if she received nothing for her money.

Microtel might have offered her a refund as a customer service gesture, but for the entire stay? Even its published guarantee doesn’t provide for anything close to that.

In other words, Microtel was both right — and wrong.

Fernandez would have happily accepted a different room in the hotel, but the Microtel was fully booked and there were no hotels nearby with available rooms because of an event that weekend. I think Microtel might have been able to sweeten the deal if she’d spoken with a manager before leaving. Often, supervisors can offer points or meal vouchers to make up for minor problems.

“It’s indescribably wrong,” she says. “I can’t comprehend how this hotel can’t do anything more to satisfy this customer.”

Will Fernandez ever get the rest of her money back? It seems about as likely as her ever staying at another Microtel.

Did Microtel do enough for Tanya Fernandez?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at chris@elliott.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • sirwired

    One night’s stay refund seems about right, but they should have produced it without prodding.

  • tio2girl

    No working toilet in a hotel room? Microtel might be a budget brand, but it isn’t a hostel. A customer has every reason to expect their toilet to be functional for the entire stay. I think it’s a little out there to compare it to the seat on an airplane complaint, frankly. Even without the broken promises, I would say that Microtel did not step up enough, but considering she was repeatedly told one thing and given another, they absolutely did not do enough for her.

  • http://thestockhome.com/ Josh S

    I think a refund of one night’s stay is fair. Though, like @sirwired:disqus, I think the hotel should have given it without having to pull teeth.

    However, there’s also this: : “A hotel representative contacted her and offered to ‘fully reimburse her’ as well as a $10 per night discount off a future stay.” Once the hotel offers some level of compensation, whether it’s a full refund, hotel funny money in the form of a voucher, or a bag of peanuts, it should be held to that offer.

    So in my mind, once the hotel offered a full refund — even though that seems like too much recompense to me — it should be held to that offer. So I voted “No.”

  • Danielle

    I don’t think the analogy is right. If their breakfast was terrible or the wifi was down, then yes, it’s similar to in-flight entertainment not working. But a guest has a reasonable expectation to a working toilet, even at a budget hotel! What if there was no bed in the room – would you say that the hotel shouldn’t provide a full refund because she was still able to use the closets, wifi, breakfast, and toilet?

  • Raven_Altosk

    Sounds like a franchise property. A non-working toilet and apathy to fix it warrant a FULL refund.

    …and I’m the cold hearted one of the group.

  • Raven_Altosk

    This. I spent less to stay in a Hampton recently. I had a comfy bed and a fully functional bathroom.

  • TonyA_says

    I need to ask, why is this room even in the hotel inventory at all? It should have been taken out before it could be assigned to a guest. The person cleaning the room could have known the toilet does not work and call the front desk to take it out of inventory.

  • http://upgrd.com/roadmoretraveled MeanMeosh

    Going in to this post, I would have put the odds of me arguing for more compensation for the OP than you at about the same as a certain warm, toasty place freezing over, but here we are…

    I have to disagree that this situation is akin to the IFE not working on a long flight (though that is indeed annoying). A non-functional toilet borders on a health hazard. At least it wasn’t backing up into the room, but still, it’s a pretty serious issue. This reaches the epic fail level, and warrants a full refund, not just one night. Disappointing to see this from Microtel, as I’ve stayed with them quite a few times over the years and they’ve been decent for a budget chain.

  • Anthrochick

    I’m sorry but a nonworking toilet is not the same as a broken in flight TV or non reclining seat. The first addresses a biological necessity and is not considered optional for almost all Americans when staying in a hotel chain. The second two examples are annoying but livable issues (possible exception to reclining seat due to physical issue, but I digress).
    If this were a campground or an area of the world with different cultural expectations, I would have a different opinion, but it is not. I would have addressed every time I needed to use the lobby facility and expect at minimum a refund of half a nights stay per day stayed with a broken toilet. If they fixed it when I first complained, I would expect nothing beyond the toilet being fixed.

  • belle42

    They should have also fixed the toilet after the first request…but that didn’t happen either!

  • charlie

    In staying in accommodations where the room has a bathroom, there is the
    reasonable expectation of a working toilet.

    The Health Dept usually has regulations on such things. A stuffed or
    whatever toilet for several days could not be okay with the Colorado Springs
    Health Dept. Disgusting.

    I once heard of someone’s stay at a hotel in some part of Russia where they
    were not getting the rooms serviced and somehow finally figured out they were
    supposed to bring the sheets down the hall to a monitor who exchanged them for
    another set that the guest put on himself. There are different expectations
    here. For non-camping type accommodations…hotels/inns…at least a bed and a
    place with a commode whether private or shared. The price should not be an issue
    in whether the commode is working, but only regarding whether there is one in
    the room or down the hall in a hostel, wether it’s a low 70’s toilet or a
    comfort level newer one, a turquoise one or a white one, a chipped one or an
    intact one, a stained rocky one or a clean steady one.

  • http://flyicarusfly.com/ Fly, Icarus, Fly

    I agree that a working toilet is a deal-breaker, but the OP needed to have viewed it as that from the beginning and not let it drag on. After the first day without it being fixed (heck, after 30 mins of it not being fixed), I’d have re-negotiated: Every day that it isn’t fixed, reduce that room’s price by half. Don’t need to wait on anyone. Don’t need to argue. Or she should’ve walked and taken the full refund. Can’t stay the whole time and then ask for the entire stay to be comped.

  • http://ladylighttravel.com/ LadyLightTravel

    Actually, campgrounds without water are free. And they have outhouses.

    Chris, a non-working toilet is a health issue. There is no way it is in the same category as a non-working entertainment system. A hotel room should have working plumbing (or water for personal tasks), heat, and a clean bed. Maybe Ms Fernandez should call the health department. According to Colorado Department of Public Health:
    “Facilities shall be provided and properly maintained for the disposal or treatment of
    disposal of excreta and liquid wastes.”


  • Anthrochick

    The last campground I stayed at had one pump at the entire site and outhouses and was $10 per day. No showers. No flush toilets. If the outhouses at the site weren’t working and they charged me $10/day, I would not think it was a big deal.
    My original point was that my expectation would be different regarding the amount of compensation owed dependent on the type and location of the stay. This is a hotel. I expect a working toilet.

  • Meghan Guilford

    I voted “no” not because they didn’t give her a full refund, but because they didn’t get her toilet fixed. She seemed more patient than I would have been. On Saturday evening I would have been very upset that they had two days to call a plumber and get the problem fixed/addressed. Maybe it wasn’t fixable without replacing the entire toilet (which I have seen done in less than a day) – we really don’t know. The cost of the plumber seems more reasonable compared to negative publicity and refunding the room cost.

  • Nancy Nally

    Chris, if her hotel room had no roof, would you have said “she still got to use the wireless and her bed and all that other stuff…?” Because really, shelter and working plumbing are the two most basic services you are purchasing when you buy a room for the night. If you don’t want those, just go camping!

  • l2y2

    This in no way compares to a non-fuctioning TV or seat on an airplane. A non-working toilet is a health issue and a health hazard. Were they supposed to go to another room or the lobby to use the toilet in the middle of the night? Seriously? I would have been more forceful about getting it fixed the first day, but who knows how responsive the hotel would have been. She was promised a full refund, she should get a full refund. I would have contacted my credit card company by now. Totally unacceptable.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    How about going down to the front desk and telling them you are going to call a plumber to fix the problem after the first day that the toilet wasn’t fixed? How about asking to speak with the manager? If the manager wasn’t on site, how about asking the front desk to call the manager? How about asking for a discontcompensationrefund during the stay?

    As Chris wrote, the OP made a mistake of not asking for the general manager during her stay. Sending an e-mail after her stay isn’t as effective as talking to the general manager during the stay. To be fair to the OP, there is a strong chance that the general manager wasn’t there during the weekend.

    In regards to the hotel, they should had fixed the toilet immediately. If their maintenance couldn’t fix it, they should have called a professional plumber. If the toilet couldn’t be fixed during their stay, they should have comp the room with the non-working toilet.

    If the hotel promised a full refund when they contacted her then they should offered her a full refund (the room rate and taxes) on the room with the non-working toilet.

  • Trudy

    Since the hotel representative offered to fully reimburse her, it should do no less. A working toilet is as important as a having a bed in a hotel room. These aren’t hostels where there are communal facilities. Each room comes with a private toilet. It’s silly to suggest that it is not specifically guaranteed to work.

  • ClareClare

    ” Fernandez could sleep in the bed, use the closets, the in-room wireless, and the breakfast. It isn’t as if she received nothing for her money.”
    I beg to differ. By this logic, she shouldn’t have expected an immediate repair (or a refund) if, let’s say, the lock on her door was broken, or a plate of glass in the window was missing! After all, even if she hadn’t been able to secure her room and feel safe, “she could sleep in the bed, use the closets” etc.! Some things just AREN’T negotiable, and a toilet is one of them!

  • alsous

    A non working toilet is a deal breaker to me. A call to the better business bureau or health inspecter would have happened if they had not moved my family to a room with a working toilet. Rules where I live say that renters do not have to even pay rent if the plumbing is not working after a reasonable time. Since there was no signs that they even attempted to fix the toilet she should have not let it go beyond the first afternoon. A door that doesn’t lock and a toilet that doesn’t work are the two things a hotel should always provide, even if they are low budget. That and no bedbugs but that is a different issue.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    I’m watching this story very closely because my husband and I had the exact same experience with a hotel stay in New York last fall. The toilet in this case backed up all over the floor. Hotel maintenance brought me towels to clean up the mess. Wasn’t that thoughtful of them (sarcasm).

    I did go through all of the steps you listed on day 2, when the toilet failed first thing in the morning. The general manager left word with the front desk that the matter was being addressed. I was assured it was fixed by the front desk staff when we returned later that evening. Nope, Had the same problem very early on day 3. Since we were checking out that day, no one was particularly interested in resolving the situation. General manager would not come to the phone, even though the front desk people called him while I was standing there. I asked for a refund or a discount. Nope. General manager had to okay any discounts and as I said, he wouldn’t come to the phone. My travel agent managed to get a full refund for our stay.

    Sometimes you can do all the right things at the right time, but you still don’t get the right outcome. It’s because of people like you posting that I did do all the right things at the right time, and I think that helped my case and my travel agent to secure the refund, so thanks for the advice.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    So, what was the significance to Microtel of $43? Was it some percentage of the rack rate or something?

  • emanon256

    I would have thought that as well and will make sure I never stay at a Microtel. I see them around and they look worse than a red roof inn, so I will probably have never stayed at one to begin with.

  • emanon256

    I am really Surprised Colorado does not have a law regarding habitability in a transient situation. The warranty of habitability in Colorado specifically excludes any hotel/motel where the occupant is staying less than 30 days.

    There is a law stating that a rental property is not habitable if the toilet does not work, “Running water and reasonable amounts of hot water at all times furnished to appropriate fixtures and connected to a sewage disposal system”, which I interpret as working sink and toilet.

    Although I am quite shocked about this law. The tenant must give the land lord at least 10 days to fix it, and can then notify them of their intent to vacate and give them an additional 5 days to fix it. If the Tenant waits 30 days to notify them, they can no longer vacate. This seems really unfair to renters. It also doesn’t say anything about whether or not rent is still due when the toilet is not working.

    Either way, in my non-legal opinion, any rental, even a short term hotel stay should have a functioning toilet to be habitable.

  • Chris Johnson

    A full refund is definitely in order – a working toilet is a vital part of your stay at ANY hotel, I don’t care how little I’m paying. Your airline analogy doesn’t quite work here but I have a better example. If I’m flying some discount airline, i.e., Southwest, SpiritAir, etc., I don’t expect a whole lot, and if my seat can’t fully recline during the flight or my legs got crushed because I was sitting next some overweight person, I’m not going to inquire about a refund because of an unpleasant flight experience, as the airline has likely upheld all aspects of the contract and besides I don’t expect first-class service on a discount airline (although I gotta say that if often appears that Southwest seems to do more for you than most of these
    so-called “full service” carriers and no I don’t work for them).

    But if I’m on any airline, discount or otherwise, no matter how cheap the ticket was, there are certain basic needs that have to be met. If the seatbelt doesn’t work, the seat is covered in puke or I have to stand up the entire flight (I believe we’ve heard a news story or two about that happening), then we have a problem and there are some things that are non-negotiable. A working toilet in a hotel room is one of them. An experience like this, at a bare minimum, would make me hesitate before staying an another Microtel.

  • Frank Windows

    “But her complaint is functionally similar to the business-class
    passengers who can’t use their in-flight entertainment or fully recline
    their seat, and ask for a complete refund.”

    I disagree. When one books a room, one should expect the basics: Sleep, privacy, and sanitation. If the TV didn’t work, that would be one thing, but no toilet? Come on, Chris. She deserves a full refund and an apology, especially considering how patient she (apparently) was.

  • emanon256

    I have yet to find a free camp ground. Here in Colorado they charge nightly fees for a camping permit. And I have been to some that don’t even have water or an outhouse. I have to pack in water and go to the bathroom in the woods. Fortunately, the camping permit is much cheaper than a hotel room.

  • emanon256

    Don’t forget squat toilets. They seem pretty common in other countries. I am personally not a fan of them.

  • tio2girl

    I don’t disagree, but I also understand that sometimes when you’re traveling, you just don’t have the luxury of time to handle issues like this. Who knows what her days were like. Who knows where her head was at when confronted with the problem. Sometimes you trust – even if you shouldn’t – and expect that things will get done.

  • Joshua

    Hotel chains really need to make sure that their franchisees live up to the standards of the chain so that guests don’t need to worry about whether the individual location is corporate-owned or a franchisee. After all, most people reading this post likely have a lower opinion of the Microtel chain than they did a few minutes ago. Each hotel location reflects on its entire chain, not just on the locations owned by a particular franchisee.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Oh my goodness! I keep trying to delete that last “sarcasm” from the end of my post, but it won’t go away. (Hey, moderators – can *you* fix?) I wasn’t aiming sarcasm at you, ARW, but at the every-so-helpful maintenance people at the hotel. Your advice truly has been helpful over the years, and I’m happy to see that you’re back to contributing on a regular basis.

  • Dutchess

    I typically scoff at requests for full refunds for trivial things but a toilet is hardly trivial. This is a hotel that was given ample opportunity to fix a toilet but simply didn’t. I think a full refund could be justified here.

  • pauletteb

    Putting someone in a room without a working toilet is indefensible, budget property or not. I can’t help but wonder how long the toilet had been broken before the OP checked in . . . and how long after she checked out.

  • RetiredNavyphotog

    Have you ever stayed in a room without a functioning toilet?
    Talk about misery – walking down the hall in the middle of night to use the toilet in the lobby.
    And then there is the safety issue if it is a young child having to make that journey.
    This is a little more important than not being able to use the inflight entertainment system or being able to recline your seat on a flight.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    I agree that hotel chains need to make sure that their franchesees live up to the standards of the chain because a bad experience reflects on the entire chain.
    For example, I am usually upgraded to a nicerbigger room between 80% to 90% of the time at a Marriott branded property that is corporate owned and operated since I am a Platinum member of their frequent guest program. However, I am upgraded between 30% to 40% of the time at a franchisee location. The reason is simple…it is money. The franchisee location wants to sell the nicerbigger room than to give it to me as a free upgrade (they don’t care about my patronage with Marriott); whereas, the corporate location wants to reward my patronage and wants me to continue to stay at a Marriott property.

  • dourdan

    from what i read she had more then one room, so it might have been hard to walk out and rebook more then one room.

    but on a side note when ever i have toilet issues in a hotel i never ask “can you send someone” i ask “can i use your plunger”- that gets them there right away.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    I think that a non-functioning business class or first class seat on an international flight is the same as a non-working toilet. One of the reasons why I fly business class or first class when we go to Europe or Asia is that I want a flat-bed seat so that we can sleep on the 7 to 11-hr flight if it is an overnight flight (leaving the US at night and arriving at our destination during the time). To me, there is value to having a “good night of sleep” so when we arrive at our destination we are 1) ready to go; 2) we don’t lose a day because we need to sleep when we arrive; 3) etc.

    In regards to IFE, it is important as well. If we are flying internationally during the day (i.e. arriving at our destination in the late afternoon or evening), we like to have a working IFE so that we can stay awake (especially my 6YO son) during the 7 to 11-hr flight instead of sleeping on the flight which will throw us off our sleeping schedule when we arrive.

    If the flat-bed seat or the IFE wasn’t working, I won’t ask for a full refund but I will ask for 25% to 50% compensation.

  • amystery726

    At the very least, one should be able to expect a functioning toilet. Not only is that not satisfactory service, it’s rather revolting.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    It makes you wonder if the cleaning team cleaned the toilet. Won’t they see that the toilet was working? One time that I had a room at a Sheraton Suites where the toilet wasn’t working when I arrived at my room. They fixed it within 20 minutes after I reported the problem. The following morning, I spoke with the General Manager since my company had a contract with the hotel and said “Won’t housekeeping saw that the toilet was working when they cleaned it?”. The GM responded with “Yes” and gave me 5,000 SPG points.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    “Your airline analogy doesn’t quite work…” I think that Chris was referring to international flights since there are very few (if there is any) domestic flights in the US that have a business class. Also, I think that most readers are thinking domestic flights.

    I can handle a FC seat that can’t recline for 3 hours and I can definitely can handle a domestic flight without IFE (US Airways has no IFE on their flights within the 48 states and Alaska). However, having a flat-bed seat that doesn’t work on a 7 to 11-hr flight is an issue for me since I booked the flight to have a flat-bed seat.

  • emanon256

    Agreed. I have even been told, “Oh, your another platinum” with an eye-roll at a franchise Marriott (Salt Lake City Courtyard). And I have had several franchise locations charge me for internet and argue with me, give me the wrong bed type, give me a first floor room, tell me they don’t have any foam pillows, etc. One franchise Marriott even put me in a room with the door right by the lobby facing a road, insisting it was because I was staying on points and they would rather have their better rooms go un-occupied than give them out for free (Napa, CA Marriott Resort). I usually let it go, but in the last case it was the Manager who told me that and I called the Platinum line and was told it was a franchise and they could not do anything about it. Although there are plenty of good franchises as well who do honor what Marriott promises.

  • JenniferFinger

    A working toilet is a deal-breaker, and I agree with Fly, Icarus, Fly-everyone should have seen it that way from the start. I don’t think it merits a full refund, because she didn’t ask for a new room at the time, or a voucher for future visits, because I don’t see how or why she would use it after this. A partial refund would be appropriate though.

  • RetiredNavyphotog

    No, a non-functioning business class seat is not the same as a non-functioning toilet.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    A hotel room includes a bed, tv, toilet, shower, etc. which all of them should be working. The room rate regardless if it is $ 50 or $ 500 a night, you expect the items that they list on their website, etc. that comes with the room should be working since you are paying for that. A functional bed, toilet and shower are more important than a functional TV; therefore, the compensation for a non-working bed, toilet and shower should be much higher than a non-working tv, iron, etc. A hotel room with a non-functioning toilet should be subject to another room (if available), a refund, compensation, etc.

    An international flight includes a seat, meal, IFE, etc. A FC or BC seat on an international flight to Asia or Europe can cost $ 4,000 to $ 16,000. You are paying additional money compared to Economy Class to have a better seat (i.e. a flat-bed seat on most of the Asian-based and European-based airlines compared to the US-based airlines), a better meal, a wider variety of meals; more service; etc. To have a FC or BC flat-bed seat that is non-functioning should be subject to another seat (if one is available), a refund (probably partial), compensaton (i.e. miles, free upgrades on future flights, etc.); etc.

    As I stated in another comment, I booked FC or BC seats for long-haul flights (i.e. 7 to 11 hours) because I put a value on my sleep and time (i.e. don’t want to be sleeping the first day at my destination due to the lack of sleep on my flight). I can sleep comfortably for five to seven hours on a flat-bed or lie-flat seat which is my normal sleeping time. I can’t sleep comfortably or for a long time in a normal upright seat. A broken bed whether it is at a hotel or the flat-bed seat doesn’t extend out is a deal breaker for me.

    A lot of the airlines market their FC and BC seats on their international flights as an experience (i.e. you can sleep in your ‘private’ suite), http://www.singaporeair.com/en_UK/flying-with-us/first-listing/newfirstclass/ and
    http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/04/travel/first-class-air-cabins. It is not about getting you from point A to point B. It is about having a meal from a world famous chef; selecting from 60 diverse dishes; having a good night of sleep; being productive; arriving fresh and ready to go; etc.

    We were flying upper class on Virgin Atlantic. On our return flight to the States, they had a ‘shortage’ of attendants (enough for the regulations but not to the level of their service); therefore, they were unable to give on-board massages or beauty treatments to all of the passengers in upper class. They gave compensation vouchers to the Upper Class passengers that did not received their massage or beauty treatment.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    Neither am I a fan of the squat toilets…I can remember my first trip to China and discovering them.

  • wiseword

    They couldn’t hire a plumber? What alternative to a working toilet did they suggest? A red bag?

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    The reason why the analogy isn’t resonating is that there are actually people who travel internationally in coach, steerage, or whatever the current derogatory word used by premium cabin folks. And were not just talking the Ryanair types. Regular, average everyday folks fly internation in coach.

    By contract, no one, should have to deal with a non-working toilet.

    If you premium cabin experience is not premium, you should get some portion of the premium that you paid. By contrast, a room without certain basic amenites is borderline worthless.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I can imagine the poor parent getting awakened every half hour to take a child to the lobby bathroom and all the attendant extra work to make yourself presentable to being seen in public.

  • MarkKelling

    I was recently on a flight where the 1st class toilet was not working even before the plane took off. I was surprised that the flight left like that since every other flight in the past on this airline had waited until similar issues were resolved. Did this make my premium class experience any less premium? Not really since I did not need to use the facilities during the flight. Others might disagree. At least there were other facilities available in the coach section of the plane.

  • y_p_w

    Some say a working toilet in your room is a given. I would point out that there are such things as hotels with shared facilities. This includes many cabin type accommodations as well as some historic hotels.

  • Bill___A

    No Chris, it is not the same as one of those “business class travelers” that doesn’t have the video working. I can and do bring my own working video on the plane. However, I don’t think one should have to bring their own toilet and plumbing.
    As one who expected Marriott to fix their internet during an entire week’s stay, I can understand very well how hotels sometimes aren’t very good at fixing things that they should have. However, when something doesn’t work, the time to move/change hotels etc., is very soon in the process.
    I’ve recently had the video not work on a 9 hour flight and had the internet wi fi hotspot not work for my room in a hotel for a week. I accepted no compensation for either.
    Not everything is about money. I think she should have moved. They certainly deserve the bad publicity. I hope she has written this up in many places and perhaps complained to the head office. However, I’m not sure if a full refund is right. Sometimes, you can make more of a point by not taking a refund.

  • Jason Hanna

    I’ve used that line before.. It got me a plunger. Which.. Hey, it fixed the problem. I’m a little curious about the toilet being broken at check-in however. I guess my mind, and everyone else’s goes to a ‘broken’ toilet being stopped up. If that’s the case, and it was that way when they got there… There’s a real problem here. If you ‘break’ a toilet (C’mon, we’ve all done it at one time or another) then the “You got a plunger” line I have no problem with. I’ll use a plunger on a toilet *I* stopped up, but if it was TRULY broken when they got there, meaning dealing with someone else’s crap (literally).. Nuh-uh. Don’t think I’d even be staying in that room until it was fixed.

  • RetiredNavyphotog

    What a horrible tragedy that the folks on that flight were not able to receive a massage!
    Compared to what happened in Boston yesterday, I think someone who complains about the lack of a massage or beauty treatment shows a disconnect to reality.

  • Guest

    “shows a disconnect to reality.”

    Just as the person who ties two disconnect events together to condemn someone.

    So you think that just because some people were killed and injured, no one should be complaining about their problems huh? Well guess what, people are killed and injured everyday so based on your logic, Chris shouldn’t be here helping us when a business takes our money but doesn’t give the service associated with the payment. Talk about a total disconnect to reality.

  • RetiredNavyphotog

    He was complaining about not being able to receive on-board massages or beauty treatment on a flight.
    Hardly justifies Chris’ help in getting a refund.

  • Guest

    And I was commenting on your statement that because of what happened in Boston, those people shouldn’t have complained. Oh wait. THEY DIDN’T! The airline did right by compensating the passengers for not getting what they paid for. Your bringing the tragedy of what happened in Boston to say they shouldn’t complain was completely out of line.

  • EdB

    Where did the person who said they didn’t get a massage say they asked Chris to help them get a refund? From their comment, it sounds like the airline did it without having to be asked.

  • William_Leeper

    Oh the memories. I have stayed at Microtel, and for some reason the toilets on the 3rd floor like to back up at all their properties. It’s an engineering flaw, and they use the same plans for all of their properties.

    With that said, I called and complained about a backed up toilet and the desk clerk (11PM) says “you can come down and get my plunger. I will need it right back though!” Needless to say, I plunged it myself, and haven’t been back to another microtel.

  • Joshua

    But this Microtel intended to offer a toilet in the bathroom. They offer a bathroom with toilet in all their guest rooms. If a hotel has a toilet installed, I think we should assume it was meant to be working.

  • Joshua

    In fairness to the hotel, a discount on a future stay might have been useful to this customer — since her son is a cadet at the Air Force Academy, she might have come back to Colorado Springs for his graduation or something like that. But with the poor service provided in this case, I would be surprised if the customer ever stayed at any Microtel Inn ever again, much less this particular one.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    My point was that Virgin Atlantic was unable to provide one of their services to the passengers and they provided compensation. I am not aware of any of the passengers on the flight complaining or asking for compensation. Virgin Atlantic was proactive in giving compensation to the passengers…they annouced at the start of the flight that there was a shortage, they will do their best to give a treatment to everyone and if they couldn’t compensation will be provided. Isn’t it refreshing that a company will stand behind their product?

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    First, I received my massage but there were other passengers that did not. Second, I didn’t complained or asked Chris to contact Virgin Atlantic for a refund or compensation. I am pretty sure that none of the other Upper Class passengers contacted Chris asking him to contact Virgin Atlantic for a full or partial refund or compensation. Third, Virgin Atlantic was proactive…they made an announcement (a flight attendant went to each passenger to explain the situation) at the start of the flight when they were taking orders. Fourth, when they were handling out the compensation to the passengers that were not serviced, there were two individuals (flight attendant and pilot) that apologized to the passenger that Virgin Atlantic couldn’t live up to their level of service.

    This is what customer service should be and this is why Richard Bronson became very successful. My point was that Virgin Atlantic couldn’t provide one of their services (which was not as important as the other services) and they provided compensation on the spot without a passenger asking for it.

    I have been a reader of this site for at least eight years and I have made comments that the US-based airlines could learn something from the Asian-based and European-based airlines especially the Asian-based airlines when it comes to services and First Class & Business Class products. That is why I prefer to fly on an Asian-based or European-based airline when flying internationally…better product and better service.

  • EdB

    I’m guessing that your reply was to RetoredNavyphotog since my reply was in support of you saying the same thing. :)

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    Please re-read my comments…no where did I wrote that I was complaining or asking Chris for his help in getting a refund or I didn’t received my massage. I received my massage but there were other passengers that did not and Virgin Atlantic did the right thing by compensating those passengers at the end of the flight with compensation.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    I agree.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior


  • y_p_w

    Of course I’ve had issues with toilets in a hotel or motel room. I’ve had toilets that leaked and toilets with a less than powerful flush.

    Just recently I stayed in a really nice hotel room. My main complaint would be that the toilet was a commercial toilet with a flushometer that sounded like a big cat roaring every time it was flushed.

    The one thing I would really like in most hotel rooms are slow-closing toilet seats that don’t slam. I’ve got a couple of those at home, and they’re absolutely awesome. My only issue is that often I’ll forget that most toilet seats will thud if dropped.

  • Nikki

    Disclaimer: I’m a Microtel employee – but not for this particular one. I don’t speak for the brand or for Wyndham (Microtel is part of the Wyndham family of brands).

    Two nights without a working toilet?… and, without a supervisor or GM getting involved the first night? I’d be interested in knowing what the communication was between the OP and the front desk. The front desk could have moved the OP on the second night if nothing could have been done on the first night. – there is no way a hotel doesn’t have at least ONE guest checking out the following day, even for a packed house in a packed city/area.

    Not only that – but something as important as a toilet – a basic necessity in any room – is not likely to be missed by any person on, say, the next shift. If one shift could not have done something about it, the following shift would have given it every shot it had to get it done and make it right. That’s the MO of most front desks… the guests come first – and what happens on one shift will always affect the next three shifts. I just have a hard time imagining that something that important would NOT have been dealt with on a supervisory or management level if the front desk staff or maintenance was not able to handle it on site.

    (And while I’m writing this, I’m here thinking that my boss – the owner/operator where I work – would have come down on all of us pretty hard if we had not taken appropriate steps – including calling her – to handle something like that. Somebody would most definitely have been disciplined and/or fired.)

    I’m sorry. I sympathize with the OP – I’m glad she did get something back from the hotel – but we’re hearing her side of it, not the hotel’s. I’m also wondering, Chris – – did she file a complaint with Wyndham customer service? – that might help her, though depending on the communication between her and the staff, I don’t know. (Wyndham usually asks for a detailed explanation as to what occurred with said guest.) Doesn’t hurt to try.