Thursday, August 09, 2007

"Are We On COPS?"

I've been dealing with the world of "customer service" this past week, not necessarily out of choice. I was trying to register a computer "the easy way" with HP and got so frustrated I nearly threw it out the window. Mercifully I was able to get in contact with a human being, a nice young woman, who immediately handled the matter and then a day or so later I received an email saying that particular function of HP's website wasn't really functioning well.

I had already figured that out.

Last weekend, Amy and I drove up to the Texas Hill Country for the wedding of a young lady we've known for some years and whose entire family we adore. Although we could have driven back home after the event, I thought it might be nice not to have to worry about getting home, so I booked a hotel room.

They say, "You get what you pay for" and in this case that certainly proved true. I figured correctly that we'd only be in the hotel to quickly change clothes before the wedding, and to sleep afterwards, so I didn't splurge. I went with the Budget Host "Deluxe" Inn in Fredericksburg, Texas. It's a motel, it's far from "Deluxe" and they have no concept of what the word "host" means.

Make no mistake this post is designed to warn any traveler, anywhere to avoid Budget Host properties.

As we were leaving, Amy noticed one of the purses she had brought was missing. It wasn't a huge deal...her primary purse with her identification, and other items was still accounted for, however this purse did have a document in it containing some quasi-sensitive social security type stuff. The purse itself was of little value.

None the less, we tore the room apart, unpacked and repacked our bags, and our car. Looked around the motel property thinking it might have dropped out of the car at some point. No luck.

So we did what we thought was sensible...we started asking the Budget Host Deluxe Inn employees.

We learned one thing: Budget Host Deluxe isn't real picky about who slaps their brand on their motel.

I would belabor the entire incident, but suffice it to say Amy was screamed at, we were repeatedly lied to, found ourselves at one point dealing with the "lobby staff" at the "Budget Host Deluxe Inn" who is in fact a 12 year old boy, and finally a man who refused to identify himself but whom I later learned was the "owner" of the "Budget Host Deluxe Inn", told us he had called the police...on us.

Huh? He didn't call the police to report a possibly stolen purse, he called the police because his customers were looking for their property?

This was at like 10 a.m. on a Sunday Fredericksburg, Texas a community that is completely reliant on tourism for its economic well-being.

I was stunned. Amy and I (after being ordered out of the "Budget Host Deluxe Hotel" lobby with fingers pointing in our faces) sat outside waiting for the police to arrive. We certainly didn't want to flee like criminals although apparently we had violated some law in the land of Budget Host Hotel/Inn properties when it comes to paying guests requesting information about items they owned which "go missing."

Amy's health has not been good...which is another post for another day...but I really hated to let our memories of the previous night's wonderful wedding be ruined by the maniacal employees of the Budget Host Deluxe Inn.

Eventually, we started to call the police to ask when they were going to show up and the owner (who finally unlocked the lobby door) admitted he had never called them.

At that point, I thought we'd salvage what was left of the day and I'd file a complaint with corporate relations for "Budget Host Inn" assuming they'd realize the lunacy of this situation and do everything possible to make sure the "Budget Host reputation" was not sullied further by what I thought must be a "rouge Budget Host owner" in the "Texas Hill Country." I really expected someone to resolve our complaint quickly since anyone familiar with customer service knows that dissatisfied customers often relay their dissatification not to the company but to everyone they know.

For the record: "Budget Host Inn" apparently doesn't have a customer service policy or a manual with a title of "Standards of Service" for "Budget Host Inns."

We spent what little time we had left to spare in Fredericksburg...much of it calming down and trying to understand how anyone in the hospitality industry could behave in such a manner and how a nationwide chain such as "Budget Host" or "Budget Host Hotel," Budget Deluxe, Budget Host Inn or whatever it is they call the Budget Host chain, could allow such behavior.

When we got home I fired off an email to Budget Host's only apparent outlet for complaints "" and also sent emails to the Better Business Bureau, various Chambers of Commerce, Visitor's Bureaus, etc.

I did get a call from a nice woman from the Budget Host corporate office. She agreed the situation was untenable, that the owner of the Budget Host Deluxe Inn in Fredericksburg, Texas was "not suited for the hospitality industry" and then offered her apologies.

That was it. Not an apology from anyone who actually should apologize, an apology from a very nice woman who had nothing to do with the situation that occurred in Fredericksburg, Texas.

She also had no solution.

She was very sweet...but I was still dissatisfied. Unfortunately I did not pay for the stay on a credit card so disputing the charge would be difficult and possibly dangerous. It really comes down to me driving up to Fredericksburg and confronting a man whom the Budget Host hotel, motel, inn chain has allowed to carry their brand name but whom I fear may be mentally unstable.

The Better Business Bureau said the situation was "out of their purview" which I took to mean they've had no luck dealing with previous complaints at the Budget Host Deluxe Fredericksburg.

I've wasted far too much time trying to get at least an apology from the wing-nut who runs the place, the "Budget Host Inn Fredericksburg", so I've decided to let it all go....into the blogosphere....far and wide...forever and ever.

If people happen to Google "Budget Host Deluxe" or "Budget Host Inn" or "Budget Host Motel" or perhaps folks just wondering where the "Best Places To Visit In Texas" might as a result happen to stumble across this blog, at least I'll know they are fully aware of the "DANGERS OF BUDGET HOST INN."

I think of it as a public service to make sure everyone knows what the name"Budget Host" or "Budget Host Deluxe" really means.