You know you’re not in for a life-changing experience when you get a room at a Super 8 motel, but you at least expect that for $190 a night, there will be hot water and blankets big enough to cover both you and your girlfriend. And no plywood in the bathroom. And four legs holding up the bed. But not at the Super 8 in Pasadena, CA, according to Matt, who was just there for the Rose Bowl.
Here’s Matt’s story:
I just returned from a nice 6-day vacation from cold Pennsylvania to Pasadena, CA to see the Rose Bowl. All in all, the trip was a blast (despite the outcome of the game), except for my experience staying at the Super 8 on Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena.
We weren’t expecting much from a Super 8, but we figured we just needed a warm place to sleep and shower, and it was the cheapest thing we could find (at $190/night!) given that we were staying over the Rose Parade/Rose Bowl, so we went with it. When we arrived and checked in our expectations were confirmed as we were met with thin, stained carpets, poor quality bed linens and bath towels, unbelievably firm mattresses, and single-pane windows that did nothing to muffle outside noise. Throw in the stack of wood blocks holding up one corner of the bed and the bathroom vanity made partially of unpainted plywood, and anyone would be disappointed. But we figured, “hey, we’re on vacation, so we’ll make the most of it and just spend as little time here as possible.”
The first night is when we found out about the unbelievable noise made by the water pipes whenever anyone in the building near us ran water; it was loud enough to wake us up. Conversations by people in the parking lot sounded like they were standing in our room due to the thin windows and doors. In the morning, we had some surprises with the shower. First, the water that came out of the bathtub faucet was brown! Second, although we were able to get hot water from the bathroom sink and bathtub faucet, as soon as we turned on the showerhead, we got nothing but slightly-colder-than-lukewarm water, so we all had cold showers. We complained to the front desk, and were told it would be taken care of.
Fast forward to our third day. We arrived back at the room around 6:30pm after having been gone for the parade and Rose Bowl game since 5am that morning, and found that our room hadn’t been cleaned. 10 minutes after we returned, housekeeping knocked and asked us if we’d like to let them finish cleaning (apparently they had started and left). We told them we were getting changed and would be leaving for dinner in 20 minutes, so they could come back then.
10 minutes later, while I was in the shower (still cold, as the hot water issue hadn’t been fixed), my girlfriend knocked on the bathroom door and told me that I couldn’t come out because housekeeping had returned and told us that if we didn’t let them in to clean right now it wouldn’t get done, so they were in the bedroom cleaning…
I went to the front desk to complain about the still-cold showers, the fact that our room hadn’t been cleaned all day, and the unacceptable behavior of the housekeepers giving us an ultimatum like that. While the man at the desk was courteous and offered an apology, he gave me the excuse that they had a full hotel and that it was Rose Parade week, so I needed to understand the amount of work the housekeepers had to do. I made it clear that I did not buy that excuse, and that it should have been a no-brainer to make sure they had enough competent staff on hand for what is arguably the busiest week of the year in Pasadena. He told me they were actively looking for more staff, then explicitly stated that no form of compensation was available, but that I was welcome to contact corporate if I chose to.
Later that night, we returned from dinner and climbed into bed to find that the housekeepers had put a ratty, torn, twin-sized blanket on our double-sized bed. I took the offending blanket to the front desk (making sure to indicate that I had already changed clothes and gotten into bed before realizing the error) and asked for a new one, as well as contact information for corporate. The only thing I was given was a business card for the general manager of that particular location (apparently all Super 8′s are independently operated under a franchise agreeement). The new blanket, while big enough, was still ratty and of poor quality, and the showers the next morning (before we checked out) were still cold.
I’m not really sure where to go from here. Had we paid the normal “budget” rate for the room, I would probably be content with chalking it up to bad luck and spreading the word about my horrible experience, hoping that at least one person decided not to stay there as a result. But at $190/night and a three-night minimum stay (due to the Rose Parade), I feel like we’ve been totally screwed and this kind of bad experience warrants some kind of compensation. I don’t think a full refund would be reasonable, since we did have a place to sleep and park our car, but I think a refund of our last night’s stay is totally reasonable, given the circumstances: poor quality rooms, no hot showers, and the terrible behavior of the housekeepers. What do you think?
We think you deserve some sort of compensation as well, for the lack of hot water if nothing else. We’ve contacted the motel to see what they have to say, but you should also contact corporate and turn in this particular location, and see if they can help you secure a partial refund, or discounts on a nicer hotel chain for your next vacation.
But realistically, it’s likely going to be a challenge to get an acceptable response from a business when it’s as poorly operated as this Super 8—there’s a reason it’s in disrepair and understaffed, and the terrible management responsible is exactly who you’ll have to deal with. Following the bottom-line approach outlined in “Unscrewed,” you’re going to have to find a way to make your satisfaction worth this Super 8′s time. Some things you might want to look at include reporting your terrible experience online as much as possible at consumer travel sites like TripAdvisor, or opening up a dispute with the Pasadena Better Business Bureau, or launching an EECB at the franchiser, Wyndham Worlwide.