Hampton Inn general manager Jennifer Stahler banned reader Jack from staying at her Inn again because he dared to park his car in the Inn’s garage. Jack wasn’t sure he could park there in the first place, even though there weren’t any signs warning “private” or “employees only,” so after parking, he checked in with Jennifer who told him he was fine and even wrote him a parking slip. The next morning she changed her mind and demanded $38 in valet charges. When Jack reminded her that she never mentioned any fees and had given him a parking slip, she agreed to remove the charges but then explained that he was “no longer welcome to stay.”
So I reserved a room at the Hampton Inn in Washington DC on 901 6th street for New Years. I arrived at the place on Dec. 31st around 6pm to find no spots in front to pull up and unload the car, so drove a few feet on to park in the building’s garage. I drove in to the open garage entrance as there was no signage (note that nothing designates the place “employees only”—I made sure to take pic’s to note that fact).
The garage was directly beneath the hotel, so I just parked and jumped in the elevator. As I got in one of the employees there asked if I was a guest, then directed me to speak with the manager upstairs so I could get a parking stub. I was greeted kindly by the staff and the general manager Jennifer Stahler who had them write me a slip for the parked car and checked me in to the room. My girlfriend arrived about 30 minutes later and I had her get the car parked in the garage also—never notified of any potential charges. All was well.
New years went great, the room was awesome, then came the checkout. They slipped a receipt under which included two $38 valet charges. When I went to the front desk to ask about the charges I met with the same woman as had checked me in. They asked if everything was OK and I responded “well I didn’t know that there were any valet fees, so I don’t think I agree with them, but…”
I was cut off by the General Manager Jennifer Stahler who said “no, i was here last night. You just drove in to the garage!”
“Yes,” i said “I did, I parked down there then came up to get my slip from you which you said was fine, but that fact withstanding I was never informed of any charges.”
She confronted me saying “We’ll take the charges off but you’re no longer welcome to stay here” —okay, great skills as a manager Jennifer. Seriously, I’m no longer welcome to stay at the hotel again b/c I parked my car??..anyways…
I replied “Excuse me???”
She started arguing “You drove in to a secure garage and parked your own car in our valet area”
I replied “The gate was open and it isn’t marked with any signs saying ‘Don’t enter’ or ’employees only’ and yes, I did park my car then I came and met with you to make sure all was cool—you said it was fine. You then wrote me up a slip but not once did anyone tell me you’d be charging me anything for it. My complaint was originally that you didn’t first inform me of the charges such that I could agree and approve them, but is now becoming much more…”
She then started a rant “Do you just go an drive in to peoples’ private garages without getting a ticket at the entrance!?”, a fairly irrelevant point. She really started trying to debate about whether or not it’s OK to drive in to a private garage—which I said was irrelevant if there wasn’t any signage and the gate was open. She then threatened “I’m going to be starting a file on you”—okay great, please do. Because this is ridiculous and I’ll be following up with your superiors, I’d like this fully documented.
Anyways, I read the sign in the lobby “If you’re not 100% satisfied we don’t expect you to pay”—a right I then expressed I would be fully exercising.
So not only did her hot temper lose her hotel and parent company (Hilton) the full room rate for the night before, but it also lost her a potential future customer (and one whose corporation uses Hilton hotels as one of their travel options). Great work Jeniffer Stahler, General Manager of Hampton Inn on 6th street in Washington DC.
To be fair, Hampton Inn has every right to charge for parking in their garage, but those charges should be clearly disclosed. Even if they were, any hotel manager should know that banishment is never an appropriate way to handle a customer with a legitimate dispute.