Best Western Gives My Accessible Room Away To Non-Disabled Person, Shrugs

Britt is a paraplegic. While planning a recent trip, she reserved an accessible room at the Best Western where she and her boyfriend would be staying. A room that she could move around in, and that would not require her boyfriend to lift her into bed and onto the toilet. You know, allow her some independence and dignity. When they actually checked in to the hotel, though, they learned that the accessible room had been assigned to another traveler. Worse: according to staffers, this traveler was a regular guest who wasn’t disabled, but just likes having a bigger room.

She sent this letter to Best Western:

I was really looking forward to this trip. I had reserved an ADA room a month in advance because I am a paraplegic who uses a wheelchair and this room would afford me my independence so that my boyfriend could leave me at the hotel and not worry about me.

When we arrived we were given a normal room and when we asked to be placed in an ADA room like
we reserved they informed us that there were none available. The clerks then informed us that one of their regulars had reserved the ADA room and they were pretty sure he was NOT handicapped and that he just enjoyed the space that the ADA room provided. They said they
would call to see if he would be willing to give up the room. He was not.

If I had known ahead of time that there would be no ADA room available to me I would have moved hotels where there had been one available. The rest of our stay consisted of my boyfriend having to carry me into the bathroom anytime I needed to be in there because my
chair could not fit through the door (even if it had there would have been no way for me to get on to the toilet myself). We were provided with a shower chair which wasn’t much help seeing how there wasn’t a detachable shower head I was unable to rinse myself off.

The room itself caused mobility issue; it was tiny and every time I needed to get into or out of bed my boyfriend had to pick me up, I was severely disappointed in my stay with this Best Western and I will never recommend staying here to anyone especially if they are handicapped.

Here’s the message that she received back from the hotel’s manager.

Thank you for completing the survey regarding your recent stay at our
property.

On behalf of our entire team, I would like to apologize for not
exceeding your expectations. Your satisfaction is important to us and
we will be using the feedback you gave us to implement improvements to
ensure we offer a better experience for guests in the future. What
name was the reservation made under? I want to be able to be able to
council my staff and find out what “regular” was put in a ADA room. I
do apologize for not exceeding your expectations.

I hope that you will consider staying with us again so that we can
have another chance to provide you with a superior experience.
If I can provide any assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact me
directly at ***-***-****

Sincerely,
[redacted] General Manager BEST WESTERN PLUS [redacted]

We asked Britt whether she was satisfied with this response. Unsurprisingly, she was not. Best Western hasn’t followed up or offered her any additional help. She wrote back to us:

I wasn’t really happy with the response, but I was even less happy about how they initially dealt with the situation. They wanted to switch us rooms for every night we were there. We carry a lot of clothes and supplies this would have been a large inconvenience to say the least.

I was really upset because not only was this a trip to celebrate my birthday (because my last one was spent in the hospital) but it was also my boyfriend’s and mine first trip since I had become a paraplegic. I was sadly disappointed. I am lucky that my boyfriend is able to pick me up but everything that I needed to accomplish in the bathroom proved to be a huge hassle. I am trying not to let this effect future trips I might make but I am afraid of being burned again, not by just Best Western, but any hotel.

We spent a little over $400 dollars for that stay. I feel that the apology was not very sincere and was an empty gesture.

Comments

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  1. mikedt says:

    Unless that’s only part of her initial letter, she didn’t ask for anything, i.e. a full/partial refund, a discount/voucher on future stays, etc. Therefore the BW response seems appropriate.

    • I look at both sides of the story says:

      “Unless that’s only part of her initial letter, she didn’t ask for anything, i.e. a full/partial refund, a discount/voucher on future stays, etc. Therefore the BW response seems appropriate.”

      That type of half-hearted boiler-plate response is what causes lawsuits. Most people simply want a genuine apology and BW should have offered something in return, especially in a ADA situation. When people feel abused and marginalized, they turn to their friendly neighborhood attorney to sue the daylights out of BW.

      Somewhat tangential, there are some new laws where a person (I think doctors) can make non-binding apologies to the patients. That is, the apology can’t be used as evidence against the doctor in court. Studies have shown that genuine apologies reduce lawsuits.

      I know someone whose doctor made a big whoops. Doctor apologized profusely, and repeatedly. Apology accepted, no lawsuit. Patient continued to see that doctor.

      • Pre-Existing Condition says:

        I think most people are scared of apologizing about anything, especially when there’s even a remote potential for a lawsuit. The worst thing you can do after an auto accident is apologize, which essentially admits guilt.

        The hotel screwed up big time and should have comped them a room at a nearby hotel that night. After the fact, I don’t see them doing much of anything without being prodded in a specific direction.

        The OP should specifically ask for something, with something along the lines of “so we can put this behind us”, to make it clear that she doesn’t want to sue, just wants some kind of apology and something to make up for it.

        • I look at both sides of the story says:

          “I think most people are scared of apologizing about anything, especially when there’s even a remote potential for a lawsuit. The worst thing you can do after an auto accident is apologize, which essentially admits guilt.”

          IANAL but it would seem to *me* that apologizing after (in your example) an auto accident isn’t an admission of guilt since one really doesn’t know who is at fault yet.
          Maybe I think I did something wrong, but was unaware that the other party went flying through the red light and hit me and I reflexively apologized.

          When two normal people accidentally bump into each other, both parties apologize. Regardless of who is ‘at fault’.

          But I am not a lawyer nor have I played one on TV so I’m merely speculating.

          • Derek Balling says:

            But the trick is, apologizing at an accident scene *has* been used in court, many times, as evidence of both guilt, and the knowledge that you were guilty (hence the apology).

            • I look at both sides of the story says:

              At the risk of beating a dead horse, suppose you apologize (say, at a car accident) even when the other person was in the wrong but you didn’t have enough facts at the time. You simply thought you</i? were in the wrong.

              Doesn't the police determine who is actually at fault?

              • jsibelius says:

                Not necessarily. There’s a difference between reality and a “legal” definition. The police, in many cases, will only make a determination of fault if there is an injury (and sometimes not even then, if it’s really complicated). Otherwise, they leave it to the lawyers and insurance companies to duke it out.

          • RedOryx says:

            I’ve worked retail jobs where we were told not to apologize if something happens involving a customer because it can be seen as an admission of guilt, even if the customer was doing something stupid.

      • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

        It’s sad that we need “non-binding” apologies. However, were people to realize that medicine is very, very far from an exact science (meaning that if you use the same treatment on 100 different people you’ll get 20 different results), perhaps they’d stop blaming doctors for everything.

        Apologies go a long ways to repair a damaged business relationship. Unfortunately, consumers and our judicial system have a way of taking advantage of sincere apologies and screwing over the person giving it.

      • StarKillerX says:

        Personally I think the response from the manager is actually a good one since not only does he/she apologize but they also ask for more info not only can they find out the specifics of the problem but also use it as an opportunity to train their staff better so it doesn’t happen again, which I would think is the OPs goal, well unless it’s just another cash grab.

        “Most people simply want a genuine apology and BW should have offered something in return,”

        So if people just want an apology then why exactly should BW offer something in return in addition to the apology?

        • jsibelius says:

          It’s good they asked for additional information, but it was in the interest of pursuing whoever they were offering special favors to. It does nothing to make things better for the OP and doesn’t hint at a possibility of a later resolution. So no, this was a mediocre response at best.

        • jenl1625 says:

          “Sorry we didn’t exceed your expectations” doesn’t acknowledge that they failed to *meet* her expectations and possibly failed to meet their legal requirements. She reserved an ADA-compliant room, showed up, needed that ADA-compliant room after all… and they did what, exactly? Offered to move her from inadequate room to inadequate room? Asked the guy who didn’t need the ADA-compliant room (which she’d reserved) if he’d mind being a decent human being? (And it’s not clear that they truly explained to him that she NEEDED the ADA-compliant room.) And it doesn’t sound like they tried to find another local facility that could meet her needs.

          And after that, she gets a chipper “gee, we’re sorry that you don’t think we went above and beyond!”

        • dangermike says:

          If I was the manager, my response would have been along the lines of “I’m very sorry we were unable to accommodate your room preference. I will speak with the shift manager tomorrow, and you can rest assured that he will have a more personal understanding of the inconvenience you’ve experienced.”

          But then again, I don’t work in customer service, and am not generally allowed out of my little lab, let alone into contact with other people.

      • Jawaka says:

        I disagree. Best Western screwed up and they apologized for it. Yeah it may have seemed canned but people are going to say that about any apology from any corporation. If the OP wanted more than an apology then she should have asked for more than an apology.

    • JReedNet says:

      I personally like their reply, they’re trying to figure out who got the room so they can make sure that doesn’t happen again and they’re telling their staff how to better handle the situation in the future, which I would hope means that they’ll move the guest in the ADA room out.

      Being dissatisfied with an apology because they didn’t give you something you didn’t ask for doesn’t seem like a fair decision. They might not be financially fit enough to give some sort of concession to anyone that complains, but I am sure they would gladly arrange something if it was asked for.

      And everyone is saying there was not an apology? “On behalf of our entire team, I would like to apologize”, if that isn’t an apology, what is?

      • bbb111 says:

        The biggest problem with the response was that the actual apology was buried in a bunch of canned response drivel. There were two sentences of real interest and apology in the middle of form letter verbiage. Put the two real sentences near the top and eliminate most of the canned wording and it would have been good – - PROVIDING that when the name and reservation info is given the next round is sincere with actions to back up the apology.

        (i.e. “we have changed our training and overbooking policies. We would like to demonstrate these improvements to you by offering a free weekend getaway, room and meals, Please call me personally to make the reservation.” )

  2. NeverLetMeDown2 says:

    The hotel screwed this one up, big-time. I understand that things happen, and the exact room booked isn’t always available, but there’s a BIG difference between “sorry, we don’t have the king you booked, only one with two doubles,” or even “really sorry, we don’t have a non-smoking room” and “we overbooked our handicapped-accessible rooms.”

    What the hotel should have done, in this situation, is “walked” (industry term for what a hotel does when it’s overbooked and transfers a customer to another hotel, not trying to be offensive) you to another nearby hotel with an appropriate room.

    So, OP, you’re in the right to be angry. What I would do now is call the manager, give him the information, and explain just how much of a problem this was. You should also request a portion of the room to be refunded (might start with a full refund, but I doubt you’ll get that). At the very least, it may make him read his staff the riot act about doing this in the future.

    As for future travel, don’t let this impede you. I would suggest, however, that you call the hotel directly ahead of your stay, so that they can put it in the record that you really _do_ need an ADA-compatible room.

  3. cameronl says:

    “Sent to the farm?” Isn’t that what we tell the kids when we put the dog down?

    This is NYC, baby. Them geese was WHACKED!

    /and it’s CANADA geese, not CANADIAN.

  4. Vermont2US says:

    The guy that refused to give up the ADA room was a total jerk. Probably took the handicapped parking spot as well.

    That said, Best Western should have comped them at least one night’s stay at another hotel in an ADA room – but if that wasn’t possible and they had any PR sense they’d comp them two or more free nights in the future at a BW of their choice with no exclusion dates.

    • cactus jack says:

      It all depends on how they asked the guest to be honest. “No” shouldn’t have been an option.

      “I’m sorry sir, but we made a mistake and a guest needs to have this room for their stay. We will be happy to help you move to a new room and comp your stay for the night.”

      VS

      “Sir, a guest needing a handicap access room has come in. Would you be willing to move to a new room?”

      • cyberpenguin says:

        How do you know he wasn’t disabled as well? Just because the staff didn’t think he looked disabled doesn’t mean he wasn’t.

        Should Best Western’s front desk clerks really be getting into the process of ranking disabilities?

        • cactus jack says:

          “The clerks then informed us that one of their regulars had reserved the ADA room and they were pretty sure he was NOT handicapped and that he just enjoyed the space that the ADA room provided.”

          Regulars talk to the front desk a lot more than new walk ins. I’m pretty sure they didn’t come up with this out of the blue.

        • Sudonum says:

          As someone who has worked in the hotel industry and built handicapped rooms I can tell you that regardless of what his disability is/was, unless he was wheelchair bound or hearing impaired there is nothing in an ADA room to accommodate him that isn’t in a standard room. And if he was either of these it would/should have been readily apparent to the front desk staff.

          • RandomLetters says:

            Real question, what about an ADA room makes it more accessable to someone with a hearing impairment? The phone maybe? Or something to do with the fire alarm?

            • AustinTXProgrammer says:

              Usually their is a button next to the door to flash a light, as they won’t hear knocks. Before you stated asked this I was going to reply to Sudonum with a +1.

              • Rexy does not like the new system says:

                This, plus an amplified phone, vibrating alarm, smoke detector with flasher, things like that.

              • Sudonum says:

                They’ve gotten away from the hardwired door knockers. There’s a unit that is portable that they can attach to the front door if necessary. The only piece of equipment to assist the hearing impaired that is not portable is the fire strobe. Also in most hotels built or renovated since the law took effect, the smoke detector in an ADA room has to be “addressable” meaning that when that detector is activated the main alarm panel has to identify it as that particular room number. Many older systems only identify a room as “8th floor west wing guest wing”, using only one “address” to identify multiple rooms as the source of the alarm. This was(is) mostly a function of lack of memory on older systems. But they can be very expensive to upgrade.

                • Sudonum says:

                  Oops, should be “8th floor west wing guest room” not “8th floor west wing guest wing”.

                • dangermike says:

                  Every time I’ve been in a hotel with a fire alarm going off, there is a strobe to accompany it, and I’ve never (as far as I know) stayed in a handicap room. It might make sense (might even be code) that all alarms include visual cues.

                  • Sudonum says:

                    Those strobes are in the hall ways and public areas, not standard guestrooms.

                    • dangermike says:

                      Well that was sure a well appointed hallway they had me in then. In retrospect, I guess that might explaint he strange looks I was getting in the shower.

            • Sudonum says:

              Fire strobe for hearing impaired as well as a special phone. A bright ass flashing light that can wake you from a dead sleep. Sometimes the phone is kept at the desk and provided only when asked for.

          • jsibelius says:

            Nothing? As in…no shower seat for a person who has a bad back?

            • Sudonum says:

              shower seats can be of the portable variety so they can sometimes be provided in a standard room by asking housekeeping. But really the only place shower seats are bolted to the wall is in a roll-in shower in an accessible room. There’s a lot of reinforcement in that wall to support the weight. The floors and walls of an ADA approved roll-in showers can be the most complicated part of the conversion.

              If your back isn’t so bad that you can walk then you can stand in the shower

          • bbb111 says:

            “…unless he was wheelchair bound or hearing impaired …”

            Not everyone who needs the ADA room has an apparent disability. A friend has old injuries that make bending over or walking more than a block very difficult. He needs the grab handles and extra space – however, if you watched him go from a car to the front desk and then to a nearby room (without steps in the path) you would never suspect.

            He usually carries a cane in case he unexpectedly needs to go a longer distance or kneel down to tie a shoe – or sudden leg weakness.

        • longfeltwant says:

          That is one of the facts presented in the article. None of us can know if it is true, but it is part of the circumstance we are commenting on.

        • conquestofbread says:

          Yes they should, in the event of an ambulatory person versus someone in a wheelchair, who literally can not get into the bathroom and move inside a regular room.

    • TheMansfieldMauler says:

      I bet they didn’t even ask, they just said he wouldn’t change rooms so they could pass off some of the blame.

      They would have had to clean the room again, and there might not have been anyone available to do so.

      • jenl1625 says:

        Or they “asked” with a statement like “another customer requested an ADA-compliant room, would you mind letting her have it” without spelling out that it was a truly disabled person who truly needed the ADA-compliant bathroom.

  5. hoi-polloi says:

    I hate the company jargon these days. What’s this “exceeding your expectations” bit? Best Western didn’t come close to meeting expectations, let alone exceeding them. I realize that there’s a wide gap between what hotels and car rental agencies define reservations and its common use, but you’d hope that an ADA room would be the exception here.

  6. Sorta Kinda Lucky Soul says:

    Wondering here, did she call the general manager back and further explain the problem? Complaining about it to us instead of to someone who could make a difference and resolve the issue to mutual satisfaction doesn’t make a lot of sense.

    • Bibliovore says:

      Actually, complaining to Consumerist can itself get results, as companies try to mitigate the bad publicity.

      • Sorta Kinda Lucky Soul says:

        Understood, but still why not follow up with the corporate suit first? If you get satisfaction, great, if not it just adds fuel to the “this company sucks” fire.

      • RandomLetters says:

        You’re exactly right. If you google “ADA room Best Western” this story is the top of the list. You can be sure that the top execs at Best Western don’t like that at all.

  7. cactus jack says:

    Absolutely disgusting but not out of the norm for Best Western. They should have comp’d her first day and made sure to get her into an ADA room the very next day by bribing anyone they could. It’s amazing what a free night can do in situations such as these and the lost revenue is easily made up by not having articles like these appear.

    I wonder if they’re complying with the amount of ADA rooms available?

    • dks64 says:

      A cleaning guy walked in on my ex and I having sex at Best Western. The manager was called immediately and he didn’t seem too phased by the incident. We were pissed (as you can imagine, although I laugh about it now). I think he offered to comp 1 night. I hope they retrained the employees to take notice of the “Do Not Disturb” signs.

      • NeverLetMeDown2 says:

        “I hope they retrained the employees to take notice of the “Do Not Disturb” signs.”

        After that, maybe they should retrain the guests on the use of the deadbolt and chain.

        • dks64 says:

          The deadbolt wasn’t done, but the chain was. The guy peaked in. The sign alone should have kept the cleaning crew out. Why give out the signs if they’re not going to follow them?

  8. jjq says:

    Last year on a trip I was given an accessible room, as the desk clerk said it was the only room they had left. I questioned the clerk about even taking it, if it might be needed later by a handicapped guest.
    Isnt there some sort of policy on these issues, as the situation obviously does come up. I find it hard to believe that the “regular guest” wouldnt give up the room, unless every room in the entire area was booked. [not the case here, as the hotel did have a regular room available]
    I feel sorry for Britt, and hope Best Western does step up.

    • Sudonum says:

      If a property only has one accessible room it is usually always “last sell”.

    • cheviot says:

      If it was the only available room, why would any guest arriving after you have gotten the room, handicapped or not. They did the right thing for you.

      • longfeltwant says:

        Totally agreed. A handicapped person doesn’t have a special right to rooms when none are available. I also feel this way with parking spots: I wish there were a way that if a lot is full, then any car could park in a handi spot; but, I can’t think of a way to manage that allowance without cheating.

        • brute413 says:

          Uh, I think you missed the part where they specifically reserved the ADA room a month in advance. So yes, do they have a special right to the room, it’s called a reservation. I didn’t realize hotels had the same problems with overbooking as airlines, but it looks like management didn’t want to tick off a regular, and just hoped for the best.

          • Chmeeee says:

            I think longfeltwant was responding to jjq’s situation, not the OP.

          • Bob says:

            If they didn’t want to tick off a regular then the Best Western staff should’ve tried to find another ADA room at a better hotel, change them the same price at the Best Western plus give them one day comp.

            At least this is what I would’ve done. Losing (not loosing) a few dollars should not be a big of a deal as the bad publicity.

        • Chmeeee says:

          That’s actually how handicapped boat docks work. They’re reserved until other docks fill up, then they’re open for all.

          I think in the case of parking, it’s much less common that spaces fill up, so they’re permanently reserved. You can usually also find a space in an adjacent lot or on the street if the parking doesn’t work out and then walk back. That logic doesn’t apply to hotel rooms and boat docks.

        • elangomatt says:

          Are parking lots ever actually THAT full to where there is literally no non-handicapped spots? It might be a half mile walk, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a lot where there aren’t some spots available at the very back.

          • jsibelius says:

            You don’t work where I work. Because yeah…full parking lots do happen, more frequently than you would imagine.

    • JJFIII says:

      No, if they gave you that room and had a RESERVATION for it, then it should be held, but to hold a room on the chance that a disabled person might possibly come in is foolish.

  9. ferozadh says:

    Palms were greased and the guy staying in that ADA room had some drug deal go down then partied with hookers supplied by the front desk guy. Allegedly.

  10. spartan says:

    I understand why the Consumerist has to redact the name of the hotel; but I wish they would at least let us know which state this happened in.

    Here in California, the Unruh Civil Rights Act protects against discrimination and considers the disabled a special class. If this occur ed in California she has the right to sue for $4,000.00 without having to prove actual damages.

    Sure a sincere apology would be great; but obviously that didn’t happen. Having the general manager explain to the owners why he wound up having to write a check for 4 grand is good too. It might even make the management think twice next time.

  11. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I’m sure the ADA would love to speak to this hotel.

    And God bless that boyfriend – a very difficult thing to put yourself into voluntarily.

  12. nopirates says:

    i have worked in this very area, the reservation and delivery if accessible hotel rooms

    it’s actually harder than you think

    as of march 15 of this year, the americans with disabilities act mandates that accessible rooms are able to be booked online and via the phone in the same manner as standard rooms. these rooms must be guaranteed to the person that books them.

    the problem is that hotels have to rely on the honesty of guests in booking these rooms. there is no way to verify that a person actually NEEDS the accessible room at time of booking. think about it: if you tell me that you need a wheelchair accessible room, how can i legally determine if you are telling the truth?

    where it appears best western screwed up, is in failure to deliver the GUARANTEED accessible room. this should never happen. in the chain that i did work for, accessible rooms are NEVER given away to anyone but the original person who reserved it.

    it is ABSOLUTELY a violation of the ADA to give away a guaranteed accessible room. this should not happen. the OP should file a claim against best western. sorry i can’t cite the actual ADA section, but i am confident that i am correct.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      She booked the room, and then it was given to a regular customer who just wanted a bigger room.

      In this case, the fault lies with BW, not any requirements of the ADA.

      • RedOryx says:

        Actually, reading the letter, it looks like both the OP and the regular reserved the room. Not that it was just given to the regular when he checked in. Still BW’s fault, as they shouldn’t have both been able to book the ADA room if the hotel only has one.

        • SBR249 says:

          In this case I would imagine that allowing overbooking is not actually against the law as this practice is standard for regular rooms also. IANAL, however, I think where the hotel is really at fault is not following standard practice when regular rooms are overbooked and sent the guest to another hotel for and pay for a comparable accessible room.

          • RedOryx says:

            Yes, I agree that the correct response at the time would have been to find them an acceptable room at a different hotel.

      • nopirates says:

        absolutely incorrect. ADA requires the hotel to guarantee the accessible room if it is reserved.

    • Bob says:

      Usually you have to file a complaint to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for relief. The DOJ does not play around. BW will at least be assessed a stiff fine if found guilty for the first offense.

      This is playing out at our local Louisana spicy chicken fast food franchised restaurant, which will remind unnamed pending the DOJ investigation, when the manager called the police to make someone with a service dog leave when a customer complained about the dog in the restaurant. The police sided with the manager believing only seeing-eye dogs have immunity. I don’t want to be the manager or owner of that restaurant nor be the cop in this story. The cop will probably be made to take a training class on the ADA as least and that will be on his file and the manager will probably not be manager of that restaurant for long.

  13. eldergias says:

    First thing I thought of when I read this is below. I have heard it enough times that if it ever comes up in my life for real, I can throw it at the fools I am dealing with:

    Agent: Unfortunately we ran out of cars.
    Jerry: But the reservation keeps the car here. That’s why you have the reservation.
    Agent: I know why we have reservations.
    Jerry: I don’t think you do. If you did, I’d have a car. See, you know how to take the reservation, you just don’t know how to hold the reservation and that’s really the most important part of the reservation, the holding. Anybody can just take them.

    • CurrentGeekSquadEmployee says:

      LOL, I was just posting the exact same thing…

    • Bob says:

      I know that at some car rental companies, especially the cheap ones, corporate REQUIRES overbooking of cars to assure maximum rentals. The reason they do this is if they have 300 economy cars and 300 reservations for economy cars and 15 cancel a reservation then they have 15 cars that are generating no revenue. Better to book 315 reservations to assure the minimum number of cars are sitting in the lot. This works since if 305 people show up for economy cares you can put 5 people in a compact car for the same price as long as compacts cars were less overbooked than economy. This is how cheap rental car companies stay in business, by having the highest proportion of cars rented out.

      What screws this up is when someone has to extend their contract. Then car X that was reserved doesn’t exist anymore for that day.

  14. CurrentGeekSquadEmployee says:

    Jerry -”I don’t understand, I made a reservation. Do you have my reservation?”

    Lady-”Yes we do. Unfortunately we ran out of cars.”

    Jerry-”But the reservation keeps the car here. That’s why you have the reservation.”

    Lady-”I KNOW why we have reservations.”

    Jerry-”I don’t think you do. If you did, I’d have a car. See, you know how to take the reservation, you just don’t know how to hold the reservation. And that’s really the most important part of the reservation, the holding. Anyone can just take them.”

  15. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    The Hotel violated the amended 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act. Hit them with that legality,

    When an ADA room is booked a hotel must remove it from its booking system and hold that specific room for the guest. When an ADA room is not reserved the hotel must keep it available as long as possible & until all other rooms are filled.

    http://www.eliotdalton.com/pdfs/ADA_Regulationsfor2012.pdf

    3. ENSURE THAT ACCESSIBLE GUEST ROOMS ARE HELD FOR USE BY
    GUESTS WITH DISABILITIES UNTIL ALL OTHER GUEST ROOMS OF THE
    SAME TYPE HAVE BEEN RENTED.

    4. ENSURE THAT REQUESTED ACCESSIBLE GUEST ROOMS OR SPECIFIC
    TYPES OF ROOMS ARE BLOCKED AND REMOVED FROM ALL
    RESERVATIONS SYSTEMS.

  16. RedOryx says:

    “When we arrived we were given a normal room and when we asked to be placed in an ADA room like we reserved they informed us that there were none available. The clerks then informed us that one of their regulars had reserved the ADA room and they were pretty sure he was NOT handicapped and that he just enjoyed the space that the ADA room provided. They said they would call to see if he would be willing to give up the room. He was not.”

    If I’m reading this correctly, it means that the hotel only has one ADA room, yes? And the regular reserved it, which means the whole reserving of the ADA room is done on the honor system then. I’m also curious how, if there is only one ADA room, how two people were able to book it. That seems a flaw in the reservation system.

    That being said, to play Devil’s Advocate, it’s entirely possible that the regular actually is handicapped. Just because it’s not super obvious to the staff members at the desk doesn’t mean he’s not handicapped and actually reserves that room for its intended purpose.

    • RandomLetters says:

      THe ADA room is basically a wheelchair accessable room. Wheelchairs are pretty obvious.

      • Sudonum says:

        They also have visual fire strobes for hearing impaired people. Other than the strobes and wheel chair accessibility, they’re pretty much the same as a standard room.

    • cactus jack says:

      Unless I am mistaken, 10% of the hotel needs to be ADA compliant. Never seen a Best Western with only 10 rooms.

      • RedOryx says:

        That’s possibly true, it was just this part I was latching onto: “The clerks then informed us that one of their regulars had reserved the ADA room ”

        Having the “the” there makes it seem like there is only one.

      • Sudonum says:

        The percentage is no where near that high, IIRC it’s 2%, the last buildouts I did were in 2005 and we were doing something like 24 rooms for a 1250 room hotel. And you must have at least one of each room type, including suites, studios, etc.

    • spartan says:

      I am disabled, and meet the ADA definition. I am also ambulatory and have no need for the wide bathroom doors, flat shower entrance, elevated toilets, and all the other ADA features that the OP certainly needed.

      If the motel has an elevator I am fine anywhere, although I prefer not to have to walk too far. If a small motel does not have an elevator, I need to be on the ground floor. I have made those requests and found myself given a generic handicapped room. And while I like that type of room; I certainly do not need it. If the person who was in the room, fits the same profile that I do, he was a jerk for not moving when asked.

    • StarKillerX says:

      Could it be that the person in the handicapped room had it booked for an earlier night and expended their stay?

      I’m not sure what any hotels procedure is if a guest wants to stay an extra day but the room is already booked. I mean do you say “No, get the hell out” and hope that the person who reserved it shows up or do you allow them to stay the extra day in the hope that if the other person shows up that a different room will be okay?

      • RedOryx says:

        That’s probably possible, too.

      • Sudonum says:

        In a case like this it would be to tell the guest that they can extend their stay, but they would have to room change a different room as they have the room they’re currently in booked for a handicapped guest. If they guest wants to stay he can move to a different room, if doesn’t want to move then he can check out. AND in this day and age with electronic keys it’s quite easy to enforce. When you initially check in your key is only good for your original dates. If you stay past check out time you can’t get back in. If you don’t leave the room that’s an entirely different scenario. I recommend the Marx Brothers movie Room Service for more information.

  17. Sarek says:

    We once reserved a regular room at a Hampton. When we arrived, they told us they had only 1 room available, a handicapped room. We thought it was odd, but took it. I presumed they left it open until the last minute, in case a disabled person came in.

    On another occasion, I got the last room available, which was a hospitality room. I guess they don’t have many people requesting one. Same standard room, except for the bank of fluorescent lights on the ceiling. I got up in the middle of the night and turned on the light without thinking. OMG!

  18. Pete the Geek says:

    I think an ADA suit would make the management of this Best Western property see the value in staff training. I’m puzzled by the manager’s question, “what name was the reservation made under?” in connection with trying to figure out who was booked into the accessible. If the OP has given him the date of her stay, the manager should know who was on duty and who stayed in the accessible room. Frankly, the crime here is that the OP booked an accessible room and it was not available, not that some “regular” took it. Even if another disabled person had rolled up to the desk as a “walk-in”, they still should not have been given the OP’s reserved accessible room.

    • cactus jack says:

      Her name might not have brought anything up in their system if her boyfriend reserved the room under his.

  19. navytac says:

    I could swear I read in an earlier Consumerist article a few weeks ago that people should try to ask for the corner or Accessible rooms to try to score a free space upgrade for the same price (and maybe get a free breakfast out of the deal if the answer is no.)

    I’d hate to think Consumerist now has us readers hosing each over other now. :(

  20. longfeltwant says:

    I’m not really clear on how hotel reservations work. If I call and reserve a non-smoking room, and you take my credit card information so that you can charge me if I don’t show up, then why the heck isn’t there a non-smoking room when I arrive? I’m reminded of that Seinfeld scene with the car rental. Yes, they know how to TAKE a reservation, they just don’t know how to HOLD a reservation.

    If this woman had a reservation for a handi room, and another person asked for the handi room (which is a reasonable request, because they are nicer), then the correct response is “sorry, that room is reserved”.

    Seriously, how hard is it to hold reservations? Can anyone from the industry say why it is so freaking hard?

    • RedOryx says:

      “The clerks then informed us that one of their regulars had reserved the ADA room”

      It doesn’t sound like the regular actually took the room or asked for it when he arrived, but that the room got overbooked.

      • cactus jack says:

        Or she got bumped for the regular.

        At this point I’m curious how the reservation was made. If it were over the phone and an ADA room was specified, BW screwed up big time. If it were through Expedia/Orbitz/Booking, I can almost understand not seeing the guest’s special needs comments as they don’t make it easy to notice on the fax they send. Either way, they screwed up.

        Unless things have changed since I worked there, BW’s computer system is set to assign reserved rooms during the audit shift (3rd) the night before. The auditor then assigns rooms by notes put into the system about wants/needs/etc and leaves comments if they are unable to do so. The rest can be assigned manually or auto-assigned. Honestly, their system looked much like my avatar. This was from around 4 years ago, so things may have changed. I was pretty shocked how terrible and old the program was.

        • oldwiz65 says:

          Good point – if you make a reservation via Expedia, Orbitz, or any of those sites, do not expect good treatment at the hotels. People who make reservations directly to the hotel or the hotels website always get the best treatment. The worst is the big discounters like hotels.com – you get the absolute worst treatment at any hotel, and often the worst room.

          • cactus jack says:

            Actually, unless they don’t give a shit about ratings, the opposite is true.

            Of course the hotel loses a good chunk of revenue (20-25%) by you booking on these sites, but hotels also realize you are an “online” guest and are more prone to bitch on TripAdvisor and/or whatever site you booked through.

          • Bob says:

            I was told by a manager/owner to use the Hotel search engines and the like to find a room and then call the hotel directly to negotiate a price. A $105 room on the web site magically becomes a $90 or $95 room.

    • lvdave says:

      I’m not in the industry, but its pretty obvious why its hard… MONEY TALKS.. MONEY TALKS LOUD…

    • cactus jack says:

      It’s not hard at all. Mistakes happen though and some just don’t care. On the plus side, most states have passed a smoking ban that includes hotels.

      We take measures to ensure we don’t overbook because we are small and can’t afford to walk anyone. The big brands out there though overbook like mad and use us as a safety net. It’s pretty nice for us as we are introduced to their clients (disgruntled at last place, open to new/better experience here) and the original hotel pays their bill.

    • oldwiz65 says:

      They overbook just like the airlines do; it’s nothing unusual for some of the more aggressive chains to do this quite often. On top of that they often argue about refunding your payment as well.

    • JJFIII says:

      It is hard because a portion of people cancel at the last minute. If you want BINDING hard and fast reservations with no opportunity for changes you wont be happy either. There is also a concept called hold overs. A hotel can not legally “evict” a paying guest. They can charge them, but can not physically remove them. They hold the room for you based on your credit card, but you have until a specific time to cancel or get charged for the day. Many people complain about that as well. Car rental agencies and restaurants have it much worse. People will reserve a car or table at multiple places and since there is no penalty for not cancelling, the business loses money.
      A business not being able to handle a reservation is not the problem, their reaction to it is. The GM should have made an offer to the guest when he received the letter, the front desk clerk should have “walked” them to a new hotel.
      As a side note, the way the law is currently written, any person can reserve a ADA room. I think if they reserve it, then once they arrive at the hotel, they must show that they meet standards for being allowed to have it. It is the same on airlines with the 50 year old who needs special assistance boarding the plane (so they get on first or get the best seat), but amazingly while flying they deplane in record time.

  21. Ilovegnomes says:

    I have a had a lot of experience with traveling, having my hotel room being given away, even though I made a reservation in advance or even paid in advance. Mostly my disputes happen over non-smoking rooms because I am not ADA but the explanation that I have received from a hotel chain could be applicable in this case.

    What has happened to me is that I arrive at a hotel with a non-smoking room reservation and I end up being assigned to a smoking room. I’m allergic, so I go back down to the desk and ask for my non-smoking room. They say it isn’t available. Then I point to my reservation and show that it specifies this date/room type, etc. The clerk then tells me that a guest who had my room, wanted to extend their stay, which then voids my reservation for room type because there is a law (I know this is applicable for California and I am not sure if this is applicable for other states) stating that they cannot kick the guest out if they wan to extend their stay, even if that decision is at the last minute and they do not have time to notify the next guest. What I then know to do (because a family member use to work as a hotel desk clerk) is to demand that they find me another hotel with a similar room type that is available and pay the difference for it. Because I bothered to make my reservation far in advance and I shouldn’t have to pay the last minute mark up that some hotels charge or even if that means upgrading me to an even nicer hotel because an equal room cannot be found due to all of this happening at the last minute). I usually have to fight and scream to get them to do the right thing (you would think that they would do this automatically but it rarely happens that way…), but eventually I get them to do this.

    I wonder if the same thing happened with the ADA room in this case. The “regular” got the room before the OP but then decided to stay longer. But instead of the hotel doing the right thing, which would have been finding another hotel with the room type that they need and paying the difference, they just stuck her in a regular room. So not cool.

    I’ve had these run ins with Best Western too. The hotel manager was less than helpful so I escalated to corporate. It is usually corporate who offers to comp a free night or give a refund for your stay if you complain. Or at least that is true in my case.

    • Bob says:

      BTW, the law you state does not supersede the ADA act. BW should’ve made an effort to find acceptable alternate lodging.

  22. oldwiz65 says:

    Hotels just want to keep regular travelers happy; they don’t care if a person needing an accessible room doesn’t get one. Really, the regular traveler is far far more important than a one time visitor. One should not reserve an accessible room and then expect to get one; all they really promise you is a room, not an accessible room; you have only requested an accessible room. I would have told them to find me another hotel and make sure I don’t have to pay for the other hotel. Don’t expect hotel staff to be helpful; most of them make little more than minimum wage and care little about guests.

    Hotels don’t even like having to have the accessible room or following ADA rules; it costs them money. The response from the hotel is typical of hotels that don’t really care – they will not actually do anything about it; it is easy to write a letter and promise to do something, it is another thing to actually do anything about it.

    Smart thing to do; don’t go back to the hotel or the chain for that matter and pass the word to any friends that need an accessible room – don’t go to Best Western, period.

  23. NanoDog says:

    exceed your expectations?… Wow Best Western, not even close
    Meet your expectations? … yeah, still a big miss…
    dash your expectations? BINGO!

  24. duncanblackthorne says:

    What a bunch of goddamned jerks. She should sue them for her trouble, and I don’t say things like that lightly.

  25. daemonaquila says:

    The response was absolutely inappropriate. I wish she had moved to another hotel that would’ve served her properly, then given Worst Western double barrels. There are reasons that hotels have special rooms for handicapped access – it’s so that people who actually are disabled can request them and have those requests honored. It’s not a whim, but a medical need. Shame on Worst Western for treating this like a complaint about the towels. I’d say I’d boycott them, but I can’t – I’ve been avoiding them for years because they just plain suck.

  26. elangomatt says:

    Wow, approaching 100 comments and I don’t see a single “Blame the OP”. I’m not sure how someone COULD blame the OP here, but some jerk usually manages to find a way.

  27. Joseph S Ragman says:

    That letter reads word-for-word like the response I received from the manager of the Best Western I stayed at in Manassas, VA over the Memorial Day holiday. The room I initally checked into smelled of mothballs and kerosene. The managar refunded one night of a three-night stay.

  28. Libertas1 says:

    Just an aside to Laura:

    *I* got the joke.

  29. hopeforhealing says:

    Several times I have seen the comment that a handicap accessible room is basicly for people who are wheelchair bound. This is a myth. Most people with disabilities who need an accessible room are not wheelchair bound. In fact, most people who are mobility impaired don’t use a wheelchair all of the time and many don’t use a wheelchair at all.

    There are invisible disabilities that are only recognizable through medical tests. One of those is Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. This condition can cause people to be bedridden or wheelchair bound, but most often, the less severe cases would be unnoticeable to the observer. These people’s legs function normally. It’s just that when they are upright, the blood pools in their feet and not enough gets to the brain. Actually walking is easier for these people than standing still. The blood does not pool as much while walking, so the heart rate does not go as high and dizziness takes longer to occur. Standing in a shower is particularly difficult, because the warm water causes the blood vessels to dilate and the blood pools more- this also occurs while sitting on a shower chair. A grab bar is necessary so a person who is dizzy can keep from falling down or out of the chair. This condition also worsens the longer a person is upright, even if the person is walking, by the way, so even walking down a long hallway could be extremely exhausting and cause symptoms that last for days.

    Another example, I know a man who does not use a wheelchair or a walker, but he needs a grab bar to be able to get in and out of the tub to take a shower because some of the muscles in his feet and legs have nerve damage and he can’t maintain his balance properly without the grab bar. He also needs it to have the grab bar at the toilet.

    We cannot tell by looking who is disabled and whether they “need” an accessible room or not. That being said, it does sound as though the regular may not have been disabled, and the clerk may have known this because the regular actually told sme who works there at some point in his many stays there.

    Basically what happened in this situation is breach of contract. When she reserved the room one month earlier, BW and the lady entered into a contract- she would pay a specific amount for the room for the specified nights, and BW would provide an accessible room. She kept her end of the contract, she showed up and paid the money. BW did not provide the specific room they said they would, but could have fulfilled their contract by either insisting that the able bodied person vacate the room, or, find an accessible room for the lady at another hotel and be sure that she would not pay any more than she would have paid at BW.

    The “apology” letter was pathetic, at best. It sounded as though BW really didn’t care a hoot about what they put this lady and her boyfriend through that week. Not only did they not provide an accessible room, they made the couple change rooms multiple times. To me. that is cruel. This kind of treatment is why so many people resort to lawsuits.