In a kind of cooling off period for customer service complaints, I've waited a week to send this. I didn't want to fire off some kind of irrational screed about something that maybe isn't a big deal. Instead, everyone I ask tells me it's a big deal, probably because it's a broader reminder for the service industry in general.
This particular incident didn't leave me stranded anywhere, none of my possessions were stolen, and I pretty much have my integrity intact. As a matter of fact, the Strater Hotel doesn't even know what they did. And that's the problem. They don't know because they never cared to listen.
I had rented a room for my friend's mom at the Strater. I was excited about this. I wasn't excited because I was renting a room, and I wasn't exactly giddy because I was paying 200+ dollars for a place where I wasn't going to stay. I was excited because I was going to do something cool for a woman who was my second mom. She was that mom--you all know this mom--who was the town's mom. Kids streamed through her house, ate her food and trampled her privacy, so I was thrilled to do something nice for her. And I know the Strater because I've used it before as a cool place to send people in lovely downtown Durango. It's usually a great gift.
That's what I told the Strater Hotel when I booked it just after noon on Thursday, September 24, 2015. I gave them my credit card and explained that I was going to pay for the room. I even told them to call me if there were any problems. I stressed, in the way that even kind of annoyed me, the importance of my paying for the room and not the guest.
Because, again, that's the whole point of doing it.
A day after the stay my friend texted me to say that she hoped I didn't get double billed because the Strater had charged her mom for everything. I had to pull over to do some emotional grappling before calling the hotel.
Granted, Kevin, who I initially spoke to at the Strater, isn't feeling what I'm feeling. He isn't angry like I am because he has other things going on. He's trying to get through his day and, if Durango wages are the same as when I lived there, I can understand why he might have been drifting into space as I drawled on about my claim. He said it seemed there was a mix up and sent me to Alicia.
Alicia explained what Kevin had explained in that I had needed a card authorized to pay for the room. I told her that I gave them a card authorized to pay for the room. I even had an email saying that the hotel was authorized to charge my card. And I explained that the whole reason that I bought the room wasn't really about the room, about some single occupancy in the mountains, but about doing something nice for a woman who used to work nights at the Mini Mart after a long day as a social worker so she could keep the heat on for the wayward juveniles of Walden. The very last thing I wanted was for her to be accosted with a bill for a room she would have never rented in the first place. But not only was she asked to pay, she also found out how much the room cost. Those are the only two things I wanted to avoid to make her trip (one she'd made to comfort a friend who'd just lost a relative) as freakin' breezy and enjoyable as possible.
Now to be fair to Alicia, she didn't know all of this. She's not supposed to know. But she needs to know to find out.
I got to the part where I reminded her that they had my card and they should have charged it because I'd explained that's everything in all of the great universe that I had wanted to happen. That's when she cut me off and told me to give her my credit card number again. That lead to the most painful part about this interaction. After I gave her my card she said--as if she put a band aid on a child-- "There, it's all fixed."
In one tiny declaration she managed to make me the kind of angry that has to be escorted out of the room. I wanted to say something but all of the words jammed to the front of my face, and I knew that whatever was going to fly out first wasn't good. So I said goodbye and wondered if I should be as ticked as I felt.
Things get overlooked. It's the nature of our busy lives, but those things can be remedied if you take time to listen and observe. I wasn't asking for anything in return, except some acknowledgement that they understood my argument and that, despite being the potential nut pulled over on a busy section of urban interstate, I wasn't crazy.
The irony is that I chose the Strater because I wanted a great person to enjoy the customer experience of nice hotel. I'm sure she did. From experience, I know she's able to tolerate all kinds of surprises. I was just hoping this one would be a more positive one.