Friday, January 01, 2010

Worst hotel experience ever...and I didn't even get to the room.

So last week, Lagniappe and I decided to grab a hotel room in Daytona Beach, just to get a night out of the camper van.

Because the LaQuinta Inn and Suites at 816 North Atlantic advertised itself as pet-friendly, I pulled in there to ask about their room rate. The desk clerk, a little fellow from India or Pakistan, gave me a quote and I told him that I thought that it was a bit much and thanked him. As I turned to walk out, he shouted out that he'd reduce it by twenty dollars. I told him that that sounded ok and I asked about their pet policy. He said that there was an additional twenty-five dollar charge for dogs over fifty pounds. Well that killed it again, because Lagniappe is a solid hundred pounds, and I told the guy so. He thought for a second and said that for me, he'd waive the dog fee entirely.

Considering that the guest parking area was nearly empty, I could understand his willingness to do almost anything to get an actual paying customer to stay so I told him that I'd take the room at the quoted rate and with no dog fee. I gave him my credit card and other information and he gave me a room key and a pre-authorization for my credit card that specified the original rate, not the agreed-upon one. When I pointed that out, he smiled and said not to worry, the rate that he quoted me was the one that would be charged to my card in the morning.

Well I wasn't born yesterday, and somehow I doubted that this little fellow would be around in the morning when I checked out and got hit for the standard rate so I told him that I wanted something in writing, even if it was hand-written, spelling out what the rate would be. He wouldn't do it and kept trying to deflect my request, telling me that it'd all be charged correctly in the morning. Finally I told him that I wanted something in writing spelling out the rate before I'd leave the office. He stopped smiling and replied that if I was going to be a problem, he was going to charge me for the dog, too. Well that was it for me. I tossed him the room key and told him to just give me my paperwork containing my credit card information back. I was done dealing with him and wasn't staying here.

Now it escalated. He said that he was going to call the manager. I told him that I really didn't care who he called after I got my credit card information back but I wanted it back and I wanted it now. But the little weasel just grabbed the paperwork up off of his counter and ran back into a little alcove behind the desk, jabbering into the phone that he needed whoever he was talking to to come to the lobby quickly because "there's a guy here causing a problem!"

Now I hadn't so much as raised my voice, much less said or done anything that could even remotely cause alarm in a normal person, so his reaction wasn't warranted. His was the reaction of a cowardly man who knows that he's guilty of something and basically confirmed my suspicion that he had been trying to play shady with me and now he wanted back-up.

In less than a minute, another Indian/Pakistani fellow showed up, identified himself as the manager, and did his best to convince me that it was all a misunderstanding. But I'd already made up my mind to leave and I told him so, agian requesting my information back. He wanted to know why I wanted to leave and what he could do to change my mind, and I told him bluntly that I was offended by his clerk and that having caught his clerk acting in what I believed to be a dishonest manner, I did not trust his clerk to process my credit card nor did I want him to even have the card number.

At this point, the manager took the pre-authorization sheet and wrote "canceled" on it--without signing it--and told me that he was sorry and that I was all set. I told him that I wanted an actual printout of the cancelation and my credit card information back, and he told me that his writing "canceled" on the pre-authorization was sufficient. I told him that it was not at all sufficient, especially since he hadn't signed it, and I asked for his name. He told me that he was "Kirit". I asked for his last name and he said that I didn't need that because he was the manager. I asked him why he would not give me his last name and he repeated that I did not need it. He also refused to identify his clerk by name, telling me that I did not need to know that. Of course neither of them were wearing any sort of name tag. I let them know that I intended to send a complaint letter to LaQuinta's corporate offices and again demanded their names. This just caused them to launch into an animated discussion between themselves in whatever foreign language that both were fluent in, even though I was standing right there just across the counter. I told them to speak English since they were obviously talking about me, and Kirit turned to me and told me that they were having a private conversation so I needed to mind my own business.

Having had more than enough of these two cllowns, I told them that I was calling the police to report a theft of my credit card information. Kirit told me to go ahead and call them, acting as if he didn't care. but as soon as I flipped out my phone and began to dial, he stopped jabbering at his clerk, raised his hands, and told me "ok, ok...just stop." He then quickly ran through a proper cancellation like I'd asked for five minutes ago and handed it to me.

The fact that these two guys went to so much trouble to avoid running that cancellation tells me that had I left without getting it, I'd doubtless have found my card charged for a room in the next few days and been forced to go through the hassle of contesting it with my bank. They worked way too hard to try to convince me to just trust them and leave without getting this cancellation, and their refusal to even give me their names is pretty telling as well; honest businessmen don't fear letting customers know who they are but the dishonest crave anonymity.

I've since called back there and determined that the manager's name is Kirit Patel. Even to get that, I had to explain to whever answered the phone exactly why I wanted to know it before they'd tell me. Clearly the shadiness surrounding this hotel isn't just limited to Patel and one flunky--it's systemic.

So I'm posting this here to let people who might be in need of a hotel room in Daytona Beach, Florida know that they should avoid LaQuinta Inn and Suites at 816 North Atlantic Avenue like the plague. The management and staff are the farthest thing from professional or trustworthy and not at all people that I'd ever give a credit card to again. I half expect to see my card number traded in some Pakistani bazaar in the near future, and I can assure you all that if I start to see any unusual activity on that card, Lagniappe and I will be making another trip to Daytona Beach in short order.

The night did end well, however. We found the Super 8 motel at 2992 W International Speedway Blvd and it was cheaper, cleaner, and truly pet-friendly, even to big goofy lugs like Lagniappe. If I ever need a cheap dog-friendly room in Daytona Beach again, this place'll be my only choice.


  1. I'm hoping you reported this to "Corporate". There is no way any hotel chain would tolerate this kind of treatment toward its customers.

  2. You can almost guarantee that any Indian working in a hotel will be named Patel. It's very nearly a hotel stereotype.

    When I started hotel work, my first manager explained his policy on staying in hotels: If I go into the lobby and notice that the manager's name is Patel, or if I smell curry, I don't stay.

    By strange coincidence, my first hotel was a La Quinta. At that time (late 80's) La Quinta hired married couples as management teams, often letting them live in the hotel itself in a apartment arrangement. I lost that particular job (night clerk) after I shot a robber who jumped the counter and attacked me in the back room.

  3. I was gonna suggest a Super 8 but I see you found one. I stay at either a Motel 6 or a Super 8 when traveling as both are guaranteed pet-friendly motels that won't charge an extra pet fee. :)

    And I have never trusted any La Quinta. I have had some run-ins with a few the past, as well. Always throwing in extra hidden fees after they have already quoted me a price for the night.

  4. Way to go -- yeah, you were being jacked for sure.

    You can also refuse to pay that charge on your credit card when the bill comes in -- Call the credit card company right away and explain that you think a fraudulent charge has been or is about to be made, and that you are advising them and will not pay it. They will kick it back to the hotel and, if it happens enough, the owner will find out. (If the owner is in cahoots too, then at least you are off the hook.)

    In your situation and even with the proper cancellation, you might want to call the credit card company anyway. If they have your credit card number, they might still try something.

    Finally, don't condemn the chain for the crooks at one location. La Quinta is usually a pretty good brand.

  5. I work at La Quinta corporate and would like to forward your complaint to our guest assistance department if you have not done so already. Just email me at, and I will take care of it. Thank you, and I apologize for your frustration.

  6. Gllenda,

    I appreciate that. An e-mail has been sent to you and I llook forward to our future correspondence. Thank you for trying to make this right and making the effort to salvage your corporate name.

  7. Sounds like a good review for

  8. I think you handled that better than most people.

    I had a tiny little male Hindi Mictotel desk clerk some years ago try something similar. I just needed CHEAP, my a/c was out and I wanted a place to stay for the night until the repair guy got there in the morning (it was in the 90's). I prepaid the room through a travel company. When I got there, with my receipt showing the room was paid he asked for a credit card for "incidentals". I said "what incidentals could there be, you have no restaurant, no bar, no valet parking?". He insisted on my card. I made the mistake of giving it to him. He then says "our machine is broken, I must write down your number on a piece of paper", which he then began to do. I said "give me my card please, I will not be staying here". He did not, continued to write. I said, "give me my card NOW sir". He didn't pretending he didn't understand English. I''m 5 9. I outweighed him by a good 40 pounds of muscle (and some extra insulation for winter). I have red hair. My ethnic heritage is Viking/Irish. I took the pen from him and broke it in half with two fingers and gave him my "bad cop" look. I got my card back, And the piece of paper. I think he wet himself. I reported it to corporate.