When Cheaper isn’t Better – The Worth of My Emotional Health
Chicago was amazing but my hotel was terrible. And that’s an understatement. As stated in a previous blog, I use booking.com to make most of my reservations. I found the Pittsfield Apartment and Suites about a month and a half before the trip. The location was perfect for a first time tourist of the windy city. It was also cheaper than the other two hotels I was looking at. I should have stuck to the original reservation, however. The complete lack of hospitality and customer service at The Pittsfield just was not worth the amount I saved. Better yet, let’s just call it “The Pits” because that’s exactly what it was. I know, I know, corny, but accurate.
First of all, check-in wasn’t even until 4:00pm. I was attending the Dead and Company concert at Wrigley Field that night at 6:30. We were, thankfully, able to check our bags while traipsing around the city for a couple hours prior to checking in. When 4:00 rolled around, the lady taking all of my information at the front desk was “new,” so she kept repeating.
“No worries,” I politely retorted every time.
The room was paid in full a couple of weeks prior to the trip. When she asked me for a credit card, I handed her my debit card. She stated, “This is a debit card.” I had to explain to her that the card I had made the reservation under was also a debit card and I’d already paid. The card I presented to her was a different number, but linked to the same account as I had unfortunately misplaced my old card days before the trip. I didn’t see the issue when my room was already paid for and I figured it was for “incidentals,” as most places I have stayed in the past put a hold on your card at check-in. None of this, however, was verbalized by the “new girl.”
Upon entering the room, it looked nothing like it did in the pictures. Fine, whatever, I thought. I’m not in Chicago to hang out in my hotel room anyway. The bed was comfortable, the interior architecture was beautiful, and the security personnel were incredibly friendly. Those are the nicest things I can state about “The Pits.”
There was a knock on my door as I was rushing to get ready because I wanted to take the “L” to Wrigley Field. It was the “new girl” asking me to come back downstairs with my ID and credit card because she had “messed something up.” I wasn’t thinking anything of it when I told her to give me five minutes as I was on my way out.
I grabbed my cell phone as I was exiting the room. A notification from my bank popped up on the screen, stating that my account had been overdrawn. Immediately, I knew they’d charged my card for the room – again. I remained calm and collected as I approached the front desk. This time, it was the “new girl” and her supervisor. Steadily, but firmly, I asked the supervisor why I’ve been charged again for my room.
She proceeded to tell me that she refunded the card I had booked with and charged the new card I presented at check-in followed by the redundant claim that it’s their policy the card at check-in match the card presented upon arrival. I retort, telling her that it’s the same account and that it was wrong of her to do so without my authorization. She repeated, “You don’t understand. You don’t understand,” more times than I can count.
At this point, I grew extremely irritated, as there was no apology, no remorse, absolutely nothing. She kept telling me that I’d need to contact my bank. I told her that I already paid for the room and that it was not her place to make that call of refunding my account and then charging it again. I informed her that she overdrew my account in doing so because the refund would take three to four business days to reflect. Not to mention, it was a holiday! Again, she repeated that I’d need to contact my bank because there was nothing she could do.
She then asked to see my credit card again to make a copy. I refused telling her I already gave the woman next to her my credit card and that I didn’t feel comfortable giving her any of my information at that point. She told me she would have to lock me out of my room if I didn’t. I was aghast. I threw my card on the table in front of her and asked to have a copy of the supposed refund she made to my account. She replied, “I can’t print that for you.”
Is this bitch for real? That was the thought that kept going through my head. This woman even had the nerve to try and blame the “new girl.”
“It’s her first day,” she stated, to which I replied, “This is not her fault. You’re her supervisor. You should have been here or you should have come and gotten me before you decided to charge my card again!”
“Is this bitch for real?”
My voice grew louder as I explained to her that I was on vacation and because of her, I was now completely wiped out of funds for the remainder of said vacation. She looked at me dumbfounded, shaking her head, and repeating that there was nothing she could do. I was so angry by the time I got my card back that I stormed out before I was arrested for assault on my trip to Chicago. I wanted to reach over the table and smack her for her complete lack of customer service and empathy.
Emotional Health is Priceless
To make matters worse, I was late to my concert. I also had to spend the money to Uber there because there was no time to take the train. My anxiety was through the roof and I was extremely angry. The anxiety and anger wore off by the end of the show with the help of a lil’ friend named Cabernet. And thankfully, I did have some cash and a travel companion who was able to pay both of our ways for the next few days.
I tried calling the management company, SP Suites, a couple of days after the incident. I left a message and never received a reply. Finding them on Facebook, I reached out, and never received a reply. After leaving an honest and thorough review of their property on Booking.com, there are crickets thus far.
The refund showed up my last day in Chicago and my bank didn’t charge any overdraft fees, gratefully. Knowing what I know now and going through that hassle encourages me to spend the extra money it would have cost to stay in a nicer hotel. My purpose in writing all of this is to encourage you to do the same. If an accommodation gets a low rating on Google and/or Yelp, one can probably trust the negative reviews. Most times, our sanity and emotional health is worth the extra couple of hundred dollars.