On a road-trip from Dallas to Los Angeles I stopped for the night (after a 13 hour drive) in Gallup, New Mexico.
The *&$# *&! certainly didn’t look like the nicest motel on the street; actually, it looked pretty run down, but I was exhausted from the drive and just needed a bed to lay my weary head. And besides, the sign said $39.00 for a single — my kind of price.
I parked, then went into the lobby to get a room. The lady behind the counter seemed nice enough, but informed me the room was no longer $39.00, but now $49.00 for a single (they forgot to change the sign). How convenient. But I was too tired to argue about “bait & switch” false advertising, so I took the room.
I lugged my suitcases and cooler up to the second floor, opened the door, and ick! The room was not the best I’d ever stayed in (not even in the top 50); the walls looked dirty, the carpet looked like it had never been steam-cleaned, and the air smelled moldy. Okay, moldy is not quite accurate. Let’s just say the air smelled “musty.” No, worse than that — it actually smelled like the previous occupants hadn’t washed their crevices in quite some time. Gross. But I was too worn out to care. Besides, what’d I expect for $39.00? Uh, I mean… $49.00 (plus tax).
As I unloaded my cooler into the tiny refrigerator, I realized that I hadn’t eaten in many hours, and tired or not, I needed to get something into my stomach. I locked the smelly room, drove to a local fast-food joint a few blocks away, ordered some food, and came back to the motel room to snarf down a quick meal (if you can call it that).
After filling my gullet, I got ready to take a shower. The bathroom had a couple rust stains on the floor and a shoddily repaired hole in the shower stall. At least the water was warm. I got out of the shower, grabbed the cheap, not-so-soft, extremely thin towel and began to dry off. Just as I was about half-way finished I noticed the towel had a big brown stain on it. Ewww. Yeah, I’m not going to say what I think stain was from. We can already assume it without stating the obvious. I threw the towel on the floor, grabbed the second towel and found what looked like purple nail-polish stains on it. I didn’t have much choice, and purple stains seemed a better bet than an unknown brown stain. I finished drying off, put my boxers on, and went to go to bed.
I pulled the sheets back and found, not only a few dime-sized red stains in the middle of the bed (can you guess what I thought that was?), but also a few long black hairs scattered across the sheets — which we all know are not mine because, I’m bald — still very handsome, but quite bald. And even when I did have hair, it was blonde. Road-weary or not, I was not sleeping on those dirty sheets.
I called the front desk to complain and then asked for room service to replace the bedding. The lady apologized, told me there was no room service at this hour, and offered to put me in another room. I took her up on the offer, packed up my suitcase, unloaded the refrigerator back into my cooler, went and got the new key, did a quick once over of the new room, and then hauled my belongings into it to start all over again.
I unpacked my toiletries, and once again I emptied my cooler into the refrigerator, then got into my boxers, and prepared to collapse into bed. I pulled back the sheets, crawled between them, and the first thing I saw was a dead flea, and then another. I jumped out of bed and pulled the sheets loose to see what else I could find… And find I did; seeing what looked to be a dead cockroach entombed beneath the sheets. That was it! Exhausted or not, I was not staying at this dump another moment.
I got dressed, repacked my cooler, toiletries, and belongings, and then schlepped it back downstairs. After loading it all into my car, I went back to the office so I could complain about the room, check-out, get my money back and then go find a clean motel to rest my sleepy head.
I told the lady I wasn’t happy, that I was checking out and wanted a refund on my credit card because I was certainly not going to sleep in this dirty motel with stray hairs, dead bugs, and stained sheets (stained towels, stained walls, and stained carpets). Not knowing what to do, she feigned ignorance and called the manager on the phone. She explained the situation to him, said “uh-huh” a lot, then hung up and proceeded to tell me that she needed to examine the room(s). By all means, please do.
Like a scene out of an un-funny comedy, I followed the lady back to the rooms where she examined my grievances.
In the second room I had, she didn’t find the dead fleas, but she did find and examine the dead cockroach — picking it up, looking closely at it, and then proclaiming it wasn’t a cockroach. I told her that I didn’t care what it actually was, it was a dead bug and I was still checking out. We then made our way to the first room that I had tried to get some rest in.
In this room the lady saw the red stains on the sheets and defended it by stating that it was a “Previous” stain from another guest.
I said “No kidding!”
She then asked about the hairs. I looked and they were gone. I don’t know where they went. Maybe the dead cockroaches weaved them into a sweater or something.
I went to the bathroom, grabbed the stained towels, and handed them to the lady. The first thing she said was “These are wet.”
“I know, I took a shower.”
“You took a shower and dried off with stained towels?”
“I didn’t know they were stained until I started drying off.”
She looked at me like I was the crazy one and then said “I really don’t see anything wrong with these rooms.”
“Whether you do or not, I’m still checking out, and I want a refund.”
Without another word, she left the room, and headed back to the office to report her findings to the manager. She told him the dead insect was not a cockroach, and that she only found a few “Previous” stains on the sheets and towels. She then did a few more “uh-huhs,” hung up the phone, and told me they would not refund me.
I asked her if she was serious. She stated there was nothing wrong with the rooms and then again repeated they would not refund my credit card.
“Excuse me?” I said with an incredulous stare.
She then gave me the excuse that it was because I had been in the rooms for more than twenty minutes.
“Wait, what?” I explained to her that I wasn’t in the rooms for more that twenty minutes because I had gone and gotten something to eat… and the rest of the time I was busy moving, unpacking, packing, moving, unpacking, and packing my belongings between the filthy rooms and my car.
She didn’t mean it, but she said “I’m sorry.” And then quickly followed it up with, “But I’m not giving you a refund.” She meant that part.
I told her this whole situation was ridiculous, that I’d be writing a bad review about this fiasco, that I’d be calling the Better Business Bureau, and that I’d also be contacting the *&$# *&! corporate headquarters to complain; not only about the cruddy motel, but also about the way I’ve been treated.
She simply shrugged, and motioned to the door.
Without another word from either of us, I left the dingy, bug-infested motel.
On the other side of town I found a very clean motel for three times the price. But it was nice, with a friendly, professional staff, and I was finally able to get some much-needed sleep.
Update: The corporate headquarters for *&$# *&! said that it was an independently owned and operated franchise and they would look into the situation, but it was up to the motel itself to issue a refund. Lot of help they were.
But the good news is that my credit card company refused to pay the bill and refunded my account.
Second Update: On a recent trip through Gallup, I noticed the *&$# *&! had been freshly renovated under a different franchised name and had a big sign stating “Under New Management.”
Great, but I still didn’t stop there for the night.