Dear "Valued" Guest - Orlando, Florida

Trip Start Nov 01, 2012
Trip End Nov 28, 2012

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Flag of United States  , Florida
Monday, November 19, 2012

My letter to the General Manager of Crowne Plaza, Downtown Orlando, will be self-explanatory in terms of how I'm experiencing Orlando, Florida. Florida was one of those last minute destinations as it wasn't really a place I was that interested in coming to - except to visit The Kennedy Space Centre. I should've gone with my original gut feel on this one. Here's my letter:

Dear Mr Winjum

Since you obviously view your guests as 'valued', I feel it is important for me to bring to your attention that never before have I been treated with such disrespect and disdain as I have by two of your people on duty at the front desk today. I have travelled to the USA from South Africa and have been traveling from city to city since the beginning of November, starting in the west and making my way east. I have had nothing but praise for the people and the states and the cities that I have visited to date and have blogged & tweeted and face booked my endless WOW moments - that is until I arrived at your hotel. The two "gentle"men in question are Austin and Matt.

I did my booking on yesterday and was pleased to see I had secured a 4 star hotel - which I had selected based on the proximity to the Greyhound station. I had travelled overnight from Biloxi Mississippi and was quite excited to get my day started and to view what Orlando has to offer. I enquired from the front desk on my arrival as to the shuttle service which this hotel offers and was informed that the shuttle only runs downtown, was handed a pamphlet on downtown Orlando and was also told if I want to get anywhere else I need to catch a bus or get a taxi. I explained that I am visiting here from South Africa and that I am here for two days but all I was offered was the brochure on downtown Orlando. This was from a lady that was on duty at the time. I then came up to the room, opened your file and in there I see you have a list of Area Attractions and you refer your guests to the front desk - when I came downstairs I found the rack with all your pamphlets and took a few that were of interest to me. When I started phoning these various options, it started becoming clear to me that as a tourist, I was in completely the wrong area and should have rather been in the International Drive area. I did enquire from Matt at that point whether there was a possibility of transferring my booking to one of your sister hotels in this area. To which I was told "No, it can't be done." I then asked wether it would be possible for the shuttle to drop me off at the Sheraton 4 Points so that I could visit the Kennedy Space Centre tomorrow, and I was told "No, the shuttle doesn't go to International Drive". Why would it not if that is the area where the majority of the tourist attractions are in? I then established it was going to cost me approximately $35 to get picked up from this Crowne Plaza and to be dropped off at the Sheraton for me to be able to join the tour to the space centre. I honestly can not afford that as I am working to a strict budget with an exchange rate of R8.60 to $1. I was told I could catch a bus which would cost about $2 but it would take at least an hour. The tour leaves at 7:30am? So that clearly couldn't work. I am now stuck here having been given no guidance or assistance at all knowing I can't get to the tourist area and I can't fulfil my dream of seeing the Kennedy Space Centre. I have a train ticket booked on Wednesday to Washington and rather than sit in the hotel for 2 days, a better option would've been for me to leave tomorrow. Amtrak were able to change my booking so I enquired from Matt and Austin whether I could be reimbursed for the one night. Austin said he could not authorize this as I had done the booking through but if they were willing to reimburse me, then it shouldn't be a problem. I would've been even happier to move this booking to Washington's Crowne Plaza, but again I was told, it can't be done. I then came back upstairs and made contact with who did say that based on the rates, there is a non-refundable policy but if the Crowne Plaza were willing to accept it and authorize it, then they would make contact with them to get this Authorisation and do it. So I went back downstairs to make telephonic contact again with Hotwire in the presence of Austin and Matt and told them what the lady from Hotwire had said and told then that she would now call them directly. I was put on hold at which point Matt went over to assist another customer and Austin disappeared behind closed doors. I heard the phone ring for a long time and it went unanswered. This happened twice. Eventually the lady from Hotwire came back on the line to say she had tried but no one was answering. Since Austin was behind closed doors, I turned to Matt apologetically informing him that they were trying to get through but no one was answering. His response at this point: "Do you mind! Can't you see I'm busy with a customer!" "And Austin is looking into it" I apologised to the customer and asked Matt to please let Austin know to answer the phone. He again spoke to me in a very bad way, shot up, stormed into the back office and closed the door. All this while I am holding on my cellphone for the lady from Hotwire to come back to me once she had spoken with Austin. She eventually did come back to me and confirmed there was nothing she could do because Austin had said they were not prepared to reimburse me for the room. And neither Matt nor Austin had the decency to come out of that office to speak to me even after making me go backwards and forwards to Hotwire.

I am in the service industry in South Africa and Im employed in a senior management position for a large JSE listed company and treatment of customers such as I experienced today would not be tolerated. I have no other choice now but to sit in Downtown Orlando, for 2 nights and 2 days after having been treated so badly when all I want to do is get out of this city and out of this State. This experience has really put a big dampener on my travels thus far and I certainly would never recommend Orlando or the Crowne Plaza to anyone. Honestly, having two people like that on your front desk is shocking.

I am not expecting you to do anything regarding this situation but since you invite feedback - from your valued guests, you now have mine.

Yours sincerely

Lesley Rose
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