I want to tell you all about my experience with the Comfort Suites during the Pinfest weekend this year. I've been putting off telling you about this until I was sure there would be no resolution. Unfortunately, the time has come.
I’m not posting this to be vindictive or dramatic; it’s my intention to simply warn future Pinside attendees of the deplorable customer service at the Comfort Suites. If Ivan is reading this, perhaps he could also take it into consideration when making accommodation arrangements for future Pinfests.
Let me begin by saying that Pinfest is one of the highlights of my year. This was my 10th time in attendance, I believe, and it’s safe to say that this year was the biggest and best event yet. Ivan and his team should be very proud.
I'm sorry this is so ridiculously long. Please bear with me. For the executive summary of what I'm about to say, scroll down.
Anyway, I am the organizer of a large group of individuals who have stayed at the Comfort Suites for several years for Pinfest. This year, there were 21 people in my party and we had booked 11 rooms, nine of which were for three nights, one of which was booked for two nights and one for one night.
Some of us checked in around 4:30pm on Thursday, May 4, but the remainder checked in a little later, around 6:30pm. Among those that checked in at 6:30, at least four separate rooms were already occupied by other people. That is, we were issued key cards for rooms that had already been assigned. We entered the rooms and once we found them to be occupied, we returned to the front desk to get assigned new rooms. Eventually, this confusion was sorted out and we were assigned to rooms that were actually vacant.
Shortly thereafter, one of the individuals in our party had someone enter their locked room while they were there. Clearly the people working the front desk didn’t quite have their stuff together.
Another individual in our party, Rick, was assigned to room 411. He left his stuff in the room and the group went out for dinner. When we returned around 11:30pm, Rick found people in his room with his things. He was told that the room wasn't his and that his bag and phone were not there. He could see them from the door and asked to have them returned by the occupants. When he was ultimately given his things, he went to the front desk where he was reassigned to room 402. He then counted his money, which was in his bag, and found it to be short $500. We brought this to the attention of the front desk employee (the same one who made a complete mess of the check-in process) who took it upon herself to call room 411 and tell the occupants that we believed they had stolen money from Rick’s bag. Naturally, they denied it, so the front desk person suggested we speak to the general manger in the morning.
On Friday morning we spoke to the GM and assistant manager who told us that they would speak to "corporate" about what should be done in order to rectify all of these issues. Rick and I suggested that providing Rick with his three night stay free of charge would go a long way to making up for the previous night's bungling. The GM also suggested that we call the police, but our large group, which had come a long way for Pinfest, was heading to the convention and we knew that involving the police in this situation would take a long time and was not likely to provide a resolution in a timely manner. What I'm trying to say is, we didn't want to ruin our day (and the whole reason we were in town) with pointless delays, especially considering this was all the result of the hotel's screw up.
The GM told the assistant manager to contact me with a potential resolution as soon as possible.
At 1:16pm on Friday, May 5, I received a call from the hotel telling me that room 402 (Rick's room) was supposed to be vacant as it had only been booked for one night, but his things were still in the room. I explained that Rick's room was definitely booked for three nights and requested that his things be left where they were! I immediately contacted my friend Tom, the individual who had booked his stay for one night only, and asked if he had checked out. He told me that he had, indeed, checked out of his room (#232) and that it was most definitely vacant. I then called the hotel and explained to the front desk person that Tom was in room #232 and had definitely checked out.
I never heard from the assistant manager on Friday at all.
Upon returning to the hotel on Friday evening, I spoke to the front desk person who assured me that the assistant manager would call me as soon as possible.
On Saturday morning, before heading out for the day, i spoke to the front desk person and explained the situation. She told me that she would have the assistant manager call me, but she did not call me on Saturday.
On Sunday morning, upon check out, I spoke to the front desk person and explained the situation. She PROMISED me that she would pass my message onto the assistant manager and would DEFINITELY call me no later than 3pm on Sunday to tell me when I could expect to hear from the assistant manager. I did not hear from anybody.
I would like to point out that throughout every interaction with hotel staff, myself and the people in my group remained polite, reasonable and calm. We laid out our expectations clearly and were let down at every turn.
So, needless to say, the experience at the Comfort Suites was a complete disaster. There was no attempt to rectify the debacle of the mis-assigned rooms or the fact that one of the people in our group had money stolen by individuals in his locked room while he was away.
At the time, we felt that the response from the management team was completely non-existent. To date, I feel that the response has not only been poor, it has been downright deplorable.
Upon returning home, following a very tumultuous weekend at the hands of the Comfort Suites, I contacted the Choice Hotels corporate Head Office who ultimately launched their own investigation and placed the onus on the General Manager to resolve the situation. Head Office said that I would receive a response to my formal complaint by the hotel by Friday, May 12. Not surprisingly, I did not receive any response from anyone at the hotel. During this time, Rick contacted the police in Allentown to file an official complaint with them. But, really, what are they gonna do?
Finally, feeling frustrated, I called Head Office again on Monday, May 15. Ultimately, they put me in direct contact with the General Manager, which is the first time we spoke since May 5th. On the phone, the GM told me that we should contact the police, which I told him we had done. He went on to say that he was essentially unwilling to take any action to resolve our complaints and make things right. Towards the end of our conversation, he said that he would be willing to compensate Rick for one night if he were to provide his credit card information.
Which brings me to my next complaint. Upon speaking with Tom (the individual who had stayed at the hotel for only one night), I learned that HE had been charged for three nights instead of one. Additionally, he had spoken to the GM about it, but he refused to believe that he was in room 232 and not in room 402, which was Rick's room. Rather than refund the two night's charges, the GM instead told Tom that he will only do so if Rick pays for those nights. This is completely baffling.
- The front desk staff checked us into rooms that were already occupied.
- Once we were checked into unoccupied rooms, the front desk staff assigned at least two of our rooms to other people. The people who were assigned Rick's room remained in the room with his things in spite of the fact that it was clearly occupied already. As a result, Rick has lost $500.
- The GM’s response to our concerns and complaints has been defensive and excuse-laden. For over two weeks, no effort to resolve the issues has been undertaken by anyone at the hotel.
- Our very reasonable requests for a simple resolution (one room for three nights complementary) were met with disdain.
- The front desk staff assigned Tom's credit card to Rick's room mistakenly. This is likely because of the musical rooms we played on Thursday night. Tom stayed for one night only in room #232, NOT in room #402. The hotel refuses to credit Tom these additional charges. He has now filed a claim with Visa directly.
- I sent a very detailed and lengthy email to the GM on Wednesday (May 17th) but did not receive any reply. Today I called to see if it was his intention to address my concerns in any way. All he would do is say “This case is closed. Thank you very much,” over and over. I’m not sure how he can consider the case closed when he hasn’t done anything AT ALL about my complaints.
All of these things came about as a result of mistakes made by hotel staff and not through any of our own actions. I would think that in the hospitality industry, errors of this magnitude would be the type of thing a hotel would prefer to nip in the bud. Instead, the hotel has chosen to drag this issue out as long as possible in hopes that it will go away.
The Comfort Suites has always been a pleasant place to stay in years past, but this time customer service seemed to have vanished. I know that my group was not the only one affected by issues at this hotel. Our experience there put a very serious downer on what should have been a relaxing weekend. Instead it made me very anxious about the security of our possessions and, indeed, our safety. The credit card issues merely highlight the incompetence of the staff and the response to my concerns has been unbelievably poor.
All told, my group spent at least $3,420 at the hotel. We asked for merely a fraction of that (about 10%) in compensation for the debacle that was our stay that weekend.
If you are reading this in the future and are thinking about staying at a hotel in Allentown, do yourself a favour and avoid the Comfort Suites. They will assign you to rooms that are already occupied, give your room keys away happily to other people, put your safety and the security of your belongings at risk, screw up your billing and credit card information and will refuse to do anything to resolve any of the issues you encounter there.
If you don't want to take my word for it, there were a large number of long-time pinsiders who can vouch for everything I've stated here, for what it's worth.
Thanks again to Ivan for hosting a wonderful event. Please reconsider partnering with the Comfort Suites in the future. After this year, I can tell you with certainty that nobody I know personally will ever stay at that hotel ever again.
Thanks for reading.