Redd (reddragonfire) wrote in bad_service,

Hotel Valencia Santana Row

I've never been treated this badly at a hotel.  Yelp reviews can be overblown, so let me preface this.  I'm a married mid-30s professional, responsible, polite and articulate, as are my wife and our friend.

We made the mistake of showing up at the hotel with two bottles of wine (and three responsible adults).  They were gifts from our friend's father, who invited us to a Christmas Eve party.

We checked in at the desk, and were accosted by security staff on the way to our room.  Apparently, the Valencia has a "no outside alcohol" policy.  It wasn't clearly disclosed on the website, or through where we booked.

While somewhat ridiculous in and of itself, this isn't my issue.

We checked in at the front desk, carrying overnight bags, a big box of christmas gifts and a couple bottles of wine in a grocery bag.  The security guard present watched us check in, and then waited for us to sign all of the paperwork and walk to the elevator before physically blocking our access to the elevator.  He then questions us police-style, accusing us -- rather than politely informing us of the policy and offering to assist -- of having alcohol on us.  This was one of those clear cases of "petty little man with an ounce of power".  He was condescending and rude, and actively escalating what would have otherwise been a complete non-issue (I had no problem with ordering some drinks from room service).  He made sure to point out that the policy was in the contract that he watched us sign (you know, before saying anything to us).

After a brief conversation, we physically offered him the bag of wine.  He threw up his hands, refusing to take it.  He pointed at the counter and informed us that we needed to get back in line and check the items.  We were annoyed (justifiably), but we're nice people, and remained reasonably polite.

This is all going on while we're jugging the big box of christmas presents, bags, etc. The front desk clerk is clearly doing his best to ignore the situation, and there are a couple people in line to check in.

The situation is getting tense (again, the security guard is the one escalating things).  I ask our friend if he wants to stay downstairs while we drop our stuff off, and I'll walk back out to the car with him (we weren't really convinced we'd get the wine back, and wanted the option of taking it elsewhere -- we had already made plans to meet up with his sister and her friend for a drink at our hotel, thinking it would be more pleasant than the Marriott she was staying at).  

Our friend sits down on the couch with the wine, and says to us that he feels like he's in junior high school.  He's annoyed at the situation and the policy, which is totally reasonable.  

The security guard stands over him and demands the he explain himself.  Seriously.  This guy is clearly itching to hurt someone, and trying to provoke us into giving him any minuscule justification.  We're all intimidated and extremely wary at this point.  Aren't we supposed to be guests here?  WTF.

I try to diffuse the situation, and say to the guy "Hey, how about we leave our friend and the wine in the lobby while we drop our shit off upstairs, and we'll come right back and walk it out to the car?".  He gets in my face and is like "Shit?  Excuuuuse me?".  I'm blown away.  He's pretending to be offended and looking for an opportunity to mess with us.

We run upstairs (I was a little queasy about leaving our friend at this point), toss our stuff in the room and run back.  This takes maybe a minute or two.  At this point, there are three security guards upstairs, the guard is standing over our friend -- who's still just sitting on the couch in the lobby.  

We grab our friend, who wants to know the guard's name.  When he asks, the two other security guards (one of whom was older, and appeared to be the superior) start moving around behind him.  There's a lot of non-verbal intimidation going on here, and these guys all have each other's backs.  The security guard refuses to give his name -- "You can call me Mister Security Man", and instructs our friend to address any complaints to the front desk.

We left our stuff in the room and spent the night elsewhere, coming back in the morning to pick up our things. On the way out, we spoke to the woman at the front desk who was apologetic and gave us the general managers direct line. We started calling for a refund on Christmas day, and while they were helpful and eager to make the situation right, the hotel itself kept giving them the run around. A manager needed to be in to approve the refund on the hotels end, we were told no manager would be available until the 26th. Alright, that's fine. It's a holiday, after all. We call back on the 26th and there is still no manager available, but we're promised that one will be in on the 27th at 9am. 9am on the 27th and there's still no manager available. After going around for the better part of two hours and being transferred to voicemail again and again, we finally get through to the assistant general manager, who says that of course they'll fix the situation and that should call him right now and he'll approve the refund. He even gives us his direct line to make sure it gets through. We hop back on the phone with, give them the managers name and number, and suddenly he's not available. In fact, it takes another 45 minutes for him to be available and finally approve the refund.

Given the initial bad service and then the run around it took to get them to fix it, I don't think we'll ever be staying at this hotel again.

Tags: hotel/lodge, it's only bad service if you die, omfg
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