Since our grandchildren were born, Linda and I have wanted to see Disney with them. It’s Mickey, Mnnie, the castle, the princesses and all the rest. Of course, we wanted to wait until they got old enough to really enjoy it all. We discussed it and decided that we would do it next year, after school let out. The earliest we could make hotel reservations was for next June was this week. It’s important to keep in mind that we’re talking 13 months away.
I get on the phone and call one of the major hotel chains (who will go nameless). No problem, reservations made and “…yes sir, we guarantee you a handicapped accessible room and will be sending you an email confirming everything.” Foolish me, I hang up fully satisfied that all was taken care of. I forgot about it for a while but decided to check my email before Linda helped me into bed. A note to all of you out there in cyberland, NEVER check your email right before getting into bed. The email from the hotel chain concluded with the words “…handicapped accessible room requested, not guaranteed (sold out).”
It’s too bad that you can’t pace off anger when you are in a wheelchair. My only recourse was to let out a string of expletives that would make a longshoreman blush. Linda was actually the calm one of us and got me to go to bed by telling me everything would be fine. It took until about 2 am for me to get to sleep.
The next morning, my first order of business was to get on the phone to try and straighten this out. The very nice woman on the other end of the line tried hard to feed me their scripted line of horse hockey that came across as “…well gee Mr. customer that’s how things work.” Not taking this, I complained enough to have her take some actual effort and call the resort. Their response “….well we don’t really assign rooms until about a month before the scheduled reservation, tell him to call us then and we can tell him.” WHAT??? Do you mean to tell me that I’m to have family members buy plane tickets and make all necessary plans and I won’t know if I will be able to go to the bathroom when I get there until one month before the trip? In my calmest possible voice I had to ask her “…well how many ADA compliant rooms does the resort have?” Back on the phone to the resort……the answer…107 (it’s a big place). After much more complaining about the lunacy of having 107 ADA rooms and not being able to assign them 13 months in advance, I got more horse hockey and then back to a final “…well that’s the way it works sir.”
One thing I’ve found out that one thing almost always works when you have a problem with a corporation is to write a letter, delivered by overnight mail to the CEO of the company. No CEO wants to be bothered with such things. The other side of this is that no CEO wants the chance of negative publicity especially on an ADA issue. Just make sure the letter is professional, not emotional and just filled with the facts. I’ve only done this 3 or 4 times but it’s worked every time. A few years ago, I had a similar problem with the same company and wrote such a letter to the CEO. About a week later, I got a call from their V.P. of Customer Relations. He solved my problem then and assured me that if I were to ever have another problem I should feel free to give him a call. So, not being shy, I immediately gave him that call. It took about 2 days but I eventually received a call from one of his underlings. One quick call from him to the resort and surprise, surprise, it was handled. I got a very nice apology and assurances that they are updating their computer system … yada, yada, yada.
It’s a shame that we had to go through this and that such measures to fix it were necessary. I never wanted to be that old guy that complains and whines over not getting treated properly. As I get older I find that sometimes you just have to in order to get any kind of fair treatment. It’s sad to find out that…maybe, just maybe that old guy was right.