Unconscionable: Paralyzed vet forced to crawl down stairs at hotel while mocked by hotel staff
Lots of you have been clamoring for this story, but wanted to explain why I am so late to this party. I actually got this sent to me fully a week ago. In retrospect I wish I had posted it back then, but the only link I had to it at the time was from CNN’s iReport, and I’ve been kind of burned by iReport in the past because CNN does not vet any of those stories. In fact, we’ve gotten one or two Stolen Valor guys from self-reporter stories of their heroism reported on iReport that later turn out to be fables. Nonetheless, now everyone is running the story, so it must have been confirmed, and even the hotel chain, Best Western, has made a public statement.
First, the video (from CBS 7, by way of Huffington Post):
Best Western continues to focus on the recent event at one of our hotels in Monahans, Texas, and how to prevent such an occurrence in the future.
Following is an update on the situation.
- As we’ve previously shared, the individual involved at the hotel is no longer an employee.
- We continue to have a conversation with Mr. Staples with regard to resolving this matter. We have offered our sincere apologies and the hotel has refunded the money for his stay.
- We consistently communicate with our hotels about how to assist guests with special needs and disabilities, and will continue to do so. In response to this matter, we have communicated with every one of our hotels to ensure that all of our guests – those with disabilities or otherwise – are treated respectfully, and that our hotels always meet their needs.
- From the beginning it’s been our goal that a greater understanding and awareness of how to assist individuals with a disability result from this event. With this purpose in mind we’ve come to an agreement with the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Educational Institute to sponsor industry-wide training on how to assist guests with disabilities, titled “Enabling Independence: Service for Guests with Disabilities.” Our agreement has made this important training available to the hotel industry at no cost. Additionally, we are making the significance of this training very clear to other hotel companies by making this training mandatory for all front desk employees at Best Western hotels in North America. We are also advising our international affiliates around the world to do the same. We join Mr. Staples in the desired outcome of increased awareness and a better industry approach to assisting guests with disabilities or special needs, and we will continue to examine ways to do this in the future.
For customers who wish to share additional concerns we invite you to share them directly with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ve seen various calls for boycotts of Best Western and other things all over the Internet for this. I’m completely agnostic on boycotts, but do appreciate that at least Best Western seems to be trying to address it. I’m not much of blaming an entire chain of hotels for the actions of one degenerate employee, but the way the manager hid in a room while the news was trying to get a response was pretty poor as well. At the least I’d hate to think that someone would be employed as a manager who thought that hiding from a news crew would somehow make the story go away.
Either way, I think we can all agree that SSG Staples crawling down steps is wrong on a level that is nearly unimaginable. He deserves more than coupons for a free stay.
Although not to the level that SSG Staples had, I’ve had problems in hotels too. About a year ago I was flying home from San Antonio and a young lady who got bumped from a flight was crying hysterically, and I offered to give up my seat to her. The airline graciously allowed her to fly and me to be bumped, which was fine because I wasn’t in a huge rush. So I got a flight for the next day and the airline put me up in a local hotel. After I got bumped, I realized that my prescription sleep meds were enroute to Indy, so I would have to go the night without. Undeterred I went to the local store, bought a bottle of Excedrin PM to knock me out and went to sleep. Or tried to.
About 10pm, with a flight at 5:15 am I was finally dozing off when all of a sudden the room to my door opened. Someone had my key. I’d put up the little chain, but whoever it was kept trying to force the door open, nearly breaking the chain. Of course now I’m freaked out, so I grabbed a lamp and prepared to do battle with the interloper. After a minute the banging stopped and the person went away, but I was pretty freaked out, I mean, who gives someone elses room key to someone who shouldn’t be in there?
I hid in the dark wielding my lamp as a weapon for about 20 minutes before I went to the door. It turns out that the hotel had given a master key to some pizza delivery company that was dropping off advertisements. I found it wrapped up in the chain on the door. Now, I probably have a touch of the PTSD, so this made me really mad. When I called down to the desk to complain, I got a rather bored sounding individual who offered nothing in the way of an explanation or anything else. I complained to higher HQ the next day and they sent me some coupons for a free stay in their hotels, but I threw them out. I don’t think I slept that night, and I’ll never stay in that chain’s hotels again. If the person in the lobby had been the slightest bit cognizant that this wasn’t the way to treat a customer, I might still stay there.
So what do you guys think? Is a boycott in these instances the right punishment for the companys?
Anonymous below brought up about him not being mocked, and that's my fault, I should have included this other story as well. That was my bad. From FoxNews' story about it:
“He wanted somebody to take his bags and wheelchair down,” Robert Staples told FoxNews.com by phone from his Maine home. “Basically, the girl said, ‘Are you serious?’ He said, ‘Uh yeah, I’m in a wheelchair. I need some help.’”
The hotel employee, Staples said, replied: “’What do you want me to do about it?’ She laughed at him.”