No Room at the Hampton Inn & Suites

This is an article about my travel debacle at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Van Nuys, California in February 2013. To start with I was charged for a “no show” as well as the full rate for a room for which I should have not been charged. But as Paul Harvey used to say on his radio broadcasts: “Stay tuned for the rest of the story”.

Travel writing is somewhat out of my league being the Petroleum Industry Analyst consulting for various independent West Coast clients. I am also a contributor to the Bakken Oil Business Journal, which is an on-line as well as print magazine for the Eastern Montana and Western North Dakota oil shale exploration and production business. This trip was scheduled for a meeting at an attorney’s office in Sherman Oaks, California, which just happens to be just around from the Hampton Inn in Van Nuys.

Bob the Weary Traveler
Bob the Weary Traveler

My odyssey started out early in the morning on Saturday, February 16, 2013 leaving home in Terry, Montana for the 185 miles trip to Billings Logan Airport traveling to me end destination in Southern California.

I made my hotel reservation through the on-line Hilton reservation line and all seemed to go well until . . . . . . . I had to change my arrival date by one day! I called the Hampton Inn the day before my original arrival date and asked the desk clerk to move my arrival date up from arriving on Friday to Saturday night. The clerk said his computer was not working but would make the change when it came back up. This should have put the red alert flag up for me right away, but I digress.

Fast forwarding to my fateful Saturday night and after a long day of traveling, which included a layover in Seattle on my way to Los Angeles, I finally arrived at my destination at the Hampton Inn for a much needed night of rest and relaxation. But, alas, it was not to be and much to my chagrin I found:

• The staff at this facility is not properly trained to handle changes in reservations.
• I called ahead to the Hampton from the Burbank Bob Hope Airport and was told I did not have a reservation. They were totally booked with the PGA tournament in town. After giving the desk clerk my guaranteed reservation number I was told to come to the hotel while they worked out a solution.
• The GPS showed no Hampton Inn at the address in Sherman Oaks printed on my confirmed reservation. I called the desk clerk again to obtain directions and was told the Inn was actually in Van Nuys. The GPS than accepted the address and I was able to take the most direct route to the hotel.
• The parking at the Hampton is inadequate for the number of rooms available at the Inn. Off site parking is handled by a valet but is not close to the hotel.
• Upon my arrival at about 11 pm the driveway to the Inn was completed blocked by a locked up minivan, the owner of which had disappeared without giving his or her keys to the valet.
• Being unable to get into the driveway I left my rental car parked sticking halfway out on Sepulveda Blvd. while I walked into the hotel to check in.
• It was then I was told they could not find my reservation and there was no room at the Inn.
• I was eventually checked into a smoking room against my better judgment but by then would have slept on the couch in the lobby just to get some much needed rest.
• The Hilton customer service staff was very courteous to me after I discovered the charges for a “no show” and the room for my one night stay was billed on my AmEx credit card. However, I was told the other items I was reporting were internal policy issues on which he would not be able comment.
• I received a call from the General Manager of the Hampton Inn & Suites in Van Nuys apologizing for the lack of service and to let me know credit for the smoking room had been processed to my AmEx credit card account. The no-show credit had already been processed.
• He further explained the parking problems by stating they are in the middle of a building a two story parking structure next to the Inn, which will be finished by September 2013.

I checked out of the Hampton Inn on Sunday morning on February 17th and was able to find a room to my liking at the Best Western across the street. This affair ended up ruining my one “down day”, which I had planned in order to prepare for my Monday morning meeting.

My various emails to the CEO of the Hilton @ chris.nassetta@hilton.com have been ignored other than receiving emails and phone calls back from the Hilton customer service personnel apologizing for any inconveniences I may have suffered.

To be fair and balanced I invite your comments to the above article. All will be published without your name and email address being identified if you wish me to do so. Comments are to be pertinent to any service – good or bad – you may have received at any of the Hilton hotels.

Pinewood Derby Teaches Valuable Lessons in Cheating, Abandonment

My boys had their first Pinewood Derby. As I sat there it dawned on me what’s really being taught; all the ugliness of life in one 7-ounces block of resentment.

My older son had what I can charitably describe as a cross between a rocket and a racecar in the form of one slightly rounded block. It’s not his fault, he’s worse at woodworking than his old man, and we really don’t own any appropriate tools. Continue reading Pinewood Derby Teaches Valuable Lessons in Cheating, Abandonment

How the Scan-Tron Actually Got Its Name (comic)

We’ve all been there. You had to use a #2 pencil, as if any other option was available at the store, and fill in the bubbles completely.

But do you know the origin of the test? Do you know how it actually got its name? The answer may surprise you.

The answer may also not surprise you. It’s kind of up to you. Continue reading How the Scan-Tron Actually Got Its Name (comic)

Taylor Hicks Shocked to Hear Taylor Hicks on the Radio

Erstwhile American Idol victor Taylor Hicks was shopping Thursday in a Ralph’s, a supermarket owned by the Kroger company, when he heard something come over the PA that shocked him; a Taylor Hicks song.

“I heard it and I was in shock,” said a stunned, gray Hicks. “This is the first time since about three months after [I won season five of American Idol] that I’ve heard my music on the radio.”

Though to be technical, it was on a closed circuit, in-store system that plays very little music, this turd being a rare exception.

RIGHT: Taylor Hicks woop-wooping it up as he appealed to his Soul Patrol to propel him over the top by an easy margin in Season Five of the terrible (but addictive) American reality television program American Idol. (CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE, THOUGH ONLY SLIGHTLY.)

“And I believe it’s only just the beginning,” quipped Hicks, holding a can of Marshmallow creme. “Do you get it? That’s a line from [the song that was playing] Do I Make You Proud.”

Nobody got it.

The dairy stocker who observed us came up and greeted Mr. Hicks, saying, “I don’t know what you guys are doing, but you can’t film in here.”

“I’ve got to talk to my agent. I should probably be getting paid for this,” said Hicks, seemingly unaware that he sold his soul to Simon Fuller when he first auditioned for American Idol.

As we left the store, this reporter observed several persons stop Mr. Hicks. One said, “Hey mister, can you spare some change,” and the other said, “watch it, buddy, I’m just trying to grab a cart here.”

As we parted ways, Hicks asked, “Do I make you proud?” ostensibly in reference to his one RIAA certified Gold single, but we had already wrapped the story, so we chose not to reply.

Truly one of America’s greatest rock-pop legends.

Dear Mr. Hicks… I’m actually a huge fan and I love your work. You got screwed by the “pop mold” they tried to cram you in. If they’d let you go soul with your debut album, you’d be bigger than Zeppelin right now, but such was the nature of your horrible, horrible contract. You worked yourself to death for those leaches and they did what leaches do, bled you dry and left you behind. I’m sorry for that. – Editor

Golden Gate Bridge a True Wonder of America

The biggest icon (by height, weight, length and cinematic popularity alike) is the Golden Gate bridge, and I’ve seen it, touched it, even smacked it with an open palm to test its metal, but I have to say I’m not impressed. It’s big, sure, but I have to beg the powers that be (and were a hundred years ago), isn’t it perhaps a bit too big? Continue reading Golden Gate Bridge a True Wonder of America

Extreme Couponing… It’s called Shoplifting (comic)

If you’ve ever wondered the best way to squeeze a few nickels out of your local retailer, there’s no better way than shoplifting. Sure you might go to jail over a $1.87 sample size of Jergins, but usually you’ll just damn the man.

This comic shows all the benefits and potential detriments, I assume. I haven’t actually read it. I find the comics on this site crass, so I don’t actually take the time to look at them. They’re a bit beneath me. Continue reading Extreme Couponing… It’s called Shoplifting (comic)

San Francisco Invokes Serious Rice-a-Roni Cravings

As any fool (who has been reading our Perplexing Times as of late) can tell you, we’re out on our latest vacation, and this time our “pop in” is to San Francisco. This is no surprise to anyone but me, but what is surprising has been my in-outing cravings for Rice-a Roni. It’s weird, really, I don’t even like rice. Continue reading San Francisco Invokes Serious Rice-a-Roni Cravings

Life on the Inside: My Week in a Mental Hospital

As a contributor to the second-longest running group satire site in the world, I’m always looking for a scoop. So when I had a chance to enter a mental health hospital as a patient recently, I couldn’t pass it up.

Sure there was the whole “I won’t let you leave my office until you agree” and “I’ll call the police if you try to leave” business, but really it was about the story, and I couldn’t let an opportunity like this pass me by. Continue reading Life on the Inside: My Week in a Mental Hospital