Guaranteed reservations

Have you ever been issued a "guaranteed" reservation by a hotel? You know the drill: they take a credit card number and tell you that you will be charged for the room if you don't show up. But in return, you comfort yourself with the assumption that your access to an actual room at that particular hotel is "guaranteed" even if you show up at 4 AM.

Maybe if you did this, you assumed that it meant that the hotel had already sold the room to you, and that, barring acts of God like a tornado, no matter how late your arrival, the room would be waiting for you. After all, you had paid for it already. That's certainly what I thought the "guarantee" meant.

Silly me. At least as far as the Wyndham Hotel and Conference Center in Peachtree City, Georgia is concerned. It turns out that their guarantee is a one way street: you are guaranteed to pay for the room if you don't show up. But you may or may not actually get a room there when you show—up dead tired, and in need of a shower, a bed with clean sheets, and a functioning internet connection for your laptop. In my case, it meant "Hit the road, Jack."

In fairness to the hotel, they did make "alternative" accommodations available to me — in the next county to the west. After considerable animated discussion, they phoned around and found a room for me at a Holiday Inn a mere several miles away, and (most importantly to me at that dark hour of the night) back up the highway to Atlanta Airport, someplace I had actually been to before. And it was my luck day! The hotel would pick up the cost of my room at the Holiday Inn! Whooppee! My client, responsible for my travel expenses, would save some money.

So, it turns out that, in practice, a "guaranteed" reservation at the Wyndham is really more like a lottery ticket than an actual, ahem, guarantee that they will hold your room for you. If your flight is cancelled and you never get to Atlanta, you lose the price of the luxury accommodations they offer. But if you show—up, and for whatever reason they have somebody else in the room, you "win" a free night's (in my case, TWO nights') stay at the Holiday Inn. Now the Holiday Inn folks were very, very nice to me, but the walls shook when you closed the door hard, the mattress had seen better days, there was no restaurant or room service, and (most importantly) I couldn't get their wireless internet connection to work, resulting in this website posting no new content for two days.

Naturally, I had a lot of questions about the way the Wyndham people define the word "guarantee." The front desk clerk told me that "a big group" had decided to extend its stay for an extra day, and that "Georgia law" allows a guest to stay over past the agreed departure date, implying that the hotel was a helpless victim of circumstances.

The funny thing is that when you register at this particular hotel, you sign your name below the words, "I agree to depart the accommodations by 11 AM on the date indicated." So I had a lot of questions for the General Manager of the property, Ms. Helen Simmons, who graciously agreed to meet with me in the lobby. Had the hotel pointed out to the guests reluctant to leave that they had signed an agreement to vacate by a date certain? Had the guests asseted their supposed rights under Georgia law? Could she cite the Georgia law for me?

Unfortunately, Ms. Simmons refused to answer these and many other questions. She also refused to allow me to tape record our conversation. In fact, after answering a few broad questions about who owned the hotel, she pretty much clammed—up, and told me she thought I might use her answers against her, and that she felt threatened.

Of course, she also offered apologies for the inconvenience. Several times. But each of these apologies used odd, passive sentence structures. Nobody at the Wyndham actually did anything to cause the problems. The problems just "happened" or "took place" like hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes.

Now, I am no lawyer. I don't pretend to know what the Georgia statutes say about the rights of a hotel guest who wishes to extend his stay. I also don't fully understand the legal niceties of selling the public a product which you call a "guaranteed room," but which turns out to something other than the common sense understanding of that term. Maybe some kind readers could write to me at publisher@americanthinker.com and fill me in.

I am also interested in whether or not this interpretation and practice extends beyond the Wyndham Hotel in Atlanta. Is it corporate policy? Is this common hotel industry practice? If so, the larger and more interesting question is: should the public be informed of the actual meaning of "guarantee" when it applies to a hotel reservation?

In my personal opinion, I was deceived about what was sold to me. Ms. Simmons, the hotel manager, declined to tell me if there was any written disclosure of the actual meaning of the word "guarantee" as the Wyndham interprets it. But I thought it meant that my room would definitely be there for me, guaranteed.

Readers with expertise on this subject are invited to write. If this practice is common in the entire American hotel industry, then surely many millions of dollars are collected annually from people who may not have realized what they were buying when they supplied their credit card numbers to buy a guaranteed reservation. Since interstate commerce is involved, does the federal government have any opinions on the appropriateness of this practice.

Thinking Americans might like answers to some of these questions.

Have you ever been issued a "guaranteed" reservation by a hotel? You know the drill: they take a credit card number and tell you that you will be charged for the room if you don't show up. But in return, you comfort yourself with the assumption that your access to an actual room at that particular hotel is "guaranteed" even if you show up at 4 AM.

Maybe if you did this, you assumed that it meant that the hotel had already sold the room to you, and that, barring acts of God like a tornado, no matter how late your arrival, the room would be waiting for you. After all, you had paid for it already. That's certainly what I thought the "guarantee" meant.

Silly me. At least as far as the Wyndham Hotel and Conference Center in Peachtree City, Georgia is concerned. It turns out that their guarantee is a one way street: you are guaranteed to pay for the room if you don't show up. But you may or may not actually get a room there when you show—up dead tired, and in need of a shower, a bed with clean sheets, and a functioning internet connection for your laptop. In my case, it meant "Hit the road, Jack."

In fairness to the hotel, they did make "alternative" accommodations available to me — in the next county to the west. After considerable animated discussion, they phoned around and found a room for me at a Holiday Inn a mere several miles away, and (most importantly to me at that dark hour of the night) back up the highway to Atlanta Airport, someplace I had actually been to before. And it was my luck day! The hotel would pick up the cost of my room at the Holiday Inn! Whooppee! My client, responsible for my travel expenses, would save some money.

So, it turns out that, in practice, a "guaranteed" reservation at the Wyndham is really more like a lottery ticket than an actual, ahem, guarantee that they will hold your room for you. If your flight is cancelled and you never get to Atlanta, you lose the price of the luxury accommodations they offer. But if you show—up, and for whatever reason they have somebody else in the room, you "win" a free night's (in my case, TWO nights') stay at the Holiday Inn. Now the Holiday Inn folks were very, very nice to me, but the walls shook when you closed the door hard, the mattress had seen better days, there was no restaurant or room service, and (most importantly) I couldn't get their wireless internet connection to work, resulting in this website posting no new content for two days.

Naturally, I had a lot of questions about the way the Wyndham people define the word "guarantee." The front desk clerk told me that "a big group" had decided to extend its stay for an extra day, and that "Georgia law" allows a guest to stay over past the agreed departure date, implying that the hotel was a helpless victim of circumstances.

The funny thing is that when you register at this particular hotel, you sign your name below the words, "I agree to depart the accommodations by 11 AM on the date indicated." So I had a lot of questions for the General Manager of the property, Ms. Helen Simmons, who graciously agreed to meet with me in the lobby. Had the hotel pointed out to the guests reluctant to leave that they had signed an agreement to vacate by a date certain? Had the guests asseted their supposed rights under Georgia law? Could she cite the Georgia law for me?

Unfortunately, Ms. Simmons refused to answer these and many other questions. She also refused to allow me to tape record our conversation. In fact, after answering a few broad questions about who owned the hotel, she pretty much clammed—up, and told me she thought I might use her answers against her, and that she felt threatened.

Of course, she also offered apologies for the inconvenience. Several times. But each of these apologies used odd, passive sentence structures. Nobody at the Wyndham actually did anything to cause the problems. The problems just "happened" or "took place" like hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes.

Now, I am no lawyer. I don't pretend to know what the Georgia statutes say about the rights of a hotel guest who wishes to extend his stay. I also don't fully understand the legal niceties of selling the public a product which you call a "guaranteed room," but which turns out to something other than the common sense understanding of that term. Maybe some kind readers could write to me at publisher@americanthinker.com and fill me in.

I am also interested in whether or not this interpretation and practice extends beyond the Wyndham Hotel in Atlanta. Is it corporate policy? Is this common hotel industry practice? If so, the larger and more interesting question is: should the public be informed of the actual meaning of "guarantee" when it applies to a hotel reservation?

In my personal opinion, I was deceived about what was sold to me. Ms. Simmons, the hotel manager, declined to tell me if there was any written disclosure of the actual meaning of the word "guarantee" as the Wyndham interprets it. But I thought it meant that my room would definitely be there for me, guaranteed.

Readers with expertise on this subject are invited to write. If this practice is common in the entire American hotel industry, then surely many millions of dollars are collected annually from people who may not have realized what they were buying when they supplied their credit card numbers to buy a guaranteed reservation. Since interstate commerce is involved, does the federal government have any opinions on the appropriateness of this practice.

Thinking Americans might like answers to some of these questions.