Guest House Motel Complaint - Disgusting, filthy room, refused to refund

Review by pg on 2005-07-19
MOOREHEAD, MINNESOTA -- While traveling to the Fargo/Moorehead area, I had picked up along the way, a promotional booklet put out by the Fargo-Moorehead Convention and Visitors Bureau, which had a list of accommodations.

I should mention, that my husband and I enjoy finding and staying in the older Ma & Pa type motels and have stayed in some that were very decent. With that in mind, we don't expect perfection, given the age, and possible economic factors that affect such motels because of the more popular chains, but we do expect a reasonably clean and safe room.

We saw the listing for the Guest House Motel in the promotional booklet. It appeared to be one of the older types that we enjoy. We had just spent two nights in an older type motel in Sioux Falls, SD which was great and we were hoping to find something similar. In addition to being listed in the promo booklet, there was one of those blue interstate business type signs on the interstate that advertised this place.

When we saw the motel, at first glance it appeared somewhat run down, but not too bad. It was tucked back from the road, surrounded by large trees and grass and even though it was on what appeared to be the older highway (before the interstate was built) and in a somewhat commercial/industrial zone, it didn't appear to be a particularly bad setting. That part was OK.

Upon checking in, I should have clued in to many factors, but at the time we were tired and have seen similar funkiness before in such establishments, but nothing really terrible and our stays at such places have always been fine.

First off, the "lobby"/office was a tiny room that had been walled off, it was hot and not very welcoming. There was no one there, but there was a phone that you had to call to get service. We were about to do that at that point when someone did show up. The desk had a Plexiglas barrier with a hole in it for conversing, that should have been a clue in itself.

The clerk/manager asked right off if we wanted to stay for a week, but we said, no just wanted to know what a room cost for one night, which seemed to surprise him. It was around 45.00, as I recall (I'll have to check the receipt and deduct all the deposits to make sure.)

I mentioned I had a dog (very well behaved BTW) since it said in the booklet pets were allowed, I expected that to be OK, however he required a $50 pet deposit! That was a new one to me. Plus, a $10 key deposit. But was assured I would get both deposits back if the dog didn't rip up the room and I returned the key.

There was a sign that said "No Refunds" and that should have been another red flag, but I asked about it and was told that just applied to the weekly rate.

So, we decided to check in, altho I did feel a bit uneasy, but hopeful it would be OK. But the uneasiness escalated after I saw the room.

The bedspreads were worn and full of holes, about at the point were I would give them to my dog for bedding. There was a rickety wooden chair, an easy chair with a huge depression in it, so it was hard to sit in, even harder to get out of. A beat up wobbly TV tray was the night stand.

Surprisingly, the TV was new and decent, but there was no remote. The sliding window had no lock, but rather a dowel in the groove instead. The door was banged up and scribbled & carved upon by kids or whoever. It was a very hot day, so fortunately the air conditioner was working, but you couldn't adjust it (unless you had a pair of pliers) as the knob was missing.

However, I could put up with those things. Like I said, I know these older places are far from perfect. However, the thing that was really bad was the bathroom. I looked into the area with the tub and there were clumps of hair plastered on the tile. The bathtub was full of hair and linty looking stuff. It looked like it had been filled with dirty, disgusting water, then allowed to drain (as the drain was also chock full of hair and lint) and never cleaned out.

The other disgusting thing was the rug. There was all sorts of debris & dirt along the edges and the corners of the room and it felt disgusting to walk on it barefoot. It's hard to describe, but it was a very short nap type rug (almost like indoor/outdoor type) and felt dirty, greasy and sticky. The room also had a bad moldy smell. In addition the walls and the door had all sorts of gross looking stains and drips of whatever all over them.

The other thing that concerned me was the smoke detector cover was hanging down and it was disconnected. I assumed because it giving false alarms so someone yanked the wire off the battery to make it stop. I suspect this is some sort of violation, the lack of a functional smoke detector.

There were no towels, but the manager did bring some by. At that point we noticed there was no phone, so we asked him about that. He said "No phone?" Then made a comment of how they were always getting ripped off. Then we found there were no light bulbs in the lamps. He made a comment about those getting taken as well. There was also no phone book so we had him get us one and he did get us a phone and some light bulbs. We asked for a remote but he couldn't find one and made the comment that he needed to start charging a deposit for remotes.

Needless to say, by this point, I was not only disgusted by the condition of the room, but getting uneasy about staying there, as I was wondering about the sort of clientele that stays in this place so at that point I asked for a refund, something I've never done in all the motels I've ever stayed in. I told him I was very upset about the condition of the room as it was filthy. He said he would have to ask the owner. So, he goes away to ask the owner, comes back and says no refunds, but we could check out the room next door and see if that was any better, which we did, but it was in the same filthy, beat up condition. The only thing was the carpet was somewhat cleaner and newer looking, but it had a TV that looked like it was from the 70's, with the buttons and knobs broken off. At least the other room had a decent TV, albeit no remote, but I figured if we were stuck staying in this place, at least having a functional TV to pass the time, would be more important, than just a slightly cleaner carpet.

At that point, I was seriously thinking of letting the money go and leaving anyway, but we were on a budget with this trip, so after much discussion we decided to "ride it out" for the night.

The next morning, we hurriedly got ready to leave. I never did take a shower there, the tub was just too gross and I didn't feel it was my responsibility to clean it out. I just did a quick wash up at the sink, which was at least tolerable as far as how clean it was.

We went to the office to get our deposits back, no one was there, so we called on the phone, was told someone would be there shortly. It took about 15 minutes for someone to show up, finally someone did and we got the deposits back, in cash since they were unable to put it back on the credit card, so we quickly beat feet and got out of there, having learned a lesson on that one, which is when one is thinking of staying in an older motel, to be sure and inspect the room first, before committing.

I've yet to do this, but I'm considering asking my Visa card company about doing a chargeback for poor service. If that's not possible, I would at least like to complain to as many entities as I can about this place, since the I feel the night I spent there, was very nerve wracking and unsatisfactory. For one, I'm certain that having a disabled fire detector is a violation of some sort.

I realize I should have been more careful in the first place and I did get what I paid for in a sense, but on the other hand, the previous motel in Sioux Falls was only $5 more and much, much, MUCH better.

If anyone knows of other places where I complain, I would be most interested in that information. I was considering the BBB as well.

Comments:3 Replies - Latest reply on 2005-07-25
Posted by AZJEM on 2005-07-20:
That's neat that you guys can travel like that. I am wondering if that particular hotel was more for people that stay on a weekly basis. That would explain the deposits and problems with missing light bulbs and phones. I know some of the weekly motels are used by drug dealers so they can move about quickly and by those that don't have a home. That's how one of them where I live is like. Glad you got out safely and hope you can get your credit card to refund you. At least you learned a little lesson from this.
Posted by Anonymous on 2005-07-22:
Good point AZ, sounds like pg, was in one of those kind of places. They are very unpleasent and dangerous.
Posted by pg on 2005-07-25:
Thanks for the comments, AZ. Yep, after we got in there that thought about the drug dealers occured to us, especially when we saw a couple of cars drive up to a room, loud stereo booming, then leave after a few minutes. Fortunately, that was as wild as things got, my husband asked the manager just how quiet things were there (since we asked about that when we checked in) and he said, it should be quiet on a Thurs. night. The week-end could be another story, though!

We're not soured on finding old vintage type Ma & Pa type motels to stay in, just going to be a lot more cautious and careful from now on. I guess I was a bit naive, since most of those type of motels I stayed in previously, without any prolems, were mainly in small western towns, where you're less likely to run across the drug dealer thing.

Thanks again, yes a valuble lesson learned.


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