Try not to get stuck with lousy customer service

Photo by Jerry Moore

WATERTOWN — The next time someone says, “You get what you pay for,” listen to them!

Needing to vacate my residence for a few days, I opted to stay at a local motel. I didn’t require anything real fancy, just someplace clean and quiet. And cheap!

So I booked several nights at one of the, let’s say, discount venues in the Watertown region. The room was smaller than I thought it would be, but it had all the basics. I could carry on in relative peace and comfort. The room looked neat and tidy, so it appeared that someone from the housekeeping crew had given it a thorough cleaning.

But it didn’t take long to discover that the individual who had taken care of my room wasn’t all that attentive. I found something had been left behind — and it wasn’t a mint on the pillow!

In the middle of an otherwise empty dresser drawer was a used hypodermic needle! It wasn’t concealed by other objects, so someone who had bothered to open the drawer would have seen it. And from what sources familiar with the hospitality industry have told me, checking drawers is high on the list of priorities for housekeeping staffers.

It’s obvious that whoever worked on my room before I arrived never checked this drawer. Under normal circumstances, this would be bad enough. But in the midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic, it haunted me to consider what other corners had been cut.

I probably should have left the needle where it was and called someone from the motel management to come down. But I was so perturbed by such a sloppy effort that I placed it in a paper cup and brought it down to the lobby for the front desk personnel to document.

A woman at the check-in window realized this was a cause for concern when I placed the cup on the counter. She called the motel manager and told me that he’d be down in a moment.

Two people then walked in to register, so the woman quickly moved the cup off the counter so they wouldn’t see it. I mean, who in the world wants to believe they may find a used hypodermic needle in their motel room?

The manager arrived, looked over the needle and said he would have a member of their security staff check my room out. He asked me if I would feel more comfortable moving to a new room.

I turned down his offer for two reasons: As long as a security staffer was going to inspect my room, I was fine staying there. And let’s be honest. If the housekeeping crew did such a poor job on one room, what guarantee did I have that another room would be any safer?

The security staff member searched my room thoroughly and didn’t find any other needles. That was good! He did, though, find a small plastic wrapper. When I asked him what it was, he said, “Oh, it’s for dope.”

So giving the benefit of a doubt to whoever left the needle behind was wasted. I thought that maybe the person who used it was a diabetic. Apparently not.

My first two days/nights proceeded without any further drama. But the third date I spent at the motel didn’t go as I had hoped.

Everyone I spoke with about this incident told me to demand that my bill be discounted. This was a huge blunder on the motel’s part, and offering a cost reduction would show the owners actually cared about their reputation.

I called the manager and asked him about receiving a break on the cost.

At first he said, “Well, you know, I did offer to move you to another room and you declined.”

That aggravated me because providing another room wasn’t at all the point! The motel screwed up, and the people there should feel some obligation to make up for it in some way.

I pressed the point, and the manager said he would need to speak with the owner. So when I left work and returned to the motel, I headed straight for the lobby.

The manager was on the phone with the owner when I walked in. I heard him bring up my situation, and they chatted for a few minutes.

Once he got off the phone, the manager told me it was too late to reduce my motel bill. But in case I was in the area again in the near future and chose to book at this motel, I would receive a 25 percent discount!

I stared at him for a second and then walked out. I headed back to my room, packed my things and returned to the lobby.

He had a surprised look on his face when I placed my key on the counter and asked for a receipt. I suppose he expected me to remain there for my final night after deciding he didn’t need to make up for crappy service.

I couldn’t support a business that doesn’t respect its patrons. It’s unnerving to know the manager had no concern that I would never come back.

This is one of the lowest-priced motels in the area, so it constantly lures clients. Customer service on this level seems to have devolved into a simple mindset: There’s always someone willing to take your place, so don’t gripe.

Jerry Moore is the editorial page editor for the Watertown Daily Times. Readers may call him at 315-661-2369 or send emails to

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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(6) comments


Where were the McFaddens when you needed them?

Jerry Moore Staff
Jerry Moore

They were returning from an out-of-town trip when I needed to move out of my residence. And then they secured another place to stay when they got back. So that’s where they were when I needed them: right by my side like the dear friends they are.


All of your readers know that the McFaddens have been good to you... and good for you.

My comment was more in the context of maybe you could reach out to those you know when you're in need.

Jerry Moore Staff
Jerry Moore

zeitgeist, I did reach out to friends. But when my situation came up at the last minute, no one was in a position to offer assistance.


Of all the things happening in this country we get this?


Come on, man

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