My husband and I met some friends in a small town to go beer tasting. We booked a motel that I had stayed at before and found basic, but clean and generally fine. With our group, there were four rooms booked. This motel had no website and was very old fashioned. On our drive down, I heard from a member of our group that our reservations (mine and her’s) were lost. I called the motel, and the woman who answered the phone said it was fine, she had a room for us; this was really weird because I had called the day before and confirmed my reservation with no issue.
So we get in, and the woman, without asking my name, just throws a key at me, and points us up to the right floor. My friend was in the stairwell laughing and crying—the rooms were apparently the “rig pig” rooms, for the nearby oil refinery and were horrible. Graffiti and dirt on the walls, randomly sink-less, fridges just pushed up to the bed—like something from a horror movie. By now it’s midnight, and we decide to drink some beers and tough it out.
Exploring our room, beers in hand, we find a giant knife hidden in my room, like a massive street fighting knife. We make it through the weekend; we were there to drink beer, the other two rooms are party had booked were fine, so I didn’t want to make a big scene and leave. It was the worst hotel I have ever seen, though, and I am a very cheap traveler. It turns out though, that the woman had charged my fellow “rig pig” less than she charged me, about fifty bucks less. When my husband and I checked out, I mentioned the state of the room, and that my pal had paid less, and the motel lady had said she would refund me the difference. This hasn’t happened yet—should I call and follow up? The only reason I hesitate is that the woman running the motel, and her extended family were living there, sharing the rig floor with us, and while I could really use that money, and I do feel like it should be refunded to me, I don’t really want her to think I am some snobby jerk. — A.
During the summer of my junior year of college, some friends and I decided to do some backpacking in Europe, and since we were all college students on a budget, we stayed at the cheapest places we could find, including booking a “hostel” in Florence, Italy. I put “hostel” in scare quotes because when we arrived to check in, it turned out that we had actually booked a tent at a camp site, and when we unzipped the tent, what we found were some bloody mattresses on a floor. We screamed and then leaned against some trees to laugh, and when we asked for a refund, the person who was in charge of reservations just shrugged. We then spent an hour scouting hotels just outside of the city and found ourselves a real room for not that much more than what we were going to spend to stay in a tent full of bloody mattresses.
I don’t ever think about the money we lost after deciding to peace out from the camp site, but the memory of that time is so vivid and unforgettable that whenever I visit California and see those friends I backpacked with, we always bring it up. Remember when we were in Florence and we considered staying in a tent with bloody mattresses?
My point is, we were near-penniless college kids on a budget, but that money didn’t mean that we couldn’t go on with our trip. That money didn’t mean we wouldn’t be able to feed ourselves or find an alternate place to stay, so we just let that hostel keep it. We would have fought for it more in more dire circumstances.
The woman at the motel said she would refund you $50. If you need that $50, there’s no reason to feel bad about calling the motel to ask about it. It’s a business, after all. But if you can really do without the money, consider this one of those stories you’ll get to tell at dinner parties. Remember that time we stayed in that horror of a motel room and found that massive street-fighting knife?