The Hampton Inn Keeps The Skateboarder Stereotype Alive and Well
Posted on Tuesday, January 29, 2008 by Rob
01 / 23 / 08
To: Hampton Inn
From: Mark Muller, 3rd Lair
Re: Letter of Complaint
I am writing this letter of complaint to describe my experience at your hotel last weekend. First some history, I’ve been staying at your hotel for the past 5 years to attend a sporting event in the city of Tampa. I’ve been coming out once to twice a year to attend the Tampa Am and Tampa Pro Skateboarding Competitions. I’ve stayed at the Hampton on every one of my visits, except for once when you were booked.
This is a business trip for me because I own a skatepark in Golden Valley, MN and we work closely with the owners of the Skatepark of Tampa. The amateur event is the last in a series that we host and the professional event is something that we are looking to do in the future. In addition to that, there is a lot of networking that gets done at these events – we invite and talk to riders who might be interested in attending our events in Minnesota.
We arrived at you hotel on Thursday, Jan. 17th, 2008. That night there were no problems. We checked in and immediately drove down to the skatepark for an art show. The next morning we left the hotel early to attend the competition. We were gone for the entire day and then arrived back at the hotel around 6:30pm, parked our car, changed clothes, and then walked into Ybor for some dinner and to attend another art party that was scheduled for the event.
Friday night (early Saturday morning) around 2:00am we arrived back at the hotel extremely tired from a long day and ready to go to bed. Upon our arrival into the hotel lobby we saw your hotel manager behind the front desk. He was eating a snack, talking to someone in the back office about “how he hates these fuckin’ skateboarders and he’s going to kick them all out”. This is an actual quote that I heard him say as we were walking by your front desk.
We walked past him and got into the elevator and as the door was closing we heard him say, “Are you a skateboarder? Pack your bags and get the hell out of here”. I looked at my business partner and said ‘did you hear that?’ he said, ‘yes, but he cant do that’. I said ‘that guy must be having a bad day or something’ and we proceeded up to our room and prepared for bed. We did not respond to the night manager’s derogatory comments in any way whatsoever.
Fast-forward to about 4:45am when all of a sudden two police officers and the night manager broke into our room. We had the safety latch on our door and they were able to plow through that. It sounded like a car had just ran into our hotel door, it was a very loud BOOM, the door slammed against the wall and suddenly we had flashlights in our face and the cops said “you have one minute to get out of this room or your going to jail”. I said ‘why are we being kicked out?’ the night manager answered my question by saying “we are kicking all of the skateboarders out of this hotel right now”. They then proceeded to turn on the lights, and started looking around the room; they had their hands on their guns and told us to “show us your hands”. I said ‘why are you doing this?’ the hotel manager responded “because you guys have no respect for anything and you’ve completely trashed this hotel”. I said, ‘we haven’t done anything’. He said, “you’re apart of the problem and I’m sick of you guys”. Then the police officers said, “you’re running out of time and one more word and you are going to jail”. I said, ‘wait a minute this isn’t fair, we haven’t actually done anything, can’t you just kick out the people that were responsible for the problems?’ The police officers chimed in again and said “we are giving you one minute to leave this hotel property or you are going to jail” This is an actual quote from the police officers. I got up out of bed and tried to go to the bathroom to relieve myself and the hotel manager blocked the door and said “pack your stuff right now, you don’t have time to go to the bathroom”
At this point I obviously did not want to be put in jail so we threw all of our belongings into our bags and were escorted down to the lobby by the 2 police officers and the hotel manager. The hotel manager said “you need to check out and I’m charging you for this night as well” If I could describe the tone of voice, the body language and attitude of this manager I would, but words cannot describe the amount of disrespect, hatred and just a complete lack of professionalism that he had towards us. To say the least it was completely humiliating and I could not believe that this man was in the position of representing and managing a hotel. I am not sure what he told those police officers to make them act that way they did, but he must have come up with a great story; all of which were complete lies.
I tried to dispute our bill with the 2 nightly charges and the hotel manager said “sign it or I’m going to press charges against you” The officers backed him up by saying “we will charge you with trespassing and vandalism if you don’t leave right now” My only option at that point was to sign the bill and exit the hotel lobby.
This incident was completely traumatizing to my business partner and myself. We’ve never been kicked out of a hotel in our entire life. We’ve never seen or been apart of such unprofessional service. As we stood in your parking lot, loading our bags into our rental car – it was just a state of disbelief, did that really just happen? Did that hotel manager get us mixed up with somebody else? It was the most discriminatory act that I have ever witnessed or been apart of in my entire life. He actually kicked us out of the hotel for being skateboarders. Our room was searched, nothing was found, and we were not charged with anything, there was no evidence of us “disrespecting or vandalizing the hotel”. It just made no sense at all. Other than the fact, the hotel manager was in a position of power that he completely abused.
So we left the hotel approximately right before 5:00am and drove to the other hotels in Ybor. Don Vincente booked, Hilton booked, finally we drove to the Days Inn on Melbourne and they had a room available. We did not get checked in to this room until well after 6:00am.
Saturday of our business trip was a completely wasted day. We missed all of our morning appointments and meetings at the event. We arrived at the venue about 6 hours late. We began hearing from some others about their experience with your hotel and the night manager. Apparently not all of the skateboarders were kicked out, only a few selected ones and we were on that list for some reason. We heard that the hotel manager was telling others that “we were put in jail last night” This was the rumor going around the competition on Saturday. Can you imagine how we felt when we heard this? We have a good reputation in our industry and now everybody is thinking that we are criminals because of your hotel manger and the comments he made.
Needless to say I am completely disgusted with your hotel and night manager. This has been the worst experience I’ve ever had in a hotel in my entire life. I do a lot of traveling for my business and I’ve never had such horrible service.
As you know from my other business partner Steve Gareri we have already contacted our lawyer regarding this incident. This letter of complaint will be your one chance to compensate us before we pursue legal action. Please stop calling me. All correspondence with me from this point on should be done via written statement or email.
I look forward to your response.
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