I don’t normally tell stories on this blog, but I needed a good outlet to share a story about the most unprofessional business I have dealt with in a very, very long time, the Surfside Motel at Surfside Beach, Texas. I hope it will serve as a warning to anyone who would ever remotely consider patronizing this “business.” This is also a tale of my own stupidity, in hopes that none of you will make the same idiot mistakes I have.
I’ll start from the beginning. Several months ago, after finishing a big freelance project, I decided to book a trip out of town for me and my husband to celebrate our anniversary. I wanted to try something new and in an area that wasn’t going to be super crowded, so I got online and booked a room near the ocean at the Ocean Village Hotel at Surfside Beach, Texas. I received an email confirmation for the booking.
A few weeks later, I was informed that the week I had booked our vacation was the same week of leadership training at work. That evening, I googled the Ocean Village Hotel to get the phone number and called them to change my reservation. I had checked online and viewed available rooms, where I saw the slightly more expensive honeymoon suite was available for the dates I needed to change to. I spoke with a very confused woman who insisted they didn’t have an online reservation system but assured me they’d move me to a “nice kitchenette” and was quite happy to take my information and credit card number despite the fact that I was asking for a honeymoon suite, which her establishment didn’t appear to have. Instead of being smart and investigating, I chalked it up to maybe having spoken to evening staff who weren’t as well versed in customer service and reservation procedures. I was told I’d receive confirmation of the booking. I received nothing.
So a few weeks later I called the Ocean Village Hotel back to check on the reservation. Of course, they had no record of me moving the reservation, and I was dismayed. I figured I had spoken to somebody who had no idea what they were doing. I mean, when I had called to change the reservation, they didn’t even answer the phone with the business name. They just barked, “HELLO.” The staff at the Ocean Village Hotel was mega courteous and apologized for the mistake, even though later I’d find out the mistake was all mine. A few days later, I decided I could afford to take more time off work and we decided to go to Pensacola Beach, Florida for our vacation instead. I called and cancelled my reservation at the Ocean Village Hotel with no problems whatsoever.
Fast forward to my first night in Florida. After going out to a beach-side restaurant for dinner and a few drinks, I get a voice mail from a very angry sounding woman, and the caller ID says Freeport, Texas. I call back and am immediately accosted. I use all caps in this paragraph because they were definitely speaking in all caps. “WE HAVE WAITED FOR YOU ALL DAY AND YOU NEVER CAME,” she said. I tried to tell her I had cancelled the reservation months ago. She must have been angrily fumbling with the phone, because as she spoke unintelligibly, she pressed buttons constantly and then finally hung up on me. Wanting to figure out the issue and defend myself, I called back. A man answered. I tried to explain that I had cancelled my reservation months ago and he demanded dates, demanded to know who I’d spoken to, said, “YOU GOTTA HAVE A NAME.” I said I’d booked online and had been charged for the first night by the online reservation system, which had been refunded, and was told “WELL SOMEBODY IS TAKING YOU FOR A RIDE.” I could hear the woman in the background yelling, “I NEED SOME PROOF.”
I seriously felt like I was being threatened by a mob boss or something. The few drinks I’d had at dinner made it really difficult for me to make my case, but finally I told them I was very upset at the way I was being treated and that I would be sending them proof that I had cancelled and then reporting them to the Better Business Bureau. “FINE,” the guy said. “IF I CAN’T FILL THIS ROOM I’M CHARGING YOU FOR IT.” Then, without giving me a chance to respond or find a pen, he rattled off the fax number for me to send in some kind of proof that I had cancelled my reservation. When I got off the phone, I was stunned. Obviously a mistake had been made, but I had never had any representative from a legitimate business call and yell at me and berate me in that manner. I’m no delicate flower, but I believe that you should at least treat others with a modicum of respect.
I set out to figure out where I’d gone wrong. I was in a hotel in Florida with no computer, so I got on my phone and searched my email for confirmations. I found the first confirmation where I booked my room at the Ocean Village Hotel, then the second confirmation from when I cancelled the booking and received my refund. Confused, I called the hotel. A different woman answered the phone, and I asked to speak to the man I had just spoken to. “I’m the only one here,” she said. Even more confused, I explained the situation and she was very nice and asked me if I’d like for her to call the number of the people who had called me earlier to see if maybe it was a different hotel. She called back a few minutes later and told me I had given her the number for the Surfside Motel, another establishment in the same area as the Ocean Village Hotel. “It’s not really a place we refer our customers to if they’re looking for someone else to stay,” she said kindly.
I looked them up online and found http://www.surfsidemotel.biz/,one of the worst motel websites I’ve seen in a long time, complete with Comic Sans, an animated gif, and the slogan “WE PROMISE YOU WILL LIKE OUR PLACE OR ELSE.” Oh god, that figures. I still had no idea how I could have ended up giving my credit card info to a place like this. I would never, ever book a room at a place that looked like that. No offense to anyone who would; it’s just not my kind of establishment.
My husband logged into our AT&T account and searched my phone bills from May, the month I called to both change and cancel our reservation, and searched for numbers with the same area code. And then he found it. I had called the Surfside Motel. When I thought I was calling to change my reservation at the Ocean Village Hotel, I had somehow called the Surfside Motel.
I would like to think I’m well versed enough in Internet searches to avoid a mistake like that, but I screwed up. It didn’t help that they don’t answer the phone with the name of their establishment. It didn’t help that the person who answered the phone set up an entirely new reservation for me and took my credit card information though I insisted I had set up the reservation online and paid for the first night. She didn’t seem phased that I specifically said I wanted to move from King Room #201 to the Honeymoon Suite, which are not rooms listed anywhere on the website for the Surfside Motel. It didn’t help that the Surfside Motel sent no kind of reservation confirmation whatsoever, so I wasn’t able to catch my mistake after the fact.
So I sat there in my hotel room in Florida and watched the $139 hold on my credit card appear, and I knew there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. Not only had I gotten the rudest, most unprofessional phone call I have had in a very long time, but now I was short $139 of vacation money.
But here’s my hope. My hope is that maybe they’ll take the $139 that they didn’t deserve to get from me and use it as a down payment for a graphic designer to overhaul their website, to bring it from 1996 to 2012. Or maybe they can use it to send themselves to some sort of customer service training where, at the very least, they learn to answer the phone with the name of their freaking business. Maybe they can use the money to set up some sort of system for sending people confirmations of their reservations, like any decent hotel does nowadays! Though I don’t know if it will do any good, I will still be reporting this incident to the Better Business Bureau.
I will also make sure that anyone I meet who ever mentions they are interested in traveling to Surfside Beach, Texas, or anywhere within a 50-mile vicinity of the area, knows about this establishment and how painfully unprofessional they are. It’s the least I can do.
On another note, the people at the Ocean Village Hotel have been fantastic throughout the entire ordeal. I would stay there in a heartbeat, but I will probably never set foot in Surfside Beach, Texas, after my experience with the people who run the Surfside Motel. I’m sure it’s a lovely beach, but they’ve pretty much ruined it for me.
After doing a little research, I’m dismayed to see that treating people like shit seems to be a normal business practice of this establishment. I’ve found the following reviews of the place.
This place is decent. But don’t expect any towels and expect to be treated like a drug addict or criminal. I rented a room for the week and decided after the man said no visitors and searched my room while I collected the dirty towels because 6 people were allowed 3 towels. Really! Then he proceeded to yank the towels around. No visitors allowed. No phones in room. Very rude man. We vacated before even 24 hours and he charged me almost 300.00 he thinks on my credit card. Which that charge is being disputed right now with my credit card company. Never again will I or anyone I know be going to this motel. Suck it up buddy.
The owners (an older couple) were the bigggest problem.The man was somewhat friendly, but the woman was extremely RUDE!!!!!!!! She has no people skills,she seems racist!!!!!!!!! She is so nosy, i wouldnt dought if she has cameras in the rooms.DONT STAY HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This manager has anger issues, I feared for my family and my safety. City council should do something about this man. He screams at the top of his lungs always going to call the police (never saw a cop there yet) they think he’s nuts too!!!! It was so bad we had already paid and needed to leave before we even unpacked the car. I think he intimanates people into leaving so he can rerent the room. He would not give us any kind of refund. he not only yelled at us as if we were children (I’m 49 & hubby 55) and demanded an apology, we hadn’t done anything wrong. My daughter just wanted her friends to come on the balcony to sing and eat Happy Birthday cake before they went back home to Houston. He accused us of trying to put extra people overnite in the room. He would’nt even let us explain anything before threating us. Someone in Sufside should put a stop to this by not renewing some city contract with him. Surfside Beach doesn’t need or deserve this type of review because of one hotheaded idiot. Mark my words one of these days the police will be called for a shooting or stabbing by this man’s hands. All you good people that live and depend on visitors for income take note he’s not any value to your community. I’ve been going to cedar sands for 25years. Never again, and will start telling everyone I see at the beach to read all these reviews and let them know the good ones were written by him & his friends. I’m usually at the beach every weekend in the summer. I’m also going to call Mayor Larry Davidson’s Office to file a formal complaint.(for future safety reasons)
Good air conditioner, everything else less than stellar. Motel is extremely seedy, room MUCH smaller than website photo and smelly. Man and wife owners are possibly the rudest innkeepers I have ever come across. 22 years of being hoteliers has soured them on the idea of being polite and courteous to their guests We had a disagreement on billing and they were threatening, curt and abusive. Put a big cloud over an otherwise pleasant vacation!
The owner was rude and dismissive when we first checked in. I was very disappointed with the room; it was old and run down. There was a musty mildew odor in the room and mold on the AC unit. That night we were sitting outside our room talking and the owner came over and told us to “go to bed”.(Him and his wife sleep in a camper right in front of the rooms and our talking was disturbing them) The next day we went to the office to ask for a couple extra towels to take to the beach and the management told us “no, and if you do take the towels from your room, we will charge your credit card $20 per towel”. The place was smelly, dumpy, and the owners/management is very rude. I have never been treated like this at any hotel/motel that I have ever stayed. Will not be staying there again.