Saturday, July 22, 2006

San Diego reportage:

Thursday Freak Out: How an Omni Hotel Reservation Lady Screwed Us Out of Our Room.

We should have known something terrible was about to happen when everything went so smoothly in getting to San Diego on Thursday. We got to the airport early, managed to upgrade our flight, sailed through customs, landed in town about 20 minutes early, and to top it all off, just as we were pulling up to the entrance the radio started playing "our song" from the reception, As Time Goes By.

We walked into the Omni, cheerfully greeted reception and asked for our room. After a few moments digging through the records the man (I'll call him Good Cop) announced that our room had been given away. According to their records we were supposed to arrive on Wednesday and because we didn't we were considered no shows and our room was given away. We both gasp in shock.

I related the conversation I had with a their hotel staff on Monday, which went exactly like this:

Omni: Omni Hotel, where can I direct your call?
me: Reservations please.
Reservation lady: Omni Reservations, how can I help you?
me: I need to change my check in date for this week.

I provide the name and day we're set to get in to town, Wednesday.

me: It looks like we're now coming in on Thursday now so we need to change that to Thursday from Wednesday. Is there still time to change that?
Reservation lady: No problem, I'll do that for you.

She quotes a date on her screen.

me: Is that Thursday?
Reservation lady: Yes, that's Thursday.
me: That's the day we're coming in so great. Oh and I wanted to ask if we could get a room facing the convention center because we stayed there a couple of years ago and we had a room on the side of that bar and we couldn't leave the window open for the noise.
Reservation lady: Let me check, we're pretty full up for the weekend.
me: Yeah, I know. It's the con, everything gets booked up during that time. The noise is one thing but I also have some mild asthma and I need to have a window open, and we can't leave it open when there's so much noise from that bar.
Reservation lady: Oh, well that will probably help you in getting that because we give priority for medical reasons.
me: Oh thanks. I stayed at a hotel a few years ago that couldn't open the windows and I had an attack in my sleep, it was really scary.
Reservation lady: We have ionizers if you need them.
me: Oh no thanks, the window really does the trick more than anything. If you can't get anything on the pool side of the building then up high is good too, as long as it's far from the bar.
Reservation lady: Okay, I think we can do that. I have all the information on your file now.
me: Thank you so much. I really appreciate that.
Reservation lady: You're welcome, we'll see you on Thursday.
me: Thanks again. Bye

Good Cop looks at the screen and says that he sees the medical information there and I tell him that was the information I added on Monday so why wasn't the date changed? He calls in another manager (this one shall be called Bad Cop).

Bad Cop gets updated on the information and says there are no rooms available and that the rooms have been booked for months. We tell him that we booked this months ago so why would we screw ourselves on the one weekend of the year when the entire city sells out of rooms? We made the changes with their reservation department and it's their fault, not ours. On top of that we find out I was charged a night's stay because we were no shows.

At this point I start yelling that I was not responsible for this screw up and I shouldn't be charged for their mistake. They agree to reimburse the charge but that's it. Bad Cop takes the stance that since there was no record of making a change to the date that we must be trying to scam them into getting a room. They call around the city and the only room available is one night at the Marriot on Coronado Island and no matter how inconvenient and awful that is for us that's all they can do and Bad Cop escorts us to a cab. No offer of compensation for the ride over either.

We were shaking with rage on the ride over. How the hell can we get through this weekend like this? We drop off our stuff and quickly hurry back to the convention center (another twenty dollar cab ride) and were just able to get our badges before the 7pm closing. There was five minutes left before the show ended so we decided to check in with the DC Comics booth to get a signing schedule set up. We found Fletcher, one of the booth managers who shall be forever known as Saint Fletcher. We mentioned our predicament and asked if he knew of anyone who might know of a room available in the city. He thinks for a second, winks in that knowing way and says, "Give me a moment, I'll call a guy."

Ian and I stand there stunned that there may actually be a solution and sure enough, in a couple of minutes Saint Fletcher returns with a man who says he can set is up in the Gas Lamp.

Holy crap! Holy crap! We were so happy! We were saved! Saint Fletcher rocks!

We stayed that night at the Coronado, a Shining-esque creepy night at that but the next morning we were at the Marriot Gaslamp. Yay! Double Yay!

I will never stay at the Omni ever again. I may stop by the bar for their very nice Arnold Palmers but as for the hotel... forget it. Never trust a place that can't read a bloody calendar.

Friday was a hoot. We didn't win at the Eisners (as expected) but we got to hang out with Shane and goof around drawing cartoons on our programs all night.

The signings at the booth went very nicely and I thank everyone who stopped by to say hello and get sketches.

I'll post more soon, time to go and be a social butterfly.

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