Review: The Hampton Inn

In my ongoing review series from my SXSW trip, I’d like to turn a negative eye on The Hampton Inn. As most business travellers, I receive a per diem and with that and additional funds I had in Paypal, I was secure in knowing I had $1000 in Paypal for my trip. Nothing that could come up could put me in a financial jam. That was the assumption I made in going to Austin and oh how wrong I was.

From the start, we had reserved rooms at the Hampton Inn in downtown Austin (San Jacinto and 3rd St, if you’re taking notes) via the SXSW housing desk. Our reservations were placed under the same card that we registered for the conference with. So arriving at the Hampton on Friday morning, I checked in and presented my Paypal card as the card for incidental expenses. Nothing was said about the charges for the entire stay being placed on my card, and admittedly I didn’t look at the card I was signing. So half of this was my fault to begin with. Shoot, not even that – maybe a third or a quarter. Isn’t it normal policy to ask something along the lines of, “Would you like the charges to apply to the credit card on file?” Instead, the Hampton charged my Paypal card and essentially drained my entire expense account. I was not aware of this until late that night while I was out with Jeremy and Jim Turner when my card was declined.

When I approached the Hampton about this, they were happy to shift the charge to the company card, and called Paypal to reverse the charge. However, when the weekend passed and I had not seen the money, I called Paypal myself. Paypal acknowledged that the Hampton had called on Friday, three days prior, but said that the Hampton had not done what they needed to do in terms of authorization to reverse the charge. Paypal needed documentation of the charge, merchant authorization number. Perhaps because my card is a Paypal debit card, I don’t know.

I notified the Hampton of the requirement and they faxed the paperwork over. Paypal assured me the charge would be reversed by the end of the day. By the end of the day, I still had no money so I called Paypal back. They went looking for the fax and told me that they needed the paperwork signed.

Back to the Hampton. The original person who was helping me had left for the day and was about the only person on staff who was in the least bit helpful. The front desk staff person glared at me with disdain but signed the paperwork and faxed it back – to the wrong number. Three hours later, I found that out because I had to call Paypal again.

Can someone tell me why I have to do the Hampton’s job?

Naturally, I did not see my money until Tuesday when I arrived back in Baltimore. Thank you to Jeremy for covering for me for the entire trip. He has been reimbursed as well.

I rate the Hampton Inn completely Unremarkable and will never stay there again.

Aaron Brazell

Aaron Brazell is a Baltimore, MD-based WordPress developer, a co-founder at WP Engine, WordPress core contributor and author. He wrote the book WordPress Bible and has been publishing on the web since 2000. You can follow him on Twitter, on his personal blog and view his photography at The Aperture Filter.

18 thoughts on “Review: The Hampton Inn

  1. Don’t you just love it when companies play fast and loose with YOUR credit cards?? One of my suppliers charged over $1500 worth of stuff to my business Visa, claiming that I never paid the bill. Um, I’m a COD customer. I paid when it was DELIVERED. JEEEZ. So I called them in a panic and had the charges reversed. They were supposed to “research” everything, and sent me a bill with all sorts of miscellaneous “fees” and “late charges” on it…I called and complained about that, and haven’t heard from them since. Especially amusing, considering the last thing I said to them was “You know, the unauthorized use of a credit card is a felony in Maryland, I think.”

    Idiots. IDIOTS!!!

    Oh, and Paypal sucks. Just thought I’d throw that in.

  2. Carol: Yeah, I’m with Aaron, I love PayPal. I not only have the debit account, but a nice line of credit. They’ve always been good to me. Hard to pass that up considering most of the shark credit companies out there.

  3. Mr Brazell,
    I was sorry to read your comments but as the representative of the Hotel I apologise. When you make a reservation with the Hotel you give us a card to Gtd the room. SXSW had indicated on your reservation that “individual pay own account” On arrival we are obilgated to swipe the card for authorization which also calculates the cost of your stay and charges that amount. If you present a debit card then as you are probably aware the charges are automatically deducted from the card. My staff had done what is normal practice to get the charge reversed but possibly Paypal has a different policy and need a different type of authorization. I can assure you my team were trying to help you and I am sorry for the inconvenience.
    Roger Millar, GM

  4. Roger-

    First off, thanks for stopping by. Second of all, do you know how your team was reacting? Do you know how they were handling things when you weren’t there. I very much appreciate your assistance, despite the fact that I had to find out on Monday that you didn’t follow through. You were 99% helpful in this situation. Your staff, on the other hand, rolled their eyes and stonewalled on me the entire time and only reluctantly did anything to help me.

    You wouldn’t know this because you weren’t there, and they of course will deny it choosing instead to cover their collective asses.

    Why do you think I’ll never come back? Do you think it’s because of the money? No, money stuff happenes. It was the eye rolling, the lack of follow through, the fact that I had to sit all day on the phone with Paypal and keep going back to the front desk to get things done right.

    I won’t come back because I wasn’t treated like a guest – which, when we pay $925, I should be entitled to without asking.

  5. As someone who frequents hotels in my travels, I would add to what Aaron said by sayings : AMEN!

    I have been to only one hotel that ever treated me as the MOST IMPORTANT person on the planet, and that was an Embassy Suites Hotel. A Hilton hotel, and quite frankly, I don’t like the Hiltons, but, I would stay there first before going back to a Hampton. You pay the same, but get world class service.

    That’s the value of good service.

  6. That’s interesting because I thought Hampton was part of Marriot LOL

    Thanks Aaron for clarifying that. And since you’ve said that, I find that hard to believe because Embassy suites gave me such great service that I never thought Hampton, being a Hilton company, would fail so miserably.

    Interesting.

  7. To reiterate what Aaron said, the overcharge was mildly understandable. It happens. We should have been informed of what the charges were.

    It really was the post-issue handling that upset us. Again and again.

  8. I work at a Hampton Inn in TN and have had many guests upset over the policies of using a credit/debit card. I know that there is alot of red tape to go through as far as getting charges reversed. The GSA that checked you in should have inquired about charges to your card.. or the card on file. You should have NEVER received the attitude you say you were given- under ANY circumstance as a guest with an issue!! It is customary to add 20% to the authorization to cover incidentals, which is put right back on your card when you check out (nothing is actually CHARGED to your card until checkout)
    As a representative of a Hampton Inn, I am saddened by your experience of poor guest service. As a collective whole, Hamptons are generally geared toward guest satisfaction- even going as far as offering 100% Satisfaction Guarantee if you aren’t satisfied with your stay.
    I hope that you will reconsider your decision to never stay at a Hampton Inn again. And if you are ever in Greeneville TN, please look us up. :)
    Also.. I dont know if you know about this, but you can call Guest Assistence and they can issue you a gift certificate for a free stay at one of Hilton’s properties.
    Have a great week!

  9. Hello, I work at a Hampton Inn & Suites in Tarpon Springs, FL. We bend over backwards for guests for anything and everything CRM “customer really matters” is our motto. I too am saddened by your experience and promise you that if you are ever in the Tarpon Springs area look us up. You WILL NOT get bad service here. Please reconsider your decision never to stay at a Hampton. One bad apple doesn’t spoil the whole bunch. Have a nice day.

  10. Hello, I worked for the Hampton Inn & Suites Downtown Austin for 2 1/2 years. I left in April and was the Reservations Manager.

    First, I can tell you that like every hotel, we do not just charge a credit card because the reservation was guaranteed to that card. It’s something we do to look out for the guests in the event of credit card fraud. The only way we have the authority to charge that card is when the cardholder either presents it physically or sends us a credit card authorization form in advance along with a photocopy of the front and back of the card along with a photo id.

    Second, I recall Ramzi, who was the front desk agent assisting you, clocked out because he was supposed to leave for the day. Then he sat down at an empty desk to call Paypal to see what we needed to do on our end. He sat on the phone for atleast an hour on two separate occasions because first they were telling him they could not take the charges off the card, then they wanted him to jump through hoops so they could reverse the charges. In the 5 years I’ve been in this business I’ve never dealt with a company that gave us that much trouble reversing authorization.

    Third, I’d like to remind each of you for future reference to read the manual that comes with your debit card. It specifically explains that rental car companies and hotels will authorize more than the actual charges to cover any incidental charges that may be incurred, and that it may take 7 – 10 business days after departure (or vehicle return) for the unused funds to be returned to the account.

    Lastly, I hope you were able to enjoy the SXSW experience. I understand that if you felt that the Hampton employees had wronged you, your trip to Austin was probably overshadowed by it. I’d like to think that you’d give the Hampton Inn one more chance. If not be prepared to have the same experience with debit cards and not being able to charge the card on the reservation at any hotel in Austin.

  11. WTF? What credit card comes with a “manual”? Jeez.

    That’s the longest and least-apologetic rationalization I’ve ever read.

  12. Additionally, my complaint was never about the rate for room or holding incidental charges. I know that. I stay in hotels regularly in my travels. My complaint was always and only about the inability to resolve the miscommunication that nnever should have happened about charging the entire stay to my card instead of the company card.

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