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Hotel Horrors

20. Public Land Owner

I had a winner today. You know a customer is going to give you trouble when they strut in wearing a shirt that reads: “Public Land Owner.” My hotel is located inside a national park, so people like that always think they own the place. He went up to me and said: “I know the county has a burn ban going on right now, but since the lodge is on federal land, it doesn’t apply. So I can start a fire on the grass just outside my cabin, right?”

Me: “NO. NO, YOU MAY NOT. I’m not selling you any firewood now that you’ve established yourself as a fire risk in the middle of the forest.” Him“WHAT?! I WANT TO SEE A MANAGER.” Me: “Well, I am manager, so it’s still no” Him: “Y’know, since this is federal land, I shouldn’t have to pay state and county sales tax. Take it off, or get me a manager who can.”

Me: “I’ve already told you—I’m the only manager on duty right now. If you look on that wall behind me, you’ll see that our business license is from the county, so you do need to pay sales tax because we are required to charge it.” Him: “But I’m from Oregon and we don’t pay sales tax there.” Me: “Well, you’re not in Oregon right now.”

Him: “Well, Washington State lets businesses waive sales tax for Oregon residents! Can you do that for me?” Me: “Do you have a tax-free ID from the US State Department?” Him: “No.” Me: “Then that’ll be $98.73. Will you be paying at the register, or charging this to your room?” Him: “Actually, I’m just checking out early. I don’t care what the policy is, just give me my deposit back. This place is a dump in the woods. I want something classy and this place is just embarrassing.” I was already annoyed at this point, but it just got worse.

Me: “Well, I can definitely break the cancellation policy for you, sir. I sincerely hope you find a hotel that meets your standardsBut, uh, there’s an agricultural festival, a big bicycle charity ride, a baseball game, and a fishing tournament this weekend. It’s not like any other hotel the area would have rooms available on a summer weekend.”

I told him to have fun searching for another place that would have him. I guessed that the next available place was probably a two-hour drive away, but I may have forgotten to mention that to him. So anyway, four hours later, he came storming back in, demanding to know why his keys weren’t working. He demanded I give him his room back. 

Unfortunately for him, I had already sold that room 15 minutes after housekeeping cleared it. I told him to get out before I called security. There was nothing else he could do, so he finally left me alone and that was that.


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