Archive for the 'Financial' Category

My tax dollars, killing babies

It’s so good to know that after Obama signs one of his many Executive Orders today my hard earned tax money will be going to other countries to support groups that preach abortion.

Honestly, I don’t have much more to say about this.  Blah, blah, blah – these “health organizations” around the world save lives and promote womens health – blah, blah, blah.  You can do that without advocating murder.

My tax dollars need to stay in America where they are really needed.  I’m so glad Obama is going to dump more useless money on our economy, money we don’t have to throw around, and then send tax money that could be used to repay that new debt overseas instead.

GAH!!! I’m all p***ed off now!

Well, after all the joy of being told by my credit card company that my dispute with the Holiday Inn was closed in my favor, I find out today that it wasn’t closed and they took the money back from me.

I am so ticked off that I am going to be totally useless all day long.

I am now very close to starting up a new website called http://www.holidayinnsucks.com

GAH!!!

Upromise

Don’t start that Christmas shopping yet.  Before you do you may want to sign up for UpromiseUpromise is a college savings program that rewards you for buying a variety of goods and shopping at a lot of different stores.

The College Savings part comes in when you tie your account to a 529 plan.  It can be a 529 for anyone, your kids, your grandkids, nieces, nephews, even yourself.

You simply open up an account and tie your credit cards, debit cards, grocery cards, gas cards, whatever you use, to the 529 you want the money to go to.

Don’t have a 529 to contribute to?  You can just let the money build up in your Upromise account and request a check from them.  Put it in an Educational Savings Account, use it to pay off student loans, or according to some things I have read online, any other loan or bill you may want to use it for.

There is absolutely no downside that I can see to this.  Even if  you don’t often shop at the stores that participate, you will still build up money over time and every penny counts.

But I can tell ya, the most money I save up is going to come from one retailer, McDonalds.  Everyone eats at McyD’s so sign up.  Help someone you love pay for college.


Upromise.com

And no, this isn’t a paid advertisement, it’s just something I believe in and think everyone should at least take a look at.

EDIT: Just noticed my tinyurl link to the Upromise page is missing the “r” in promise. Dont worry, it really is a link to the Upromise page and not some fishing malicious link or anything. Just a typo on my part.

Great plan for small business owners

Driving in to work this morning the radio talking head passed on this plan to fight Obamas tax hikes.

A friend of his is a small business owner. He runs a local bakery here in St. Louis and employs about 2 dozen people. He has taken a long hard look at Obama’s tax plan and has come to the conclusion that if Obama is elected and gets his tax plan implemented, he is going to have to lay off between 6 and 10 employees.

So he made a plan. He walked out to the employee parking lot and noted which cars had Obama bumper stickers on them. Those people are the top of the list for layoffs.

Beautiful, poetic justice.

Final Holiday Inn Update…

I am sure all of you are just holding your breath waiting for the conclusion to my Holiday Inn fiasco. well here you go.

The Better Business Bureau closed the case without resolution a few weeks.  The process went, I filed a complaint, the hotel responded, I responded, they responded, case closed.  The chick at the hotel continued to be a tool and basically had nothing to say other than, you had two rooms you have to pay for them.  She just would not acknowledge that I was lied to on multiple occasions.

I was annoyed that the BBB closed it, but a follow up email to them got them to tell me it was just standard procedure to close after the number of back and forth statements we had.  I knew going in that they had no actual power to force anyones hand.

That was the bad news, here is the good news.  About a eek, maybe two after the BBB closed my case I was looking at my credit card website for some info.  The info I found that I was not actually looking for was that I had been credited the money for half of what the hotel had charged me, plus the finance charge for it.

SURPRISE!!!

I was surprised that they had credited my account but not sent me any kind of notification so I called up to the customer support and asked them about it.  I told the lady that I wanted to make sure it was actually closed because the BBB process had gotten me nothing but my head slammed against a wall in frustration.

She checked the notes on the credit and it said that the dispute had been closed.  That was all the details in there, but she said that because they credited it back to me and closed the dispute that they had sided with me on the matter and that I didn’t have to worry about it anymore.  All I can figure is that the hotel chick must have not responded within the 45 days they allowed, because if she had I would have had to respond back just like the BBB case.

Anyway, thanks for all the prayers and thoughts you guys all sent up for me about this situation.  It’s so nice not to have to think about it anymore.

Update on the Holiday Inn Issue

Ok, it’s been a few weeks since my original post about the robbery I am fighting involving the Holiday Inn-Muskegon Harbor in Muskegon, MI.

If you missed the original, click here and read all about it.

Now for the update. I have had no response from my credit card dispute yet, though that is understandable as the credit card company gives the business 45 days to respond.

The Better Business Bureau however, only gives 16 days, so I have received a response through them. And what a response it was. Here is it verbatim from the BBB website:

“On August 19, 2008, the business provided the following information:
Contact Name and Title: Desiree, Front Desk Man.
Contact Phone: xxx-xxx-xxxx
Contact Email: Desireexxxxx_himuskegon@xxxxxxxx.com
I’m not sure what happened here, but a response was sent back the day that I received it. I will go ahead and explain the situation again.
Mr. Harlow had spoken to Rachel (She was a GSR, but is no longer with us) initially about his reservation. Our system is very clear on what our rate is, for each room, and it will even add on our taxes for us so we can have the total amount upon booking. I had spoken to Rachel about this situation and she was very clear with me on what she had quoted Mr. Harlow. She said that she was on the phone with him for quiet some time explaining all the details to Mr. Harlow. When his wife came to check in ,there was all this confusion with her on the price. I wrote down everything for her; seperate room prices, taxes, all of that and none of that seemed right to her. I then spoke to Mr. Harlow, and explained the same thing to him. He was giving me information that was not even registered in my computer. I 100 percent believe that this was a misunderstanding on Mr. Harlow’s behalf. Rachel was very clear on what she quoted him ,and strongly said that she had quoted the direct pricing to him. I tried very hard to work with Mr. Harlow on this, but after the second time speaking to him he was VERY RUDE, and was threatning action against our hotel, and then hung up on me. I stronngly disagree with any sort of compensation for Mr. Harlow. We already gave him a discount, and feel like this was plenty of compensation for him.

Thank you”

Now then, here is the response to that that I submitted back to the BBB today. Be warned, it’s long and it’s detailed.

Let me respond one step at a time here.

“Our system is very clear on what our rate is, for each room, and it will even add on our taxes for us so we can have the total amount upon booking.”

If the system they use is as clear as Desiree claims it is, I would like to know why I was never told over the phone, nor was my wife told in person that the TOTAL charge for the 3 nights was going to be $1131.90. Had that number been communicated to either of us in any way at all, we would have cancelled the reservation and sought different accommodations. For the purpose of illustration, copy and paste this URL into your web browser: this was a link to a scan of my mortgage statement that I am not posting online. As you can see, the charge for three nights at this HOLIDAY INN came out to be more than my monthly mortgage payment. Considering the fact that I originally accepted that reservation having been told I would be paying $339 plus tax total, for the suite, for three nights, it is absolutely ludicrous to believe I would agree to pay more than a house payment for this stay.

“I had spoken to Rachel about this situation and she was very clear with me on what she had quoted Mr. Harlow. She said that she was on the phone with him for quiet some time explaining all the details to Mr. Harlow.”

The total time I spoke with Rachel was maybe ten minutes. In those ten minutes she first offered me the bedroom of this “suite” for $129 a night. She then told me that she could offer to attach the “parlor” room and make the reservation for the “suite” and that her “manager” had approved her to offer me a price of $339 for the weekend.

I said, “Really? $339? A minute ago you told me the bedroom was $129 a night, and now you are offering me the suite for $339 for the entire weekend?”

She said, “That’s right, it’s a really good deal.”

Before the conversation was over, I had asked her two more times to verify $339 plus tax as a total for the weekend, and she confirmed it each time.

When I spoke to Desiree, she told me that Rachel should have said that it was $339 plus tax per night for the weekend. Well, the fact of the matter is that that is not what she told me. Desiree also informed me that she is the manager and that she was not working when the reservation was made. The “manager” Rachel referred to was, I don’t recall the exact title, but it was something along the lines of Director of Hospitality, and had no authority to offer me any kind of “good deal.” Remember this point; it comes back in to play shortly.

Now, if Desiree is correct and Rachel should have said $339 plus tax per night, let’s try to see how that in any way could be considered a “really good deal.”

I was quoted $129 per night for the bedroom. If you break the $339 per night price tag in half that becomes $169.50 per room, more than the number I was originally given for just one of the rooms. Not a “really good deal.”

After my second phone call with Desiree, which was about two weeks after the stay, I had a third party call the hotel and inquire about the “suite” and a reservation price. She was quoted, by Melissa, $129 plus tax per room per night, for a total of roughly $259 plus tax per night, roughly $80 less per night than I was charged.

Now, if the room price is actually $169 plus tax per room per night, as Desiree says, this leads me to believe that either A) the computer system is not nearly as clear as she claims it to be, B) the front desk staff is terribly inept at using the system, or C) they make a habit of lying to customers over the phone, and at least two different GSR’s (Rachel and Melissa) have done this.

Let’s continue.

“When his wife came to check in, there was all this confusion with her on the price. I wrote down everything for her; separate room prices, taxes, all of that and none of that seemed right to her.”

My wife was not told the total price for the room would be $1131.90, regardless of what Desiree says. As I previously stated, she would have cancelled the reservation on the spot if that price had been put in front of her. She was in town for her brother’s wedding and had plenty of family she could have stayed with if the only room available – which I was told by Rachel this was – was going to cost that much money.

“I then spoke to Mr. Harlow, and explained the same thing to him. He was giving me information that was not even registered in my computer. I 100 percent believe that this was a misunderstanding on Mr. Harlow’s behalf.”

As I stated above, I was not told the total was going to be as high as I was charged. After telling me that the $339 quote I was given by Rachel was “impossible” and “not going to happen” Desiree quoted me a price of $507 plus tax for the weekend for the “suite.” She did not point out “per room” at all when giving me the price. Considering the fact that she had been explaining that Rachel should have said “per room”, it is idiotic to believe that she could have told me that and I would have “misunderstood” it again. What she did tell me was that she was going to give me a discount, but not as much as I wanted. I still don’t understand where she believes this discount came in to play considering she ultimately charged me more than I was originally quoted for one night in one room, and more than was quoted to my third party that inquired about the suite.

“Rachel was very clear on what she quoted him, and strongly said that she had quoted the direct pricing to him.”

Rachel was obviously trying to cover herself by lying to Desiree because at no point in our conversation did she give me any price higher than $339. Claiming that she told me the total price for the weekend is a flat out lie.

“I tried very hard to work with Mr. Harlow on this, but after the second time speaking to him he was VERY RUDE, and was threatening action against our hotel, and then hung up on me.”

This is also a disingenuous statement. Desiree did not try to “work with” me in any way, shape, or form. She was rude to my wife from almost the moment she walked in the door, and was rude to me both times I spoke with her. As far as working with me, she called me a liar to my wife and then charged me more than the $129 per room per night that you could get quoted if you called the hotel today.

I did not threaten any action against the hotel. The first time we spoke I informed her that I would be filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. She responded to this with a very flippant, “You can complain to whoever you want.” I can now see that this attitude was based on the fact that she would be the one handling the complaint and that she has never had any intention of doing the right thing in this situation.

The second time we spoke, I called and simply asked if she would correct what I thought was an error, as there was a duplicate charge on my credit card. I told her that I wanted to try to straighten it out with her first so that I didn’t have to dispute it with my credit card company, which is generally regarded as a huge hassle, though I have never done it before. She then began to try to argue with me about the charges. I started to get sucked in to her argument, but then stopped myself. While she continued to try to argue in a raised voice I simply said, very calmly, “I did not call to argue with you about this. I will just dispute the charges with my credit card company.” As she had not stopped trying to argue and had continued to talk over me as I said this, I simply hung up the phone.

There was no “threatening action” at all in either of our conversations. I only informed her of the steps I would be taking to make my dissatisfaction known.

“I strongly disagree with any sort of compensation for Mr. Harlow. We already gave him a discount, and feel like this was plenty of compensation for him.”

As I stated above, there was no discount given that I can find in any of this. The $40 per room, per night overcharge is the only thing I see.

Now, as I mentioned above, the Director of Hospitality and Rachel were the two people who initiated this problem.

Rachel, by referring to her “manager,” who was actually not her manager and had no authority to offer a price reduction, violated the Michigan Consumer Protection Act 331 of 1976, Section 445.903, Subsection 3, Part (1), definition (c) which reads:

(c) Representing that goods or services have sponsorship, approval, characteristics, ingredients, uses, benefits, or quantities that they do not have or that a person has sponsorship, approval, status, affiliation, or connection that he or she does not have.

Rachel, in telling me that her “manager” had approved this “really good deal” misrepresented the status of the Director of Hospitality and lied about having the approval of her management to quote the price that she did.

Offering me the suite for $339 plus tax for the weekend and repeatedly confirming that price to me when it was in fact false further violated the M.C.P.A. in definition (i):

(i) Making false or misleading statements of fact concerning the reasons for, existence of, or amounts of price reductions.

There was in fact no price reduction, a fact compounded by Desiree’s continued insistence that I was given a discount when I clearly was not, as illustrated above, and was actually overcharged.

This leads to violation number three:

(y) Gross discrepancies between the oral representations of the seller and the written agreement covering the same transaction or failure of the other party to the transaction to provide the promised benefits.

I was quoted two different prices over the phone by two different employees of the Holiday Inn. Both numbers were grossly under the actual price charged to me, as was the third quote obtained by my third party.

I believe I have stated my case here quite clearly that the Holiday Inn and their management are in the wrong in this situation and need to take action to make the situation right.

*my name*

I am already tired of dealing with this chick. I really hope this time it gets through to her that I have solid legal ground to stand on, or that it will get passed beyond her up the management chain at some point soon.

Why I Will Never Stay At Holiday Inn Again…

Ok, this is going to be a long one. Let me give you a little background on where my frame of mind was before this all occurred. Back in the middle of June I stayed one night at a Hampton Inn in Nashville, TN. We got a suite that cost us $149.00 plus tax. It was a nice room. Living room type area with a sofa sleeper and a kitchenette, and a little hallway that led to a bedroom with a door that could be closed to separate the space. The room was nice enough that $149 was an okay price. I wouldn’t have paid that much for a single room, but the suite made it worthwhile.

Now on to the topic at hand. My wife was traveling to Muskegon, MI for her brother’s wedding. The wedding happened to be the same weekend as a big concert type event up there and apparently a motorcycle rally. By the time I got around to trying to reserve her a hotel room all the hotels in the area were booked up. The one exception to this was the Holiday Inn. They told me when I called that they had one room available for the time period she was going to be in town.

The girl I spoke to first told me that it was a king room that I could reserve for $129 a night. Seemed a little steep but it also seemed like the only option. I told her I would call her back to make the reservation final. I had to run it past the wife because she was going to be sharing the room the last night with her little brother. I wanted to make sure that she was ok with her, her brother, and our two babies all in one king size room for a night. She said it would be fine so I called back.

I got the same girl on the phone and when I told her I would take the room she informed me that the room can actually be reserved as part of a suite. If I reserved the suite I would get the bedroom plus the attached “parlor” that had a sofa bed and a kitchenette. She also told me that her manager had approved her to offer me the suite for $339 for the weekend. I was kinda surprised by this. I asked her, “You said the bedroom was $129 a night and you are offering me the suite for $339 for the entire weekend?”

She said, “Yeah, it’s really a good deal.”

No kidding. That comes out to $113 a night. Seemed reasonable given the managers approval off the deal, making it $30 a night cheaper than I paid at the Hampton Inn in Nashville. I asked her again two more times before I got off the phone if that was a weekend total price and she told me yes every time. Sweet. Reservation made.

Fast forward about 30 hours to when my wife actually shows up at the hotel. She tries to check in and they tell her the total for the weekend is going to be $507 plus tax.

Whoa. Hold the phone. Stop the train. That’s not right.

She informed them that I had been quoted $339 for the weekend. They call her a liar. She gets the manager. She calls her a liar. Says that quote is impossible. Calls the girl I spoke to, she calls me a liar. Says she never said $339. So my wife calls me.

I call up there and talk to the manager. She tries to pass the quote off as a miscommunication. Says the girl said “$339 per night for the weekend for the suite.” Uh-uh, I told her I asked the girl 3 times to clarify that that was a total for the weekend. She doesn’t care. Tells me there is nothing that can be done about it and she isn’t going to give me the $339 price. She does offer me the suite for $507 though. Totaling $169 a night for the suite. I’m still not happy with that. She offers to cancel a night of the room and point her to a different hotel, but also points out that all the other hotels in the area are full.

I tell her that I we will take the suite for $507 but that I feel like I had been lied to and I was going to be filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. She says, “That’s fine. File your complaint with whoever you want to.” Very flippant. I could have hit her.

Fast forward two weeks. I am looking at my credit card statement for some reason. I notice two charges on it from Holiday Inn, $565 each. Hmm, I hope thats a computer glitch in my credit card companies system. I call them to find out. Nope, it is two separate charges for $565 each. The customer service lady tells me to try to get the hotel to fix it first, and if they won’t I can dispute it through the credit card company.

So I call back to this crappy hotel again. Yay, I get to talk to a third person. I explain whats going on and ask for a refund and she looks it up in their system. No she says. You had two rooms so you got charged twice, $169 a night for each. WHAT!?!?! I didn’t have two rooms, I had one suite that I was quoted $169 a night for. Nope, it was two rooms, she says. I informed her that her manager personally and explicitly quoted me $169 a night for the SUITE, not per room in the suite. This chick couldn’t care less. Not gonna help me. Fine. I inform her that I will be disputing it with my card company and hang up.

I get the dispute process started that afternoon.

The next day I called back up to the hotel to speak with the manager I talked to before (she was not working the previous day). I told her what was going on and asked her to fix it for me so that we didn’t have to go through the whole ordeal with the card company.

She looks up the reservation and says, “No, you had two rooms you have to pay for them.” WHAT!?!?!?! She personally told me $507 for the suite. Nope she says, I meant $507 per room. At this point I want to crawl through the phone and beat her over the head with it. I argued with her for a minute and then tried a different approach. Fine, you think its per room. Why then did I get charged $169 a night for the bedroom that I was originally quoted $129 for? I had also had a third party call and ask about the suite. They were also told $129 a night for the bedroom. She had no idea what I was talking about and denied that too. Obviously the management has no idea what the people working the front desk are telling callers. I just don’t know how they can think that I would go from reserving a room for a total of $339 to agreeing to pay over $1100 for a three night stay. There is not a room in a hotel with Holiday Inn on the side of it in the world worth that kind of money. I mean, that’s a freaking mortgage payment for me. Almost an entire paycheck.

And to top it off, remember the original girl I talked to telling me that $339 was “a great deal”? Uh-hu, how in the world is that a great deal if it’s a per night price?!? Going from $129 a night to $169 a night for that one room just because you turned it into a “suite”? That’s not “a great deal”, that’s highway robbery!

So, after getting no where I finally hung up and decided that it’s just going to be up to the credit card company and the BBB to take care of this for me. I thought about calling the owner of the hotel, but after getting his name, decided the last thing I needed was the frustration of trying to argue about this with someone who may not speak English.

Now, if you read all that, am I wrong in this in any way? I certainly don’t think so.

UPDATE: Here is the latest update for the situation. LINK


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