Howard Johnsons Express Inn, Bronx, NY
My client emailed me this letter. It is understood that southwest.com is not responsible for the hotels listed on their website. I would just like to warn consumers to be careful and do their homework before booking a hotel.
I booked the hotel through the southwest.com website. I am unfamiliar with the area in which this establishment is located and was completely and utterly surprised upon arrival. The hotel was absolutely horrendous. I have never been in such an establishment in my entire life. It was horrific and appalling. Upon seeing the hotel and against better judgment., I began the check-in process. As events unfolded during the check-in process, I changed my mind and decided not to stay. I had read and understood the hotel’s cancellation policy, which states “Cancellations or changes made within 1 day prior to 4:00 PM local hotel time on the day of arrival are subject to a charge for the full amount due.” The policy also stipulates “Cancellations or changes made after 4:00 PM local hotel time on the day of arrival are subject to a 100% charge. We are sorry but refunds are not available for early check-out.” However, because of the extenuating circumstances, I wish to request that an amendment be made to this policy.
On Thursday, August 5, my daughter and I had driven from Havertown, PA to New York to attend an early morning concert on Friday, August 06, 2010. The reservation was to be for one night and we thought it would be okay. We had planned to check into a reputable hotel, spend the night, park our car, and take a cab into the city to attend a concert. Arrival at the Howard Johnson Express Inn Bronx was less than disheartening and completely destroyed our plans. A fun over-night jaunt became quite the unforgettable nightmare.
Upon arriving at the hotel we became aware that it is located directly below an elevated train. The neighborhood and vicinity around the hotel are quite unclean. We drove around the block to look for a parking facility. In doing so we saw the back of the building which is unkempt and looks as if it is abandoned. The walls are strewn with graffiti and it looks as if the rear of the building is boarded up. Upon completing the journey around the block, we found the parking lot next to the hotel. There was one car in the parking lot. There was a security camera in the parking lot. As we pulled in, we saw that three other cars had pulled up to the hotel entrance. I assumed that perhaps they were also guests at the hotel. We parked next to the one car in the parking lot and proceeded inside. Immediately upon entering the lobby, there is a space with what appears to be a bullet proof glass, with only a slot, just big enough through which to slide a slip of paper and a room key. I informed the clerk that I had a reservation. At this point, I was immediately given a waiver to sign. The waiver stated that the hotel is not responsible or liable for theft, loss, or damage of property. It also stated that the room is to be used only for legal activity and that illegal activities are prohibited. As I, (admittedly, foolishly) signed the waiver, I saw three monitors behind the glass with the clerk. On one monitor there was the parking lot. While my car was parked directly beside the one car in the parking lot, I could not see it, as the camera was apparently trained only on the one vehicle. At this point a young woman walked into the hotel. The clerk immediately began observing one of the monitors. It showed the hallway in which the woman had gone. The clerk immediately began switching camera views and followed this young woman throughout the hotel. It was unclear if the woman was a guest of the hotel, but it was quite unsettling. On the southwest.com website the hotel states that it offers security. Upon driving up we had seen an elderly gentleman standing outside the hotel. The gentleman was now lounging and nodding on a sofa in the lobby. Although, I remain uncertain, I believe he was the security personnel. The clerk gave me one room key and directed me to the room. As we went to the room, the smell was quite offensive. Upon opening the door to the room, the smell remained. We immediately left the room and returned to the lobby. As I went to my car to retrieve my cell phone, I noticed that two of the three cars were now gone. The occupants of the third car were at this point apparentlty being questioned by the police and their car searched. I went to my car and then back into the hotel to inform the clerk that I did not wish to stay there. At which time I was informed that there would be no refund. I told the clerk I understood and I left. I did not wish to remain in what appeared to be an extremely unsafe environment to debate this issue.
My daughter and I left and drove back into the city in an attempt to find another hotel. We drove around for several hours until we were able to find a hotel with a vacancy. As we were only planning to stay overnight, and were planning to check out at 5 AM to attend a concert, I had decided not to bring large amounts of cash or credit cards.
It is my contention that Howard Johnson Express Inn Bronx misrepresented itself on the southwest.com website. I strongly believe that as a result of this my daughter’s and my safety were compromised. We had to drive around in an unfamiliar city late into the evening in an attempt to obtain safe accommodations. I shudder to think what may have happened had I let my daughter travel alone or with friends, or had we not had the resources to find alternate accommodations. In addition, being unfamiliar with the parking laws in New York City, I received two expensive parking tickets for parking in a “NO STANDING” zone. Despite the financial expenses incurred, my main objective is to inform others so no other traveler will ever be put in the situation that my daughter and I found ourselves in.
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