Hotel Detains Guest: Nightmare at Center Suites Cebu
Caption from Vina Álava Peláez
This is how this hotel treats their young guests: charge them for costs that at not theirs and then detain them if they refuse to pay: harassment, illegal detention, extortion. They even use inferior materials that could pose a danger to their guests. It is the hotel that should be liable for the broken glass door regardless of who broke it.
Here is the father’s account of what happened to his daughter at The Center Suites Hotel, Cebu:
A TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCE IN CEBU!
On Monday, January 20, 2014, my daughter, Erica, was waiting for her cab to take her to the airport to fly back home from Cebu after the Sinulog festival.
Together with her companions, they checked out and settled the bill. They felt that they were being overcharged but eventually just settled so that they could leave. Two left ahead to take an early morning flight. The rest took another cab. As the cab was already full, Erica opted to be left behind to take another cab as she was taking a later flight.
It took a while before another cab was hailed. But as she was about to board her cab, Ms. Novangelyn Villarin, the front desk officer told her that the keys to room 207 were not surrendered. She called up her companions to ask about the keys. Erica’s friend, Therese, said they had left the key at the table in the room. Therese also said that they had left the room as an intern was about to inspect it and said he would subsequently bring down their luggage. They left after the intern brought down their luggage.
Erica went up to the room to help the housekeeper, Joephel Carbonquillo, search for the key but it was nowhere to be found. They then requested Erica to pay for the key but she refused saying it was not her room. Ms. Villarin then instructed the security guard, Lloyd Lubguban, to stop her from leaving which he did by holding the door and blocking her.
Erica became angry and agitated as she was trying to catch her flight but they were detaining her. She then decided to go back to the rooms to take comfort with other friends who had not yet checked out. On the way back in, she slammed the glass door leading to the rooms shattering it to pieces.
It was around this time that we had called her. She had sent us a message that she might miss her flight. I talked to the Ms. Joy Dato-on, the hotel’s OIC, who explained that Erica had been angry and broke a glass door. The details were quite unclear but in an effort to help her catch her flight, we committed to pay for any damages she had incurred but just requested to let her go immediately. While I was in discussion with them, Erica had called our landline and told my wife, crying almost hysterically that “they were bastos”. Apparently, as OIC, Ms. Dato-on was incompetent to make decisions on her own as she wanted to raise this issue to the owners, Dr. Evan and Mrs. Nenette Mendoza who were in Manila about to take a flight out themselves. They were not in a position to think clearly as they were preoccupied with checking in. So we were calling both Cebu and the owners pleading for them to let Erica go. It was quite exasperating. Dr. Mendoza, CEO subjected us to a lecture on payment of damage and interrogated us regarding our background and people we knew. Finally they found common friends who could vouch for us and agreed to let Erica go. However, when I called back Ms. Dato-on, she informed that there was “a slight delay” since Erica had to be brought to the nearby Barangay Tanod station. I furiously protested and told her to get Erica out of the station. But she insisted that it would not take too long.
This was unnecessary as all they needed was for Erica to sign a promissory note. The complaint Ms. Dato-on filed was grossly inaccurate and vague but Erica signed it as she felt had no choice.
When they finally let her go, she had already missed her flight and forfeited her ticket.
We told Erica to purchase a ticket on the next available flight. After checking, she informed us that the next available flight was on the evening of the next day, January 21, on business class.
She was crying and begging us to help her get out of that nightmare terrified of having to stay another night in Cebu–alone.
My wife went online and found a seat on the last flight of that day. Booking that seat was not without its hitches. Her credit card was not being accepted as the online site only accepted domestic US credit cards. She was able to use a US-based friend’s credit card who agreed to pay for the charges. She was relieved when the booking finally showed on the PAL system.
I picked her up at the airport and we got home around 10 in the evening. She narrated her whole ordeal. While I was angered by the incident, I kept my cool and asked Ms. Dato-on for the statements of her staff to get their version of the story.
She obliged and emailed back the statements (hand-written in broken Cebuano which I found difficulty in understanding even if I can speak Cebuano). They emailed files of their CCTV tapes as well.
These reports only confirm that they had illegally detained Erica for a room key which was not hers. My wife and I were totally flabbergasted and realized how unprofessional these staff were.
I then communicated to the owner & CEO, Dr. Evan N. Mendoza that my wife and I were contemplating on suing the hotel for harassment and illegal detention. Instead of responding to our communication or by apologizing, Dr. Mendoza sent a threatening letter to Erica demanding her to pay for the broken glass door and as well as for the lost key. He also demanded that she take down her blog which he branded as libelous and defamatory. He also demanded an apology for “a felonious act”. (By this time, she had already written a blog on her harrowing experience.)
Three weeks after the incident, I purposely flew back to Cebu to settle the replacement cost of the door as we committed to, even if we no longer felt it was justified. But we were in no way going to pay for a lost key. I was ready to pay but Dr. Mendoza, refused to accept my payment unless all his demands are met. To top it all, he was insisting that my daughter was a problematic child. The meeting broke down and I left their hotel in disgust.
We communicated again with them emphasizing that they should be the ones apologizing. We wanted to keep this between us to save them from further embarrassment from this grave misconduct by their inexperienced staff, by settling with us. They refused and instead challenged us to bring them to court. We no longer wish to bring them to court as we don’t want to drag Erica though the ordeal over again. It is also pointless to argue with people who apparently don’t know what they are doing and who have no idea what service and the hospitality industry is about.
But we feel it is our social responsibility to expose such irregularity so that this can be corrected and so they do not victimize another hapless guest again. Even Erica’s companions were subjected to this rude and disrespectful behavior by the staff especially the security guard who even knocked on the door of one of her companions in the wee hours of the morning. Another companion was accused of being too drunk to remember by this same security guard when it was this security guard who made a mistake of who he had actually talked to earlier.
This is the Center Suites, a relatively new hotel with inexperienced and untrained staff with an OIC incompetent to make decisions and owners who can’t be hands on during a peak tourist season. Their housekeepers are composed of interns. This was Sinulog. It was bad enough that they illegally detain a guest. It was worse that they did this oblivious of the importance of ensuring that you catch your flight because all the flights are full with the exodus of tourists. What the staff as well as the owners did was terrible but they can’t seem to see it or refuse to see it. They are not fit to run a hotel.
And now for the daughters account:
Here is the response from the Center Suites Hotel – https://www.wheninmanila.com/the-center-suites-response-to-traumatic-experience-story-by-erica-pelaez/
What are your thoughts on this?