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Letter to Best Value Inn® - 8/22/2004

Dear Best Value Inn

One of our staffers had to drive from San Francisco to LA and wanted to stop in between near Santa Barbara to hit the beach for a morning run and relax a little to break up the drive. They had never been to the area before and got online to scout for accommodations. It being a weekend night, Santa Barbara itself was booked up so they figured they'd stay nearby and just drive to the beach in the morning. They found the following description of a place on one of the travel sites.

"The Best Value Inn of Santa Maria, CA is conveniently located west of Hwy 101 and east of 135 on Main Street. This 2-story, exterior design Inn offers 57 clean and quiet rooms featuring cable TV w/ HBO, free local calls, iron w/ ironing board, mini-fridge, AM/FM clock radio and more. We proudly extend to our guests complimentary continental breakfast, guest laundry facility and an outdoor pool. Our property can accommodate large groups. We are close to the Fair Park, Hancock College, Beach,...

First keep in mind that The Best Value Inn, is not the Best Western. And even though it sounds like a legitimate chain and claims to have over 400 associated places of lodging, has anyone you know ever stayed in one? The $80/night fee seemed to indicate a comfortable room if you compare it with what that kind of money usually gets you but our staffers could not have been more deceived! We'll set the scene.

After a lovely morning spent at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and a leisurely drive down PCH, it was getting late as our staffers began looking for the Best Value Inn which they had prepaid for online since they anticipated a late arrival and didn't want to be left searching for a place in the wee hours. As they followed the directions to the "convenient location" they realized they were possibly in a sketchy part of town when they pulled up and found four police cars with flashing lights and two perpetrators in cuffs on the ground with jack boots in their backs. The balconies were lined with undershirt clad spectators several of which all piled into a car and screamed off down the block with two of the cop cars giving chase. In the lobby they encountered an elderly woman with a dangling cigarette and a smell that suggested she had been passing gas for the last few hours after a particularly foul meal. They tenentively filled out the forms, got their key and sidestepped their way through the crowd of local toughs to their room. Inside they found flophouse style rooms with a further foul odor, garage sale beds, holes in walls, and graffiti on mirror along with mildew in a decrepit shower stall. When they pulled back the bed spread they found what appeared to be bullet holes surrounded by a faded brown stain they decided that was enough and returned to the lobby to attempt to negotiate a refund. "Well what exactly is the problem? asked the woman, getting a pen. "We can't be responsible for the condition of the room left by the prior occupant. I've had to turn down other interested parties for that room all night." A scan around the lobby revealed a crusty piece of nut bread and a black banana. The continental breakfast? Out the window there was a small cement puddle with green water. The outdoor pool? Just then a hooker walked in with a sheepish John and our staffers walked out and got back on the highway where they eventually found another motel. Too tired after the ordeal to head to the beach in the morning, they left the area $160 dollars poorer with nothing to show for it except some flea bites on their ankles from the few minutes they were in the Best Value Inn

Copyright 2004. All Rights Reserved.