How Sheraton And Marriott Put So Many People Through Pain In Memphis

Kumar Gauraw

I usually do not like sharing negative experiences here on my blog. But my experience with Sheraton Memphis Downtown Hotel and Marriott East over the last weekend caused so much pain to so many people, along with us, that I decided to share my experience with you.

Tired And Exhausted People Waiting In Hotel Lobby To Check In At Standard Checkin Time

By the way, this is not the only time I have seen Marriott treating people this way. I was there last May as well and this time. I had seen a similar pattern last time as well but I thought it was a mistake then.

How Sheraton Mistreated So Many People

It so happened that I went to Memphis with family to attend a weekend conference last weekend. It was a planned event and I had booked my room with Sheraton Memphis Downtown Hotel in advance, paid the money in full and received confirmation in September itself (1 month in advance).

The Hotel knew that people from all over country are going to arrive by bus, by car and  by air. Many people (myself included) had indicated that we will arrive there in the morning since the conference was starting at noon. Sheraton took our money, confirmed the reservations and everything was alright.

When we arrived (and hundreds of others started to arrive as the morning progressed) at around 7 AM, we found two surprises waiting:

  • They Made People Wait To Check-in Until 3 PM

Well, that is their standard check-in time, understood. But having known the fact that several thousand people were arriving on the same day for the same conference, when they asked people what time they were coming, they should have done better than that.

If they couldn’t check-in people earlier for legitimate reasons, they should have known that in advance, right? If they cared, at least they should have warned people that there wouldn’t even be a place to sit and wait in the lobby because so many people would be waiting from morning till 3 PM to check-in. Can you imagine hundreds of people just sitting/standing/waiting around for time to pass in the lobby for so long?

  • They Moved Us To Marriot East (18 Miles Away) Without Our Consent

The only reason I had booked my room and paid in full a month in advance was because this was the host hotel for the conference. I didn’t want to travel 18 miles at midnight when the  conference ended.

However, when I arrived at the Sheraton, I was told that I was moved to Marriott East due to the hotel being overbooked. To calm us down they offered a refund of my booking money (which I am yet to receive) and a free stay in Marriot East for the duration of my stay. They also offered a shuttle service every 30 minutes.

In normal situations, they could be said to be reasonable. But my question is, why didn’t they inform me about this in advance when I had a confirmed booking a month earlier? Why did they wait until I arrived in their lobby to tell me that I didn’t have a room there?

Because of their deceptive way of handling my booking, I not only I missed the first session of the conference, Snigdha and I had to travel 18 miles at 2 AM in morning after being through a rigorous leadership training through the day until that time.

What was most painful to see was, we were not the only ones who were going through this pain. There were several others who were presented with this situation.

Later, I found out through a couple of taxi drivers standing around (while we waited for the shuttle to take us to our new hotel) that it wasn’t the first time. It seems there was another conference about a couple of weeks ago and hundreds of people had gone through the same situation. That was alarming!

The Saga Of Marriott’s Excellence In Customer Service

As if this much of excitement wasn’t enough, Marriott East did whatever it took to make our experience the worst possible.

Being allergic to feathers, I always put a special request to make my room ‘feather-free’ at the time of the booking itself. I had done that with Sheraton as well. But it looks like they didn’t pass on the request to Marriott when they moved my booking. So, I asked them to do so at the time of checking  in. I also told them that I was okay if they could make my room ‘feather-free’ even by midnight since I wasn’t going to need it right away due to the conference.

The lady at the front desk assured me that everything will be taken care of, just as I want, in just a couple of hours, and I left to attend the event only to return at late night.

But, when I returned at about 2 AM, I found my room filled with pillows, blankets, mattress tops filled with feather.

How did I know? I am allergic to feathers!

I had just travelled 18 miles at 2 AM exhausted after an eventful day and now the room is ‘feather-full’ in spite of multiple reminders to get it ‘feather-free’.

 When I come to the lobby, there are only two people – a gentleman at the reception and a security guard. That’s it. The entire staff is gone, including the housekeeping people.

Now what to do?

Well, thanks to the security guard on duty who was generous enough to personally help us dig through their laundry room to pick up a couple of ‘feather-free’ pillows and blankets. Now, we went back to our room, removed stuff with feather from two beds and prepared near ‘feather-free’ bed to rest for a while.

Can you imagine paying full booking in advance to go through this experience?

Well, the unfortunate thing is, I didn’t expect this class of customer service by a prestigious hotel like Marriott. Do you expect to be treated this way after making a booking at Marriott? Would you do your booking if you knew this may happen?

Speaking of Marriott’s customer service, this was my second time. The Sheraton Downtown Hotel was known as Marriot Downtown Hotel back in May 2013 when I was there for a similar business conference for a night.

At that time also, in spite of my booking request of making my room ‘feather-free’ they failed to do so. I believed that they would have taken care of my request, so I didn’t do the inspection myself and stayed in the room for the night. It realized my mistake by morning when I couldn’t even breathe due to the allergic reactions from the feathers.

When checked in the morning, they made some excuse and blamed it on the agent who checked me in. That's pretty much it. It took me several days to get back to normal after that incident.

My Conclusion

I am convinced that Sheraton and Marriott in Memphis are not as good as they seem due to the brand name they are enjoying. Their customer service standard has fallen below normal standard and given an option, I will prefer to stay at any hotel which is not Marriott.

Obviously there may be some locations where their staff does a tremendous job. But Memphis is certainly not one of those places.

Your Turn – Share Your Experiences

How has your experience been with Sheraton and/or Marriott chain of hotels? If you do not have experience with these hotels, would you recommend them to your friends if you knew they may be treated this way after paying  money?

Please share your thoughts/experiences through your comments. Please click here to go to comments on simply scroll down. Thank you kindly!

Kumar Gauraw

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Kumar Gauraw is a Personal Branding & Social Media strategist helping entrepreneurs and skilled professionals achieve personal and professional success by developing leadership and leveraging the power of the Internet, Blogging and Social Media.

16 Awesome Thoughts So Far, Add Yours Now...

  1. It was very disappointing to go through so many hoops after making all arrangements in so much advance. It was also so much frustrating to run around at midnight to find bedsheets and pillows at a time even the staff was sleeping.

    I hope they do realize what they had put so many people through because of negligence on their part. If they wanted to really help people, they should have informed us in advance of the things they had planned to do with our bookings. It feels like they had done this on purpose…

  2. Hi Kumar,

    Oh dear…that’s surely a great deal to go through! I can just about imagine how you must have felt because I had an uncle complain about the same, though I forget where it was because that was a few years ago.

    Sheraton and Marriott in Memphis surely doesn’t seem to be the place one should visit. I am truly amazed because they are so well known that one expects so much from them, and to get all this instead is devastating. More so, once you clarified you are allergic to feathers, they should have taken extra care at least.

    Honestly speaking, we don’t go after such hotels any more and prefer the simple, normal ones that offer more of customer support and service, which you can make out when the people at the reception talk to you. Yes, when the season time is there and bookings are heavy, word of mouth helps or if it’s a place you have a friend around, whatever they recommend is what we usually go with.

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice week, whatever little is left of it 🙂

    • You are right Harleena. I have been out of town still. However, now I am at Hilton and the experience has been tremendously awesome coming back from an awful Memphis stay 🙂

      I will be back home tonight.

      Thank you for sharing your story and the way you choose your stay. We chose Sheraton because it was the host hotel for the event I was going to attend. But it turned out, it was an unfortunate decision.

      I have made an effort to let the conference organizers know of the issue so they could probably find a better host hotel next time. After all that much must be done by all who went through the pain.

      You have a wonderful rest of the week as well.


  3. Hey Kumar,

    Now I know that I’m a woman with more common sense then book smarts but it would make sense to me that Sheraton would definitely know when they’ve overbooked. In order to make their customer’s stay a good one it would be so much smarter to notify them ahead of time instead of the chaos that took place that particular weekend. Plus at the time of booking they should have made it perfectly clear that you couldn’t sign in until 3:00 pm unless you wanted to pay for an extra night’s stay. Common courtesy right!

    If I’ve been treated in such a manner like this not once but twice you can bet that 1) they’ll hear from me and it won’t be pleasant and 2) I’ll never stay there again. You writing about it will hopefully make them more aware of how poorly they treated their guests.

    Sounds like Marriott wasn’t much better after you requested no feathers. What happened to good old customer service!

    Sorry you had this issue but it’s good to share your experience with us.


    • Hi Adrienne,
      I’m not going to go back to them again after this experience. But I also wanted to create an awareness of these malpractices of big hotel chains like Sheraton and Marriott. They take your money, make you feel everything is alright and then pull the rug under you in the last moment.
      I hope this post helps create general awareness.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Appreciate you taking time.


  4. Hi Kumar!

    I had an experience with The Sheraton in Washington D.C. once. The rooms weren’t what I wanted because I needed 2 double beds. I was traveling with my daughter and husband. We got a king size bed. One hour later we got into our room. I too, was there for a conference and it was time sensitive. We booked 3 months ahead with all the arrangements set. We confirmed two days before. OK Little problem.

    The next morning we knew we needed to have a big breakfast because we would be at the conference all day. It was a total fiasco. They wanted us to eat from the “breakfast bar” and I don’t do that. I wanted my breakfast ordered from the kitchen instead of under bright lights. (I also told them this the night before)

    The three of us received nothing what we ordered. The waitress was rude, the eggs were undercooked. I was about to walk out, but my daughter raised hell. We got the manager, he couldn’t do anything. We asked for his boss, but he was out of touch. My daughter immediately called the corporate office. Long story short, we did not pay.

    But that was not enough, we demanded that they take money off our room because of the inconvenience. After a few letters, we received a nice check in the mail.

    Now, I were you at that hotel, I would of put all my baggage in the “safe” …..demanding they hold it until my conference was over and give me a free lunch for the inconvenience.

    Kumar. write to the corproate office because this is too insane. No One needs to be treated this way. Plus tell them you uncle is an attorney. He He That always works lol!


    • Hi Donna,

      Sheraton corporate seems to have contacted me after this post went viral on Twitter.

      They already promised that they would refund my booking when they put us through that ordeal then and there.

      But why I am upset is, I didn’t go there for a refund. My goal was to have a great time doing what I went for and they spoilt my entire plan because they seem not to care.

      Thanks to social media, it is easy to get the word out and get some attention. I hope they do further investigation and apologize to everyone who suffered.

  5. Hi Mr. Kumar, Your experience with both big brand Hotel Sheraton and Marriott in Memphis is really bad, I can understand. This remind me a famous quote “unchi dukan feeka pakwaan” i.e. only the perception of status is high but the reality is something else.
    I’m not a frequent traveler, but whenever needed I do consider these hotels for my stay…Now I know your incident, which really helps us for future trip planning.

    Thanks for putting altogether in this post! Wish you safe trip and great weekend ahead.

    • You are very welcome Ranjan Ji. It was really a frustrating experience and not just us but so many people suffered the same way. Sheraton really handled the whole case so poorly….

  6. Hello; I haven’t had experiences with either of those hotels, but I am sorry to hear that you had to go through that. My question is how many other people that were subjected to this treatment also wrote blog posts, posted to social media, or called and emailed their friends about how badly they were treated. This is a perfect example of the value of quality customer service. And you would think in this age of viral videos and social media campaigns that they would know better. Thanks for sharing, and I hope you get your refund and an apology. take care, max

    • Hi Maxwell,

      You are right. Not everybody who suffered has taken time to talk about it and most of them never will.

      But then, I did and my goal is to present my case on behalf of all those who suffered along with me. I hope it puts some light on the issue and Sheraton and Marriott become aware of the power of the new media. They should know that customer service is very important and you can’t imagine that nobody will notice if you treat people poorly.

  7. Hi Kumar,

    What an awful story and shame on those two hotels.

    When you think that these types of businesses ONLY exist because of their customers and how happy they will be during their stay, this really shows that they are either very stupid, or the management is in a really bad shape.

    I cannot believe that they didn’t even honor your health issue request by making sure to get rid of the feather item. Plus, frankly, why do they even have feather pillows and stuff. Hospitals don’t for that very reason, yet no all hospital patients are going to be allergic, but that a common sense measure that they take. Hotels being public places should do the same thing.

    As for the overbooking, it really makes no sense and that shows lack of respect for the customer big time.

    Thanks for sharing your story. I will share it too!

    • Hi Sylviane,

      You are perhaps right in saying that their management must be very bad. I am thinking that there must be some truth in it because not all locations are this bad especially speaking of Sheraton.

      About Marriott though, I would think that they hire anybody and they have no accountability among their employees. When management isn’t focused on serving customers, things like this happen more often and many people experience what I did at many Marriott locations. So, they think they are too big to care now.

  8. Seriously! This was really worst experience ever. Thanks for bringing out Mr.Kumar.

  9. There was a time when I was thinking that big companies and brands do everything just in a right way and that’s why they are like that. But recently I saw that it might be just a nice and prestigious sounding surface. What might be found underneath it might surprise you 🙂 I think it’s just message, that everybody needs constant perfection and even the biggest and most respectable brands are not the exceptions!

  10. Hi Kumar,
    Awful experience indeed. I would not have expected Sheraton and Marriott hotels to do something like this. I mean one would expect that a skilled and experienced manager like they probably have…would have handled the situation much better…even if there were hundreds of people. They knew about it in advance and yet they couldn’t handle it.

Please Note: My goal is to host interesting conversations with caring, honest, and respectful people. Therefore, I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic.