Ramada Plaza Milwaukee kicks my 70 year old mother out at midnight
Dear Ramada Worldwide,
Your Wisconsin Ramada Plaza Hotel on 13th at College Ave in Milwaukee just kicked my 70 year old mother out of her hotel room at midnight, because I complained about accessibility.
I know that sounds absurd. It is absurd, and it actually gets worse. You see, what I actually complained about was that the hotel told my sisters to cart my mother to their room on a luggage rack. You know, the rack the bellboy pushes.
Mom has had bypass surgeries, back surgeries, neck surgeries, heart surgeries, you name it. Last month they did an operation on her carotid artery. A month before they replaced her pacemaker. She also has primary progressive MS. Mom is a modern medical miracle. One would think that when you arrive with a 70 year old woman and ask for a wheel chair, you might recognize the kind of situation that requires a level head for both customer service and legal compliance. You might not want to tell the guests to load mom up on a luggage cart and skate her up to her room.
Upstairs, and all the way to the other end of the building. To a room where, when one sits on the foot of the bed, the head of the bed rises 12 inches. (Try to picture my mother sitting on the edge of the bed putting on her shoes, with the other end of the bed floating away. It's okay if you need to laugh.)
My younger sister didn't just tell me about it, she called up Ramada and complained. Nothing happened.
Trying to do something about this worried my older sister - with good reason, as it turned out. After all, look what happened when I did try to do something about it. They got kicked right out on their asses at midnight. Duh!
My mother didn't want to be a bother. To be honest, I think she feels bad she can no longer walk from the lobby to room 256.
On the other hand, I was willing to be a bother. Here's what I did:
- I tweeted about it.     Really, this is some absurd stuff. Push the old lady up on a luggage rack? It's almost funny, you know? I mean, if she's not your mom.
- I called Ramada Worldwide customer service and told them about it. They told me to call the hotel. I said I would, but I still wanted to talk to a manager. Turns out, Ramada Worldwide customer service is one of those departments that is set up to prevent the customer from getting service. I had to tell the woman to (a) get a manager, or (b) take my information so that a manager could get back to me, or (c) hang up on me. She chose option (b) and promised a manager would return my call by Thursday, five days hence.
- I called the Ramada Plaza Milwaukee, where they were staying. Scratch that. I tried to call the hotel, but THEIR NUMBER WAS DISCONNECTED. Yes, the 800-303-8002 number on every page of their website was disconnected. Wtf?
- I drove down to the hotel and I talked to a manager, Jennifer, who was actually very sweet and helpful. She was aghast about the luggage rack. Jennifer's indignation made me feel good. She also found an accessible room on the first floor. She gave me keys so I could move my mom and my sisters (who were visiting with my son at his hippotherapy) to the new room. As it happens, she couldn't find one of the aforementioned luggage racks so I had to make five trips. But she did take some notes on my concerns (like the see-sawing bed and the out-of-service phone number) to leave for the owner.
The owner didn't call me. When my sisters returned at midnight, their room key didn't work. When they checked in at the counter, my sisters were informed that they were no longer guests and would be escorted out, with their things.
Here's the really fun part - mom wasn't even there because she was at the hospital for a heart attack! My sisters were returning to the hotel room after we got mom admitted to St Luke's Hospital. I'm sitting in mom's hospital room where it's still not clear if she had a heart attack or if it's just a stage one blockage, and my sisters - after one hell of an evening - are getting kicked out of their hotel.
The reason they were given is that I was combative.
Some people might think I was being reasonable to ask that they help find a more appropriate room. But some people might call it reasonable that the hotel didn't have any wheelchairs and didn't offer help beyond a luggage rack for her transport. My mother could have chosen to travel with her electric scooter, except that she wouldn't have been able to fly here from Maine. Or maybe my sister should have reserved a handicapped room - I don't actually know whether she reserved a handicap room, or if she even knew they exist. If she didn't reserve an accessible room, why should that be the hotel's problem?
(Except for the ADA. And Wisconsin law. I don't know if the city has any laws on the subject.)
Just to be clear: I was not there when my sisters wheeled our mother up to the room on a luggage rack, but all three of them told me it happened, that it was what the hotel told them to do and they had no other way to get mom to the room. I did sit on the seesawing bed. I did talk to Ramada Worldwide customer service. And I did talk to Jennifer at the hotel, who is the person who answered my questions when I asked for a manager.
My conclusion can only be that my elderly mother and two sisters were kicked out of the Ramada Plaza Milwaukee because I complained about accessibility. To be fair, what I call complaint they call combat. And I did tweet about them five times. So maybe I deserved to feel like a total shit when my sister called me crying at half past midnight to tell me they kicked them out of their room because I was combative.
I fear many people don't actually understand what accessibility is, and why it's important. Some of them work in (or even own) businesses that deal with accessibility challenges on this scale every day, and often they are handled poorly. I encourage you to share this story for the value of a bad example, and reinforce why accessibility is important.
Ramada Plaza Hotel, 6331 S. 13th Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53221, 800-303-8002 (disconnected) and 414-764-1500 (though I didn't find that before I drove down there.) ↩
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