Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Getting Cute in Charlotte - Marriott Bait'n'Switch, With Fangs

With news breaking post-convention at Workmans blog and over at the Charlotte Examiners blog, it becomes apparent that Manager Jim Diehl and his staff of the Charlotte Mariott City Center have been very naughty indeed.

It seems that after several hundred NRA convention goers made reservations to stay at the Marriott and, in addition, Grass Roots North Carolina also held its “Gala for Gun Rights” on Friday night at the location. GRNC had, in fact, by all accounts carefully verified in advance that Marriott was not one of the many gun-free zones that make Charlotte a deeply undesireable city for 2A conventions and events.

Subsequent to taking payment and check-in of said guests and organization (estimated at over $100,000), on Friday night, during the Gala, Diehl and his minions posted the hotel as a no-firearms zone using quickie computer printed signs and scotch tape to hit all the entrances - instantly criminalizing those present and placing them at risk of prosecution if they were in possession of firearms on the premises.

Such prosecution would place them at risk of imprisonment, fines, and loss of their Concealed Pistol Licenses.

As a bonus, the hotel had hand-outs on its front desk actively encouraging visitors to place themselves in legal jeopardy by asserting the patently false notion that firearms could be checked/stored at the Charlotte Convention Center - a center where possession of firearms, regardless of intent, is a criminal act as verified by Workman. So, following these directions, armed guests would rush up to Center security, announce they had a gun to check, and then be at risk of arrest, imprisonment, and seizure of their firearm.

Very. Naughty. Indeed.

I will leave it to the attorneys in the community to determine with certainty if such action rises to the level of criminal conduct (Bait'n'switch? Fraud?) though my lay suspicions certainly leave me rather curious if those merry boundaries were crossed by Diehl and company.

Similarly, though as a lay person, I suspect that grounds for civil litigation exist...but would rather leave that fight to the lawyers, though I will be gleefully cheering on the attack lawyers should such occur.

I do suggest that, from a purely ethical view, that the folks at Grass Roots North Carolina and every NRA-attending guest affected by Diehls unacceptable actions are due a refund in full of all funds they expended staying or putting on an event at the Marriott during the time period in question. As a lay person, I suspect the argument could be made for such action on a legal basis, and would encourage the affected to seek counsel from appropriately licensed persons.

Subsequent to the event, Workman and Valone tell us, Marriott made a series of excuses, and when faced with public pressure made a rather mealy-mouthed and essentially worthless apology while claiming it will never happen again in a call to a High Road participant.

Not enough. Not nearly enough. Full refunds, public apologies, and then a restitution campaign to make good the risk the individuals and organizations were placed at by Marriott's bad faith (my opinion, ymmv) actions.

If individuals had actually been arrested, more punitive measures would, in my opinion have been appropriate. Marriott should be grateful that did not occur as a result of their actions, and that their liability, through no fault of their own, was minimized.

From the point of view of the activist, I can only urge folks to take actions to minimize their risk while taking every possible action to provide Marriott with a "learning moment".

Don't stay or hold an event at a Marriott facility if it is practically avoidable - until the conditions above have been met, they should likely be considered as dangerously untrustworthy. A tent is a better, and likely legally less risky, choice.

If you can't avoid Marriott for your event (i.e., if it's the only game in town), ensure your rental or event contract specifically bans such conduct with specified and prohibitively punitive penalties for violation - and specified compensation for damaged individuals. Or hold your event in a field or parking lot. Or put it off a year. In my opinion, it's just not a good risk.

If an opportunity comes up in your life to steer other, non-gun related events or business away from Marriott - Carpe Diem! Seize the day, and drive business elsewhere by any lawful means. It can be as simple as simply steering company travel away or as dramatic as pulling a convention previously scheduled. There are, after all, plenty of other hungry hotel chains out there in todays economy.

Finally, don't give up hope. Don't be quiet, shrug your shoulders, and assume there's nothing to be done. In just one day after folks got home, caught their post-event breath, Marriott has already *begun* to realize the depth of their faux pas.

That's due to folks like you blogging about this, writing and calling Marriott, and generally raising havoc over their bad actions. The time to smile and take it is long past on many fronts, of which this is but one - today is the day to burst forth in your very own personal rendition of Twisted Sisters "We're not going to take it, anymore" while reaching for pen, pocketbook, and keyboard.

To contact Marriott (with thanks to Valone for the contact data):

E-mail Charlotte Marriot City Center General Manager Jim Diehl at jim.diehl@marriott.com or fax him at (704) 358-6522 and let him know that until you receive an apology and a notification that postings have been removed, you and everyone you know will be avoiding the hotel.
  • Call Marriott Corporate Communications at (301) 380-7770 and leave a message for Kathleen Matthews, Executive Vice President, Global Communications and Public Affairs, letting her know that Marriott will be held accountable for the actions of its hotel in Charlotte, whether or not the hotel is a franchisee.

  • Contact Marriott Customer Care at https://www.marriott.com/suggest/suggest.mi or (888) 236-2427 and deliver the same message that you will not use any Marriott until the problem is resolved;

  • If you are a Marriott shareholder, contact Investor Relations at: investorrelations@marriott.com.

10 comments:

Mulligan said...

sounds like a class action lawsuit in the making

Anonymous said...

Don't let them say the word "franchise" as though it's some sort of talisman to ward off corporate responsibility. It's a Marriott property, and they have ultimate control and - therefore - ultimate responsibility.

Old NFO said...

The Marriotts are Mormons and HATE guns and the military... I quit staying at Marriott properties after they screwed us back in the 80s

Tango said...

OldNFO, the VAST majority of us Mormons love guns just fine. Remember, Utah had a Brady score of 0 this last go around and yeah, most of us Utards are Mormons.

DirtCrashr said...

Of course you know the great John Moses Browning was a Mormon - most Mormons who I know like guns. They needed them to keep from being persecuted in the early days.
But why was Diehl able to circumvent published hotel policy to his own ends? Is HE a mormon?

Old NFO said...

I have had discussions with a Marriott VP who told me point blank the 'family' did not like guns and were 'passive'... FWIW...

Xrlq said...

DC, he didn't skirt hotel policy. According to the smarmy email they sent me and many others, banning firearms IS Marriott's policy, not just in Charlotte but everywhere.

Tango said...

Marriott policy. What's that got to do with the religion they decide to follow? They sure don't represent most of us.

Firehand said...

Linked. You've got some new information I want to make sure gets around.

Divemedic said...

As evidenced by many discussions, there are many, including sayUnc, that believe in the "my property, my rules" theory. Under this, the property owner makes the rules and can change them as they see fit.

This is one of the main reasons why I oppose such silly theories, and why I don't care what your policy is- if it is legal, I carry.

Fortunately, my state does not give signs the force of law, and I hope it never does.