Travelodge Sucks. Also the Portland Thriftlodge sucks real bad. But you probably already know this.

Well this is not the blog post I was expecting to make.  Nor are these the pictures I was expecting to upload.

Background: I am in Portland (actually Beaverton now, all will become clear in time) and the purpose for my trip 2000 miles out here from Michigan was to look for a house for my family to rent. Looking for a house is plenty hard enough without having to go through what I have just gone through in the last couple of hours.

So after a hard day of stressing out about what houses were available in what time frame at what price in what neighborhood etc etc, I came back to the hotel hoping to get some sleep so I could get started early in the morning making calls and driving out to neighborhoods to check out the potential houses.

Something I have started doing lately every time I stay at a hotel is check for bed bugs.  Apparently there's a big resurgence in the population lately, and we had a bad experience once with a hotel that was swarming with them. But I'll come back to that.

Anyway, one good way to check for bedbugs is to strip the sheets off and check in all the corners of the mattress and under it, and around the edges of the headboard and other parts of the bed.  The little guys crawl into spots to hide, and will sometimes leave little black poo markings on the way, so those can be a good indicator that there's a problem.

Anyway, the hotel I was staying at last night, which was the Budgetlodge at 9th and E Burnside in Portland was not real clean.  Yeah I was cheap and just got the first thing that I could find that looked reasonable and inexpensive and hoped for the best.  I was a little disappointed when I got there and the place stunk like pee, but even that was manageable.

Tonight (yesterday?) while checking for bedbugs I found a dealbreaker under the mattress.  No, there were no bed bugs that I could find.  I did find this though:

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Those look like hypodermic needles don't they?  Yes, I think they are! What a surprise! And I bet diabetics don't hide the needles in the mattress when they're finished.

When I saw that little baggie my first thought was "Oh no! Someone left their porn here!" And my second thought was "I should cover this back up and pretend I didn't see it!" But I figured I would never be able to get to sleep without opening the bag and finding out what the hell it was that I was sleeping on top of.

So I did. Gingerly, tenderly, carefully I untied the bag to reveal the secret treasure.

You know I fully accept that maybe I'm blowing this totally out of proportion at this point. And that was kind of my thought, after I dumped out the sharps onto the end table and shot a bunch of photographs of them.  So I just walked away for a while.  I went down to a bar down the road and had a couple of beers.  I tried to rationalize and calm down and just relax. But I was still so very angry.  I just couldn't get it out of my head how shocked and appalled I was.

OK so after I tried walking it off I decided to come back to the hotel, back all my stuff into the rental car and just try and get my money back and some sympathy from the front clerk, and some sort of compensation, whether it were a new room in another hotel or anything really.  I did not get any of these things.

The clerk on duty at this time was Phil.  Phil seemed pretty annoyed at my intrusion.  "There's a problem with my room, I need to check out." I said.  "*Sigh* what's the problem with the room?" He said all annoyed.

"Well." And I admit I was pretty snippy and angry and assholish. "Here, let me show you what I found under my mattress."  and I showed him the photos (still on the camera's tiny LCD screen)

Phil squinted and looked and puffed and huffed, and said he couldn't tell what he was looking at. I tried showing him a couple of different ones.  He said one definitely looked like some hypodermic needles.

I told him that was pretty crazy and that I wasn't staying there again, and asked him what he can do for me.  He said nothing, and that I would have to speak to a manager, and that the next time a manager would be in would be at 9am tomorrow.  I told him to call the manager.  He said it was too late and that he couldn't do that.  I told him well how about I call the police?  He said to go ahead and call the police and that they would just say they couldn't do anything and that it was a civil matter.

He said something about how you can even find needles and bed bugs and all that in 5 star hotels and blah blah blah.  I told him oh yes, I definitely have found bed bugs in nice hotels.

At this point I was pretty much beyond upset.  "You know," I said. "You haven't even apologized to me."

"Oh I see," he laughed. "Is this a test?  You're testing me?"  I pretty much lost control verbally at this point and told him to fuck off or something like that.  I'm not sorry about that, I was pretty upset. I couldn't take any more and left to go sit in the rental car, and he yelled something out about "Oh now you can apologize to me for saying 'fuck you'!"  Feh. So I fled that horrible nasty pee smelling syphilis dart factory, and came out to the suburb of Beaverton, and checked into a room that costs not quite twice what the bed of needles did.

I should say something here about how I don't think that heroin is evil, and that it really just makes me sad that junkies have to coop up in pee smelling hotels and do that crap and hide it, rather than get the help they need.

So back to the thing about bed bugs.  We once found bed bugs, at a hotel that we stayed in that will remain nameless.  They remain nameless because they handled the situation correctly, unlike how Phil reacted to the whole thing. When I reported bed bugs the clerk on duty immediately apologized and was horrified and said she would arrange to have the rooms at no charge. She compensated us over and above what I had expected, called me a couple days later to let me know they had a guy out and were fumigating. And while that didn't make the creepy crawly feeling go away, it still made me feel good that I was treated as a valuable guest.

Anyway.  Yeah Phil, at the Travelodge in Portland at 9th and E. Burnside.  I guess maybe there was a test.  You did totally fail it.  And now I have to deal with going back to your shitty little hotel to argue with your manager about not charging my credit card instead of calling property managers about renting a house for my family. And now I'm not even sure if this shitty little town full of smack is the right fit for my family.

UPDATE 7/11/2009: OK this morning I spoke with Mr Karia, the manager of the Thriftlodge (I incorrectly called it the Budgetlodge, I've fixed that.) He said they've cancelled any charges and nothing should appear on my bank statement.  I thanked him for that and asked what else he could do for me.  He said there wasn't anything else he could do.  I told him that I had to find something at the last minute and he should cover the difference in cost for my room that doesn't smell like pee or have needles in it. He told me that was my decision to go elsewhere and that he didn't make me do that, so he wasn't going to pay up.

I said that didn't make me feel very good about my whole experience, and asked who his manager was.  He said he was the only manager and the owner of the establishment.  Then he asked me where I found the needles.  I told him under the mattress.  "Why were you looking under the mattress?" He says.  I told him about the bed bugs thing, and he brushed it off, making the excuse that it was standard industry policy to not check under the mattresses and to only change them every 6 months.  I told him I didn't care and didn't like the way I was being treated, and none of his excuses made me feel better about any of this.

So I guess that's it.  I should be happy that I at least won't be charged for the one night I almost slept there, but I really feel that I was inconvenienced quite a bit and will definitely never stay in another Travelodge or any related hotel again. What a miserable experience. I really hope that someone with some clout notices this and tears down that crappy building. It's really an embarrassment to Portland.

After a night's rest, and clearer thinking about the whole escapade I've decided that I'm not ready to give up on Portland itself, and that I will just try to be more careful.

Anyway, I've submitted a feedback form on the Travelodge website, pointing to this post, but I don't know if that will go anywhere that matters. Now I have to go back to look for more houses and find a place to live.

UPDATE 7/13/2009: Consumerist picked up the story the other day.  Have been too busy to update until now. Thanks for all the comments! I appreciate all the insight, including (especially) ones who point out that I was just being a big spaz, and offer other constructive criticism.. So yeah after a nights rest and a meal and a shower I felt better about the whole situation. Still, that place sucks and I stand by that.  Lesson learned.

If you don't agree with me, do feel free to leave a comment. But don't be a troll. Unhelpful and non constructive comments will just get deleted.

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16 Responses to Travelodge Sucks. Also the Portland Thriftlodge sucks real bad. But you probably already know this.

  1. Woah, that totally sucks! Don't let it hurt your impression of Portland though, it's a great city. I don't know how you found that Travelodge (whether through something Travelocity or Expedia) but I recall a co-worker of mine a few years back who came in from out of town and had booked a room there and them commenting on how nasty it was.

    Anyway, I'm not sure what part of town you're looking at to rent a house, but I live out in Northeast (near Alberta Park). Occasionally I notice houses for rent, so if I spot anything this weekend I'll drop a note here or via Twitter. Good luck!

  2. Colleen Ahern says:

    Frank,
    You have every right to call the county health department as that is a MAJOR health hazard. Places like that are junkie havens.

    Good luck with the house hunt. I can't believe you guys are actually moving so far away but am happy for you. My best to Becky & Rowan.

  3. I have family that lives in and around Portland. It is one of my favorite places on earth. Check out Lake Oswego for houses, its a great area. Best of luck!

  4. Toilet of a chain in a nasty area. On Burnside, only the Jupiter Hotel is nice. I live in SE Portland, Woodstock area. Lots of nice places in SE to rent; like Hawthorne/Division area as well. Any of us on Twitter could have warned you against TraveLodge. Beaverton is boring and a horrid commute to anywhere unless you work there. (L.O. is nice but far away from everything.)

  5. Wind2Energy says:

    Phil was right about one thing – the police aren't interested in needles, as they have their own. When they banging crank, 'roids etc, they use brand new, clean needles.

  6. JON says:

    HEY! You made consumerist too! That at least is a good thing. Sleeping and then waking up at 3 with a heroin ass would NOT have been…screw that hotel! Stop by my message board. HEYJON.com! -Jon

  7. Gus says:

    I stayed at this hotel one night. My girlfriend and I planned to take advantage of the late night check in at Jupiter but it was booked. So we were left with no other option. This hotel was absolutely disgusting. The sheets where dirty and the room seemed like it hadn't been cleaned in a while…

  8. Em says:

    I gotta say– I mean, did you google anything at ALL about Portland before getting there? Burnside is the last place in the whole city I would go to to look for a hypodermic-free hotel. Be glad the needles were between the mattresses and not strewn in various places all over the room.

    But then again, the numerous homeless shelters, strip clubs, and prostitutes around the area should have also tipped you off.

    I think you should be glad you got a refund at all, honestly, as nothing in that area is very famous for its customer service. As expensive as the Jupiter Hotel is you`ll still find the occasional wacky present in the rooms.

  9. Richard says:

    "Shocked and angry" at finding needles? Stupid. Naive at best. You chose to stay in a run down budget hotel – it actually isn't uncommon for junkies to use places like that, or even nicer places as the clerk pointed out, as fixing outposts. If that was it and you handled it gracefully, naivety would have been your only fault.

    Confronting some poor clerk with your attitude and demands for compensation is tacky and cheap. If you can't stomach being in that room/hotel, get a new one. Don't use the fact that you were grossed out as a result of your own naivety to try and strong arm compensation out of the establishment.

    Asking for a refund is fine. Asking for the person to pay for your new hotel room is not. Asking the manager politely for a refund is fine. Copping an attitude with the minimum-wage-earning clerk who probably has no authority to grant you anything is not.

    A more graceful way to handle this would have been to just throw the needles out, ride out the night in your cheap budget hotel, and move on. A less graceful way would have been to politely ask the clerk for a new room. Even less graceful would have been to check out, find a new hotel, and contact the manager for a refund the next day. Pretty much the entire way you handled it seems tacky and petty.

  10. Colin says:

    Sorry. That sucks, but don't give up on Portland. We're a good city. We've got some prblems, like all the big cities, but we make up for it in fun and beer (best around, if you know where to look)! Stick close in though. Any farther than Beaverton and it gets boring (like out in Boring)

  11. james says:

    I agree with Richard's comment above.

    But disclaimer I'm a type 1 diabetic, and use syringes like this daily. Unless other nefarious drug material was found I'd assume to it belonged to a diabetic.

    1. I'm lost at why they would be under the mattress. Unless the previous guest wanted to hide them as not to freak out the maid during cleaning, and simply forget them.

    2. Why threaten to call the police? It is a civil matter. There's nothing the police can or would do.

    I travel with a blood sugar meter, finger pricker, syringes, and test strips. Any good diabetic is going to have test strips with dried blood on the ends found in the crevices of their bathroom, or in the counter, or next to the trash (that didn't make it in the bin.)

    It probably sounds disgusting, but that's just the way life is – and it's a small part of life.

    I always scan the bathroom of a hotel, and my office desk before leaving work, so nobody has to pick up my "biological waste," but I could have done the exact same thing as my first point: stowed them and forgot them.

    If I (or a nurse/doctor,) was checking in, was tired, and had seen these syringes and they looked like they belong to a legitimate "user," I probably would have just thrown them in the garbage myself – or shown them to the clerk and told them to a better job cleaning in the future.

    At MOST I'd ask for a new room. I certainly wouldn't spaz out about it. Telling someone to a service worker doing the night shift to fuck off is completely uncalled for.

  12. Tundey says:

    I am surprised you asked the owner for money to cover the cost of your hotel stay. Come on! It's one thing to complain about your dissatisfation with the service at a business, it's another to DEMAND that the business pays for your use of their competitors. The owner granted you a refund (as he should since you didn't sleep in the room) but he certainly doesn't have to pay you any money.

    Also, threatening the clerk with Police is so not productive. That's like calling the police 'cos you don't like your nuggets.

  13. Sami says:

    Jame, I'd have probably just picked them up also. Ten years with a diabetic child gets you used to syringes. I'll probably get locked up for drug paraphernalia if the police ever have a need to search my Jeep. Must be a dozen used syringes in the compartment between the seats. Not sure what my reaction would have been eleven years ago. I might not have taken it so calmly.

  14. April says:

    The White Eagle Hotel on N. Russell is a good cheap place to stay, for future reference. $45/night! You might want to bring earplugs, though (live music downstairs). Still, clean and friendly and CHEAP!

  15. jason says:

    I think generally you get what you pay for. A cheap motel called "The Thriftlodge" cannot be expected to provide a pleasant lodging experience, especially on a busy street in a relatively large city. Granted, finding hypodermic needles under the mattress is totally unacceptable, but I hope this experience doesn't inform your whole impression of Portland. This is a great city to live in, and seedy motels can be found anywhere. Good luck with your search!

  16. John says:

    "He told me that was my decision to go elsewhere and that he didn’t make me do that, so he wasn’t going to pay up."

    Technically, I think you could challenge him on that. By his subordinates refusal to contact him (the manager) he was forcing you to go elsewhere by being unavailable for what was obviously a major customer service issue.

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