Omni Hotel Rip-Off

There is an update to this story at the bottom of the post.

At the end of the ITC eLearning 2010 conference in Ft. Worth last month, a colleague and I conducted a post-conference workshop about e-Learning Quality. We spent about 8 hours (Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning) talking about different quality factors related to online learning.

My original plan was to make arrangements with one of my Texas educator friends to borrow an LCD projector from their college for the workshop. Alternatively, I could have easily brought along one of the portable units from my own college. Alas, old age being what it is, I forgot to make these arrangements in advance.

Never fear, the Omni Hotels A/V and conference staff could come to my rescue. As we stood there at the conference registration table, the guy gives me a verbal quote of $550 for a projector. Keep in mind that this guy knows that we are using their meeting room for both Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning for a total of about 8 hours. I’m thinking that $550 is a lot of money, but basically the price I have to pay for my own forgetfulness, slash, stupidity. So I agree and life goes on. They set up an old LCD projector, not quite like the old projector shown in the pic (cc photo by pedrosimoes7), but not much better either.

Imagine my surprise when the total bill for using this projector for 8 hours is over $1,440.

After I returned to campus, I filled out the online survey that I received from the Omni Hotel Ft. Worth. Below is the section of the survey comments that I provided to them about my projector unhappiness:

“I was conducting a post-conference workshop using one meeting room for one afternoon and again the next morning. In need of an LCD projector, the conference staff informed me that it would cost $550 to which I verbally agreed. My bill for this projector was $1,440. I didn’t receive the full bill until after I returned home. The projector was old and didn’t work properly, although we were able to continually reset it to make it work. This projector has a street value of no more than $200. I know, I buy them all the time. Rental charge of $1,440 for one day with a $200 projector – that’s absolutely ludicrous. There were also issues with the beverages for our small meeting of 10 people, but that pales in comparison to the projector outrage. As a board member for the Instructional Technology Council, I will strongly recommend that we not consider Omni Hotels for our future annual conferences of 300-500 people.”

“A little customer service training advice for your employees – do not tell a customer that something will cost $550 and then give them a bill for $1,440. Nobody will take that well.”

Not surprisingly, I have received no response from Omni Hotels from my survey submission. Obviously, they don’t give a damn.

The Omni Hotel charged me $1,440 to use a $200 piece of equipment for 8 hours. Payday loan companies have nothing on those guys.

UPDATE: March 29, 2010. Manager from Omni Fort Worth contacted me to discuss the situation and agreed to adjust the total charges to the $550 that I verbally agreed to. That type of response DOES differentiate them from the Payday Loan companies. Thank you.