Blog life after my wife kicked me off her's.


Birch Hollow/Orderville

Posted by Jon |

I'm sick of looking at that model from the last post. Here is a picture I really like. Not the coolest rap, but a dynamic picture with good lighting. I wish Jess or I would learn how to take/edit good pictures. Jess took this one with Dave's camera. Every couple hundred pictures, we get a really good one.

This picture is from last weekend in either Birch Hollow or Orderville. Probably Birch Hollow. Canyoneering is what I spend most of my days thinking about (other than family and work):



Posted by Jon |

Is this Dave?



Posted by Jon |

Let's start off by clearing one thing up: I have always loved Marriott. I think it is required of all Mormons to love Steve Young, Mitt Romney, Kevin Rollins, David Neeleman, and J.W. Marriott amongst others. I recently watched a documentary on J.W., which I loved. He was truely someone to emulate. That is why my latest experience with Marriott (the hotel chain) was so suprising. I grew up going to Marriotts on family vacations (on my Dad's points) and have had nothing but good experiences and memories. More recently, I have begun to travel more often for business; I can now see why business travelers book Marriott. You can trust the brand (and a clean hotel makes a big difference on the road). So, in short, I have always loved Marriott, but this week has definitley provided another perspective. I will never stay in the Burbank Airport Marriott again.

The Background.
With some great partners, I recently started a business. We are a start-up and thus until we cash-flow, we have to watch every penny. It is our life blood. I booked the Marriott (rather than a cheaper hotel) for two reasons):

(1) we are in Burbank for a week...a decent hotel makes a big difference over a week's time; and
(2) the online interface for Marriott allowed me to book a room with 2 double beds and a rollaway.

Perfect. We have three employees. We all know eachother really well. We will skip the luxury of having two rooms and instead spend more on one nice room. Booked.

The Issues
We arrived in good spirits on Monday morning (after all, we had just picked up our standby tickets to Conan). When we hit the Marriott, we realized the first of many offputting things that we would face. Parking was $14 per day. You may say, "that happens..." The reality is this is Burbank, not downtown in a major city. To my knowledge, no other hotel in the area charges for parking (not even the Courtyard Marriott which is less than a mile away).

No big deal. We'll ask them to reduce/waive it given that we will be here for a week. We asked when we checked in. The employees response: "We have to charge this because we are across from the airport and many commuters use our lot for airport parking." "Okay" I said, "how about you charge the commuters, but you give free parking to the patrons that stay with you for a week?" "I'm sorry," was his response. "We can't waive the parking."

Okay. Sucks, but okay. So we headed up to the room.

The room smells wierd. We ask for another room. The new room (2 doors down) smells less wierd, but still has a subtle sewerish smell. By now I knew the desk supervisor wasn't hip on us, so we didn't complain because it was getting awkward.

Problem: There wasn't a rollaway in either room...so I ask the desk supervisor about it. He says that they can't put a rollaway in a room with two queens.
"Hmmm..." I say, "well, when we booked, the online interface asked me if I wanted a rollway (after my room selection) and I selected yes. I think it's even in my confirmation."
"Yeah" he said, "I'm sorry about that, but we can't do it."
I then explained that we needed them to figure out something because we had three people and two beds. I explained that if the online reservation wouldn't have confirmed the rollaway, then I would understand his position, but given the circumstances I hoped he would figure something out. All this time, I'm fumbling through my phone to show him the email confirmation with the rollaway.
I finally find it and he says, "I don't need to see it. I know that the interface allows you to book it that way."
"Okay" I say, "then what do you propose?"
"I don't know" he said, "I don't know what we can do. I'll talk to the manager and call your room."

About 20 minutes later he calls me. "We can upgrade your room to one that has two doubles and a pull-out bed, but we can't just give it to you. You are going to have to pay extra."
"How much?"
"$50 a night"

After the call, we decided mutually that this wasn't right. We had a clear understanding (because of the online interface) and now he expects us to pay more because the interface misreprented what could actually be done? That's not right.

We walked down and told the supervisor that we were uncomfortable paying more and we asked him to refund our stay so that we could go elsewhere.

He didn't blink. He refunded the money and sent us on our way.

Follow Up
Tuesday morning, I tweeted the following:

"Horrible customer service at the Burbank @MarriottIntl yesterday (need more than 140 char), switched to the Ramada for the week <- noisy."

Suprisingly, Marriott responded with a tweet of their own:

"@Jon_Shipley We saw your msg; may we be of assistance? If so, please DM details and your contact info. Thank you!"

Good. Only one problem. I can't even send them a DM unless they are following me (which of course they weren't). Did they really intend for me to DM them or did they just want to say so publically? I respond:

"@MarriottIntl don't think I can dm without you following me...can I?"

Their response:

"@Jon_Shipley Sorry about that, we are now set up and ready to go. :)"

Okay, good. Maybe they will clear this up. I DM them:

"In meetings all day. cp:801.xxx.xxxx Conf#:8359xxxx Online int. asked if we wanted rollaway. Staff said couldn't/need more $."

Nearly a day goes by. No response. No DM (I was following them at the time, so they could have sent one). No text. No call. Finally, a DM in the late morning today:

"Thank you for the additional information, Mr. Shipley, we appreciate it."

Thank you? No help? No consideration for the crappy service? Nothing?

Again, it makes you wonder...are they using Twitter to reach out to their customers or are they just trying to give that appearance? Maybe they talked to the desk supervisor and he expressed how difficult I was...maybe they should have reached out to me as well.

Anyway, it was an interesting experience. Disappointing that it came from Marriott. A learning experience on how not to perform customer service in person or on Twitter.

2 rooms at the Ramada it is.

P.S. I know what you are thinking...and I'm not a serial customer service hater. Guess who I rented our rental car from this week?



Posted by Jon |

RIP dear blog. You have been replaced by Twitter. I am sorry. I'll come back to you when I have something to say that requires more than 140 characters.




Posted by Jon |

Today I learned a valuable lesson. Really, it all started last year when I went to vote. I arrived at the voting booth and, as is typically the case, there were all kinds of offices up for vote that I was ignorant to. I asked the lady running the booth if she had any information on the candidates. She did not. I was stuck wondering the basis on which I should vote. The candidate's name? Their party affiliation? The sign I saw on the road to work? Instead of voting the party line, I decided I would withhold my vote for the races on which I was uniformed. I figured it would be a disservice to those running to cast my vote blindly.

Today, I was better prepared. Before heading to the booths, I looked at the sample ballot and researched my preferences in each case. On a side note, as crazy as it seems, many of the candidates for some of the low profile races don't even have a webpage, so this online researching effort is only successful to a point. At any rate, this morning, I watched a good portion of a debate between the candidates for Utah County Commissioner - Gary Anderson and Joel Wright. It didn't take long for Joel Wright to win my support. It seemed that Anderson was campaigning to keep his cush job while Wright was campaigning to make a difference. Anderson seemed to represent what is wrong with the government and Wright seemed intent to change that.

I watched the polls closely tonight and was disappointed to see Wright lose. My guess is that if more people would have been exposed to the candidates, Wright would have won. People, such as my former self, seem to vote for the incumbant or the candidate that the party leaders are endorsing.

At any rate, the lesson that I learned is that a good citizen should research their vote prior to election day so that they can actually give support (beyond their own vote) to their preferred candidate's campaign. I have done this on the high-profile elections, but have neglected the lower-profile votes (which probably make a more immediate impact on my life). I wish I would have known about Joel Wright two weeks ago, so that I could have thrown my support to him when it would have made more than a one-vote difference...


Yankee Doodle

Posted by Jon |

After some minor negotiations with our wives (with the exception of the 2 minors) Rob, Dave, Mike Beam, Drew, Drew's friend Mitch, and I set out to descend Yankee Doodle Canyon in the Silver Reef area. Here are some pics (click on them to make them larger):

Rob on the first rap:

Some genius wearing his helmet on the wrong end:

Drew and I on the second 80' rap (this is why we come folks):

Dave and Drew on the first stemming obstacle:

Some creative teamwork to bypass a pothole full of water (it was a bit too cold for a full dip):

Drew on his last stemming adventure, which ended badly as he fell ~8 feet into the shallow pool below. Glad the worse that happened was some hurt pride.

Thanks to the wives for letting us go. It was a lot of fun. Hopefully we converted a few into the addiction that is canyoneering.

Note to future self (ala Bill & Ted's): Try combining the first two rappels by using the big tree above the two drops (or possibly the anchors). Bring a 25' rope to partner assist the obstacles after the rappels. Don't exit until after the pothole (there is a first exit, which isn't the right one). When scaling the exit, the path starts on the left side.


The Big Easy

Posted by Jon |

My Dad, brothers, and I travel to a destination hosting the first and second rounds of the NCAA tournament each year. It has been 11+ years. The last three years, our weekends were ruined by watching BYU blow their first game of each respective tournament in person. I knew BYU going to OK City while we went to New Orleans could only mean good things for both of us. I was right.

Matt and I started things off right, going to Bourbon Street on St. Pat's. Our biggest mistake of the night: not bringing a my camera. After witnessing the craziness happening on that street, I was feeling pretty good about the relative magnitude of our mistake. Here is a low-class mobile phone pic.

Thursday, we watched ball for about 13 hours. 3 of our 4 games were great...and wouldn't you know it...BYU won in double OT. The hall crowd in the stadium huddled around the TV and most were pulling for the cougs along with us (probably out of hatred for Florida). It felt great to get that monkey off our backs.

Today, we had some beingets (Cafe Du Monde coming tomorrow)...:

..., went on a swamp tour...:

...and topped it off at Preservation Hall, which was super rad - Preservation Hall is basically a historical Jazz hall (if a room so small can be considered a hall) where a great New Orleans Jazz band plays each night. It was awesome - I thought a lot about my sister Holly during the concert...she would have loved it. Even to those ignorant to Jazz and what it takes in general to play those instruments, it was an incredible atmosphere and the talent of those playing was impressive. Walking out of the hall (capping off the intake of the Jazz culture after listing to the many street performers over the past few days), my nephew Preston told my brother Matt, "When I grow up, I want to be a street performer." New Orleans will make you think things like that. Today definitely sold me on the French Quarter...so much history. The culture is almost tangible. I will definitely make my way back here. Here are some pics of the hall: