Thursday, August 14, 2008

Does my voice mean anything?

Here is the letter I wrote to the Hilton to complain about my wedding! It has been so long since I have written a lengthy letter. In all actuality, it makes me miss school! I wonder if me sending this letter will even make a difference. I wonder if my voice will even be heard! What do you think?

August 10, 2008
To Whom It May Concern:
I got married at the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country on August 2, 2008. Needless to say, it is an experience I will never forget. The ceremony itself was terrific. It all began to go downhill at the reception. As we were seated, I noticed how extremely hot it was inside the banquet room. We got the attention of one of the banquet workers and requested that the air be turned on. The worker just shook his head not understanding what we were saying due to the language barrier.
Then the food was served. It was horrific. The steak and chicken were so extremely undercooked. I could see how it might be hard to cook in bulk and have everything turn out right, but I would assume it would be overcooked instead of undercooked. It was so bad that many of the guests were trying to send their food back to be cooked longer. The problem with this was, that only 1 out of the 4 servers spoke English. When my guests attempted to get a new dish, their plates were simply cleared and nothing else ever came out to them. It was so bad that 2 tables of my guests left my reception to go have dinner, and came back later. As I looked around, I noticed that many plates, full of food, were left on the tables untouched. This was not the worst part. My bridal party tried looking for Maureen Borden, our wedding coordinator who is employed by the Hilton. She was nowhere to be found and that is when we were introduced to Jen, who stated she was the Banquet Captain.
Before the wedding I had met with Lindsay Doughty, whom is also employed at the Hilton. She was my original contact. We created a time line of events that were supposed to be implemented at the reception. It was total chaos. Jen had no clue, when to do what. I asked her if she had the schedule and she said no. Lindsay had also told me that Cavaliere’s Bakery in Santa Rosa, CA was the bakery that the Hilton works with. That is where my wedding cake was to be ordered from because it was included in the package. The lady we spoke with, Margaret, took our order. We ordered a tiramisu that would simply be covered in butter cream. I called to speak with Margaret several times over the course of 4 months and all calls went unanswered and unreturned. My husband and I took it upon ourselves to drive from South San Francisco where we reside, to Santa Rosa, in hopes of meeting with her. We were told she left to go out of town the day before despite the fact we were told she would be there. Needless to say, the cake was wretched. It was not what we ordered at all! It was a white cake with a disgusting filling. It was so bad that we thought it might have been spoiled so the DJ made an announcement for people not to eat the cake, and it was taken away by staff.
Then at around 11:00pm, the music stopped and one of my guests made an announcement that his cellular phone and his friends’ clutch purse were missing from his table. He went to Jen, and Jen informed him that if anything was picked up by any of the employee’s, it would be held at the front desk. He was irate and went up to the worker who was clearing plates at the table. They got into it a little bit, and the server pulled the cell phone in question from his pocket!! Jen made the excuse that he was probably picking it up so that it didn’t get lost or stolen by anyone in our party. My guest called her a liar and said that if that was the case, they would have picked up his hat and his car keys that were also on the table, and taken them to the front desk.
At around midnight the wedding came to an end. As my brother James was starting to load up our gifts to take them up to our hotel room, Jen offered to have our gifts sent up to our suite. She asked for my room key and said that as soon as they were put up in our room, she would return the key to me. As we began to clean up, she said not to worry about it and that we could leave everything in the room and return in the morning to finish cleaning up. We thought that was a nice gesture considering it was our wedding night and headed up to our room. At this time it was about 1:15am and we still had not gotten our key back from Jen. My husband and I went to the front desk to get a new key. When we got to our room, our gifts were not there! We called the front desk and they said they would have them sent up. About 10 minutes later, they arrived. My cousin called my room and said that he wanted us to open his present because he wanted to hear our reaction as we opened it! He described it as being in a hot pink bag with tons of colorful ribbon. I recalled seeing that gift on the gift table while at the reception. The bright colors caught my attention. We looked on the cart, and it was nowhere to be found. Our gift table was a 6 ft. table and the entire top and bottom of the table were filled with gifts. All that was delivered was one concierge cart with gifts stacked up on it. This made me nervous! My husband went down to the front desk and explained about what had happened. Jen came out and insisted that all of the gifts were delivered. She asked the two male workers that had been working our reception if they had seen the gift and they just shook their heads. My husband would not take no for an answer since he knew for a fact we had seen this gift on the table! My husband, whom is Hispanic, attempted to speak broken Spanish to the workers and demanded the gift. After getting into a heated altercation with one of the males, one of them finally presented the gift in question. Jen began yelling at the gentleman asking them why the gift was in a locked room that no one should have been in. She demanded an answer and the one gentleman continued to say, “Jose, Jose!” Jen apologized and said that she was confident, that this was the only gift that was taken.
At this point, my husband returned to our hotel room at around 2:45am. This was such an inappropriate and exhausting way for our wedding night to turn out. We got up in the morning and went into the banquet room to begin cleaning up. My bridesmaids were there to assist. My bridesmaid Mandy, found 5 greeting cards opened under the gift table with no envelopes. I was livid! I contacted the front desk and they said they would have a manager get in contact with me. Then, we went to put our wedding champagne flutes in the nice velvet box with satin lining that was very expensive, that was under the cake table when we had left the reception. To our dismay, the box was gone. Then we were told the night before that our cake topper would be cleaned and put back on the table for us to pick up in the morning. It also was not there. The catering manager, I believe his name was Jeff, came into the banquet room. He informed me that he was notified of the incident, and that he hoped I find comfort in the fact that the two gentlemen that worked my reception, had been suspended while the Hilton investigates the situation further.
I contacted Maureen Borden and let her know all of the problems and concerns I had. She offered for Aaron and I to stay another night free of charge at the hotel. I declined her request. Aaron and I went home and contacted each one of our guests, and had to ask them if they brought us a gift and what it was, so that we could compile a list to see if anything else was missing. Do you know how humiliating that was? I have never in my life been put in a more awkward position. We discovered that over $975.00 in cash was stolen, as well as $225.00 in gift cards. A bag with a cheese grater, food processer, and BBQ tools was also stolen.
I contacted Heidi Miersemann who is also a manager at the Hilton. I let her know what had gone on, as well as what was missing, and she offered to take $1,000.00 off of our final bill so that I felt she was attempting to make things right. She said I signed a contract that stated they were not responsible for lost or stolen items, and who is to say that one of my guests didn’t steal the gifts. I told her the likelihood of my guests stealing my gifts were slim to none. My sister got married 3 weeks before me, and majority of our guests were the same, and she ended up with all of her gifts. My brother, father, as well as my husbands’ father, are all police officers. Many of our guests were also in Law Enforcement.
Prior to the wedding I got a final invoice sent over to me from, Lindsay Doughty. I mailed in a check. She left to have surgery, and I began working with Maureen more. Maureen sent me a different invoice and let me know that I had actually over paid, and that she would settle up with me after the wedding. Then after I complained, I got a final invoice from Heidi, which was completely different from Maureen’s. She said with the $1,000.00 discount she would give me, I would owe a few more hundred dollars, and if I didn’t take her offer, I would owe around $1,300.00 more. I couldn’t believe my ears. Every single employee at the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country has something completely different to say to me. I was then told by Heidi, that my cake topper had been mailed out to me. I left a message with the General Manager Lowell Johnson, and as of yet, have not heard back from him.
A week and a half went by, and I still had not gotten my cake topper. I contacted the Hilton, and was put through to Lindsay Doughty. She informed me that for some reason, the cake topper was missing, and no one knows where it is. She said Maureen was in charge of mailing it out, and that now it is gone. She said they would love to replace it for me. I do not want a new cake topper. I want the sentimental one that was used at my wedding. Then Lindsay supplied me with a fourth final invoice, that once again, is different from the other three. I am so disgusted with this hotel, I cannot see straight! They have made this the wedding from hell because of the inconsistencies and negligence of upper management, as well as the lack of communication between staff.
I had a terrible reception due to the food, terrible service, and stolen items. I cannot believe that the Hilton would only offer to take $1,000.00 off of my bill, when more than half of my guests did not get fed, more than $1,200 in cards were stolen, and that the service was worse than any service I have ever received. To top it off, the service charge of my reception was over $1,800.00 alone!
I decided that since the Management at the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country is neglecting to be consistent with anything they tell me, that I would notify Hilton’s Corporate Office, with hopes that they can investigate the situation and also to make them aware of the fact that they have a poorly ran hotel. I will also be contacting the Better Business Bureau to file a formal complaint. I will never be able to relive my wedding day, and I am so disappointed and highly distressed that it was ruined by the staff at the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country. This wedding will always be a terrible memory on account of that hotel. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at any time.

Brittany Downs & Aaron Ibarra

1 comment:

Cami said...

This letter is awesome.

You made exact points (AC, Undercooked Food, Language Barrier, Unhelpful Banquet Coordinator, Stolen Items, Stolen $$, Missing Cake Topper, Inconsistent Invoices) and wrote about each one in detail.

I'm glad you reported it to Hilton corporate and the BBB.

If I were them, I would at least APOLOGIZE with SINCERITY because material things can be replaced ... the memories you had which were ruined cannot be.

I want to know how everything turns out! You go girl! Excellent letter ... excellent.