A Tale Of Two Hotels: Same Problem, Different Responses

A couple of weeks ago, I stayed at Atlanta’s sumptuous Lowe’s hotel downtown. I like the hotel a great deal, but room service at breakfast is ridiculous: essentially you might as well order the deluxe pig-out, which could feed a family of three. The way the menu is set up, you pay the over $25 for any other choice and get half as much food. This is primarily because a pot of coffee costs more than ten dollars, and only the deluxe breakfast has coffee included.

Even though all expenses were being paid by the client, I hate this, so I decided to order a couple of muffins (still about $15 without coffee, not counting tax and the automatic service charge) and tolerate the free instant coffee that is  offered by the little single cup machines in the room. I was a good plan, but the damn thing wouldn’t work. The water didn’t heat. Annoyed (no coffee, 6 AM, brilliant money-saving scheme foiled), I called the front desk to complain. They sent up a young man—he arrived in about 15 minutes, after the continental breakfast—who fiddled with the coffee machine. It was obvious that he had never seen one before.  Eventually he gave up, apologized, and left to get another one. By the time he returned, I had finished most of the muffins, but I made a cup of (lousy) coffee anyway.

Last night, I had to stay in a hotel to make sure that D.C.’s $%^&$#@! Rock and Roll Marathon didn’t stop me from getting to my early morning presentation to new D.C. bar members. The streets around the venue were blocked off, and weird traffic was expected; hard experience dictated the expense was the better part of valor. There was breakfast provided at the bar event, so all I needed was some coffee in my room to wake me up sufficiently so that I didn’t wander onto 14th street and die.

This time, the hotel was the J.W Marriott, and again the little one cup coffee machine didn’t work. Just like in Atlanta, I called the front desk, sounding even more annoyed about the inconvenience than the before. (This was unfair, of course; there is no reason the Marriott should inherit my upset with Lowe’s.) The response from the desk was identical after I described my plight: she would send someone up to my room to check on the machine. Great.

When the knock came and I opened the door, I was greeted by the head of guest services, in a uniform. He had a new coffee machine with him, and also handed me a bag containing two large cups of Starbuck’s coffee, ten creamers, napkins, utensils, and two hot pastries. He replaced the machine after confirming that it was broken, apologized profusely, and took his leave.

Wow.

Now that’s service.

Lowe’s, The Rights Of Racist Customers, And Why Lawyers and Doctors Aren’t Like Deliverymen

Now, if Lowe's drivers had law degree's, this would be a different story....

Now, if Lowe’s drivers had law degree’s, this would be a different story….

A fascinating story unearthed by master ethics sleuth Fred:

In Danville, Va., a customer specifically asked that a Lowe’s delivery be administered by delivery personnel who was not an African American. Marcus Bradley, the black driver assigned to the delivery, was called back to the store, and replaced. When the woman who made the request was interviewed, she said, “I got a right to have whatever I want and that’s it…No, I don’t feel bad about nothing.”

For hiss part, Bradley said that he was surprised that the store didn’t stand up for him, but that he would stay in his job. “I mean I gotta work. I’m going to keep going to work like I’ve always done. But I would think Lowe’s would take it into consideration to think about what they’re doing next time,” he said.

Lowe’s corporate office, when informed about the incident, released a statement that said in part… last week, and they said they’d look into it. Wednesday, we received this statement: Continue reading

The “Your Right To Engage in Ignorant and Dangerous Speech Doesn’t Mean It Isn’t Unethical For Me To Help It Be As Loud As Possible” Dept.: ABC Full Circle and WordPress

Defending free speech doesn't mean you have to put dangerous speech where it will do the most damage...like 100 feet tall in Times Square.

As the New Year dawns, we see two companies in the communications business, and two situations raising the question, is it ethical or unethical to allow someone to use your product or service to broadcast harmful speech?

They took different paths, and both are being criticized. One company is ethical, the other is not.

The ethical company is WordPress.

A few days ago it took down one of its sites, Bare Naked Islam, after The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) complained that the site promoted violence against Muslims, which it surely did. When Muslims placed comments on the site, Bare Naked Islam published the IP and e-mail addresses of the commenters and suggested reprisals. Nonetheless, because it was CAIR’s complaint that triggered the removal, WordPress was criticized mightily in the conservative blogosphere for doing a Comedy Central—censoring legitimate free speech out of fear of Muslim violence. There is a very large distinction, however, between abandoning free speech in response to threats, as Comedy Central did in the infamous “South Park” incident, and responding responsibly to a legitimate complaint. Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “Unethical Website of the Month: The Florida Family Association”

Proam comments on boycotts, in today’s Comment of the Day regarding the post, Unethical Website of the Month: The Florida Family Association:

“Unless I am mistaken, The American Family Association (AFA) has a long-running and ongoing boycott call against the other large hardware chain, Home Depot, stemming from the corporation’s continued kindness toward persons whose sexual practices are objectionable to AFA. To my knowledge, Home Depot has not caved. I don’t know whether the AFA-led boycott has had any effect on Home Depot’s business. I wonder if Lowe’s examined Home Depot’s situation prior to its decision – if it’s even relevant.

“Over time, I have become a much more selective and reluctant boycott-joiner. I would like to think that any boycott I might join would be so justified, so humanitarian, so economically and morally and ethically correct, that even the collateral damages and unintended consequences would be tolerably recoverable, or “for the best in the long run” – but I know I’m dreaming. A boycott just seems more and more to me like a “nuclear option” a la Hiroshima and Nagasaki. One day I may feel I have no other option, but then, I will know ahead of time that abiding by it (a boycott) won’t soothe me any more than having never taken part in it, even if I ‘win’.”

Incompetent Elected Official of the Month: California State Senator Ted Lieu

Sen. Lieu wants Lowe's to see things his way...or else.

In what is beginning to look like a full-blown ethics train wreck, the Florida Family Association’s attack on TLC’s “All-American Muslim” reality show has claimed its first victim among the show’s defenders: California State Senator Ted Lieu, a Democrat. The incident inspired him to out himself as a Constitutionally ignorant bully who can’t be trusted with legislative power. Thanks, Florida Family Association!

This was only after Lowe’s, the lumber, hardware, garden supply chain, outed itself as a sniveling confederacy of unprincipled cowards by caving to the FFA’s boycott threat, a threat motivated by anti-Muslim bigotry and nothing else. Lowe’s pulled its sponsorship of the show, muttering nonsense about how the show was controversial and how such controversies should be left to communities to hash out, which was a non sequitur and offensive, as it suggested that whether or not bigotry is acceptable in America is a valid debate topic, and that Lowe’s has no opinion on the matter. How refreshing it would be if a company like Lowe’s, capitulating to a boycott threat, came right out and said, Continue reading