Sunday, August 16, 2009

Marriott is a Disgrace: A Loyal Marriotteer No More

Marriott has always been one of my favorite brands. It was a staple on my T & E reports from way back in the day when I traveled regularly for business. A bunch of us crashed at a Residence Inn somewhere near Alpine Valley all those years ago when we road tripped annually to Jimmy Buffett shows. Mac Daddy and I choose Marriott brands over any others on our family trips. Mac Daddy prefers a stay at any one of the Marriott family of hotels when he travels for work, which is more often than not. Even in my marketing consulting business I refer to Marriott as the gold standard of stellar brand architecture. I have been a loyal Marriott patron, investor, and fan. A veritable Marriotteer.

Once I even got a call from the office of JW Marriott himself after he received a letter I wrote condemning another hotel's lack of safety, cleanliness, and hospitality, while praising Marriott's. The call was timely and personal and cemented my love affair with the Marriott brand.

The love affair is over. And it is beyond repair.

Marriott is a despicable disgrace.

Bile gurgles up the back of my throat as I even say the brand name.

A woman, a mother of two, was raped in a Marriott parking garage. In front of her 3 and 5 year old children (THE SAME AGE AS MY SONS!). This mother was raped at gunpoint, with the rapist threatening sexual assualt against her children if she did not comply. That could have been me. Or you. Any one of us.

Instead of issuing an apology, offering counseling, or financial retribution, Marriott blames the woman for her own rape. Marriott recently issued a statement saying how there has been a grave mistake that has led the public to think it is unsympathetic to the woman, her children, and victims of violent crime. Read the full statement here...and prepare to dry heave.

I'm not buying it, assholes.

And that little blurb on your website about the Marriott culture, core values, and social responsibility. Bullshit.

Here's an excerpt:
"Marriott's reputation for superior customer service rises out of a long tradition that started with J. Willard Marriott's simple goal for Hot Shoppes to provide "Good Food and Good Service at a Fair Price"
  • "Do Whatever it Takes to Take Care of the Customer"
  • Pay extraordinary attention to detail
  • Take pride in their physical surroundings
  • Use their creativity to find new ways to meet the needs of customers"
"Attention to detail" and "the customer is always right" are mentioned in the company's core values.

Like I said, Bullshit.

I am so sickened that I can hardly write this post coherently. I shudder and feel slightly like vomiting every time I read another news story. And if I were to actually upchuck, I would package it up and mail it to Stephen Brown, one among many of Marriott's cadre of lawyers, and all the fat cat C-suite executives. Stephen Brown got paid big bucks to rape this woman again.

Apparently the safety and security of Marriott's guests is not paramount. And if a woman is raped by a lurking lunatic who had been hanging around the hotel parking garage for days (days!), the rape is clearly her fault. I mean, rape is always the woman's fault, right? Oh, those teetering high heels, itty bitty mini dresses, decolletage baring halters, gold hoop earrings, seamed lacey stockings, and such other attire that act as a sexual assault billboard are just asking for trouble, right? I mean, really, a woman should know better; that's what Puritanical bonnets and calico print rompers are for. We should all look like the queen of the Duggar clan, no? I mean really, wholesome women who are alert and responsible for their own safety are not raped. Only women who are negligent, preoccupied, or otherwise irresponsible can claim culpability for her own rape. The simplest and most natural sashay could send the wrong message and rightfully land a woman in the ER with a rape kit (for those counties that even have them!). We must really walk like androids just to be safe. Or so the Stephen Browns of the world would have you think.

Listen to me, and listen closely. Women are never to blame for the violence inflicted upon them. Being raped is NEVER a woman's fault. Under no circumstances. If you disagree, I beg you to read the moving, poignant, candid, and often frightening stories posted at Violence Unsilenced. These women, like this woman, are someone's mother, daughter, true love.

There is no going back to the way things were for victims of violence. There is an earthly shift. I know this much is true.

If you'd like to share your $0.02, please send your comments to Thomas Marder, the lucky bastard who gets to manage all inquiries regarding Marriott's vile actions. I encourage you to stand up against violence. If you are close to 5 women, chances are one of them has been raped.


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Kim Tracy Prince said...

If all of this is true, the first thing I will think of when I see the Marriott brand is "unsafe." Tsk, tsk, Marriott. Not well played.

Stimey said...

This is appalling. It is so terrible that after this woman had to go through the rape that she then had to go through mudslinging by Marriott.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Terrible, awful, horrible.

But the hotel in question is a franchise, not a Marriott-run or managed hotel.

Angela said...

Thanks so much for bringing this to my attention.

My family will never again set foot in a Marriott hotel again. Ever.

Angela <><


Lisa said...

Having been a victim of a sexual assault myself, this makes me beyond angry.

Matthew Lexus said...

Fat cat Executives only care about one thing, and one thing only...Profit and excess compensation. I should know I was a Fat Cat Executive for many years... Matthew Lexus, Former Fat Cat Executive

Cheryl said...

Thomas at Marriott is away for two weeks ... hmmm. A woman is handling his tasks in the interim - wonder how SHE sleeps at night.

Your comment about the five women reminds me of a great old ad headline: ONE IN FOUR WOMEN WILL BE RAPED IN HER LIFETIME. WILL IT BE YOUR DAUGHTER, WIFE, MOTHER OR SISTER?

Mommyaulait said...

Well I plan on making "Proper use of her [MY] senses and facilities...." and NEVER giving Marriot my business again. I hope this new reputation they have made for themselves effects their bottom line.

There is just a small part of me that would like to give that mouth piece a taste of Southern Justice. The town I grew up in didn't condone men with a reputation of bad mouthing women. If this had been made by a small business there store would be closed for good by the end of the week.

To big to fall? We will see.

Thank you so much for this post. This is another reason you are so loved! MWAH!

Ilina said...

What matters here is that the brand, Marriott, issued a statement that is unsympathetic, disrespectful, and callous. The company's stance shows its draconian attitude toward women. It is irrelevant if the hotel in question is a franchise or not; the Marriott *brand* is still on the door. As an example, every McDonald's is an individual franchise yet we as a public point our fingers at the corporate brand all the time. Cheryl makes an eerily great point. Sexual assault and domestic violence surround us, whether we realize it or not. It's time we demonstrate zero tolerance. So far the wrong people are paying the price here. It's time we make our actions translate to the bottom line. I'm sick and tired of the fat cats.

Magpie said...

Roar! It is a thoroughly despicable situation.

fidget said...

to that woman is like #! on my list of terrifying nightmare scenarios and then to have Marriot say that it was HER FAULT? It's beyond disgusting.

The Stiletto Mom said...

No more Marriot for this traveling Mama. Great post, what a horrible thing to have happen to her and the kids. Makes me sick.

Donna said...

I too am taking Marriott off my list of preferred hotel brands (and like you, I was previously a big fan). I cannot imagine the horror of being in that situation and the added insult of the chain's reaction.

Jill Browne said...


"STAMFORD -- An attorney for the Marriott Hotel & Spa in Stamford said it is not responsible for a lawsuit's defense that a local woman's negligence led to her rape in the hotel's garage in 2006 and had requested the claim be withdrawn weeks ago."

This report in The Advocate newspaper, which has been following the story, appears to have been published last night (August 16, 2009). The full text (available via the link above) has further details.

Aunt Becky said...

I'm beyond angry right now. Like so far beyond it.

Ree said...

Sick, sick, and wrong. As a woman who travels on business EVERY WEEK, I don't quite live in fear, but it's a very real threat to me at all times.

Neil said...

Such an unbelievable story. And so stupid of Marriott.

MomsRising said...

Thanks for posting about this. This story is outrageous. I took action at MomsRising.org: http://bit.ly/16Pj4h

Jen L. said...

Wow. WOW. I can't even start because I won't be able to stop.

But once I figure out how to start, Thomas Marder's gonna hear it.

Cold Spaghetti said...

Awful awful awful. Thank you for writing about this -- I will definitely be sending on a message thanks to your post.

maggie, dammit said...

I'm so glad you wrote about this, I couldn't find the words. I tweeted some, but just couldn't sit inside the anger long enough to write a coherent post. I'm grateful you did. Thank you.

(and of course, thank you so much for the link to Violence UnSilenced. xoxo)

Chronicles of Momnia said...

shocking, appalling, sickening...not enough words to describe....

Unknown said...

Had this shameful act not been made public, the Marriott would have been next in line to rape this woman in open court!
They were caught pants down and weapons drawn...
What a fine company.....

To Mr. Bill Marriott:
When will the leaders of the Marriott get involved?
Or is this acceptable behavior per your leadership ethic?


EatPlayLove said...

This story is just a disgrace. Very sad and I whole heartedly agree, a woman should never take on the burden of blame for any crime against her.

After following a brutal rape murder case in my town that was just solved 10 years later, I actually had someone defend the guy saying it "could have been" consensual sex. Appalling, my response was I would rather scrub toilets in Walmart for the rest of my life than be a defense attorney. I don't know how people do that.

Cheryl said...

The response I got (and I assume others got) from Marriott:
"Thank you for contacting Marriott.

We wish to convey our respect and sympathy for Ms. Doe and her family,
who were the victims of a horrendous crime at one of our franchised
hotels in 2006. Fortunately, the perpetrator has been caught, convicted
and is serving time for his offense.

It was a mistake to suggest that the victim of this tragic incident was
responsible for the vicious crime against her. As soon as we learned
that this offensive language was included by the insurance company's
defense lawyers in their response to Ms. Doe's civil suit, we asked that
it be withdrawn and it was on Monday, August 17.

This incident is not reflective of our corporate culture or ethical
standards, and we apologize to all of our guests and customers who were
so deeply offended by the words used in the legal pleading.

Marriott Customer Care"

I actually could have bought the story that the it was a sleaze bag lawyer of a sleaze bag insurance company who made the statement and Marriott is not responsible EXCEPT that the respondent made such a point of it being a franchised location -- i.e., they're still covering their asses, albeit more subtly.