It was Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday, and we were in another state visiting family. I was happy; our airport experiences had gone well, our flight had gone reasonably well and we were checking in at the hotel we’d stayed at countless times.
The desk clerk completely ignored my service dog. Completely! I was very happy. We were treated courteously and my dog was a non-issue.
Then we got to the room. With things happening in the world, I turned on the TV so I could watch the news while we unpacked. Odd, there were no captions. I went through all the usual maneuvers with the remote, checking for menu options and for a button labeled “cc”. Nothing worked.
On our way out we asked the desk clerk if she could tell us how to obtain captions on the TV. She was quite perplexed and admitted she didn’t, but would try to find out. On our return after a lovely evening with those we adore we checked back at the desk only to find a new clerk. She knew nothing about our captioning problems, knew nothing about how to resolve them, but promised to try to find a solution.
I went to bed without benefit of late night news or entertainment. Alas.
In the morning I stopped by the desk on my way to breakfast to ask the clerks to please turn the on the captions on the monstrous TV in the common area so I could watch the news with everyone else. Yes, I am a news addict and I know I have a problem. Please don’t judge. While the clerks made the captions appear for breakfast, they still had no real idea how to make them appear on the TV in our room. They promised to solve the issue, so off I went to enjoy my Frosty Flakes and intelligible, legible, morning news.
We returned to our room and found two very determined women struggling to find a way to make captions appear for me with a different remote. They almost had it when, during the commercials, one said, “Oh no! They’re gone again!”
It was then I explained that commercials often were not captioned. She was perplexed by that and said “Why not?”
“Because the law does not yet require it,” I explained.
“That’s crazy,” she replied, her sincerity showing on her face. Who could argue?
What is the real gist of this story? This is a story about good people who worked hard to fix a problem for a guest. It is also a story about bad management that changed out the TVs and the remotes, providing guests with a generic remote so the “good ones” wouldn’t be stolen. It’s about bad management that, in providing generic remotes, never thought to check on their ability to make captions appear for guests who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. It’s about bad management that failed to train their very good employees so those good people could solve a problem more quickly.
The moral of the story is respect. Respect your guests enough to trust them with proper equipment. Respect your good employees enough to provide proper training. Respect guests who have disabilities by ensuring their needs can be met as required by law even, perhaps, doing just a little bit more. Customer service is a good thing.