Do You Report AAA TourBook Problems?

Old Mar 27th, 2006, 10:54 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Econolodge in Tucson, AZ. The place had bed bugs, sheets full of cigarette holes and the lobby/clerk smelled like marijuana. In addition, the AAA rate was higher than their regular rate. I wrote a detailed letter to Econolodge. No response -- what a surprise!
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Old Mar 28th, 2006, 07:11 AM
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Happytrailstoyou, I wasn't questioning that AAA passed comments on to a hotel, but I was shocked to learn that if I send a letter to AAA, my actual name and address will be forwarded to that hotel!
If I had a nasty run-in with a manager there, I'd prefer him not to be reminded of my name and address along with the knowledge that I had reported him to AAA (even though I admit they could probably put two and two together and find me anyway if they really wanted to). I just would have expected AAA to be a little more discreet than forwarding my name and address along with the complaint. Maybe I'm being overly sensitive.

"the AAA rate was higher than their regular rate." I think you misunderstood. It is quite possible that no rooms existed at a given time for a special AAA rate or that there were various other rates lower than the AAA discount, but I find it hard to believe that the AAA rate was actually higher than the standard "non discounted" rate.
Old Mar 28th, 2006, 08:27 AM
Join Date: Mar 2006
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I apologize for not being more clear in my post. I had also e-mailed the Hyatt about the complaint. It was not a problem with our accommodation, but with the way things were advertised. At first we received a letter of apology from the Hyatt, then, after my letter to AAA we had the offer of a comp night. Upon reflection, however, perhaps more credit goes to Hyatt than to AAA. I'm probably assuming that there was more "putting 2 and 2 together" than there actually was...
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Old Mar 28th, 2006, 08:34 AM
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I posted in response to Neopolitan's question to "nevermind" last night that AAA did not pass complaint info on to hotels. That was after discussing this thread with my husband--a Hyatt GM for 16 years. His answer was unequivocally, "no, they do not do that." Could it be that in his 16 years there have been no complaints made about his hotels to would like to think that, but it's probably not the case. Who knows, though, maybe he is lucky--his hotels have been pretty good ones and they all strive to resolve issues at the hotel level, and not have any escalated complaints. If AAA had sent the complaint to corporate, you can believe that he'd have been aware of it in a nano second, they send issues on so fast your head would spin! So...I don't know what the story is here. He suggested that "nevermind" had done one of several things...called Hyatt Consumer Affairs, contacted corporate directly, or filled out a comment card, and the hotel took the appropriate action of offering a stay or whatever was appropriate for whatever happened. Seems to me if I had a problem with a hotel, that would be my first course of action, and never just a letter to AAA! That would have explained the hotel response and it would have had nothing to do with AAA.

In discussing all this he said something about all of AAA being divided into regions...3, I believe, with no central headquarters, and that perhaps the different regions handled things differently. His past two hotels, were in the southeast and under the region based in FL. This hotel, TX, is in the region based in CA, but as he's only been here a year, he has not had much opportunity to witness AAA's operation in the CA office and know for certain whether things are handled differently. This thread becomes even more confusing in that a complaint about a hotel in the state of WA ended up in FL's headquarters. ?? So...LOL, I'm very confused because I know he's giving me facts from his experience, yet I'm seeing something entirely different written here. SO...I think I'll just choose to chalk this up to his never having one of his hotels complained about to AAA. I love happy endings. May it always remain thusly!!!
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Old Mar 28th, 2006, 08:59 AM
Join Date: Nov 2005
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We were writing at the same time nevermind. That does explain it. If your letter was written to corporate, they respond, but send it back to the hotel in question for the appropriate remedial action.
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Old Mar 28th, 2006, 10:27 AM
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Perhaps I should add that the motel I reported is not one we would have stayed in except that all the places at which we wanted to stay were booked.

Further, I now believe I was mistaken to report my unpleasant experience to AAA because in doing so I had to relive a night that is much better forgotten. Also, I believe there is no point in mentioning deficiencies to a hotel or restaurant management unless it is obviously an establishment that wants to maintain a high standard (as in the case of Hyatt, mentioned above).
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Old Mar 28th, 2006, 12:46 PM
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I have absolutely NO faith in reporting hotel problems to AAA.

We recently made reservations at a 3 star AAA rated motel in Ojai, CA and booked it with our CC. When we arrived we found the room to be dirty,shabby, unkempt, and the attached patio was littered with bottle caps and assorted small trash. We asked to be let out of the booking; fortunately, they gave us no problems, and we went to the Casa Ojai Best Western for the same price and the same rating which had a clean attractive room with the bonus of triple sheeting. My question to AAA would be: When was the last time you checked out this motel? I think they rate on the number of amenities rather than condition of the room.

When I've written to AAA about other things, such as when they warned me one yr that I used their emergency road service too much that year, they never responded to my letter. We've been members since 1971, and I think we can be excused for one year of calling the emergency service three times! On the positive side for AAA, when I went in person to complete some minor business, I mentioned the "no response" to my letter and they tried to placate me with a Sees' candy voucher, but did not back off their policy of Limited emergency service.

About 5 yrs ago, I booked a train from Paris to Rennes. They attached so many surcharges on it, that my second class ticket cost about $30 more than the first class train ticket I bought in Rennes to return to Paris.

Like one of the posters above, I use AAA as a guide, but not as an authority, I have often found their 3star hotels to be inadequate and inconsistent. And because of my experience writing several letters to them in the past and their often unpleasant (and unknowledgeable, too!)reception in the local offices, I would no longer waste my time. For those who have had better results than me, I am glad to hear about it.
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Old Mar 28th, 2006, 01:44 PM
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I think hotels get a discount if they pay upfront to be listed in the AAA book for more than just one year. So a complaint might be looked at, but if the hotel has already paid for their listing it probably wouldn't remove them from the book. Maybe they look at downgrading a place...but probably not if they've only received ONE complaint...and most people don't bother to complain to AAA.

Their ratings are definitely inconsistent and to be taken with a grain of salt. In big cities, I often see hotels rated three stars, but of course the AAA book won't tell you that it's in a one-star neighborhood where you don't want to stay.
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Old Mar 28th, 2006, 02:39 PM
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How true about AAA's failure to describe the neighborhood. I once booked a Hampton Inn in San Diego that was located in the midst of a bunch of used car lots, and I checked out three-diamond motels in San Francisco that were in a scary neighborhood south of Market.
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Old Mar 28th, 2006, 03:33 PM
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"I think they rate on the number of amenities rather than condition of the room."

Like it or not, that's pretty much how most ratings systems work. The number of stars for a French hotel won't tell you if the wallpaper is torn or the carpet is threadbare. The ratings are all about whether there is an elevator, what percentage of rooms have private baths, whether there is a full restaurant and things like that.

I'm not sure that AAA claims they do any differently in their awarding a particular number of "diamonds" to a place. Of course they claim that all meet a certain level of cleanliness, but how can they know whether a room that was clean when they looked will not be cleaned after a wild group used it?
Old Mar 28th, 2006, 04:01 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
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With the online services now available, I don't use the AAA Tour books as much as before. Tripadvisor and Mytravelguide now give me much more accurate descriptions of the properties.

On the other hand, AAA does list some properties that are hard to find elsewhere, such as the Mohawk Hotel in Mohawk, Canada. Simply THE best in Mohawk, Canada, LOL! The Mohawk owner did refer us to a wonderful restaurant where we had the BEST fried brie we have ever had. Who would've guessed?

I had a bad experience with an AAA listing once years ago. They said the hotel was on the WEST side of the freeway, while it actually was on the EAST side - so we spent almost half an hour driving around deserted, industrial area streets which was pretty scary when it's midnight. Wrote to them and the response was ho-hum.

That's when I stopped relying on AAA ratings and directions.

I still get their free maps and their tour book descriptions of places are very useful. Forget the hotel ratings and recommendations, IMHO.
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Old Mar 28th, 2006, 04:38 PM
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It's a misconception here that they do and one I held too, I'd read it so darned many times, and one I perpetuated in one of my posts above until my DH corrected me last night. No..they do not pay. If they want to advertise in the book, an ad, not their listing, they pay for that. All listings are at no charge.

AAA does judge the hotel on cleanliness and condition of furnishings when they are inspected, yes, but also on the amenities and the list is long and specific. Here is a partial description of the diamond categories, but it gets even more specific than this: Anyone interested in learning more about the diamond rating process, there are several pages of information here I found interesting:

I put little stock in TripAdvisor reviews, JMHO. At least AAA inspectors are trained professionals following a consistent rating formula. TripAdvisor is usually all over the map on reviews and some are flat out wrong: inaccurate information. I've read reviews about hotels I'm familiar with which have totally misstated facts...objective errors stated as truisms. If you are willing to sort through all the recent TripAdvisor reviews going back a year, then take the general consensus from that, it'll usually give you a pretty good idea of what a place is like. Think yourselves of the number of times you've read rave reviews of restaurants you are familiar in your town, which are absolute dogs! I see it all the time for St Pete. Everybody is approaching their stay or their meal with different expectations and past experiences, resulting in a wide range of opinions about just how good or bad a place is. AAA with their guidelines and trained inspectors at least lends some uniformity to the rating system. The greatest accuracy will be in the 4 and 5 star or diamond categories which are inspected yearly, less in the others where inspections occur less frequently.

Though I know it sounds that way, I have no reason to defend AAA, which honestly can be a royal PITA to hotels because they ARE so demanding, but as in TA reviews, there has been some mis-statement of fact here which I'd like to correct. They really are doing JohnQPublic a service by holding a big hammer over hotels heads, "you must have this and you must have that, and do this and do that for this star or diamond level, and you must maintain yourself in thus and so manner or you'll lose a star." The system works to your benefit in this regard, keeping hotels on their toes and amenities list constantly growing to conform to AAA's demands, and hotels benefit if they maintain their stars or diamonds and are listed where the traveling public can read about them!
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Old Mar 28th, 2006, 05:11 PM
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I completely agree with the foregoing--that AAA wants to list places that are clean and comfortable.

This is why I made the effort to let them know that a property they have been listing for over fifteen years is riding on the coattails of the AAA recommendation.

However, maybe if only one person (me) complains, AAA takes the word of the property manager (whom they talk to on the phone) rather than the AAA member, who may--as far as they know--be a crank.

The bottom line is: Don't waste your time complaining to AAA if you expect observable action to be taken.
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Old Mar 28th, 2006, 05:35 PM
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Might one reasonably disagree with the above two opinions on how objective AAA is and how "non-objective" tripadvisor is?

My experience has been quite the contrary - and I've been an AAA member for over 40 years!

I like AAA. Nope, I LOVE AAA.

But, how often does it's "professional" staff get to any particular hotel to rate it? Once a year? Once every other year?

On the other hand, the reviews on tripadvisor, while not "professional", are much more recent.

If one reads the tripadvisor reviews, along with the reviews in mytravelguide AND the reviews in biddingfortravel, one can get a pretty accurate picture of the hotel that is being investigated.

I've used AAA guidebooks for years and they have misled me several times. More times than tripadvisor has misled me.

Just my experience.
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Old Mar 28th, 2006, 06:03 PM
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Yes, I do find 4 and 5 star AAA rated hotels to be fairly consistent and pleasant to stay in, but since I infrequently stay at these hotels, and spend more time at the three star establishments (like most people), I would prefer to see these 3 star places better monitored by AAA so I can count on them being pleasant, clean places the majority of the time, NOT half the time.

I stayed at a SF hotel a few ys back (3 star again) and it had roaches. I was fearful of bringing them home!! When I complained to the manager, he shrugged his shoulders and said that was SF. (Not true of course!! I love SF and never had roaches anywhere else.) He did not appear to be surprised by my comment. It was apparent he had heard it all before.

I think AAA takes their years of being a primary travel guide for thousands of Americans for granted, since for years they were the major reference guides. They are mistaken that this position is going to hold forever. They are loosing it day by day. I may be their customer, but I use their guides less and less and others, too, apparently as noted on this board; this will not help to keep them number one in the travel market for long. My confidence has been deteriorating for years.
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Old Mar 28th, 2006, 06:29 PM
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According to properties that use red AAA logo in book and on their property pay a AAA "licensing fee" - while it is true they do not pay to be listed, it seems to me that a licensing fee is pretty close.

According to same website, AAA employees 65 inspectors - so they certainly can not inspect each property each year, and in fact site states that they "Update" listings annually - it says nothing about visiting properties annually.
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Old Mar 28th, 2006, 08:24 PM
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65 inspectors for 1000s of properties! It sounds like some properties will be visited if AAA customers are lucky, once every 5 years and maybe a lot of the "inspection" is done by telephone, visiting web sites, and survey letters regarding amenities. Too bad. They would do themselves a favor if they followed up on complaints. They might learn something.
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