Local hotel adjusted Florida family’s rate

By LARRY C. BOWERS Staff Writer
Posted 9/13/17

More information surfaced Tuesday concerning reports of possible price gouging by local hotels and excessive rates being charged evacuees from Hurricane Irma and its remnants.

One Cleveland …

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Local hotel adjusted Florida family’s rate

Posted

More information surfaced Tuesday concerning reports of possible price gouging by local hotels and excessive rates being charged evacuees from Hurricane Irma and its remnants.

One Cleveland hotel adjusted charges for one evacuee Sunday, after that person had complained to the check-out clerk of possible price-gouging practices.

La Quinta Inn General Manager Lynn Mizell said she overheard evacuee Brian Booher complain about the hotel’s $199 per-night rate as he was checking out on Sunday. She said she adjusted his charges at that time to a $129 per-night rate.

Mizell insisted the weekend rates were not out of line for the hotel during this stressful time.

“Our weekend rates ranged from $135 to $199 per night, which is established by the corporation, (not the local hotel staff),” she added. Mizell said the Boohers were quoted the $199 rate, because that was the only room available.

She emphasized La Quinta rates are based on availability, saying all of Cleveland’s hotel do the same.

Mizell said the St. Cloud, Fla., couple should see an adjustment this week of $163.45 on the balance of the Master Card used to pay for their lodging. Their payment Sunday for two nights was $464.68. The Boohers did not know of the adjustment until informed by the Cleveland Daily Banner on Tuesday.

The couple said they had come to Cleveland because they have stayed here in the past, enjoyed the area, and are familiar with the surroundings. They emphasized they wanted to evacuate their home in Florida to a safe area, since Mrs. Booher is seven months pregnant with their second child.

Four-year-old Brody said they came to Cleveland, “Because a tornado is about to hit our house.”

Brian Booher said their home dodged excessive damage in the storm.

“We still have power,” he said Tuesday.

They do not plan to return to Florida until later in the week, due to a limited availability of gasoline along the interstate corridor.

The couple had reservations at another local hotel, but decline to stay there because they said the room was dirty. They were still charged a one-night fee on Friday.

They said they looked for hours for another room, even traveling to Athens. They eventually stayed at the La Quinta because it was the only lodging available.

They had inquired earlier about accommodations at the Douglas Inn, and moved there Sunday when a suite became available. They said Tuesday they have throughly enjoyed the new arrangements.

Booher’s complaint became known during the weekend when his mother, Shirley Hinds, of New Mexico, forwarded an email to Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland.

Rowland shared the information with 10th District Attorney Stephen Crump and Tennessee Commissioner of Safety and Homeland Security David Purkey. They were reportedly looking into the situation, and Purkey forwarded the information to Gov. Bill Haslam’s legal counsel.

Rowland also shared the complaints with Cleveland City Council members Monday.

The Boohers said they have “met a number of wonderful people” during their time in Cleveland. While shopping for warm clothing Monday, one local resident gave them a $50 gift when she learned they were here to escape the hurricane. They attempted to give the money back, but the lady quickly left the store.

They then gave the money to another evacuee family, with a baby, who came into the outlet store.

“It was a chance for us to give back,” said Booher.

The Florida couple were both over-the-road truck drivers when they met, and both had been involved in pick-ups at the M&M Mars plant here in Cleveland. Booher is now a dispatcher with a concrete company in Florida.

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