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The Cost of Selling Your Soul for Money

Posted By Jay On April 26, 2010 @ 10:00 am In Featured Articles,Travel Advice | 2 Comments

“Money is the root of all evil” – a phrase usually uttered by those without any.  For those of us who have managed to live fulfilling lives without degrading, stealing or otherwise reaping the benefits off of the backs of others – this recent event will likely cause a bit of concern.

Seems the ultra luxury hotel/resort chain the Ritz-Carlton has found itself in the middle of a disgusting and quite possibly illegal allegation.  According to USA Today (by way of the Naples News), the Naples, Florida Ritz-Carlton location “accommodated” two British guest’s racial requests.  Here is an excerpt from the USA Today article:

“The couple identified in the lawsuit arrived as guests on Feb. 28 and specified their preference to not be served by “people of color” or with “foreign accents,” the story says. Notes from the hotel’s computer system said as much: “As per Mr. (hotel managing director Edward) Staros, this couple is very, very prejudice(d) and do like like (sic) ppl of color or foreign accents”…”

No company can control the thoughts and biases of its customers, so it would be unfair to criticize the Ritz-Carlton for the mere fact that a bigot entered one of their establishments.  Furthermore, any company can be susceptible to that “one bad hire” – you know, the employee that has gone so far off of the reservation that their actions in no way reflects the values of the organization as a whole.  That said, it appears the situation the Ritz-Carlton finds itself in is a result of a systemic failure and/or an institutional problem.

If the allegations in this case turn out to be true (and no one from the Ritz-Carlton is disputing them thus far), consider the chain of events which lends credence to an institutionalized problem:

  1. Upon first hearing of a customer’s despicable and possibly illegal request, the company ‘honored’ it and removed the first employee from their paid responsibilities to this customer.
  2. 7 other employees were informed to follow the ‘service’ provided to this customer.
  3. To ensure other employees were clear as to this ‘service’, references to the statement were typed into the company computer system associated with this customer.
  4. At least two individuals from the company’s management team (unnamed supervisor and Director Staros) were aware of and if not promoted, certainly did not stop this behavior.
  5. This type of behavior has happened in the past.


They typed this into the computer?????  Really???  Cause when I go to work and a customer says “I don’t wanna talk to no damn Women”, the first thing I can think of is to type that little nugget into our internal systems so that all of my employees get the message.  Seriously??

And all of this for what?

“The Customer is always right” – so we should make the customer happy at all costs.  Probably not the exact motto of the Ritz-Carlton, but surely pretty close.  Certainly an excellent motto to follow – right up until the point where you don’t follow it.  In a nutshell, employees/management appeased a bigot to ensure continued patronage of their business.  Let’s assume for sake of argument the bigoted couple spent 20k on their stay at the Ritz-Carlton; is that worth the losses in overall revenue due to bad publicity from these actions?  Was this couple’s money worth demoralizing their workforce?  Will it be a good trade if the Ritz-Carlton is fined by the State of Florida, federal government or loses/settles the impending lawsuit?   I doubt it.

According to the company’s statement, the British couple is no longer welcome at a Ritz-Carlton establishment.  Well that’s fantastic.  Here’s what I didn’t hear from that statement – “our dimwitted management team (Director Staros & unnamed supervisor) will be entering retraining, fired, demoted, given IQ tests, etc. – and (most importantly) we are reviewing our corporate polices to ensure we have the proper customer/employee standards and compliance oversight”.

This post isn’t to fight the employee’s battle; he has an attorney and that process will play itself out.  The battle I’m fighting is an obvious lack of leadership which fosters an environment that at least two people in management and 7 other employees were aware of this ‘request’, did nothing to stop it and so brazenly aimed to support it they typed the damn instructions in the computerallegedly!

You cannot shame anyone into using good judgment, particularly those that had to be told (sued) this was ridiculous in the first place – it has to be worth their while financially.  To that end, I have included the contact information for the Ritz-Carlton and its parent company Marriot International below.  I for one will be publically letting them know this behavior is unacceptable and will be showing my displeasure with my dollars until the systemic issues have been resolved.


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