To Customer Care Representatives of the InterContinental Hotels Group, and others whom this may concern,
Good afternoon. Thank you in advance for reading this open letter. My name is Tyler Snodgrass and I am reaching out to you because last week I was sleeping in and keeping my belongings in a hotel room at the Soho Holiday Inn, located at 138 Lafayette St, New York City, NY 10013. Around a week ago, on Friday October 10th, room 701 was broken into and my MacBook Pro was stolen out of my backpack. I believe I’m entitled to some form of compensation in order to help me afford a new laptop.
In order to best demonstrate why the InterContinental Hotels Group does in fact owe me recompense, I will chronicle the events that occurred and the information that was obtained following my discovery of the burglary.
My friend Cody rented the hotel room in Soho and had given me one of the two room keys on Tuesday night. During my visit to New York City I was participating in some unscheduled couch-surfing at various friends’ apartments and sleeping in the hotel room when it was more convenient for me. I hadn’t slept at the Holiday Inn on the previous night, so at around 5:30pm on October 10th I dropped into room 701 to change clothes and grab some of my belongings before leaving again at around 6:05pm. Unfortunately, one of those belongings was not my barely-two-year-old MacBook Pro (13-inch screen, mid-2012, model A1278, 2.9GHz dual-core Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of memory, 750GB of storage, originally priced at $1,499), because when Cody and I returned to the hotel room at around 4am I discovered that my computer was no longer in the room (neither was the charger). It had been stolen out of my backpack in the time while we were away, and nothing else had been taken as far as we could tell, but it was difficult to take inventory of our remaining belongings as Cody’s clothing had been rearranged within the drawers and all of my possessions were no longer tucked away inside of my backpack, but instead were sprawled across the floor in a collection of messy piles.
We called the front desk to alert the Holiday Inn employees that we had been ransacked. They called the police for us and at around 4:30am I spoke with four police officers in the hallway of the 7th floor about what was stolen, how it could have been stolen, and how I might be able to get it back. Officer Chan of Precinct 5 asked, “Does anyone else have keys to your room?”
“No, just the two of us.”
“Are you sure the door shut?”
“Yes. It slammed behind me.”
“But it locked shut?”
“Well…it should have. These doors lock automatically. I heard it click shut before I walked away.”
We performed a couple experiments on the door. We let the door, which shuts automatically, shut and lock itself the way it is designed to do. SLAM. It was locked. I unlocked it with my key and we let it slam again. Again, it self-locked. We repeated this a few more times, releasing the door at varying distances away from the frame in order to see if the auto-locking might not always occur when shut. After about five or six successful instances of the door self-shutting and self-locking, we again heard the door SLAM itself shut, heard the same click noise as before, and yet somehow the officer was able to gently push the door open without a room key. We repeated our experiment several more times and found that probably once out of every four to six times the door slammed itself shut, one could easily just push it back open because it had failed to lock.
We were put in a hotel room where the door failed to lock. IHG (I hope you don’t mind if I call you “IHG” from here on out), you gave us an insecure room and a door with a faulty, inconsistent lock. And this isn’t some youth hostel in a not-yet-gentrified part of a European town; this is a Holiday Inn in New York City. That’s insane. Your doors have one job—just one simple, measly job! Your doors are supposed to protect what is inside the room from what is outside of the room. And that door failed to do its job. This door is an embarrassment to all other hotel doors, it’s the door equivalent of the slacker you get stuck completing a class project with in college, this door is literally the reason why I can’t have nice things.
The officer asked me, “So what can we do for you?”
Exhausted and downcast I asked, “What are my options?”
The officer did not have an answer. None of the four officers did. At least not for several seconds. It was almost like they knew I was not getting this computer back, that there wasn’t a way to track down the person who so easily entered my room and stole my computer. They recorded a police report and handed me what was basically a receipt for said report, so that I could confirm that this interaction took place. One officer suggested that we take a look at security footage, and that was something we thought we’d be able to do tomorrow.
But hey check this out—if you thought the door that fails to lock is crazy, you’ll love this: there are no security cameras in the hallways of this Holiday Inn! There’s apparently a camera pointed towards the front door, designed to accomplish…well, I’m not sure. To make sure the revolving doesn’t break down perhaps? But outside of that brave, lone camera, there aren’t many to be found. And there definitely aren’t any in the hallways of the seventh floor, meaning that if any crime is committed in that hallway, the criminal cannot be identified or held accountable for his or her actions. And I suspect that whoever broke into my room knew their crime would go unseen. Again, this is at a Holiday Inn in New York City in 2014 the year of our Lord. One of the world’s largest and most successful hotel chains, one with over 3,400 locations, doesn’t have security cameras to keep its customers safe. That’s insane. How is this allowed to happen? Did someone at Holiday Inn read 1984 and get a little too scared? The residents of the seventh floor and myself could have gone full “Lord of The Flies” for hours in those hallways and no Holiday Inn staff member would have had any idea. Also, I didn’t see a single security officer during the week of my stay. Not to say you absolutely don’t have any, but I honestly never saw one over the course of seven days. You’ll employ failed locks but not failed cops? C’mon.
I will say this, your staff was incredibly sympathetic to my situation and tried to provide as much help as they could. I was very appreciative of this, and they gave me hope that I would be able to receive some sort of financial support in replacing my computer. Mostly because they said they’d help me get into contact with the Soho Holiday Inn General Manager, who might be able to assist me further. And also because one of your front desk workers said that I would not be “shit out of luck.”
I was supposed to speak with the GM on Monday, October 13th, but he was celebrating Columbus Day by having the day off (though he wasn’t celebrating as appropriately as whomever STOLE WHAT BELONGED TO ME! Hey-oh!). I needed to hit the road early on Tuesday to head back to Chicago, as Cody and I had over half a day of driving to accomplish. I waited around on Tuesday morning for the GM to arrive and I was relieved and overjoyed to see him coming up the escalator (the check-in desk and lobby is on the second floor, not the first floor, even though there is easy elevator access on the first floor—this might also be an example of lax security) because this was the man who might be able to help me where all other people and things had failed. I had been waiting to have a conversation with him since Saturday morning.
I shook the hand of Ayman Agamy (firstname.lastname@example.org) and gave him a rundown of what had happened and how I thought I could be and should be helped from here. I had hardly finished explaining that a theft occurred before I was curtly told, “that’s why we provide a safe.” And while it’s true that the room did provide a very small safe, I don’t think it’s true that the safe is provided because break-ins should be or could be expected at any time. I was asked why I didn’t use the safe, and I do have a short catalog of answers: one, Cody was utilizing the safe and there was not room (the safe is quite small); two, as an occasional guest in my friend’s rented room, I did not have access to the unlock code; and three, I shouldn’t have to use a safe to keep my valuables from being stolen out of an expensive hotel room. And the point is not that a safe was provided or not provided, the point is that a person or persons broke into my hotel room—probably effortlessly, with the simple push of a seemingly locked door—put their hands on all of my things, took the most important of those things, violated what was supposed to be a safe and private place, and escaped scot-free.
I don’t think I’m being unreasonable when I say that this theft is the fault of this Holiday Inn, and not of myself. I don’t want to be upset with you, IHG. I want us to be cool. I want to feel OK giving you my money again some day. But the lack of locking and scarcity of surveillance points the finger of blame at you. If my door had fulfilled its life purpose and locked when shut, and if there were security cameras, and my computer was still stolen, and there was still no way to catch the robber—like if he or she Spider-manned up the side of the building and broke in through the window like a cat burglar in a spy movie—then I could not and would not condemn you or your hotel. No one could plan against such an elaborate heist as that. In fact, if something like that had happened I would have personally thanked Mr. Agamy for running a hotel so safe and secure that a burglar had to go to cartoonish lengths to accomplish his or her crime, and I think I would have applauded the thief as well for the effort and determination put forth. “Well done,” I would say, “you despicable varlet! Nicely burgled!”
The point is that the room wasn’t safe for me, my friend, or our possessions. Regardless of whether or not I’m “unlucky” enough to have had my computer stolen, or “lucky” enough to only have had my computer stolen, the fact remains that everything could have been stolen. Or if I had been in the room, or returning to my room during the time of the burglary, I could have been mugged or hurt or worse.
I brought this up to Mr. Agamy and he said that those ideas are all just hypothetical, which is true, though they are based on terrifying facts about his establishment. He then told me that in situations like this he would have to submit a claim to their insurance company, and that Holiday Inn’s insurance “won’t even touch it.” Why? Well, because we “can’t prove the laptop was stolen.” And why is that? Well, because I “can’t prove the laptop existed.” That’s a real thing he told me. He elaborated, condescendingly, that because no employee of Holiday Inn “takes inventory of what people bring in and out of the hotel,” I cannot be emphatically trusted, and therefore my story and the alleged crime committed against me might just be a product of fiction. Like I made it up for fun. I tried to explain the plethora of reasons why that statement was equally insulting and ridiculous, but the GM continued: “We’ve never had a stolen item here before.” Never? Based on the lack of security and the fact that at least one person knows to prowl the halls while pushing on potentially unlocked doors, this seems impossible. But perhaps Mr. Agamy believes that no item has ever been stolen out of his hotel because no victim of theft has ever been able to prove that their allegedly stolen item ever even existed. (By this logic, I could assert that Mr. Agamy had actually stolen my computer, unless he could prove someone else currently had it.) I was disappointed and offended to discover that more trust was put into non-locking doors than into the people who give this hotel their business.
But if receiving the compensation I know I am justly entitled to hinges on proving that my computer existed and was taken out of my hotel room on October 10th, then I’ll play along. I’ve been writing regular boring ol’ prose for a while now, though, so I’d like to switch up this next part of my letter—for the sake of conciseness and to make reading a little more fun, it will be formatted as one of those “click bait” articles you might find on BuzzFeed, or any other similarly terrible website:
5 Dope Pieces Of Evidence Intended To Prove That Tyler Snodgrass Is Telling The Truth About Having His Computer In His Hotel Room Until It Was Totally Stolen!
- My Friends Saw Me With It!
Eye witnesses with witnessing eyes witnessed my computer and I together. My previously mentioned friend, Cody, and my friend Danii, who also paid visits to our the hotel room, both saw me using my computer multiple times. Yes, they saw me work on my laptop often between October 7th and October 10th–there is no way that my computer was a figment of our collective imagination.
- I Used iCloud To Erase It!
Because I have a massive amount of personal information, photos, and writing on that computer, and because it could potentially provide access to personal accounts of mine, such as email or Facebook, I used Find My iPhone on my iPhone to remotely erase my entire computer. Because the Macbook Pro had been turned off, or at least not yet reconnected to wifi by whomever had stolen it, I could not find it on the GPS. But I could schedule a complete erasing of the computer once the criminal connected it to wifi, which happened at 12:37 PM on October 11th, while I was asleep.
Why would I have erased my computer if I still had it in my possession? And how could I have erased my computer if it didn’t exist?
- A Police Report Was Taken!
I’ve never been thrilled to talk to a group of police officers, and I’ve certainly never wanted to call them up for funsies at 4am in a city where I don’t even live. The police report (Complaint No.: 4659, if you’re curious), taken by Precinct 5, should reflect that my room was indeed invaded, my belongings were scattered across the floor, except for my computer, which was missing (obvs), and that the door for room 701 locked inconsistently. The cops were even the ones who discovered this! #truedetective
- I Know It Existed, And I’m A Known Trustworthy Person!
I’m not delusional. I know the computer was brought with me from Chicago and was last seen in my hotel room. And I’m not a cruel, mean, deceitful person. So I’m not just trying to take advantage of Holiday Inn—I have no intention of ripping off any person or business. Besides, there are way easier ways to use Holiday Inn to get a new computer than go through all of this trouble with the cops and the GM and the writing of a six-page letter. Like, I apparently could just walk into people’s rooms when they are away. Also, I am a trustworthy person. You could conduct a random survey of any persons you might find associated with me through the power of social media or the internet regarding my propensity towards honesty, and I am quite confident that the results would be favorable for me. Go ahead—take to the internet! I have around 1,900 Facebook friends, and only one of them is my mom, so ask ‘em. And (not to brag, but) I have like 855 Twitter followers, and you can ask them, too. The ones that aren’t spam bots, and the ones who have actually met me, will have my back. In Chicago I produce a storytelling show which depends on storytellers being as honest and vulnerable as possible. I force myself to be completely truthful in my own show, and I encourage that of every performer and storyteller scheduled to appear. I say this to give evidence to the fact that people—friends as well as strangers—have witnessed my unabashed honesty time and time again. I’ve proven myself so truthfully reputable that often times people will tell me their most vulnerable, most secret stories in private, trusting me not to repeat those tales in outside company. Check out this review:
“Tyler Snodgrass would never lie to another person. He’s like a modern George Washington, unless you believe the speculation that the cherry tree story is actually fictionalized and written by Mason Weems. Regardless of your thoughts on that, Tyler is indisputably honest and I trust him to keep my deepest, darkest secrets without revealing my identity.” -anonymous.
You get the idea.
- It’s The Truth!
It just is. I can hardly believe I’ve actually gone into this much detail about whether or not I invented the story about having a computer. I have a backup of my computer on my external hard drive on my desk from the day before I left (thank God I had the forethought to back everything up). I have a receipt from apple.com for the purchase of my computer on July 26th, 2012. What more do you want? It existed and was taken from me. The allegation that my computer may not have ever existed, and that’s why the insurance company wouldn’t even bother with me, is a pathetic excuse for an answer, is disgustingly obdurate and unsympathetic, and is also just insulting to me.
I should mention that Mr. Agamy was kind enough to remove one night’s cost from Cody’s bill, which would cover around one-fifth of the original computer price (not including tax). This was certainly nicer than just telling us to hit the road, but I also think the gesture was an effort to get us to hit the road and get out of his hair. Regardless, it was not the kind of recompense that Cody or I were seeking.
My perception of Holiday Inn was very different after this experience, and not just because my expectations were set by Chingy’s breakthrough single. Truly I am disappointed in the Soho Holiday Inn for its lack of safeguards and for the way it handled the burglary. I felt miserable and unsafe from Friday night through Tuesday morning, even after changing rooms. My stay at the Holiday Inn was nothing like what I hoped or expected. Not only was I robbed, but there were no hotel parties, at no point did I see eighty shawties, and no Henny was sipped. It’s simply ludicrous.
I told several people about what happened to me on that Friday night and each individual independently gave me the same response: the Holiday Inn owes me a computer. At first I was just venting to people, but in doing so I was unknowingly taking a poll of what is expected when a hotel provides you with an insecure room which causes a theft. “Holiday Inn should pay for your new computer” was the unanimous response I received. That was the standard of common human decency, which nearly two dozen individuals each concluded (and this was just between October 10th and 14th). So please, IHG, be a person, not a corporation. Help me out.
I know I’ve occasionally been a real goober in this article. I like to joke around in my writing because I sometimes have a problem handling serious situations, responsibility, and loss. So, yes I’ve joked around some. Heck, a few times I’ve even been downright hilarious (did you see that Ludacris/ludicrous pun!!). But I am being very serious when I say that I deserve money in order to afford a replacement computer. I am not joking when I say that you owe me, IHG. Buying another Macbook Pro is not something I was financially prepared to do. According to the Apple store website, a refurbished version of the computer I once owned can be purchased for $1,169.00. All things considered, I think this amount of money would be a fair enough reimbursement. Though I would rather have my original computer, this would be incredibly helpful in affording me some kind of replacement MacBook Pro. I hope to hear a response from you soon, IHG. If I don’t hear from you within fourteen days I will be contacting you again. We both know you can afford to help me, and I hope by now you agree with me that I deserve it.
Thank you again for reading. Do the right thing.