A family was reportedly turned away from a Columbia, South Carolina, hotel because of their pets — despite being displaced by Hurricane Joaquin and having nowhere to go.
J Britt posted an angry message directed at the Columbia Marriott on his Facebook page, slamming them for caring more about policy than his family’s safety.
“Big shout out to Columbia Marriott and their lovely manager Lauren Oliva and general manager Jeff Kaplan. It was probably pretty obvious my family of five was distressed after the emergency evacuation of our house a few hours back when Gills Creek started to sweep it away,” he wrote.
“But your strict adherence to your corporate pet policy was admirable," he added. "I appreciate you explaining to me in a very condescending customer-service kind of tone about your pet policy even tho I was trying to just get my family into a safe place so I could go back and check on my neighbors. Our two dogs and one cat (in cages BTW) and my three kids who've just lost their home appreciated having to go back out in incredibly dangerous conditions so you didn't break policy.”
Britt then went on to reveal that he and his family proceeded to return to town, “terrified” that they’d be stuck in standing water and drown. Finally, they were able to convince the Sheraton in downtown Columbia to let them stay.
“They were far more concerned with our safety than some policy, and got all of them to safety,” he said. Britt’s post quickly went viral.
The next morning, Britt’s post was no longer up. He subsequently posted a status explaining the reason behind the disappearance of the status.
“When I logged into Facebook, I got a notice that they (Facebook) deleted my original post. I DID NOT DO THIS. It had over 6000 shares last night before I went to sleep, and has been reposted everywhere (even overseas),” he wrote. “I can only assume that Marriott Hotels pressured them to remove it, but I did not take it down."
The Marriott later released a statement apologizing for the incident.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with all impacted by the flooding that has resulted from the recent severe weather," the hotel wrote. "As such, we have modified our no-pet policy and prepared our team to prepare for your family, including pets, for the next 7 days.
“We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience we may have caused guests looking for pet permissible accommodations prior to this change."
The hotel garnered criticism once again after it was revealed that rather than make amends with the family, they initially shared a status full of accusatory claims made by a man named Mark Smith — who shared the Britt family’s personal information and said that they lied about the damage to their home.
The original post was shared in the reviews section of the hotel’s Facebook page and subsequently removed. The Columbia Marriott’s page was later removed, and Marriott corporate never addressed the controversy.