By Jen Kastner
MONAHANS- It's been a little more than a month since the story broke about the mistreatment of a disabled Army veteran at a Monahans Best Western Inn and Suites. The city of Monahans reports that the situation may have given it a somewhat negative reputation. Now, city leaders are attempting to clean up the potentially damaged image.
"It certainly gave a bad impression to anybody that heard the [words] 'Monahans' or 'Best Western' or 'veterans'," Monahans Mayor, David Cutbirth, said.
Staff Sergeant Chad Staples is a disabled Army veteran confined to a wheelchair after an accident in Baghdad. In early August, Staples stopped at the Best Western Inn and Suites in Monahans for some rest, while on a cross country road trip. He agreed to a third floor room, but that later turned out to be a nightmare for him. When the elevator didn't work, he called the front desk. The lady he spoke with, he says, wouldn't help. He says he then had to crawl down three flights of stairs.
"The treatment of veterans strikes a real nerve with a lot of people in this country and that's a good thing," Cutbirth said.
The Inn apologized, the worker was fired and a manager refunded the veteran his money. However, the whole incident still left a bad taste in the mouths of many.
Monahans Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Teresa Burnett, says, "To think that an incident like this would reflect a hotel or even a business is really hard to take."
Now, the Chamber has called in an outside professional to come in and give additional training to the managers of motels in the area. It's all being done in an effort to raise the bar when it comes to customer service.
"In the retail business, you need to always treat the customer like they're the only one around and like they're going to be the repeat business that keeps you in business," Cutbirth said.
The boom, he adds, is much in part to blame for this problem. Room vacancies are few and far between and prices are skyrocketing.
He explains, "It's that level of being busy at the these places that I think causes, a lot of times, the service to go down."
Burnett says, "Every retail business and every service industry [in the basin] is having problems finding quality workers."
The Chamber says that the Best Western Inn and Suites has put forth a tremendous amount of effort to move past last month's situation and hopefully prevent any similar ones in the future.