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Kicked Out of a Motel for Charging at 12 Amps

Discussion in 'Model S: Battery & Charging' started by GlennAlanBerry, Jul 15, 2013.

  1. GlennAlanBerry

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    #1 GlennAlanBerry, Jul 15, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2013
    This is a pretty long story...

    My wife and I had an interesting road trip to Salida, CO this past weekend, going to the Colorado Brewer's Rendezvous. We drove down from Parker, CO on US-285, which was 151 miles. I had a range-charge in my P85 before we left, and we arrived in Salida with 107 miles of rated range remaining, despite quite a bit of elevation change on the route. This was my first time past "bingo fuel" in the Model S, but I was not worried since I had planned out the trip.

    I had looked online, and found no public charging stations in Salida, and I did not find any motels that mentioned having charging stations either. Using the RVParky website, I had found several RV campgrounds within 10-15 miles of Salida that had 50 Amp service, so I called one and asked about charging my Tesla. At first, they were a little unclear what I wanted, but after I explained, they said I could pay $5.00 plus whatever my actual electrical usage was (at 15 cents/KwH). This seemed like a very good deal, so I made a reservation to charge for a few hours starting Sunday morning. I also made a motel reservation at the Gateway Inn & Suites, on Hwy 50 in Salida (.http://www.salidagatewayinnandsuites.com/) This is a relatively modern motel on the east side of Salida, next to Hwy 50.

    My hope was to at least charge at 120V, 12Amps over Saturday night (at 3 miles of range/hr), and then drive to the RV campground on Sunday morning to charge at 240V, 40 Amps (at 26-30 miles of range/hr) until I had enough range to get home with a safe reserve. After I made my online reservation, I sent an email to the motel, asking them about charging, as shown below:

    "I have booked a reservation though Booking.com, checking in on July 13 and checking out on July 14. I drive a Tesla Model S, which is an all-electric car. I was wondering whether there might be some place at the motel where I can plug-in my car from about noon on Saturday until we check out on Sunday? I would be happy to pay extra for this service, whether it is a 120V, 20 amp circuit or a 240V, 50 amp circuit. Please let me know. Thanks!"

    Unfortunately, I never got a response to that e-mail. I later called and asked about charging, but the person I talked to did not know anything about EV charging.

    After the Brewer's Rendezvous was over, we had dinner and took a walk along the river, and then drove about a mile to the motel and checked in at about 6:30PM. Our room was Room 305, which was about 100 feet away from the motel office. We were able to park two spaces to the left of our room door, which was just a little too far away for my UMC cable to reach. This is where I made my first mistake. There was a grounded, 120V outlet in the room under the front window, and I had a short, very heavy duty extension cord that would easily reach. I decided to use the extension cord and plug-in, running the cord through the open window, past the edge of the screen. I sat in the car for a few minutes and watched it happily charge at 120V and 12 Amps, getting 3 miles/hour of range. There was no warning about a voltage drop or a long extension cord from the Tesla. I also felt the extension cord to make sure it was not warm, even though I had used this same extension cord to charge at home for a couple of weeks (before I got my NEMA 14-50 outlet).

    Thinking everything was fine, we read for a little while and then went to bed. Then, at about 11:30PM, we were awoken by a loud pounding on the door. I opened the door to be met by a very angry man who starting yelling about me damaging the wiring and burning down the motel. He also yelled that I had two minutes to unplug the car or else he would call the fire department and the police. He also threw in a comment about how "$#cking ridiculous it was to charge an electric car from a hotel room". I was a little shocked by all of this, but I immediately unplugged the UMC cord from the extension cord, and then unplugged the UMC cord from the car and put it away. The guy was still yelling about how they had security cameras to make sure I did not plugin again later. I tried to explain that the car was only drawing 12 Amps which was perfectly safe, and that we had used about 4KwH of electricity. I asked him to feel the extension cord to see if it was warm, but he refused, and then walked away towards the office. No circuit breaker in the room had been tripped.

    After this, I went back inside. only to get a phone call from the front desk. I asked to speak to manager, but the woman on the phone told me that the guy I had talked to was the manager. Next, she said that they were going to turn off the circuit breakers for our room for the night. Hearing this, I said, "If you do that, I will have to write a negative review of the motel". Of course this angered her even more, so she demanded that we leave the motel immediately, and she wanted to know when we would be gone. I said "in the morning". After this, she threatened to call the Salida Police, and I said that was a good idea.

    Next, the manager came back and pounded on our door again, demanding that we leave immediately. I told him that I was going to call the Police myself, and asked him what his name was, which he refused to give me.

    A few minutes later, a Salida Police Officer showed up and talked to the manager and front desk clerk for a couple of minutes, and then came over to talk to me alone. I calmly explained what had happened, telling him how the Tesla monitors the incoming current and limits it to 12 Amps on a 120V 20 Amp circuit. I also showed him the extension cord, and explained how little electricity we had used over the past five hours of charging. I also explained that we lived in Parker, and did not have enough range to get home until we could charge at the RV campground in the morning. Because of the Brewer's Rendezvous, there were unlikely to be any vacant rooms in any other motels in Salida that night. The officer was very understanding, and left to go talk to the manager some more.

    When the officer came back, he was very apologetic, but said that he was sorry, but we would have to check-out and leave, although we were going to get a full refund. So, we packed up, got our refund and left, but not before the officer told me how sorry he was, and that they had had previous similar situations with this manager at the motel over kicking people out in the middle of the night (but not related to EVs).

    We were basically screwed, with not enough range to get home without a charge, and no where to stay for the night. By this time it was a little after midnight, so I tried calling the RV campground we had a reservation at (The SugarBush Store and Campground http://www.rvparky.com/location/sugarbush-store-and-campground), hoping they might have someone on duty. Unfortunately, I woke up a nice woman, who agreed to meet us when we got there and let us plug in for the night. We apologized for waking her and thanked her profusely (and I also gave her a nice tip when we got there). Their 50 Amp circuit worked great, putting out a steady 240-244V at 40 Amps, so we were getting 27-29 miles per hour of charge. We left the campground at 6AM with a full range charge, and drove back home without any more excitement. I averaged 282 Wh/mi for the trip which was quite good.

    So to recap, I made a few mistakes here:

    1. I should not have charged without explicit permission
    2. I should not have used the extension cord to charge
    3. I should not have threatened to write a negative review of the motel

    On the other hand, the motel manager made a number of mistakes:

    1. He should have called us first, and asked us to unplug and/or explain what we were doing
    2. He should have let me explain what I was doing and actually investigated to see if it was a problem
    3. He should not have used profanity towards a motel guest
    4. He should not have called the police over the incident
    5. He should not have evicted two guests in the middle of the night

    If they had been willing to calm down and listen to me, I am sure we could have resolved the situation. I could have let them keep my UMC cord for the night, or I could have paid some excessive fee for the roughly $1.00 of electricity I would have used by morning. As it was, there was no damage to the motel, and they lost my $129.99 room rate for the night (which was nearly double their normal rate due the Brewer's Rendezvous).

    I am curious what people think of this whole situation?

    Update: I have written a blog post on my personal blog, describing the situation: http://sqlserverperformance.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/ot-kicked-out-of-a-motel-for-charging-at-12-amps/
     
  2. gene

    gene Member

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    The few mistakes you made, you have noted well. His conduct was out of line. I'd give them a very poor Trip Advisor and Yelp review. Save others from this man's aggression.
     
  3. Denarius

    Denarius Active Member

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    While you did make a few mistakes his response was completely uncalled for. I hope you left that negative review.
     
  4. stephenpace

    stephenpace VIN S00219

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    I would go ahead and write a negative review of the hotel. The manager is clearly insane (and the police officer's story confirms they have issues). Further, if they had been more responsive to your original email they could have avoided this entire issue. Your accurate review would reflect that this hotel is anti-EV and that you are likely to get kicked out for any offense the manager deems an issue regardless if it is reasonable or not.
     
  5. napabill

    napabill Active Member

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    Yikes! You have a responsibility to report this on Yelp or something similar. People need to know of this guy. And not just EV'ers.
     
  6. Puyallup Bill

    Puyallup Bill Member

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    Wow! That sounds like a fun night.

    Write the review. Hindsight is great - probably ought to have asked before plugging in, but that is no excuse for the treatment.
    Wonder why the police allowed them to turn you out. Probably a common clause similar to: "We reserve the right to refuse................."

    About a month ago, I plugged into an outside GFCI 120 volt outlet at a Seaside, OR hotel for three nights, two days. Afraid I might not like the answer, I never asked, and had no problem.
     
  7. Crispix

    Crispix Member

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    #7 Crispix, Jul 15, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2013
    Frankly, I think your only mistake (and a small one) was the first on your list: not letting them know upon check-in that you'd be charging you car. No reason for him to freak out. The motel manager sounds like a total nutcase. You should write the negative review on Yelp and TripAdvisor -- I'd never want to stay there and you're doing a favor to others to warn them about the crazy management. Use your TMC post as a template. You pretty much already have the review written!

    I would also suggest you write a very nice review for the RV campground and the lady who helped in the middle of the night. She saved the day!
     
  8. bonnie

    bonnie Oil is for sissies.

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    They have a fb page where you can leave a review (and a rating): https://www.facebook.com/SalidaGatewayInn

    Unacceptable behavior. Really sorry you had to deal with that.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Sounds like they've been having electrical problems. From a TripAdvisor review:

     
  9. Denarius

    Denarius Active Member

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    Look at their responses on trip advisor to the negative reviews, they try and blame their customers and justify their horrible service. I will never stay there.
     
  10. aviators99

    aviators99 Model S - R140

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    If it was me, I would have pressed charges for assault.
     
  11. bhuwan

    bhuwan Active Member

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    Wow what a jerk. Glad to hear that it was sorted out.
     
  12. deonb

    deonb Active Member

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    I know we all immediately think about the extension cord issue.

    However, did the hotel owner really care about that? Or was the issue just that you were plugging in an EV at all. He might not even have known there is an theoretical issue with extension cords.
     
  13. Todd Burch

    Todd Burch Electron Pilot

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    Glenn,

    I'm currently having some charging issues too (see Not a great start in the charging desert). Obviously, asking to plug your car in like that would have been preferable (lesson learned), but clearly the manager was in the wrong here--totally overreacted. If I were the manager, I would have knocked on your door, asked you about it, made sure it was safe, and that would have been the end of it.

    I think the manager just thought you were costing him lots of money and didn't want you to suck all of his power. Clearly he didn't realize that the entire night of charging couldn't have used more than a few dollars of electricity.

    He's a nutcase. Publish a terrible review. Be vitriolic.
     
  14. Doug_G

    Doug_G Lead Moderator

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    They are completely deserving of the worst review ever seen on TripAdviser.
     
  15. GlennAlanBerry

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    I figured someone would bring up the extension cord issue... I seriously doubt that the manager knew that Tesla does not officially approve of using extension cords. Of course, not all extension cords are created equal. As I said, this is a very heavy duty extension cord that is rated for 20 amps, while the car was only drawing 12 amps. The cord was not warm after five hours of charging.

    If there was an issue with the extension cord causing a voltage drop, the Tesla would have noticed and shown an error message. I know this since I saw that error message last week at a ChargePoint station in Denver (without an extension cord). The ChargePoint station was only putting out 182V.
     
  16. Doug_G

    Doug_G Lead Moderator

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    Wow, that's pathetic.

    Tip: If you desperately need a charge and you get dropouts due to low voltage, lower the current via the touchscreen. Lowering the current will cause the voltage to come up a little.
     
  17. GlennAlanBerry

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    Yeah, I called Tesla Support, and they advised me to dial back the amps, which did result in the voltage rising to about 187V, which was a little better.
     
  18. Sandy240

    Sandy240 New Member

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    Clearly shows that some motel operators are not the brightest bulbs in the business world. I guess it never occurred to them that they are looking at a business opportunity. They might have realized that none of the other motels in the area are offering EV charging and they could get the jump and install a couple of NEMA 14-50R, 5-20R (standard 120V) and a J1772 or two in the parking lot and advertise they are EV car friendly. Colorado might be one of those states with a healthy business tax credit for such things.

    You should definitely write a negative review. I travel through Salida several times a year, and I need to know where NOT to stay. I don't care what excuses they have about fire safety and such, which may have some validity if their circuits are poor. But if I can't charge there, that's all the excuse I need to avoid the place.

    I've made a number of trips with various EVs in the USA and Europe and I've never had a problem charging at motels or surrounding areas such a motor warmer outlets available in cold climates (northern Europe mostly where they are typically 230 V 16 Amp circuits). I carry a box of adapters and specially-made extension cords. In the US, I've sometimes unplugged the in-wall A/C unit in the motel room and charged from the NEMA 6-20R outlet (240 V, 20 Amp) running a 12-gauge extension cord out the window. Maybe a bit bold but I haven't had any complaints yet. If I remember to ask for permission, I always try to do it at the moment I'm about to book the room, making it clear that if the answer is no, they just lost the booking.
     
  19. SigS905

    SigS905 Sig S 905 + X 5

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    I would call the corporate offices and demand to talk to senior managment at the highest level and give them a detailed report of what happened. If the actual hotel is a franchise, corporate should be glad to hear about the problem as it reflects poorly on them.
     
  20. bollar

    bollar Disgruntled Member

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    It's an independent, so the OP already spoke to corporate. Do they really still use bedspreads? Ick.

    The Hampton Inn across town looks nice.
     

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