Discomfort at Comfort Inn

While picking up friends at Comfort Inn in Revere, on the morning they were checking out, one of them (Stella) had some complaints. She's quite good at expressing herself. She felt that managment didn't have the right to have a camera over the tub in the exercise room, to watch her bathe. When Stella expressed her feeling that the camera was an invasion of privacy, the woman behind the desk at the hotel didn't seem to see why a camera could possibly be an invasion of privacy.

Seeing Stella's predicament, I assisted the woman behind the desk in seeing "why" by going out to the car and getting a camcorder that we happened to have with us. (I plugged the video-out into my transmitter - in case I might capture a threatening "hand over the videotape" gesture.) When I pointed the camera at the woman behind the desk, she suddenly changed her tune from "why are you so paranoid... it's [the surveillance camera] just a camera" to "turn that camera [my camcorder] off, or I'll call the police". (Evidently the camera was an eye-opening experience for her.)

Stella then said something like "don't you see how I feel", and asked if she could speak to the manager. The manager also didn't understand how a camera could be an invasion of privacy until he was looking at one. Then he said basically the same thing: "turn it off or I'll call the Revere police". (I'll have to check on the laws regarding the use of video for self defence, e.g. whether the law would side with a manager who was acting in a menacing and hostile way, or with a guest who is trying to protect himself/herself from a menacing manager).

Now we looked around and noticed that we were on camera (we could see ourselves on the monitors behind the counter) But we didn't say to him: "turn off your cameras or we'll call the police". I wonder if that's what we should have said.

In any case, Stella said that she didn't mind the cameras in the lobby as she was dressed to present herself to the general public (that's more than I can say for the manager who was very nicely dressed with a clean shirt and tie, yet completely paranoid about my camera).

As it turned out, Stella refused to pay the hotel bill, giving a couple of reasons, among them the menacing behaviour of the manager. The manager promised to get in contact with his superiors, and contact Stella in a day or two. He never did. A charge was put through on Stella's credit card without her authorization shortly afterward. The matter is still under dispute.


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