My iPhone is Currently In Use At The Sheraton Hotel Universal City: It Is Not Me

03.18.10


You know how my iPhone is missing? Well, I didn’t disconnect it, because I thought one of two things would happen:

  • Someone would find it and return it to me
  • I would find it wedged between a sofa cushion

Well, that didn’t happen. The last time I used my iPhone I was on my way to the Sheraton in Universal City, California. I called my friend Jeannie and we had a lovely discussion. Then I parked the car with the valet and ran into a lobby meeting with my friend MeMe. I had a great time meeting with MeMe, and it’s possible that I left my iPhone behind, or that it was stolen. I do not know if the phone was pick pocketed or lost. What I do know is what happened next.

Thursday morning I realized I had only one cellphone so I called my iPhone to see if it was working. It was. Next I checked with ATT.com to see if it had been used, it hadn’t. So I continued looking for it. I called security at the Sheraton in Universal City twice daily from Thursday until Tuesday. Of eight phone calls, one was returned, and I was barely acknowledged.  After a week I figured it wouldn’t show up at all.

Today, Thursday, a week and a day later I logged onto ATT.com to see if my cellphone had been used. Imagine my surprise when I saw this.

Not very interesting until you note that all of a sudden I’m calling Mexico? Well, naturally I started with the first number 818.399.6109 and dialed it. The conversation went like this.

ME: Hey man, I missed your call. You at work?

HIM: Yeah, I’m up here at the Sheraton Universal.

ME: [screaming] You sack of shit motherfucker what’s your name?

HIM: Andy

ME: Andy what?

HIM: Garcia.

Duh. Okay, so my temper isn’t helpful.

I called the hotel at 818.980.1212 and Ana answered the phone at the front desk. Ana told me that there is no Manager at the hotel. This is at 5pm. I spoke to someone at the executive offices who took my information, promised to “get to the bottom of this” and then had security call me. Security is named Marcos. Marcos was not helpful. Apparently he “did an investigation” and cannot help me.

I called the Sheriff’s department and they told me it’s a felony. An iPhone is more than $400 and they will take a report and (hopefully) make an arrest.

I called Sheraton’s corporate offices, they are nonplussed and say that they have five days to respond. If I was a hotel and had a thief in my employ I’d move much faster than five days. But I don’t work at the Sheraton do I.

I’m smart enough to not stay a Sheraton. Since the car incident I absolutely refuse. Unfortunately, I will also never park at a Sheraton again, nor meet a friend or business associate for drinks.

Ooh, and I almost forgot, when I called them to ask for their help. Rather than connecting me with a hotel manager, they searched for my blog.

sheraton hotel looks for my blog but doesn't call me

Which didn’t really help me very much, but it did convince me that they probably don’t have my best interest at heart.

UPDATE:

I know this is being read at the Sheraton Universal. I’ll be there shortly to meet with y’all. If you know who has my iPhone and you can get it back to me please text or call 818.212.0681 there is a reward, no questions asked. My offices are located at 15030 Ventura Blvd. Suite 19356, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403. You can send it there. Again, no questions asked.  I know at least one of you knows who has it, I’m giving you a chance to do the right thing. He is probably from Querretaro. How many people working at the Sheraton last night are from Querretaro?

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51 responses to “My iPhone is Currently In Use At The Sheraton Hotel Universal City: It Is Not Me”

  1. Alexa says:

    WTF. There is always a manager on duty. Ask for the MOD. Good luck – take them down!

    • According to Ana at the front desk, there is no manager, only security and no one will take my calls.

      • Alexa says:

        Total bull. Unless they’re short staffed there is always a FOM or MOD on site until 11pm. Not that it helps since its 10:46pm. Kick ass, take names, and find out the ownership/franchiser too! Because of corporate can’t help you you can always take it up chain to their franchiser. If I know them I’m happy to help :)

  2. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by michellelamar: RT @JessicaGottlieb:My iPhone is Currently In Use At The Sheraton Hotel Universal City: It Is Not Me http://bit.ly/bvxOed Please read and RT…

  3. “Hey man, I missed your call. You at work?”
    Classic. If you ever give up your blogging gig, you could be an undercover agent. Or an agent that blogs.

  4. shels says:

    I hope they get to the bottom of this, unbelievable, employee theft should be taken very seriously.

  5. Yikes. I truly hope that Sheraton changes its operating procedures.

  6. Ruthie says:

    Now I have further confirmation that the Sheraton chain sucks. Worst. Service. Ever. Hope you get your phone back and the theif is prosecuted and fired.

  7. Tim says:

    Sorry to hear this story. It may be too late and obvious but there is a feature on MobileMe that may be useful. I don’t know if you can activate it without the phone in your possession but it is just a thought. You can display a message, lock it with a password, wipe the contents of the phone and pinpoint it’s location.

    Hope you get your phone back and the thief gets what’s coming to him.

  8. shels says:

    Oh yes, and thanks for the heads up…will not consider a Sheraton!

  9. Good luck finding the phone! If you are anything like me, your phone is your bible.
    What I can’t understand is that in this day and age, with customer service being so important for return sales and client satisfaction, especially in a ‘duh’ service business (hotel), they would be bending over backwards to try and accommodate you!

    Seriously, what is this world coming to?

  10. Alexa says:

    Then again if this is the worst Sheraton ever I guess all bets are off eh?

  11. Laurie says:

    Unbelievable… in this day and age you’d think they’d be more concerned about this kind of thing. Not only is it clear that they are knowingly employing a thief… but their treatment towards you is tremendously disrespectful.

    Perhaps we should write a few more blogs about this on other sites, to discuss how corporations can do a better job?

    • After the car incident I’d expected something. At the very least a note, handsigned.

      I got nothing and I knew from that experience that Sheraton is not a good hotel for me. Shortly after the car event I went to BlogHer and wisely stayed at a Hyatt, even though the conference was at the Sheraton in Chicago.

      I never imagined that a 30 minute lobby visit would turn into this.

      • What a horrible experience! I hope you get your phone back! Loved having you for BlogHer – let me know whenever your travels bring you to Chicago; we’ll always take care of you!

  12. I am sorry about your phone but sadly not surprised. Service seems to be a lost cause at so many places. I hope writing this post & the sharing of it already going on via Twitter pushes Sheraton to do the right thing… Right now!

  13. Bourne Identity redux! wow, a MataHari Mama…you’ve gotta teach me those moves; esp. the checkin’ out the blog bit. (sad cust svc stmt when methodology is “can she hurt me or is she small potatoes?”) ugh. Hope it’s not becoming the PR policy for dealing w/consumers of “nontraditional media” ;-)

  14. thenewkid says:

    I assume since you have the guy/gal’s # and the police are willing to look into it then you might get lucky. If not, let’s join together and start calling and harassing his 818.399.6109 number until he gets rid of it AND THEN do the same thing to all his friends lol

  15. Marla Schulman says:

    UGH!!! I so feel you! I left/got my brand new (like only a week old) Blackberry stolen at last Twestival LA (one I co-produced) @ Level3 @ Hwd/Highland – didn’t realize it was missing since while you are throwing an event there’s no need to make a call-by the time we were done it was 3 a.m. and by the time I woke up on Monday it was already like 1 pm – and I wasn’t feeling like calling anyone so it was like 6pm til I realized it was missing – I tried to call the MGR and the PR person and NEVER GOT A RETURN CALL FROM either of them – in the meantime, I called Sprint and I had almost $900 dollars in calls to – you guessed it – MEXICO! Since I only speak fractured Spanish I decided to have a friend call the number that was used the most – I begged/pleaded to just have the person leave the phone at Level 3 – I would not call the police – and that I had (which was true) some very irreplaceable photos I had just taken the past weekend of a friend who was ill – but I was greeted with silence and a hang up.
    So now – even before I get my $250 dollar rebate – I have to pay $100 to replace the phone – am out the very sentimental photos – and am pissed cause I know it was someone at Level 3 – most likely the bathroom attendant – who got some good callin’ in.
    As for the $900 – was Sprint’s policy to make me pay – but it took me months to go through channels and show that in the 15 years of service I NEVER once called Mexico – so at least I was off the hook.
    But – as you know – it still really sucks to think that someone stole your phone -! One can only pray for karma.
    Stay the course, JG!

  16. Julie Fogg says:

    With the economy in it’s current condition, one would think that only the best employees would survive in this market. For that matter, because competition is so fierce among companies to keep customers, one would think Sheraton would work as hard as possible to earn and keep people’s business. Your experiences were terrible and I have no intention of having future business events at Sheraton nor staying at any of their properties.

  17. The only thing I don’t get (and I’m pretty sure it’s because it’s so early in the morning and my brain is not working) is…why would the thief call his own phone from the stolen one? Just to make sure the stolen phone worked?

    • Jessica Gottlieb says:

      The way I imagined it is that he found the phone, wanted to make sure it worked and to get it’s number, so he called the phone in his pocket.

      I’m pretty sure I was right.

      • Yup. That makes perfect sense (especially now that it’s no longer 5:30 am my time and my brain is clearer). I thought that was your thought process, so I’m glad I was right.

        Good sleuthing!

        • Apparently the idiot didn’t understand the concept that all calls will show up on the bill and would be traceable.

          I would say call that number about every, oh, 5 minutes.

  18. I can’t believe they had the nerve to check out your blog rather than fix their screw-ups. BAD customer service!

  19. This is a great technology lesson for the rest of us: you can look up the calls on your stolen phone on-line. Plus, how did you figure out that Sheraton had visited your blog? The program you use is awesome.

  20. traci says:

    I am forwarding this on to my neighbor, a producer for The Today Show. I’ll cc you on my email to him.

  21. Jenn says:

    Wow. I’d like to say I can’t believe it, but I do. Customer service has plummeted and it’s such a shame.

    I’m really sorry about all the awful experiences you’ve had with the Sheraton. You’re handling it fabulously, and hopefully, all the negative attention will force corporate to make some kind of effective response.

  22. mrspop says:

    A while back, while in Vegas, Dr Pop and I decided to take a picture together, posed on the Luxor’s Sphinx. Dr Pop set down his iPhone so we could climb up. And left it there. Several hours later, we discovered it missing and went to find it… And didn’t. So I called AT&T and had it turned off, but not before I had called his number at least 20 times.

    Sure enough, right as we are about to go to sleep, my phone rings and it is the Valet manager at the Luxor. He has the phone. It was incredibly nice to know that there are still honest people out there, but my guess is that whoever found it, and the Valet manager found it fairly far away from where it was left, tried to use it and left it when they discovered the phone had been turned off. But it still displayed call history, so we were located.

    We weren’t so lucky in Cancun, when Dr Pop left his phone in a cab. Turned that one off, too, but it was never found, even though we found the cab driver.

    Dr Pop needs to have his phone stitched to his side.

  23. mrspop says:

    So obviously, I am going to never choose a Sheraton again… How is Starwood handling this? Do I need to boycott their other hotels, too?

  24. Did you try to track it with GPS? @MisAdventurer found his that way

  25. I don’t know if the iPhone has this capability, but I can remotely passwordprotect/lock/wipe my blackberry in the event of a loss. (Had to do it once for one of my corporate ‘berrys.. I set the home screen to say:

    “This is a stolen Blackberry – please call xxx.xxx.xxxx or return to ”

    I got it back 4 days later after the idiot tried to pawn it.

    And just FYI – I’ve just instituted a rule banning Starwood for my travelling employees. (I mean, they can stay there, I just won’t reimburse them for it.)

    I’ve also talked to the heads of two other DC area firms who will probably o the same thing. When traveling, I need to know that anything left in a room or lost will be returned ASAP.

    • You can do that with the iPhone, but only if you have enabled MobileMe on the device prior to it being stolen.

      I think there’s a way for corporate folks to do it without MobileMe (I think they somehow hit it using the ActiveSync), but again, probably not going to work in this case.

  26. Cheapsuits says:

    I use Safeware ( and have used Squaretrade in the past) to insure my phone after learning a hard lesson. Costs me like $60 a year. It’s my post-Sheraton-incident advice. Sorry, that’s all I got for you, wishing you the best.

  27. Tom says:

    Try not being careless with your valuables next time, lol.

  28. This is such a bummer — but the silver lining for me is knowing how crafty you are — calling the guy and faking him out like that. I love you, man.

  29. Marvin says:

    I agree with ShredderFeeder… if I’m going to carry an expensive electronic piece of equipment (which I don’t, except for my corporate laptop, which is insured), I would have LoJack or something like it installed, which would render it inoperative AND shout where its location was so it could be recovered.

    But, perhaps moving to a part of the country which is NOT infested by illegal aliens / criminal types from Mexico would be simpler. ;-)

  30. Donna says:

    They are messin’ with the wrong woman. So sorry you’re the victim of this – but you don’t stay a victim for very long.

  31. Shanna says:

    Man.. this whole thing sucks Jessica! I really hope they catch the thief. I couldn’t help but be a little curious and google one of the business looking phone numbers… one of the numbers he called was:

    213-291-3000
    Fonochat Latino
    Meet and chat with sexy Latinos in your neighborhood now on Fonochat, the hottest phone dating chatline for single Spanish women and men.

  32. Peter says:

    I hate to be an ass but man I am glad I have MobileMe with my iPhone! Someone stole my iPhone before and I was able to the lock the phone and then locate it. Went to the suckers house and rang the door bell. He gave it up.

    Check it out!

    http://www.apple.com/mobileme/ its like $99 a year. Totally worth it.

  33. chris says:

    Dang that really sucks. After seeing this I need to remember to backup phone everynight and add a low jack system to it.

  34. […] at a local Sheraton, she was no longer in the possession of her iPhone. After some digging, Jessica allegedly discovered the phone in the hands of an employee making calls to Mexico. Fortunately, the hotel addressed the […]

  35. RivkA says:

    Wow, that stinks! I can’t believe they didn’t help you!

  36. Kim says:

    wow. I stumbled upon this blog while googling Sheraton Complaints (I’m an employee who is seeing who has complaints against our management staff…totally different issue unrelated to this.) . Normal procedure for any employee with a consceince is to turn it into security. As far as I know our security personel are trustworthy. But I know the majority of our housekeeping and kitchen staff may have relatives in Mexico. Contact Henry Birmele, he’s our current G.M. our hotel is no longer owned by Starwood, currently is owned by a bank, and the bank has our hotel for sale…in the meantime we are being managed by RIM corporation. Good luck in your search for your phone. Definitely not me, I’ve turned in i- phones to security before. I have a conscience. Still using my crappy broken cheap Nokia phone.

  37. […] that I left my iPhone at the lab. Unlike the Sheraton, no one kept it and made it their own. I drove back, grabbed my telephone, and hopped back into the […]

  38. Gib Wallis says:

    If you buy an Android phone next time, there’s an app called Plan B. Because you should have security etc. on your phone before it’s stolen, but with Plan B you can have the app download itself and start tracking it, make noises, etc.

    You should also have security on your laptop if you don’t already.

  39. Del says:

     Do the right thing Sheraton.

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