A hotel in Fort Myers, Florida claimed this week that a former employee hacked its phones and yelled racial slurs at a man when he tried to reserve a room.
Mark Howard told WINK News that he recently walked in to the Value Place Hotel to book a room, but no one was at the front desk. So he used the courtesy phone to contact the hotel operator.
“I said, ‘I am trying to get a room,’ and he said, ‘We don’t have no rooms,’” Howard explained.
Then the man he became angry, and started shouting racial slurs, he said.
“‘We don’t have no rooms for you. You N lovers,’” Howard recalled the man saying.
Howard was so shocked by what he heard, he called back and made a recording of the conversation.
“He was just saying the N word. That is basically what he just kept saying.”
According to Value Place, the company’s phone system had been hacked by a recently fired employee. The company said that the former employee found a way to transfer hotel help line calls to his personal phone.
“These hurtful and incredibly inappropriate words, used by a person we terminated weeks ago, are in no way reflective of our values or who we are as a company,” spokesperson C. Roger Bolton said in a statement. “Since our founding a dozen years ago we have extended a great experience to thousands of guests and employees, regardless of race, ethnicity, color, or creed.”
But computer expert Shaun Book told WINK that hacking a corporate phone system was not easy.
“Typically users would have to know master passwords or an account level login,” Book pointed out.
Value Place insisted that the problem had been fixed, and new security procedures had been put into place. The company even offered Howard a free room.
“I said thank you, but I would be too scared to stay there,” Howard remarked.
Value Place said that the employee could face criminal charges, but it was not clear if the incident had been reported to authorities.
Watch the video below from WINK, broadcast Jan. 1, 2014.