A couple who were guests at a Marriott in the city of York, Pennsylvania, received an invoice for their stay that allegedly included an Asian slur type-written on the statement.
It was the second harassment they endured as patrons of the major hotel chain.
The first was when Jamie Chung and his girlfriend, Tierney Oberhammer, were checking out of the Courtyard by Marriott on Concord Road on June 13.
Chung, who is of Chinese and Jewish descent, said the desk clerk addressed him in a way he felt was offensive and racist.
According to Next Shark, Chung told the media outlet:
"My girlfriend and I were checking out of the Marriott, and the front desk clerk said my last name, ‘Chung,’ with a strange emphasis, like she was mocking an Asian accent."
In an effort to move on from the microaggression, Chung continued:
"We clocked it, but decided not to make an issue of it."
However, when Chung and Oberhammer returned home, they made an unsettling discovery.
“We got back to New York, opened the invoice, and saw that they’d written the racial slur ‘Ching and Chong’ on it."
"Pretty bold and brazen.”
\u201cEXCLUSIVE: Brooklyn couple says @Marriott hotel front desk clerk mocked pronunciation of last name then received this invoice with an anti-Asian slur. How they say rep from @MarriottIntl then \u201cgaslight\u201d them after they filed a complaint. At 5pm tonight on @ABC7NY #StopAsianHate\u201d— CeFaan Kim (@CeFaan Kim) 1658860619
You can watch a news report on the incident here.
When the Brooklyn couple informed Marriott executives about the incident, they felt the response was insufficient.
The corporate representative with whom they spoke apologized and offered Marriott points to assuage the situation.
But when the representative also claimed the invoice was due to a "typo," Chung didn't buy it.
\u201c@CeFaanKim @Marriott Mmm... did Marriott mean the racial slur contains typos? If not, spelling the slur correctly means (1) its employee intended the slur, and/or (2) its autocorrect bank stored the racial slur. One or two letters are typos. A whole word is very unlikely typos. Sorry,@MarriottBonvoy\u201d— CeFaan Kim (@CeFaan Kim) 1658969254
“The response that we received from Marriott executives was disappointing,” the couple told Next Shark.
“They tried to shift blame and give excuses rather than take responsibility for what happened on their watch, under their roof."
"They have tried to distance themselves from the incident by pointing out that it occurred at a Marriott franchise.”
“They suggested a clerical accident, a typo, led their front desk clerk to enter a racial slur into the invoice."
"Their response did not give us the impression that they take this incident seriously."
\u201c@CeFaanKim @Marriott Definitely not a typo. The fact that it was printed on the paper means there was a human who intentionally typed it on the computer system and overwritten whatever the system queried from the database.\u201d— CeFaan Kim (@CeFaan Kim) 1658969254
Speaking with ABC 7, Chung felt Marriott's "apology felt hollow."
Oberhammer agreed, saying, "Do you honestly think that this was a typo? Like an honest mistake? And he was kinda like 'who am I to say?"
\u201c@CeFaanKim @Tellythecairn @Marriott *typing multiple words to write a slur* whoops made a typo my bad\u201d— CeFaan Kim (@CeFaan Kim) 1658969254
\u201c@CeFaanKim @Marriott Come on Marriott HUMAN UP! Set the example, take a stand, admit the wrong and make it right!!! Our employee is racist, we are forcing him to apologize, giving him classes. I think he should be fired but the couple doesn't want that so...\u201d— CeFaan Kim (@CeFaan Kim) 1658969254
Chung noted the individual with whom they were dealing was non-White, which made the interaction all the more disappointing.
"And then the person said 'I am a person of color, I am not a racist. We felt like it was gaslighting."
Oberhammer added that "anybody can be racist."
\u201c@CeFaanKim @Marriott @Marriott Do better. Also you can be a person of color and be racist at the same time. It\u2019s not mutually exclusive.\u201d— CeFaan Kim (@CeFaan Kim) 1658969254
The couple said they were willing to forgive the employee, and they expressed they did not want him fired.
However, they asserted they did want Marriott to take accountability whenever a racist incident experienced by customers was brought to their attention instead of brushing it off.
“Marriott is a big, powerful company that employs and provides services to a lot of people. What they do and say matters. They need to do better," said the couple.
"This is about company culture, training, accountability, basic human decency, and the hypocrisy of Marriott’s inadequate response to racism within their organization, especially given their stated company values.”
\u201c@CeFaanKim @Marriott @MarriottIntl @ABC7NY @MarriottBonvoy @Marriott as a long time customer, you decide option1: do the right thing = fire this clerk & apologize and retrain all of your staff to not act like a bunch of racists or 2) gaslight & sit on your hands and see a massive wave of #boycottMarriott. You choose\u201d— CeFaan Kim (@CeFaan Kim) 1658860619
\u201c@CeFaanKim @kurtbardella @Marriott @MarriottIntl @ABC7NY @Marriott @MarriottBonvoy needs to be put on full blast for this. Are they responsible for the clerk? Yes. Are they responsible for a rep ignoring the incident and questioning the couple? Also, yes.\u201d— CeFaan Kim (@CeFaan Kim) 1658860619
\u201cBack to @Hilton when I travel.\n\nSo long, @Marriott \n\nhttps://t.co/lMbdAqw4N8\u201d— Build Back Better (@Build Back Better) 1659309341
“There is so much nuance and complexity to this story, including historical context, that we worry will be overlooked. It is not lost on us that this racial slur was delivered by a fellow POC,” they added.
“The last thing we want is for this to exacerbate tension between minority communities, who have been pitted against one another in this country."
"Racism affects everyone, and we stand against it.”
A statement back in March 2021 indicated Marriott was strongly against racism, a policy that seemed to contradict the behavior of the desk clerk who interacted with the couple.
In last year's statement addressing AAPI (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) hate, Marriott International Chief Executive Officer Tony Capuano wrote:
“I want to reiterate that Marriott International stands against racism."
"We believe that all people deserve to be treated with dignity and respected for their humanity and the distinct qualities that make them unique."
"We do this in a number of ways, through internal resources available to our associates that promote respect and kindness, and training designed to inspire a sense of community and combat unconscious bias.”
Members of the AAPI community have continued experiencing harassment and violence targeting them for being Asian.
Cases involving AAPI victims being verbally and physically assaulted were fueled by fear due to the spreading of misinformation online by bad actors and conspiracy theorists at the start of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.