Pooler woman's belongings found in trash after eviction from hotel

By Blair Caldwell| February 8, 2021 at 6:31 PM EST - Updated February 8 at 8:54 PM 

POOLER, Ga. (WTOC) - COVID-19 has impacted so many people whether it be they lost a job, were evicted, or several other issues.

One single mom in Pooler says that the past month has been a nightmare. It all started when Edelma Higgs returned from her job helping with COVID-19 testing to her extended stay hotel to find they had kicked her out for no-payment and thrown her stuff in the trash.

“As soon as I got there, I saw the dumpster. It was full of my clothes, my son’s toys, everything that we have,” Higgs said.

Higgs and her school-aged son had been staying at the WoodSpring Suites in Pooler for four months after relocating to the area. She says she never had an issue until Jan. 5 when she spoke with the front desk about extending her stay.

“I told her to charge my card and I won’t be able to answer my phone because I was working,” Higgs said.

Hotel officials say they attempted to run her card, but the payment never processed. Hotel leaders said in a statement that they called Higgs several times that day, but never heard back and finally removed her items.

“I come back to that place and I have to jump and dive into the dumpster and I am short, so I really had to put something for me to get in it and once I am in it, it’s just awful,” she said.

Higgs says checkout was scheduled for 11 a.m., and when she returned from work after 1 p.m. she found all her stuff in the dumpster.

“She threw it all away in the dumpster, I mean for two hours, three hours of time of being late I mean how can you for only 75 dollars,” Higgs explained.

She says it took her several hours to retrieve all her items from the trash, something she felt was excessive. She says her bank denied the payment because her card was run more than once. Something she would have explained had she been given a minute to explain.

“It broke my heart that none of them want to take care of this. I spoke to corporate and emailed also the general manager, did not hear anything from them. It’s just what they did was wrong I want justice for that, and I want them to, I want to make sure that they will never do it to anybody else,” Higgs said.

When WTOC reached out to the WoodSpring Suites manager, he said they did everything they could to accommodate Higgs. They were unavailable for an interview, but sent a statement saying,

“We recognize the pandemic has impacted both lodging guests and employees alike. The hospitality business is one of the hardest hit industries in the country. Even while working reduced hours and struggling to provide a living for our families, we strive to provide a clean, safe environment for our guests. We made every effort to accommodate Ms. Higgs and give her the opportunity to pay for her room and remain a guest of the hotel. Ms Higgs was asked the night before checkout if she intended to extend her stay and pay for additional nights. She was notified again the next morning and received multiple calls on the day of checkout. She had every opportunity to try and work something out. If she had bothered to contact the hotel and asked for an opportunity to work something out, we would have gladly complied. Instead she chose to use vulgar, insulting language As you know, this is an extended stay hotel and guests often travel with much more than a suitcase. Unfortunately our hotel does not have storage space for abandoned personal belongings. Since Ms. Higgs did not return to pick up her belongings we made the decision to discard the items as noted in our registration contract. In retrospect, perhaps we could have moved the items to another area or called the police and asked what to do with the abandoned items. We understand that Ms. Higgs retrieved her belongings and are sorry if our actions seemed harsh.”

Higgs says she wishes the hotel considered her situation before discarding her items and she hopes speaking out will not only help right the wrong she felt, but ensure it won’t happen to someone else again.

Higgs says since the incident her car broke down and she was laid off, but she has been able to stay with family and hopes to be able to get back on her feet as soon as possible.

Copyright 2021 WTOC. All rights reserved.

Photo: WTOC

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