It’s six in the morning and I am in Ottawa with insomnia. I am staying at the Ramada Plaza hotel located across from the casino in Hull. The room is nice enough, but the attitude and treatment I received upon checking in left much to be desired. It led to my lack of sleep and disturbed me on many levels.

I was asked for a credit card. I declined to give one and was asked for $50 deposit. I would have had no problem with the deposit if it was for services such as using the phone or things like that. It turns out that it wasn’t.

The deposit was in case I decided to steal towels or other hotel paraphernalia, the girl at the front desk told me. I was informed that I would receive my $50 deposit back once a staff member finished an inventory of my room upon my departure. I would need to give them a credit card number in order to have my hotel phone turned on and get various regular hotel services.

This is the first time I have ever been so blatantly called a thief before the fact.

I was under the impression that in Quebec or the rest of Canada you were considered innocent until you committed a crime and they proved it beyond a reasonable doubt.

I would have to say I definitely didn’t feel I was in Canada while I was having my passport photocopied by the hotel. This just reinforced the feeling I was considered a very bad element indeed before the fact.

It also made it obvious that Ramada doesn’t trust their customers. This is surprising considering the type of business they are in. After all, they’re supposed to be your home away from home.

I asked for a receipt of my $50 deposit. After all, if they don’t trust me why should I trust them?

I must say that I felt like I was being racially profiled. You know that attitude, where if you are a minority and store security follows you around to make sure you aren’t going for a five-finger discount? It was there but in this case it was my refusal to give them a credit card number, something no one is compelled to do. I have a cell phone if people need to get in touch with me, and I wasn’t there to watch videos. I was there for a business meeting, not to be humiliated and marginalized.

I have always had an unwillingness to give out any information I don’t have to.

I desire and want my privacy. I also don’t want identity theft happening to me. One doesn’t expect this to happen in a chain like Ramada. That is exactly what we thought at a major hotel in Montreal some time ago when about 140 people at a National Native Friendship Centres’ conference gave their credit card numbers to the front desk. They were entered into the hotel computer and some bank in the United States somehow received all the numbers. Many out-of-town delegates who wanted to do a little shopping in Montreal were surprised to find their cards maxed out.

I’m looking at a Ramada questionnaire asking, “How well did we serve you?” Hardly well at all, I would have to say. I have a right to keep whatever information I want about myself private, without any attitude or coercion. If I was a visible minority I could have sued, but since I am not there is no recourse but the Better Business Bureau, perhaps a lawyer or this editorial.

I could be wrong about Ramada and this just could be some bright-eyed young executive’s idea of saving and making money at the same time. I mean you get rid of the one per cent theft factor while getting to bank someone else’s money and making interest off of that. It may only seem like pennies but with the size of the Ramada chain those pennies would add up to a very pretty one indeed.

As for the “Ramada Plaza, a very good place to be,” I moved out Saturday and plan never to be in such “a good place” again.