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Ridiculous motel 'vacancy' sign policy

If you see "vacancy," it might be because the motel is required to say it has some.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz.--If you ever happen to be in need of a room for the night, and happen to come across a Saga motel with "vacancy" illuminated, don't get your hopes up.

I was in this Route 66 town Saturday night on my Road Trip around the Southwest, desperate for a bed, and discovered that I had been dumb enough to think that I could easily find one, despite this being a July Saturday in the closest city to the Grand Canyon. Oops.

But at last, after checking several other motels, I wandered up to the Flagstaff Saga, whose neon sign offered salvation.

Alas, I was foiled. They were full, the clerk told me, and when I helpfully suggested that they turn off the "vacancy" sign, he told me he couldn't, and that company policy forbids them from ever turning it off, regardless of whether rooms were available.

Now, this may be standard operating procedure in the motel industry, and if it is, then I guess I'm naive. Or, perhaps the gentleman was lying to me and Saga doesn't make any such demands.

But if it's true, then I'm appalled.