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LELAND, NC (WWAY) — It’s not your everyday prank. A string of phone calls across the nation where pranksters pretend to be working the front desk of a hotel and talk a guest into doing something drastic.

It happened this weekend at a hotel in Leland. A guest set off the sprinkler system, triggering two hours of flooding.

“It’s changed my outlook on everything,” said Douglas Bartalone. “Like I said, I’m just speechless right now.”

Bartalone was in Leland over the weekend visiting his son and granddaughter. About 1:30 a.m. Saturday he got a call in his room at the Best Western.

“‘We’ve got an emergency situation. This is Stan from the front desk,'” Bartalone said the caller told him. “Emergency situation? I said, ‘It’s 1:30 in the morning.’ He said, ‘Well we’ve got a gas leak. We need you to disengage the water sprinkler system in your room. This is a very serious matter. It’s a gas leak.'”

Bartalone says the prankster gave him very specific directions on how to pull the pins on a sprinkler. As soon as this was done the sprinklers came on, flooding the first two floors of the Best Western for about two hours, causing thousands of dollars worth of damage.

“Here we are getting ready to go into our busy time in the area that’s driven by tourism with Easter weekend, Azalea Festival, and we’ve gone from a 100-room hotel to 63,” Best Western Director of Sales and Marketing Haven Holsinger said.

Bartalone says he’s learned a valuable lesson through all this: to not trust anybody just because they say they are in authority. He also says that everyone can learn from this accident.

“My advice would be to hang up the damn phone and go downstairs or go wherever it is and find out what the heck the deal is,” he said.

It’s a prank that Best Western management says the hotel business nationwide needs to be wary of.

Although police on scene told Bartalone that he would not be charged, he is still worried he might face some kind of civil suit from the hotel. A hotel representative said they are not sure if they’ll sue.

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5 Comments on "ONLY ON 3: Prank call costs Leland hotel thousands of dollars in damage, lost business"

2015 years 9 months ago

I don’t think Best Western should sue Bartalone, he was only doing what he was told to do in an “Emergency situation”.

2015 years 9 months ago

One thing is for sure….if it had been myself, I would have called the front desk and verified an emergency before I flooded a motel.

2015 years 9 months ago

go jump off a bridge, the floor of the bridge is made of lava.. you have to do it because i said that it was an emergency…

if people are so stupid to cause damage just because some random person tells you over the phone, or you claim that some random person told you so over the phone then you should be held financially liable for any damages that your stupid ass caused…

Peyton Garrett
2015 years 9 months ago

This was no prank. This was a criminal act and if there is any way to find the perpetrator He or She should pay dearly. Not withstanding the property damage, this could have literally scared someone to death or caused serious injury. Prank? No, it is criminal.

2015 years 9 months ago

According to Good Morning America, a website owner is pranking people and thinks it’s funny? Why not ask why someone would do this to a person? If the prankster wants to do this to Hotels he should do it himself and not be a coward by manipulating others. People who are asleep and trusting, doing what they are told to save lives and some blame the victim? He was told he WAS speaking to the front desk. He was told the water was off. Woken up from a sleep, by a call transferred to them by the employee at the front desk, who could say what you would do?


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