You can have the best pillows, the most gourmand food, even the lowest rates, but what it all comes down to is - Is the Customer Happy?
I worked for many years in retail management, and while I never subscribed to the bs that is The Customer is ALWAYS Right, I do ascribe to What can I do to make the Customer happy or at the very least APPEASED?
Unfortunately, Starwood Hotels (more specifically the W Lakeshore hotel in Chicago) doesn't feel that way.
I am attending an event before BlogHer that has me staying at the W for one night. Unfortunately, those arranging the event did not arrange transportation service from the airport to the hotel, so I tried to do that myself. I called the 888 number and was told that the hotel would arrange it for me to contact the concierge. I was also told it would be $28 round trip or $15 one way. Since I will be using the car service of Erika for my return to the hotel I was pleased with the $15 charge.
When I contacted the hotel direct and spoke with the Concierge Claudia, her response was, "No, we don't do any of that, but I can give you a phone number for a local shuttle service." But why then Miss Claudia would the 888 number say you do? Perhaps you could check again for me. "No ma'am they are giving out wrong information, I don't know what you want me to do about it." Notice the quotation marks? Yeah you only use those when you are QUOTING what someone actually said. Yeah she said that.
Because I just can't believe what just transpired I called the 888 number again just to make sure that is what they told me and again I get the exact same quote. I explain to the rep what the concierge said and she agreed to call her herself. I held on, she came back, assuring me that she would transfer me and that the concierge would work with me to a solution. When she transfers me I hear a distinct click and without looking I realize I have been disconnected. Sigh.
Call the hotel and ask to speak to Claudia, she's busy but they take my number and she will call me back. Half an hour later she calls and reiterates what she said before, I am dumbfounded. But, but, but "you spoke with the 888 number and they explained that you were going to help me" I stammered. "I can give you the number to the shuttle service, that is all I can do, I don't know why the 888 number tells people things that aren't correct." As I am hanging up I tell her thanks for being ever so helpful.
Back to the 888 number we go, where a new person, poor Willy gets to hear the growl of my voice. He in turn reiterates the 888 spiel about the transportation being available contact the concierge $15 blah blah blah. Guess what Willy?! Your concierge? She isn't very congiergeish (get over it, I can make up any word I want to when I am angry). he couldn't help but chuckle at that and put me on hold to speak to his supervisor. I got a better idea, how about I speak to your supervisor.
Hold music ensues and Stephanie asks how she can help me. "I assume you have been appraised of the situation?" I inquire. "Yes" is all I get in return. ok, well if you have been appraised then what are you going to do about it?
She claims to call the Airport Express shuttle company that is supposedly who they contract with. Now, that is the name of the company that the Concierge was giving me, but when the 888 operators before would tell me about transportation, they would simply say the hotel. SO she comes back and says well, "they neglected to update us on their rate change, I have filed the necessary paperwork to change our information so this mix up will not happen again". "Ok, that's good, I appreciate the fact that you have done that, and that the next person will not have to go through what I have gone through. However, we still have the little matter of you quoted me one price, and are now telling me a price that is double that. I apologize if my quibbling to you over $15 seems like a pittance to you, but as a parent I equate $15 with being 5 gallons of milk. That is a lot of money for many people and I am one of them." "Ma'am the shuttle company didn't tell us about their price change it is their responsibility to do so."
At this point I am spent. this is when I went into my speech mode "So according to the concierge it is your fault because you gave out wrong information, but according to you it is the fault of the shuttle company because they didn't inform you. Where does the buck stop? When does someone say, hey we messed up, I apologize for any inconvenience we may have caused you, how can we make it up to you? No one at your company has apologized sincerely, nor have they tried to make me happy. I am staying at your hotels next week not by my choice but it will be my choice to never stay in them again. I should also inform you that I am attending a Blogging event and will indeed be giving you a negative review on my blog (HI!) as well as letting the event coordinators know about the implorable customer service you have provided." I hung up, not giving her a chance to respond.
I can not believe in this day and age, when people are travelling less and everyone is under such economic restraints, that a company would so blatantly and insincerely treat a customer this way.
I have sent an email to the General Manager of the W at Lakeshore hotel in Chicago, and will update you if I receive a response. I am obligated to stay at the W on Tuesday due to a blogging event and the Sheraton Chicago Towers for BlogHer. I can guarantee you now that unless the general manager makes some great strides in appeasing me, I will never stay at another Starwood Hotel again.
The General Manager called me back, and has offered to reimburse me the difference in cost for the shuttle. That is all I wanted in the first place. $15. $15 is a lot of money to someone like me, who is not working full time. But most of all she apologized for my troubles and was understanding, empathetic and truly let the buck stop on her desk. Thank you Ms. Steenge. You have redeemed my faith in your hotel.