Tuesday, 4 September 2012

There's no extra charge for anything you may find under your pillow - when customer service goes wrong.

I'm in a hotel in Western Australia. Its address is "Grand Boulevard".  The minute I heard the address I prepared myself for disappointment. It's not really a boulevard. There's nothing grand about it. I see no evidence that I am in a city.

The walls are so thin communication is possible without technology of any kind. My colleague reported hearing me wake up this morning. We weren't in the same room. When I asked what he had heard, he told me he heard me turn the light on! No gentlemen callers on this trip.  The pillows are lumpy - all four of them.  But the bathroom is clean and the bed is comfortable, apart from the pillows. They are lumpy. All four of them.

It's not the worst I've stayed in.

There was the infamous incident involving surprises lurking under the pillow.

I had arrived at this particular hotel at around 10pm in the middle of an intense week of travel and meetings in various cities.  All I wanted to do when I arrived was have a shower and snuggle into bed.  Instead, at 11pm I was on the phone to reception in a less than happy frame of mind.

The first part of the plan had gone well enough. I was showered and dressed in my night attire (I love that phrase) and in bed.  As I was getting comfortable - on my side with a hand under the pillow - I felt something odd.  I lifted my head and moved the pillow which led to the discovery of tissues -used and belonging to someone else -under the pillow. Lumpy pillows would have been preferable.

I leapt out of that bed and tore the sheets and blankets back.  Looking for - and hoping not to find - other foreign bodies.  Then I picked up the phone. I expected that anyone would be horrified to learn that this had occurred in their hotel.  Non-plussed is a more accurate description of the reaction.  I had to ask for another room.  There were none available.  I had to propose that someone come to my room, very quickly, with clean bedding.

I was virtually asleep on my feet so I stripped the bed so it could immediately be remade with fresh sheets.  The hard faced sourpuss who attended was not happy that I had stripped the bed.  Apparently I had destroyed the evidence! As a consequence, she had no way of knowing if I had concocted the story. My response was sarcastic; along the lines of "of course I concocted it.  My aim was to be arguing with you, dressed in my pyjamas, at 11:30pm, in my third city of the week!" I then stood back and watched her make the bed.

She didn't apologise. She didn't show any empathy for my situation. The used tissues which were under the pillow of my bed were an imposition only on her.  I was just the person left with an urge to boil my pyjamas.

The next morning on checkout my plan was to wait and see if they acknowledged or apologised for the incident.  They didn't. It was as if it never happened. They told me how much I owed. Before I paid I asked what consideration I was to be shown for the dirty bed. They looked embarrassed and said it wouldn't happen again.

"I know it won't.  Well not to me anyway. I won't be staying here ever again," I responded.  I had been a regular guest, staying there two to three times a month.

Only then did they try to keep me as a customer. It was too late.

You might think that the customers who would be most loyal to an organisation would be those who had never had a problem in their dealings.  This is wrong. There's some research that shows the most loyal customers are those who have had a problem that has been well handled by the business.

On reflection this rings true when I think about the tissues in the bed incident. I probably would have gone back if they had dealt with me and the situation better. The main thing that was missing was a simple apology. And acknowledgement that what had occurred was unacceptable.  Instead I was left with the feeling that this kind of thing happened all the time and it was really annoying when people complained about it and further, only annoying people would make a complaint.

As I sit in the brown decor of my hotel room on Grand Boulevard (that is neither grand nor a boulevard) I give thanks for lumpy pillows on a clean bed and rest easy in the knowledge that I won't need to boil my pyjamas.

Do you know how to apologise?

1 comment:

  1. Ew!!!! You poor thing! That really is not on. How appalling - the scenario and their response. Glad you're not encountering that this time.