Sunday, May 18, 2008

Don't Piss Off my Wife

Don't piss off my wife. I should get a T shirt silk screened with that emblazoned on the front. Wear it whenever we travel so that anyone in the service industry who comes into contact with her will be forewarned. The effects of our trip to UNC at Chapel Hill, NC are still being sorted out. Like waves from a stone tossed in the pond, ripples are now still hitting the shore.

I would not normally even mention the all too common inconveniences that are frequently dealt with when traveling. The run ins with rude people. The indifferent attitudes met on the way from here to there and back again. But I felt the urge to write about my wife's experience with one motel desk clerk if only because of the ripples that have now come home here to our pond in Maine.

Graduation weekend in the Chapel Hill area is a big deal for all the motels, hotels, campgrounds, vacant lots, and any other place that might have room for another family of a graduating senior. Reserving a room a year in advance is common. We did it and were glad we did. The double room rate of $199 with a 3 night minimum was hard to swallow. If we wanted to be close and not spend half our time trying to navigate the labyrinth of 6 lane suburban highways just to get to our daughter's apartment, then we knew a stiff fee would need to be paid. Paying up front months in advance to avoid the extra hassle made sense.

Our first 2 nights were uneventful. Check in happened as it should. The room was like every other room in every other hotel/motel from a big chain. Standard issue towels, comfortable beds and a TV that worked. We slept and showered there. That was about it.

On the second night Bobbi's brother and his wife stayed there so we could all be ready for the graduation madness that kicked off early on Sunday. Sunday was a whirlwind of activity that meant being up, fed, and ready to roll by 6:45 AM. So we do the graduation thing. 8 hours later, we return to the room to change into casual clothes, maybe catch a shower and then head out again for post grad celebrations.

The key card would not open the door. John, my brother in law, tried his. No go. Back downstairs and wait at the desk to get that straightened out. Back upstairs and into the room. 8 hours and the room still has not been cleaned. Dirty towels were all there was to use. So I am miffed but hey, who cares. Lis has a shower and towels at her apartment.

Bobbi on the other hand is not happy. She starts in about the extra money, the advance booking, the fact that 8 hours is way too long to wait for maid service. Squaring her shoulders, she turns around and heads for the stairs. John and I just look at each other and we smile. We both know that look. Bobbi is going to vent and someone is not going to have a good rest of the day.

We head to the car and Bobbi heads to the front desk. A few minutes later, she comes out and I know it has not gone well. "She gave me attitude. Can you believe that? Attitude! I don't need to pay $199 a night for attitude. I get it for free from you." And she glares at me.

So we finish our UNC visit and head home. The desk clerk really got under Bobbi's skin. The experience was rehashed more than once on the drive home. The day after we returned Bobbi fired off an email to the sales office of Holiday Inn Express. The itch just had to be scratched. She explained her displeasure in that business like no bull shit way of hers. Two hours later the owner of the Holiday Inn there called me wishing to speak to Bobbi.

Which gets me the long way to my point.

In this age of indifferent service costing exorbitant money, I have to say, the owner's quick response and real concern over her experience was a breath of fresh air. There are actually people in the service industry who do care how the service provided by them is perceived by the public who pays them for it. So just call this an "Atta Boy" to that Holiday Inn Express. You folks turned a dissatisfied guest into a fan. The rebate of one night's cost and a comp for a future night's stay was but icing on the cake. It was the response that really impressed us.


Carlita said...

Good for her!

I'm also very surprised at that response. You hardly ever hear of corporations providing good customer service anymore--before or after someone complains.

Dawn on MDI said...

I believe that people will give you only as much crap as you will accept. And that's what happened. Your wife said "this is where it stops," and that's where it stopped. Good for her. Good for you. And good for that chain owner guy. Bummer for the staff, 'cause you know what runs downhill, and it's not money. Of course that's where the problem began, but still. I'm glad I'm not in housekeeping or working the front desk there. Ouch.

GJG said...

Well Damn!! if I had got a response like that---I'd run out and bought a lotto ticket----nice to know that sometimes bad things do end on a good note.

J at said...

I'm with's so rare that you get a response to complaints these days, that to get one so quickly must have been a breath of fresh air.

Anonymous said...

Customer service isn't when there are no problems, it's how well the inevitable problems are resolved. Glad Bobbi stood up and shouted for it.