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Complaints R Me! How to effectively complain about hotel service

No one likes to be thought of as a complainer, but oh how I want to complain. Again. I just got back from a free three night’s stay at the Ritz Carlton in South Beach. Why did I get three free nights? Because I complained.

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No one likes to be thought of as a complainer, but oh how I want to complain. Again.

I just got back from a free three night’s stay at the Ritz Carlton in South Beach. Why did I get three free nights? Because I complained.

In this instance, you would have too. Last year, I took my daughter there for a mini-vacation. On our second night, she was run over…..by a maid’s car. That’s right. The maid was barreling down the hallway, with her cart piled so high with clean towels, she didn’t see the HUMAN BEING standing in the hallway.

There was a lot of blood. The ambulance was called. A report was made. Thankfully, nothing was broken. My daughter just had a bruised back and a heel that would not heal for months.

At the time of the accident – and it was an accident – they sent up Teddy Bears and ice cream for my traumatized daughter. But a couple weeks after returning from that vacation, I was still pissed off about it. The last couple days of our stay HAD been ruined. (My daughter couldn’t really walk, she couldn’t wear shoes.)

So, for the first time, I drafted an e-mail saying I should be compensated for a ruined trip. That’s when I got my three free nights. I thought, wow, it’s good to complain! People should complain! The Ritz was good! Not so much. I want to give them my business, but…

My daughter and I headed back this year and we were shown a small room. I said, ‘No, we’d like the same room we had last year.” It worked! The trip went smoothly, until the last morning when they forgot to give us a wake-up call, making us miss the entire morning of sun and fun on the beach. So now I’m back at home, wondering if I should complain again? Do I want to be that person?

Well, according to Alex Filiatrault, the director of marketing for the Four Seasons in Toronto (I personally think the Four Seasons sets the standards for hotel service) unhappy travellers “should always say something.” Here are some tips for your upcoming travels, if some aspect of your stay doesn’t meet your expectations.

1. Filiatrault says that most good hotels, like the Four Seasons, are “very solution driven.” The person you should talk to, no matter what, is the front office manager. That way you know your complaint will be dealt with. So if you’re really angry, don’t take out your anger on the waiter or poolside server, make sure you go to the front office manager. (Three words I’m never going to forget!)

2. Do not feel like an idiot, or be shy, when making a complaint. Filiatrault says that if something ruins “your home away from home” like a forgotten wake-up call, you should say something. “There’s always a solution for every problem,” he says. (Remember this when you complain!)

3. Will you get three nights free for a forgotten wake-up call? Doubtful. But you may get a free breakfast. If there was something really wrong with your stay, they may invite you back to “experience it the way it was meant to be experienced,” as they do at the Four Seasons.

4. At the very least, hotels should make you feel like they care about your issue or problem.

5. I AM going to complain about the forgotten wake-up call. Vacationing is serious business, meaning you should be having serious fun. Don’t be a wuss. Say something!

6. Send an e-mail. You can keep your complaint short and think it through. You don’t want to be seen as a diva, but you want to get your point across. Also, I suggest SUGGESTING your own compensation. The Ritz ruined three of my nights, so I wanted those nights back. For a missed wake-up call, I would suggest saying, “Breakfast is on you today.”

7. Watch out for those maid carts! Just a lesson from me to you, my friends.

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