Ideas Blog

It’s Not the Problem, It’s the Solution

“It’s not the problem, but how you react to it.” How many times have you heard that? Personally, it’s easier said than done. But it seems just as challenging in business.

I love Hotels.com. The site is easy to navigate, informative and super flexible for bookings and cancellations. I also love their rewards program; it’s simple: stay 10 nights and get one free. That’s it, no points and no fine print. And, as much as I travel, I can almost forecast how many free nights I’ll earn per year and when.

In all my time using Hotels.com, I’ve yet to have an issue. As such, I never had a reason to call customer service. Of course, Murphy was looking over my shoulder the whole time, and the day came when an issue surfaced. Naturally, like a kid going to the dentist, I dreaded making the customer service call.

“Thank you for calling. We value you as a customer. Please input your member number; your booking ID, your birthday; the name of your first cat; and the color of your car. Oops, I did not seem to get that. Please try again. Sorry, there are no agents available…call again. Thank you for calling. We value your business.”

You get the picture. But lo and behold, my love affair with Hotels.com continues!

You see, I made a non-cancelable/non-changeable booking, which I accidently cancelled. With not much hope, I called to see if anything could be done to recover my $600. The fine young man at Hotels.com, John, called the hotel which happened to be in Denmark. No dice; the hotel would not budge on their policy. Just when it looked like all was lost, John proved that it’s the solution that matters. He credited my credit card for $200 and gave me a $100 credit for my next booking. You rock, John!

So here is a policy that really sucks, in my opinion. For bookings through third-party sites, like Hotels.com, the major hotel chains do not credit points to their loyalty program. Blows my mind since you’re still staying at their properties…but that’s another topic. I was not aware of this policy until a few months ago, when I happened to look at my Hilton and Marriott accounts.

By this time, I had multiple stays at Hilton and Marriott properties, booked through Hotels.com. So, I contact Hilton to see what gives and what could be done. The customer service rep politely explained the policy, further telling me there are no exceptions to the policy. However, as a valued customer of Hilton, she felt a credit of 10,000 points to my account was the least Hilton could do. I was in shock!

By now you’re probably wondering, what about Marriott? You know what happened with them? Nothing! No validation of me being a valued customer. No credit. No nothing. That’s cool. I now see where I stand with Marriott.

But the top award for getting the solution wrong goes to Porsche.

I own a Porsche. Now, If you own a Porsche, or any luxury import, you know that the ride does not come cheap. Maintenance on these babies can be expensive and heaven forbid a major mechanical breakdown. My friends often needle me about how much time my car spends in the shop. But that’s OK, small price to pay for the enjoyment of going fast with the top down.

But seriously, with only 80,000 miles, my car’s water pump has been replaced at least four times. Unacceptable according to my car fanatic, former Porsche sales person, friend Eddy. So, Eddy encouraged me to write a letter to the fine folks at Porsche. Naturally, Eddy and I reasoned that such a prestigious brand would be concerned about this issue and their valued customer.

Here is the verbatim response from Porsche customer service:

“Your warranty exists for a specified time and mileage to cover manufacturing defects. Once this period has elapsed we feel it is reasonable that an owner begin to assume responsibility for needed repairs. However, Porsche does review cases outside of warranty for possible financial assistance, considering age, mileage, care of the vehicle, and loyalty to your dealership and the Porsche brand.  

In order to ensure your request is given due consideration, we ask you to contact the Service Manager at your Porsche dealer who, after verifying and reviewing pertinent facts with Porsche Cars North America, can advise what, if any, goodwill assistance is available to you. Thank you for contacting Porsche Cars North America.”

Here is my response back to them:

“The incorrect assumption here is that I want or need any kind of “goodwill assistance”. I’m bringing this issue to the attention of Porsche as a brand promise failure. When one buys a Porsche, it’s clearly understood that the cost of proper maintenance will be high. However, having to replace a water pump at least four times during an 80,000 period is totally unacceptable by any measure.

If Porsche cares to discuss this matter any further, for its benefit and NOT mine, the company can contact me. And if the company does not contact me, you can rest assured I will pay no such visit to the dealer, and I will never buy a Porsche again.”

Can you hear the crickets?

So no more Porsche road trips for a stay at a Marriott property for this fellow. I guess I’ll continue to book Hilton through Hotels.com and ride my bike.