Dear SpringHill Suites ( @SpringHillSuite )and Marriott International ( @MarriottIntl ),

I wanted to write you a love letter to tell you how great my stay was, but I won’t. During a recent business trip to Pueblo, I had the misfortune of staying at your SpringHill Suites property in Pueblo.

While your property was mostly well-maintained and well-appointed, your policies and customer service neutralized the investment in the physical premises.

I responded fully to your survey and wanted to share with the world what I shared with you. It’s a case history of how NOT to respond in the Age of Social Media.

From the survey I submitted:

I posted this to social media. I checked in using a debit card. I was using points. I was told that the card would be used for incidentals. No problem. I was not told how much. PROBLEM. First, I finish doing my taxes and checked my bank account. Lo and behold, I find $70 in [holding] charges against the card. $20 a night x 2 nights projected stay and [an additional] $30 which nobody could explain except to say it’s an error — an error nobody released from the card until I checked out. I got a “Geez, I don’t know what that is the case.” and a “That shouldn’t have happened.” Never removed…just left on there. YOUR ERROR!!!

So, I post it to social media on 4/16 at 6:03 PM — to about 1300 followers (some of whom retweeted it to about 2700 folks. I get an immediate response from your corporate folks at 8:13 PM on 4/16 with a promise to have someone contact me. [See below]

It didn’t happen.       I posted it again, along with some filth I found on a shower curtain my room to my Twitter account @mjclaxden at 4:28 PM on 4/17. Still no response. [See below]

Then FINALLY on 4/18 at 11:17 AM, I got a call.

Dear Marriott, If you’re going to put someone in charge of social media to quickly respond. Make sure the committed follow up happens sooner that nearly 41 hours after the fact. I only just responded to their call today around 2:55 PM.

What really angered me: The arrogance of putting not a $1 charge, or a $5 charge per night, but a $20 charge?!?!?! I really loved that your team tells me this is your policy. Really?!?!? A policy you violated in charging (but not promptly removing) an additional $30 holding charge…and during a free [Marriott Rewards] stay too!!!

I appreciate that you don’t want to get stiffed with charges…but a Marriott Rewards member?…who’s likely not going to bail on a charge. And guess what?!?!? It’s easier to dispute a credit card charge than a debit charge. [So, wouldn’t it be easier to put this on my credit card?!?!]

I chose to use a debit card, because it’s easier to track my finances and avoid interest charges. However, I can assure you I will be very reluctant to use a Marriott with either my debit or credit card in future.

You treated me – a loyalty program traveler – who is now finally able to travel again after taking care of my mom for her last three years of life like an unvalued guest…who when you violated (and failed to disclose) the egregious size of the charge by ADDING TO IT an odd amount which nobody could explain. [Why not $50 or $100 a night holding charge?]

Well, I have heard your policy. Let me share my policy: I won’t be staying at Marriott again unless it is the only option available to me. I have not traveled much previously but I will be now. Perhaps, Hilton ( @HiltonHotels ) will appreciate my business and be more attentive to my complaints in future. You’ve proven you can’t…and won’t.

I will say this, SpringHill Suites/Marriott, you’ve inspired me to blog about this. You adhered to a policy – oh wait, you even failed to follow your own policy – but you gained an ex-client.


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