Short Stories - non fiction

Pre-complaining Gone Wrong

Usually I have a lot of success when I pre-complain before staying at a hotel. However a couple of years ago I had a horrible stay at a hotel, in spite of my pre-complaint. As a result, I sent the following letter to the General Manager. Please note, since I do not wish to bad mouth anyone, I have removed any reference to the actual hotel name.

RE: Hotel Feedback

Dear Sir,

I am writing to provide feedback on my recent stay at the your hotel. First of all, I had originally reserved at a different hotel, but when I saw your hotel had a one day sale on a room with 2 beds I cancelled my previous reservation, and reserved at your hotel. This was to be a special trip with my 21 year old son. We came to Toronto to see a couple of baseball games, and we were both looking forward to the whole experience, especially the stay at such a well renowned hotel.

On Thursday, the day before our trip, I took the time to phone both and your hotel directly to confirm my room reservation. It was very important to me that the room have two beds, and that the room be situated at a quiet location. The hotel assured me that the room would have two beds. The request for a quiet location would not be guaranteed, but they would put this down as a preference. In addition I asked if we could have a newly renovated room, but I understood that this may not be possible.

We travelled up to Toronto on Friday, and the hotel was very busy at check in time. When it was my turn, I spoke to a lady at your counter, and reiterated “the room must have two beds as I am traveling with my 21 year old son”….much to my dismay, I was told that the room had one bed only. I told the lady that this was not acceptable, and she replied “we are sold out, and we do not have a room with two beds available, and there is fine print on your reservation which doesn’t guarantee anything”. When I asked to speak to the manager, she was suddenly able to find a room with two beds, but we would have to wait for a while until the room would be ready. I was okay with that, but was unhappy at the fact that I had to get irate and demand the room that I had reserved and paid for back in June, and had confirmed the day prior.

We eventually got our room, it was lovely, it was far away from the elevator, newly renovated, and it had a beautiful view to boot. We were pleased. However, the housecleaning staff woke us up early Saturday morning to see if they could clean the room. My fault, I hadn’t put the notice on the door, so I sent her away. When we left the room a couple of hours later, at around 11:00 am the cleaning lady told me that she had been working since 5:30 am and didn’t want to clean my room. I found this odd, but I told her that as long as she refreshed the towels we would be okay. But seriously, I have never encountered this before in all of my years staying at hotels. She did seem to drop off new towels, but did not bother to take away the wet ones that were scattered about, but “oh well”…I thought.

Anyway, we went out to the Roger’s Cup Tennis match, and we got home at about 11:30 pm on Saturday night. We walked into the room and we heard very loud music, and the floor was basically vibrating from the sound it was so loud. We were stunned. So I phoned the front desk and complained.  A few minutes later I received a call back, I was told that the loud music would go on until 1:00 am, and that there was nothing the hotel could do as the party had signed a contract until that time, they did however offer us ear plugs. The security personnel came by and admitted that it was ridiculously loud, and agreed to try to do something about it, but weren’t successful.

So basically, although the hotel looks beautiful, and it is situated in the heart of the city, I would never stay there again, and I would never recommend it to a friend. My stay was very disappointing. I truly wish that I had kept my original reservation at another hotel. In fact, I would have to say that it was one of the worst hotel experiences I have ever had. On a positive note, I will say that the young lady who worked at the concierge desk was very helpful in getting us tickets to the tennis match, and the young man who works as a bell hop was very pleasant, but other than that I was supremely disappointed.
The General Manager responded within 24 hours with the following email message:

Good afternoon Ms. Young,

Thank you for your email and for choosing our hotel. From the outset, it is wonderful to learn of the special purpose of your visit and your excitement surrounding your stay. Knowing that you had first selected an alternative property, I am especially concerned that your experience was not memorable in a positive way and appreciate your taking the time to bring this to my attention.

First off, our goal is to always provide the exact room configuration our guests booked and recognizing that you went out of your way to ensure that the room would have two double beds our failure to provide this immediately upon your arrival is completely unacceptable. We have very specific procedures in place to ensure that this does not occur and that we manage our inventory in a manner that prevents any delays for room access and I am in the process of addressing this poor preparation with our team. I am equally concerned by the lack of empathy and the unprofessional response from our Front Desk agent and we are providing this colleague with additional training to ensure that she understands the level of care and service that we should consistently deliver. I apologize that you had to get upset to create a sense of urgency surrounding the issue and for the inconvenience caused by the delay in guestroom access.

While I am very happy to know that the room matched your expectations and had a beautiful view, I am terribly sorry for the noise disturbance as a result of its location. We should have warned you that the room was above our convention floor and come up with some alternative options that were better situated for the purpose of your travel. Ultimately we should be assigning these rooms to guests of the events on the convention floor who are the least likely to be disrupted. We are addressing this as part of our follow up with our Front Desk agent and management team and I will also look into this further with our security team and with our conference service and catering managers. We should limit the volume of music on our convention floor as well as the hours during which it is permitted in an effort to promote quiet enjoyment of the hotel for all of our customers.

Finally, I apologize profusely for the disruption from our housekeeping attendant and for the unpleasant and unprofessional interaction with this individual. Though it should in no way take away from how seriously I take this feedback, it is extremely rare for a guest to report an exchange of this nature with one of our colleagues who usually deliver warm, engaging service and leave our guests with a very positive impression. I am very concerned and we are working to determine who this was so that we can address this with her directly. We will also embrace this as an opportunity to review our expectations for service with the entire team.

Ms. Young, overall, I sincerely apologize for your understandable disappointment with your experience and for the damper that our service breakdowns had on your enjoyment of your trip to Toronto. It is rare for any one of these issues to occur let alone everything in tandem and your experience—apart from your interaction with our concierge–was not indicative of the luxury and service you can expect from our hotel. As a gesture of apology, we would appreciate an opportunity to welcome you back for a complimentary one night stay in a renovated room with two double beds (away from elevators and on a high floor). Attached please find a certificate outlining further detail on our offer and how you may take advantage of it when ready. I hope that you will return and give us a second chance.

Best regards,


I was very happy with the response to my letter of complaint, however I did not manage to take advantage of the complimentary stay. Typically a pre-complaint avoids the need for an actual complaint, but it is good to know that complaining when warranted does result in reasonable action!

[Please note, if you enjoyed reading this story, please “like” it. I’d appreciate it you would follow this blog, subscribe to it, and share it with your friends!]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s