Recent Hotel Customer Service Experience Burns Me

Recent Hotel Customer Service Experience Burns Me

Hotel Customer Service Graphic

Photo Credit: zachtrek CC

I’m a proponent of providing a high quality customer service experience for your customers. If you’re a business and you don’t meet or exceed your customers’ expectations, you’re leaving yourself open for bad publicity, bad yelp reviews, or angry comments on social media. It’s not rocket science to provide quality service. Unfortunately, my wife and I were the victims of lousy hotel customer service during a recent stay. I figure the experience can serve as an object lesson for businesses in what to do when customers have a complaint. Read on for the full story.

My wife and I recently went out of town for a wedding and we stayed at the “official” hotel. We arrived at the hotel after the rehearsal dinner, around 8:45 p.m. and were greeted by a giant banner hanging on the side of the hotel trumpeting the fact that the hotel was the “2012 Platinum Award Winner” for the chain. Which begs the question, Platinum Award Winner for what?

My wife was able to get us checked in and I was able to unload the car without issue. Once we got to our room and entered, the room was a scorching 90 degrees inside. I’m not making that up. The air conditioning was not on. We weren’t sure if it was just a malfunction or what, but there was no way we could stay in the room for any length of time. I quickly checked that the air conditioning was operational, and I turned it on high to the coldest setting. We had to leave the room for the next 25 minutes in order for it to cool down.

Now here is where the hotel customer service experience comes into play. My wife went to the front desk and spoke with the night clerk about the room being hot. The clerk had the following choice phrases when my wife was questioning why the room wasn’t cool:

It’s been hot, so naturally the room is going to be warmer.

No kidding. But that still doesn’t explain why the air conditioner wasn’t on.

It’s not economical for the hotel to run the air conditioner when the room isn’t occupied.

Wait? What? I can’t believe we’re the only people this has happened to.

You’re the only people to complain about it.

Basically, the clerk didn’t care that we were inconvenienced and said there’s nothing he can do or was willing to do. Never in our 25+ years of traveling and staying in hotels have we stayed in a room that wasn’t at the most 78 degrees when we checked in.

And to add insult to injury, when the room was finally tolerable, I noticed that the alarm clock was three hours behind our current time. There was no obvious way to set the clock to the correct time, no matter how many buttons I pushed or how hard I tried. What’s even more troubling is that my wife and I didn’t even want to bother calling the front desk because we had a feeling the clerk wasn’t going to be very helpful.

And it gets better. When we go to the hotel chain’s corporate website to report the issues, they have a very convenient form that a guest can complete. You have to provide all sorts of information including your drivers license number, social security number, blood type, access to your first born, etc. and then you’ll be permitted to access the main comments form where you can detail your complaint. One small problem, it limits you to 1,000 characters. That’s right. You have the equivalent of roughly seven Twitter tweets to get your point across or the system won’t let you send the message. Obviously, they don’t think any complaints will take more than 1,000 characters. I found it laughable that it’s easier to reserve a room on the hotel’s website than it is to make a complaint. And yes, I was being sarcastic about the information requirements, but they did require a lot of information that didn’t seem relevant to the situation.

Hotel Customer Service Takeaways

While most of these issues are geared towards the hotel customer service experience, it’s not to say the principles couldn’t be applied to other businesses.

Lesson #1 – Cutting Corners Costs Customers

I understand the importance of trying to save expenses, but if you have a room that is reserved for an arriving guest, common sense would dictate to have housekeeping turn on the air conditioning, even at a lower speed and higher temperature. It also behooves you to make sure everything is working in the room. Cutting corners may wind up costing you in the long run.

Lesson #2 – Consider The Silent Majority

Just because no one else has complained doesn’t mean that others didn’t have the same issue. Maybe some customers aren’t as vocal as others or they’re non confrontational. Whatever the issue, it’s a safe bet that others may be affected by the same policy. Not addressing the issue makes it easy for people to take their business elsewhere.

Lesson #3 -Don’t Limit Feedback

If you run any sort of business, customer feedback is a precious commodity whether it’s positive or negative. If you have a website that accepts feedback, customer comments, etc. putting artificial limits on that feedback severely restricts what a customer can convey to you. And if they can’t convey it to you directly because you limit what or how much they can say, that isn’t going to prevent them from going to Yelp or some other site where they can leave a virtually unlimited review.


Hopefully my experience will help you see things that you can apply to your own business. Consumers have plenty of options and businesses, like people meeting for the first time, generally have one chance to make a positive first impression. Unfortunately, for this particular hotel, my wife and I remember our first impression and not for the right reasons.

How about you? Have you had bad customer service? What did you do about it?

Disclosure of Material Connection

Some of the links in the post above may be affiliate links. This means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I will receive a modest commission from the sale. These links help support the maintenance of this website.

Please be advised that I only recommend products or services that I have used or tried personally and believe will add value to my readers' lives. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”