Friday, October 16, 2009

Bad Customer Service: Grant Rant

Carriage House Inn Fails

Customer service is always news. Sometimes it's good news and too often it's bad news.

People talk about both extremes. When it's good news that's good marketing for you. When it's bad news that's good marketing for your competition.

You decide who you want your customers marketing for.

Enjoy this bad news customer service story from my colleague Kit Grant about the Carriage House Inn in Calgary. Apparently they wanted to create marketing for their competition.

by Kit Grant

It's been awhile but many have asked for one so here we go ...

**WHO KNEW THINGS WERE THIS BAD? Apparently the whole recession thing has had a much bigger impact on the hospitality business than anyone realized. We recently held our Boot Camp for speakers at a local hotel here in Calgary. On the second day we had ordered granola bars for the afternoon snack (minimum order is a dozen).

That day we had two meeting rooms and the group decided to leave the granola bars for a late evening snack since we were having pizza for dinner around 5pm. We ate in the room apart from where the break had been set up and discovered upon returning there around 7pm that the hotel had cleared out all remnants of the afternoon break including the coffee and the granola bars.

These were not home-made ones but just the kind you buy at Costco (or for more money at 7-Eleven. They're wrapped up and can last for some time ... apparently to be re-sold over and over by the hotel until consumed or discarded.

A couple of days later when the Catering Manager was back at work I went in to see her and explained the situation asking if we could have the $24 + GST charge removed from the bill.

NOPE! I had ordered them and whether or not I used them was not her concern - I should have eaten them when delivered.

She said their contract says they can remove buffet food after two hours (really, she used the term buffet food to describe granola bars ... that was such a defensive response it was actually funny) although she was unable to show me the those terms anywhere on the agreement I had signed.

I went to see the General Manager and quickly discovered where she got her training. This "service wizard" was less than sympathetic but said he would look after it. What has he done so far? - Nada, nothing.

I'm sure in his busy world there can be nothing more annoying than an unhappy customer. Now we've used this facility before on more than one occasion. What do you think the odds are of my using it again?

It's amazing that a small hotel with arguably some of the best food in town could have it so right in some departments and so wrong in others. Who knew they were this desperate for $24?

The $240 + service fee charge ($80/day)for the screen we ordered consisted of moving a switch on the wall to lower the screen. Not once over the course of the weekend did an AV technician do this. I checked. This screen has to have been paid for many times over but it now represents a major profit centre - who would've known?

I'm no novice here - I've been conducting meetings in hotels since 1976 and I know when I'm getting the shaft.

Most people wouldn't even recognize what's happening here.


It's just the principle here - somehow it just seems wrong and could have been handled so much better in light of the total bill of over $1700 plus what we spent in the dining room for three meals for 8 people.

It's so amazing it's worth telling the story to as many people as I can. Now all 13,000+ of you know about it just to illustrate how "lazy service" stories can spread so easily and rapidly because you'll hopefully tell many more.So if you've been missing that "We're going to really stick it to you" feeling you should probably consider scheduling your next meeting, conference or wedding at the Carriage House Inn on Macleod Trail.

There's nothing quite like it AND apparently they really need the money so please go and help them out. Just watch your granola bars carefully!

So endith the rant.
(Kit Grant)
And look what the Carriage House Inn says about themselves on the home page of their website.
"A Calgary tradition for more than 40 years, the Carriage House Inn offers excellent customer service,impressive function space, remarkable accommodations and fantastic food and beverage. Our experienced and friendly staff will ensure that every detail or request is met with the utmost attention."

More customer service stories



Audie McCarthy said...

So true. I have taught customer service for years and hear many stories like this one. It almost always comes down to a small thing that could have been fixed with very little effort.

Julia Wooster said...

This is a prime example of why online reputation management (ORM) is a very important social media task.

George Torok said...

Julia, very good point. Let's see if the hotel responds to this post. If they have their Google Alerts on - they should receive notification of the post.