A man wrote in to travel writer Christopher Elliott to complain about the awful experience he and his wife had with Comfort Inn & Suites in North Vancouver, British Columbia. When they checked in, they were surprised with a “free upgrade,” but found the room was unclean and lacked linens. They asked to be given the room they initially reserved, then discovered the water was lukewarm during their entire visit, and the coffee machine was broken. The hotel’s ice machine was also broken. Richard said in each case he complained to the front desk but only got an apology—and when he contacted Choice Hotels to complain, they told him he should have brought the issues to the attention of the hotel, and consequently they would not honor their 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.
Elliott goes over the fine print of the guarantee and discovers that it’s mostly meaningless marketing twaddle:
Check out the fine print of the “100 Percent Satisfaction Guarantee” and you’ll see that there are some important exceptions. “If you are not satisfied with your accommodations or our service, please advise the front desk of a problem right away and give them an opportunity to correct the situation,” it says. “If the hotel staff is unable to satisfy you, they may give you up to one night’s free stay.”
Got that? You have to report a problem, and if the hotel can’t fix it you may be entitled to up to one night’s free stay. That’s such a vaguely worded guarantee that you have to wonder why Choice Hotels even bothers.
But it gets worse. “Not all international hotels participate in this program,” it adds. So the guarantee isn’t much of a guarantee to begin with, and your hotel, being an international property, didn’t have to honor it anyway.
Elliott was able to get Choice Hotels to refund the man for his stay at the hotel, but we wonder what happens to people who have similar experiences and don’t get the help of a bigwig travel guru. His suggestion is to escalate the problem when it happens—ask for a supervisor or manager if all you get are repeated apologies, and be prepared to discuss the satisfaction guarantee with the front desk. In addition, stay far away from the Comfort Inn & Suites in North Vancouver, British Columbia.
“Not so comfortable at the Comfort Inn” [Elliott.org]
(Photo: “The Shining”)