Customer service is going downhill with most companies unless you are willing to publicly complain via Twitter or on a company’s Facebook page that will, for now, usually get preferential treatment over a phone call or email.
The New York Times Your Money column, the Haggler, had a mini rant about their experience of contacting Starwood on behalf of a disgruntled Preferred Guest member whose accounts had been under investigation by Starwood’s “account integrity unit” for way too long.
You can access this New York Times piece here.
Here’s an excerpt from the piece:
What’s odd about this aversion is that companies that talk to the Haggler fare better in this space than those who don’t — for two reasons. The first is a matter of human nature; when you talk to people, they seem more like people and less like abstractions. And the Haggler, though strictly speaking not a person, is the alter ego of a person — a duller, windier person, but a person all the same — who is disarmed by human interaction.
Second, by insisting on email, corporations often reproduce the very sort of evasive behavior that incenses their customers. A case in point is the letter writer in today’s episode, who tried to reach a representative at Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide by phone and was continually shunted to email. This led to dead ends and rage.
When the Haggler tried contacting Starwood, the company’s spokeswoman emailed several times to report that her travel schedule precluded a phone call. Where was she, Ice Station Zebra? Eventually, she did talk. And that helped. A little.
There is certainly something wrong with a company whose spokesperson doesn’t have time to talk with The New York Times, don’t you think? I have said it previously and say it again that Starwood’s marketing is brilliant, but actual following through on the promises made to program members is an entirely different matter.
I am always about to throw-up when I see the Ambassador video playing on a TV at a SPG hotel that has close to zero to do with the reality of the program. Why pump up something when they must know that they are failing badly to fulfill the promises made?
I was once unable to sign up for a public airline related promo on Starwood’s website and used the chat function. The representative signed me up successfully and I saved a copy of the chat (you always must do this).
When the miles didn’t post and I contacted the customer service, I was told that I hadn’t signed up for the offer. I emailed copy of the chat that didn’t result anything. SPG only posted them after I mailed a certified letter with a return receipt with the copy of the chat and “demand” letter to Starwood’s HQ. It shouldn’t be this difficult to deal with SPG, but unfortunately it is.