A bit ago I wrote the rant-post If You Want What I Have You Have to Do What I’ve Done.
Most readers loved the snarky writing and during our discussion in the comments, I said:
Maybe I should start “rant Saturday” where we can all share our stories like this!!
Almost everyone thought it was a great suggestion, so I put it down as a series that I would post on now and then.
Plus I thought it would be a fun series to include photos of dragons since they seem a bit ranty themselves. (FYI, I’ve been looking for a way to include dragons here since I heard this Freakonomics podcast, which I loved since I am a dragon child myself.)
Today I’m going to be ranting about a long-time relationship I’ve had that has gone bad: the one with Hilton Hotels.
Lest you think I only complain about companies, I’ve actually posted on brands I love. On that list, written less than two years ago, was Hampton Inn, a Hilton brand. Alas, the last two years have not been kind to us.
My Love Affair with Hilton
It started almost 15 years ago. It was March 2004 to be exact.
I traveled a lot for business and the hotel chain of choice was Hilton. In particular, Hampton Inns. We stayed in many through the years, I joined their Hilton Honors program, and was a Gold Member every year.
I even got the Hilton American Express card along the way to max out points.
Even on vacations, we always stayed at Hampton Inns. They were nice, affordable, and had great customer service. We didn’t even consider other chains, we were that loyal.
I told this story in the post linked above, but it’s worth repeating to show how great their customer service was:
Hampton Inns have a 100% satisfaction, money-back guarantee. I stayed at one several years ago and the fire alarm went off at 2 am. We all trudged down the stairs, waited 15 minutes, and then were told the system had malfunctioned in some way. It wasn’t that big of a deal, though it was inconvenient.
The next morning my traveling companion asked if we could get something off our bill for our trouble. They said “no problem” and gave us our rooms for free. We thanked them and said that was way more than we expected and they said we weren’t 100% satisfied so we didn’t have to pay!
That lasted for 10 years or so until I changed companies. I became the president of a $100 million company and we adopted Hampton Inns as the go-to chain for our company travel.
Then I moved to one last company and, you guessed it, we stayed in Hampton Inns.
Over the years my own business and personal stays accounted for tens of thousands of dollars spent. I can’t even guess how much business we sent their way when I was company president (other than knowing that we had a healthy travel budget).
Any way you look at it, it was a match made in heaven. I gave them a boatload of money and they took care of me away from home. If there was ever an issue, they addressed it and made it right. During those years I would have even put them in the same customer service category as Costco.
College Drop Off Gone Awry
Everything started to change just over a year ago.
I took my daughter to college in August 2017.
I had booked a Hampton Inn stay with points since 1) I had over 200k points and 2) they jacked the room rates sky-high because they knew kids were coming back that week. But they didn’t jack up the points needed for free nights so using points was a good deal.
I booked a room for five nights several months in advance. Good thing I did as the place was packed when we were there.
Over time we decided that I only needed to stay four nights in the college town instead of five because I stayed the fifth night in the DC area (at a different Hampton Inn) where my flight home was. (Staying there meant I didn’t have to get up at 5 am and drive to the airport three hours away.)
I went online to try and change the reservation to four nights, but the site said that if I wanted to make any changes, I would first have to cancel my reservation completely and start another one. I didn’t want to do that as I was afraid I’d lose the room altogether. And all I wanted was to give a night back — how hard could that be?
I called (can’t remember if it was the hotel or the 800 customer service number) and was told simply to tell the hotel I was staying one night less when I arrived and they would take care of it.
That’s what I did. Upon arrival I told the front desk clerk that I would be staying one less night and I wanted to get my points back for that night.
She said that in order to do that I needed to call Hilton. She gave me a phone number to do so.
I called as soon as I got to my room and they informed me that I had to talk to the hotel. What? The guy said he’d call the hotel and have them get in touch with me.
A few minutes later I got a call from the front desk saying that the corporate office had called and they were sorry they gave me the wrong information. All I had to do was tell the front clerk when I left that I wanted my points back and she would handle it all.
Famous last words.
The day of my departure I told the clerk and should have known things were amiss when it took a long time to find the right form. Then she said they had a “new system” and I knew I was doomed. Nevertheless I gave her the information and figured at the worst I would have customer service handle it when I got home.
Once I got home I checked my account every few days to see if my points had been credited. They had not so I sent them an email detailing the circumstances.
They responded that they had checked into the situation and that I would be getting my points back soon — within a week.
A week later I checked and there were still no points. I emailed them again and asked what was up.
This time they told me they had checked into the situation and I was not due any refund.
Over the course of several emails (yes, it took that long to get a reason) they told me the following:
When I had booked the five nights, they had automatically put me in their “buy four nights get one free” promotion. This was without my knowledge, mind you.
The one night I didn’t stay was my free night, so I was not entitled to a refund.
Somehow I still paid the same number of points as I had when I scheduled five nights so I tried to explain this to them. But they were having none of it. It seemed as if the Costco-like customer service department I had been familiar with was now being run by ex-employees at Comcast. They were the least friendly, least helpful group you could imagine.
But as you know, I don’t give up easily. It took a couple months, many emails back and forth, and a lot of time, effort, and complaining, but I finally got to someone who basically said “We’re sorry for your inconvenience” and gave me my points back.
Uh, why couldn’t they have led with that?
Condo Package Not as Great as It Seemed
Exhibit #2 in the collapse of our relationship was the recent Hilton timeshare presentation we agreed to.
When we signed up (and PAID, BTW) we were told that the plan was for:
- Any Hilton hotel in the DC area
- We could book whenever we wanted in the next year or so
Once we found out my daughter was going to be in DC for the summer, my wife called to set up our reservation.
At this point we found out that:
- It was for “select” properties (I think three) in DC
- They had limited rooms for this promotion
- They were sold out during our dates
As you might imagine, we were not happy. We had been misled and they did absolutely nothing to make it work.
To add insult to injury they kept emailing us to make our timeshare reservations immediately — despite the fact that there were no openings! UGH!!!
This is the situation that left me looking for a hotel to drop my daughter off, and for some reason, I called Hilton…
DC Drop Off
My daughter wasn’t sure when she needed to start work or when her summer dorm would open, so when I booked the Hilton Garden Inn in DC, I:
- went for three nights since I knew we’d either need those three or two and
- paid the higher rate for the perk of being able to change the dates if need be. (I could have gone with a lower rate but then not had the option to change and I knew there was a big chance of changing.)
When the dust settled, we only needed two days — June 1 and 2. No problem since my confirmation email said:
If your plans change please let us know – it’s free to cancel or update your reservation by 11:59 PM local hotel time on May 29, 2018.
So I called the hotel on Monday, May 14 to change the reservation from three days to two. This is when I entered the Twilight Zone.
The rep explained to me that they didn’t have availability for the two days I wanted.
I tried to explain that they did have availability since I had a reservation for the two days I wanted — all I wanted to do was give back the day on the front end.
After going around on these issues a few times, she tried to contact the hotel manager to make the change (because “the system” wouldn’t let her). But he was not available. So she asked me to call back the next day.
After already spending 30 minutes on the phone with her, I was not about to have to do it all over again and track down the manager. I told her I would not call him but to make a note and have him call me the next day. She said she would do that and he would call me.
He didn’t call on Tuesday. Ok, I thought, he’s probably busy. I’ll give him some slack.
He didn’t call on Wednesday. I was starting to get a bad feeling about this.
On Thursday at 11 am my time (1 pm DC time), I called Hilton customer service since the yahoos at the hotel seemed to be little help. I got Sandy on the line.
I told her I wanted to change from three days to two as my confirmation stated I could. I reinforced the fact that I had paid extra for this flexibility.
She said that “the system” would not allow her to make a change and I needed to call the hotel. At this point I gave her the backstory of calling the hotel, how they didn’t call me back, how I didn’t want to deal with them, and how I wanted her to handle it quick and easy.
She said she would call the hotel and get approval to change if I would hold — which I did.
She came back on the line after 10 minutes or so and told me it was changed. I asked her to send me a confirmation which she said she would. She also asked me to take a survey afterward which like a dummy I agreed to do and gave her high marks. Overall, I was on the line with her for 15 minutes.
A few minutes later I received the new reservation via email. The good news was that the days were changed from three to two — like I asked.
The bad news was that the price had INCREASED from $909 to $948 (including tax). Yes, one less day and yet the price was higher. Ugh!
I called the 800 number back and talked to Michael. I explained the situation, but Michael was in over his head and couldn’t do anything. When he said he couldn’t do anything, I started to lose it. My tone changed and I became more assertive. I wanted it fixed and I wanted it fixed now. I was not rude, but I was on the verge of losing my cool and we both knew it. He asked me to hold.
I held for a few minutes and then Barbara came on. I re-told her my story and she said when I changed my reservation I changed my prices. I told her I was not aware of that and was not told so when Sandy changed my reservation. I asked why anyone would do that anyway — have one fewer night and pay MORE. If anything I would have kept the three nights, not showed up for the first one, and paid a lower rate.
She gave me a “Well, that’s the way it is” response and I lost it. She said she was sorry and I told her she was not sorry. We then had a “discussion” about whether she was sorry or not, and I admitted while she may personally be sorry, the company she represented certainly was not since they were making this a nightmare. She didn’t have a response for that.
She said there was nothing she could do and asked if I wanted the first reservation back. I had no choice. Yes, I could have looked for another room but the hotel we had booked was right next to where my daughter was staying. Plus I knew that any hotel in downtown DC the week of Memorial Day would be sky-high if available at all. I said I wanted the original deal and they better have the room ready for me when I showed up a day late. She said she couldn’t guarantee me the same rate I had (meaning it was going to be higher).
Now I really lost it. I told her they were going to make this right one way or the other. And if they wouldn’t make it right cost-wise I would unleash a website and social media storm on them like they have never seen. (After all, I do have a decent reach and I have friends. A few well-placed links could rank a bad review as a top result when someone searched for “Hilton Hotels”.) Yes, I might pay a higher rate, but they were going to pay a higher one.
At this point she said, “Let me see what I can do”.
I was on hold for 15 minutes or so, then she came on and said she was having difficulty reaching the hotel (presumably to get my original rate). They were having trouble with their phones. She asked me to verify my original rates by day, which I did.
She put me on hold again. She eventually came back on and said my rate was back to $269 per night or $618 total with tax for two nights.
She said the issue wasn’t that my rate should have changed (like she originally said) and that the agent (Sandy) had put my original cost in when she made the change (which is why she didn’t tell me it was higher).But “the system” would not take it and changed the price to the current going rate.
I have three problems with this:
- First of all, Barbara’s original stance was that I should have paid the higher rate since I made a change and that’s “just the way it was.” This was untrue as she admitted later. I should have had the original price all along.
- Second, their system STINKS! Sounds like they need some IT people to get in there for a cyber-exorcism of some sort!
- Finally, why did I only get service when I threatened to do something that cost them? Why did it have to come to that? And what about people who don’t have the platform I have — do they just have to take it?
I stayed on the phone with her until I received an email confirmation with the right cost. I then thanked her. After 50 minutes of discussion and being on hold, I hung up.
A couple weeks later we went to DC, stayed at the hotel, and all was well.
Breaking Up Isn’t that Hard to Do
Now that the dust has settled a bit, here’s what’s next:
- We will use the Hilton condo offer sometime later this year since we’ve already paid for it and want to go to DC again any way. The timeshare guys will get TWO HOURS as we promised and not a second longer. I may even tell them these stories, how I hate Hilton, how I would never buy a timeshare from them, etc. upfront and maybe they will let us go early. Or perhaps I’ll pull out the stopwatch on my phone, tell them I’m setting it for two hours, and then begin talking, making them frustrated as I chat away their time. It depends on how feisty I feel at the time.
- We will use the freebies we get from the condo meeting. We are due a free hotel stay and some extra points. We will be sure to get those and use them.
- We will use up my points. Between the points I have now and the points we’ll get from the timeshare people, I’ll be around 120k points. I want to be sure I use them as those are free nights for me.
- I will cancel my American Express Hilton card. Why do I need it any longer?
- I will never stay with Hilton again unless I have no choice. Instead I’ll use Starwood or Holiday Inn Express. Yes, Starwood hotels are more expensive in cost, but when you add in time of dealing with poor customer service and the hassle factor, they are less expensive than Hilton hotels. Plus, I can afford it. As for Holiday Inn Express, my brother-in-law and I always had a debate whether they were better than Hampton Inns (he said they were and I said they weren’t.) Guess he was right.
So that’s it. It’s over. Hilton, we are separated and the divorce is imminent.
I’ve had similar experiences with Hilton recently.
A good option for the DC area is Hyatt – they have a fairly extensive network of hotels in the DC area. Great sign up bonuses on their card and transferable from Chase UR. Hyatt House and Hyatt Place are fairly equivalent to Hampton Inn.
Don’t forget that Starwood goes away in a few weeks with Marriott having purchased them and the merger finally going through.
Appreciate the recommendations!
Also, a nice Hyatt Place in Charlottesville for 8,000 points a night. I am assuming this may be an ideal location between the university and DC for you.
Fred Leamnson says
Man that’s crazy! Good for you for holding them accountable. As I read this, I have to admit that I would have lost it long before you did. Kudos for hanging in there that long.
It seems like customer service in a lot of places is going down. Folks are getting more cranky. I agree with you about Costco. Fantastic customer service.
Let me know next time you’re in DC. Would love to connect.
Read next Friday’s post for the announcement of a possible DC meet-up.
Fred Leamnson says
My wife and I are dedicated Hilton travelers too, belong to the Honors program, have the AX card and, to go one step further, have been in their Grand Vacation Club for 20 years now. We have had great customer service over the years, similar to your lifetime of service. While we haven’t had the bad experiences you’ve had recently, it always is possible. While I don’t condone it, it is a sign of the times I’m afraid. Bottom line rules the world like never before. Not giving someone in the chain of command that you dealt with the power to override the system to make you happier is ridiculous. That same dynamic likely will be found with Starwood or any other chain you switch your business too. Finding companies that allow satisfaction to reign supreme is going to continue to be difficult, likely near impossible. Every penny is critical to every company.
Deborah Molloy says
I agree times have changed with Customer Service in hospitality! Im a Hilton Diamond, have had good experiences though individual hotels (stay in Hamptons alot) can be challenging occasionally. I prefer Homeward suites. Will check out Hyatt. Choice Hotels ugh, Starwood, . I also became a Diamond years ago with Centurian card my employees travel but had issues with Amex…i find call until you get a sympathetic professional with some years. Dont waste time with nos or hold ons!! DEBORAH
Jason Moore says
I had a horrible experience with Hilton. Got bared before I could check in with my service animal. Cops were very cool hats off to Memphis’s finest. Never Hilton.
I am a Hilton Diamond member. Have spent thousands on business travel at Hilton properties over the years and customer service used to be king. Not so much lately. Upon checkout from an 11 day stay, my bill informed me that I missed “Double Points” because I hadn’t signed up for a new promotion. This was news to me. I called customer service to get points added. “System doesn’t allow that.” I was then told I could sign up for the next promotion starting in May and I “should make a note in my day planner to call Hilton, they’ll send me a special code and I can register then.” Really are you friggin’ kidding me? Or I can choose to stay at Marriott properties.
That sounds horrible and I’ll to avoid Hilton in the future. I’ll throw in a vote for SPG. I’ve been loyal to them for a while now and no such nightmare stories to report!
When I had booked the five nights, they had automatically put me in their “buy four nights get one free” promotion. This was without my knowledge, mind you.
You’ve been a loyal member for years, yet you aren’t familiar with the 5th night free program? Come on… that’s not their fault. This benefit has been around for years. Staying 4 nights will cost the same number of points as staying 5 nights.
Uh, why couldn’t they have led with that?
McDonald’s has the price of a Big Mac on the menu. If I don’t like how much it costs, am I going to complain until they charge me the price I want to pay? Seriously? Your ignorance as to Hilton’s program is no reason for them to give you something for free.
Same with your DC story. Come on, really? If you change your reservation, you pay the prevailing rate. I’ve had plenty of times where I’ve adjusted my stay, and the rate per night had dropped (in fact, I regularly check rates as my travel approaches just to see if I can rebook at a lower rate). What makes you think the rules don’t apply to you?
Sorry… I generally like your blog, but this post reeks of entitlement. Why shouldn’t the rules apply to you? Sure, it would be amazing customer service if the company could honor your original rate when you change your reservation, but that’s not the way it works. Never has been as far as I know.
Uh, no, I didn’t know about the 4/5 night thing as almost all of my work trips were 3 days or below.
And why would I have to pay for FIVE nights of points if one was supposedly free? Shouldn’t they have charged me for four and noted it at the front? In other words, there was nothing really free.
In DC, I had to fight even to change my room at all — a feature I had paid for. Is that what you’d consider entitlement — asking for something you paid for?
And as I said at the start, they used to have great customer service. Hilton was more like Costco back in the old days (when it came to customer service). Not so much now. They changed and as a consumer with choices, I have the right to change as well.
BTW, do you work for Hilton, have them as a client, etc.?
Not affiliated with Hilton. In fact, I am using them less and less because they have devalued the value of their points so much that I no longer find them attractive. Before reading your article I was hoping that might be the reason you were quitting them, as I am trying to decide whether to cancel my HHonors Amex card and shift my stays to other brands.
We’ll have to agree to disagree though. I travel so frequently (both for work and pleasure) that I guess I just know the rules and how changes affect my rates. The feature you paid for isn’t actually a feature. Unless I am misunderstanding, you chose not to book the Advance Purchase Rate, which is non-refundable but slightly cheaper. That doesn’t mean you are booking a rate that is locked in should your plans change. Rates aren’t static. It just means you have the ability to change your plans. You could have canceled the reservation altogether, or you could change your dates. You aren’t locked in, but you do pay the prevailing rate. That’s just the way it works.
Yes, we will have to agree to disagree.
I understand the parameters of what I booked, which is why I was upset when they wouldn’t initially allow me to even adjust the dates — I had paid for that.
As for the rates, I would think they should notify anyone of any changes — that’s the minimum I’d expect from any business — especially when the charges would be more for fewer days.
As for the 4/5 promotion, if it’s such a great program, they should be constantly reinforcing it — it’s just good marketing. They should tell everyone every time they receive this deal if it’s so great. Of course they don’t have to, that’s their choice, but they then should expect me to know about the program or that they would automatically apply it to my stay.
Betty Vu says
I agree with the respondent. They don’t mark the fifth night as free in their system but reduce the number of points per day to reflect the discount. Marriott does the same. I’ve been a diamond member for 20 years and a platinum for 10 with SPG (now Marriott). The fifth night promotion is typical and how they price it is also typical.
Joe Dickerson says
The 5th night is only free if you stay 5 nights.
I am surprised they gave you points for one of the 4 nights.
We have been members of Hilton since 2003 and always stay at Hilton’s.
We are members of other Hotel chains but only stay there if there are no Hilton options.
Also a member of Hilton timeshare group.
Any issues we have had with Hilton over the years Hilton has made right.
I had this same thought. I don’t care what his answer is – blaming YOU for not being familiar with THEIR promotions? Give me a break. And charging you more for fewer nights- especially without giving you the information before making the change – isnt just ridiculous… it’s damn near fraudulent. I’m betting he works for or is heavily invested in Hilton, or if not, for some other hotel that has pulled the same crap. No reasonable person is going to step up and defend that kind of piss poir service just to be an internet contrarian.
Gary Robert says
It was points for 4 nights.
I really have a hard time believing you had much experience with Hilton if you were unaware of the benefits and rules.
Squeaky wheel is sometimes just that.
I’m in the financial services business and have had to “fire” a number of clients over the years. The revenue wasn’t worth the greef.
So agree. Rules are Rules… They apply to everyone, not some because you make more a fuss than others. If you don’t agree then build your own brand and lets hope you dont come across someone like you trying to win one over the Rules..
This whole post is about you changing your orginal reservation that you booked with points and knowingly could NOT change. Discounts are set for a reason. The company does not have to bend for you because you’ve been a lyoal client. Its their choice to make the changes you neglected to do. You got the cheaper rate for more nights, just like Costco, they sell products if you buy 3 get one free. So because you decided you want 2 you should pay the same price…. No… Business is business… Sounds like they have been loyal to you as well.
Wealth or no wealth…. Rules are set for All companies protection. I travel with all Brands but Hilton will always be my favorite…. Hands down
Wendy Fortney says
What’s the point in being a millionaire? 1) why don’t you have someone else making your travel arrangements to avoid all these hassles for yourself? 2) why is it such a big deal to get your one night refunded (considering all the free nights they’ve given you.)
3) If you hate them so much why even give them two MORE hours of your time listening to the condo presentation? That salesman is trying to earn a living and you’re wasting two hours of his time that he could spend talking to someone who might be interested (you’re not really hurting Hilton one smidge).
So go build a better hotel brand or better yet buy Hilton and make it work better, isn’t that what rich people do?
Kinda agree. What’s the point of being rich and complaining about such petty things. Just reflects how unhappy and poor you are from the inside.
Haha…if it makes you feel better to tell yourself that, then ok.
1. Is that what you think the wealthy do? Do they have a staff of people around to do all their bidding for them? Now that’s funny!
2. They didn’t give me anything. I earned the free nights.
3. Because A) I already paid for it and 2) I want the benefits I paid for.
I don’t want to build a better hotel. And because I don’t want to, I don’t have to. That’s the freedom you get when you become financially independent.
You were helping everyone who can’t or won’t help themselves and ends up getting taken advantage of by these outrageous policies and customer service incompetents. You did well. Rich people like you and I, who worked hard for decades and earned it, generally don’t let this kind of ridiculous stuff go by, by handwaving it or sloughing it off. We value dollars for the freedom they represent.
We deal with it and try to either improve it, call it out so it can be avoided, or both.
You have the luxury of time in FI semi-retirement to deal with it. So do I. Bravo for taking the idiots on. Ignore your other posters, please.
I think we’re on the same page! 😉
Disagreement is part of blogging and I actually don’t mind it (kind of like it in fact). But when it moves from a simple difference of opinion into attacks, that’s where I draw the line.
A well-thought-out and reasoned difference of opinion gets my respect and consideration. An attack, especially from people who don’t read the full post, miss details, and pull out just certain bits to justify their own thoughts, gets nothing.
Shawn Laidlaw says
I want to warn you on the timeshare presentation…I did a timeshare presentation with a different company in Las Vegas and it took longer than the 2 hours they said it would take. But, what could I do, the $100 visa card they promised me was still in their hands. Finally, I had to threaten to interrupt the 2d meeting they were conducting to talk to the “big boss” at which point they finally agreed to let me go and get the card. Be prepared to push back when they renege on their promise that it would only take 2 hours. They want to wear you down so you will agree to get their timeshare.
Yeah, ESI you are REALLY gonna hate them after the timeshare presentation! I’d keep your blood pressure in check and skip it if I were you.
They agreed to two hours. I will reinforce this as the meeting begins and tell them I’m setting my watch to countdown. (Which I will do in front of them.)
I’ll also let them know that we have an appointment right after the meeting which is true — we set one up for the time right after.
We’ll see how it goes. I’m sure I’ll write a post about it.
Jaymie Brain says
I had agreed to two hours for my last timeshare meeting with them as well. After an hour, the sales rep realized he wasn’t getting anywhere with me and said we were done. When I went downstairs to check out they tried to hit me with a bill for 50% of the stay because I only attended that much of the mandatory two hours. When I pointed out that I didn’t ask to leave, their rep said I was done, a manager appeared and told me I would need to wait the additional hour. After they realized I wasn’t giving in and I would sit there for an hour, a different person came over and said ok we’ll sign you out now. The whole thing is such a joke.
As for the original story, I could have been writing it myself. Everything from purchasing a stay in a condo with a kitchen and showing up to find we were being put up in a hotel room (which only after threatening to leave did Hilton remedy the situation and magically they had a room available for us even though we were told there were no condo rooms left), to having rates changed when reducing stay length, to not receiving the refund check after using the “free night” voucher. Good luck is all I can say. And as for Hilton, maybe if they listened and tried to resolve the issues customers have highlighted rather than trying to sell me more products while I’m clearly not satisfied with the brand, they’d have a better business model.
Dan Wick says
It would be easy to pile on with the others but I keep thinking of how a “hit piece” like this would
have affected the company you presided over when staying at the hotel. A shotgun approach instead of getting the names of the employees that provided the poor service seems to be inconsistent with a person familiar with business practice and etiquette. Representatives that had your good will in mind are now being punished along with the culprits.
It’s not a hit piece it’s a real-life experience. that’s the point of a blog. If you want vanilla coverage of issues, there are plenty of choices for that.
If I had read this as the head of a company, I would take notice and contact the customer to make it right. I would also contact the employees to train them how to better handle the situation in the future. This happened ALL THE TIME when I ran the company — we had complaints and adjusted as needed. They made us better and allowed us to hear directly from the customer. Perhaps if you were more familiar with business practice and etiquette you would know this.
Besides, after each conversation there was an optional survey I could take on how well the rep did. Companies want to know this information.
As for the reps having my good will in mind, they did not. Even if they had not been able to do anything to help, their tone, words, and attitudes could have been much friendlier and helpful.
Mike L Weber says
I also use Hilton. I’ve often run into the issue of changing a length of stay and not being able to retain the same award/cash rate. Their system can only cancel & rebook apparently which subjects you to potentially higher rates and maybe even losing your room. Also, their customer service seems to be mostly offshore and it’s beyond frustrating at times.
I’m now in the habit of booking multiple overlapping reservations as long as they are refundable and canceling only after my itinerary is firmed up (with Hilton and others.)
Probably shifting away from Hilton due to their move to AMEX as their exclusive branded card. Being in Atlanta, my Delta AMEX has to be my primary card. My Hilton VISA was my backup card for when AMEX wasn’t accepted (can you say “Costco”). That VISA role has been taken over by Marriott.
That’s an interesting idea — booking multiple, over-lapping reservations.
But I guess I can’t do that as I’m “rich” and apparently the unhappy rich don’t do things like that for themselves. (based on the comments above) Ha!
Mike L Weber says
You are a rich because you stretch your money as far as it can go not just toss it around like it doesn’t matter!
I think you get it!!! 😉
Where is the “Love” button for this comment??
I might need to add one… 😉
Absolutely! Like and love buttons should be a must!
A lot of folks are not in your financial freedom world, as am sure they don’t pick up pennies from the floor, and criticise people around them as they always do!
If one does not know the value of a penny you will not have a million dollars, if you have $999,999.99.
Probably a lot of people might not get it.
It’s ok, as my brother once told me, when I was around 18, if everyone “got it” we would not be living the lives we do, as financially independent!
Keep up what you are doing, doing a fantastic job!
A like/love/thumbs-up button for individual comments would be nice for all your blogs. I like seeing how many likes other comments generate and I think it adds value to your comments section.
Shawn Laidlaw says
I’ve got to think there’s better experiences available out there for a better price and value besides Chain hotels. Personally I don’t use hotels often but travel back and forth from home in Mexico to work in Northern Canada a lot for now and generally have to get an airport hotel overnight in Vancouver. Being one of the most expensive places in the world to live, the hotels are no different. An averagely OK 3-star hotel, currently under quite extensive renovations of the lobby area, is charging $297 Canadian Dollars for a night this time of year. They are about $150 in the winter, which is already too high. A much better room near the Calgary airport was about $90 in the winter and included a hot breakfast.
What im saying is I hear your frustrations. It’s like going to the theatre, it seems they feel they can get away with anything. Which is why I have stopped going to the theatre, and will avoid hotels whenever possible in the future.
I may move to AirBnBs completely…
We had an experience with Marriott that has kept us as loyal customers. Staying at a Residence Inn near the assisted living facility where my parents lived, and were to be moving over to the full memory care facility. A difficult, emotional trip that got worse when Dad ended up in the hospital, then hospice, and passed away unexpectedly over the course of a week. We needed to extend our stay by a week.
Did I mention this hotel was right across the street from one of the Cactus League spring training stadiums? And players were already coming in to town? And room rates had jumped? My husband had become friendly with the front desk staff over the week and explained the situation. Within moments they were able to extend our stay by a full week despite being fully booked, at the same lower rate we had been paying. The icing on the cake was later that night. My husband had mentioned regret that we would be out past their lobby happy hour event that evening. When we returned to our room he opened the refrigerator to find two bottles of beer and a condolence card signed by the staff. Their efforts to make a difficult time as easy as possible for us made us loyal customers.
First of all, I’m sorry to hear this story and for your loss.
Second, this is exactly the kind of great service that many are looking for and appreciate. I’ll check out Marriott in the future.
Finally, this is the sort of thing Hilton would have done in the past.
MI 45 says
I’ve always had great luck and the best treatment from Marriott. We bought a timeshare from them 20 years ago, and have never regretted it. Whenever I travel I try to stay at a Marriott Courtyard (I will definitely avoid Hilton going forward).
As you know, many companies seem unwilling to slightly bend their rigid rules when it makes sense to do so. The lower level employees should be given some authority to respect the logic of treating customers well.
Paper Tiger (aka MI 27) says
Just last week I had a great experience with the Marriott in Wailea, HI where my wife and I went for our 25th wedding anniversary. Our flight to the islands from the mainland was delayed by 17 hours. Instead of leaving at 7:30 am, we wound up spending the entire day and evening in the airport and not departing until almost 1 am the next morning. The plane had engine trouble and they did not have the part on site and had to wait to fly one in from somewhere else. We wound up getting to Honolulu around 4 am HI time and then took the connection to Maui which got us to our Marriott hotel around 7:30 am.
Of course, our room was not ready which was to be expected. When the front desk clerk heard our tale of woe, he told my wife and me to go to the restaurant and enjoy the breakfast buffet, ON HIM! He said he would see what he could do to get our room ready while we were having breakfast.
After an awesome buffet, we returned to find Terrence still working to get us a room. He said the room we booked was still not available. The only thing he had available were upgraded rooms which went from an additional $50 per night up to $250 per night. It really depended on how close you wanted to be to the ocean. I told him I was OK with a $50 upgrade since it was our anniversary. We waited a few more minutes as he scanned his computer. He finally looked up from his computer and kind of sighed and said he still couldn’t find one of the $50 upgrade rooms that was ready. He then looked at me and said, “how about if I give you the room that is $250 per night more for only the $50 per night you were willing to pay?” Of course, I said, “heck yeah!”
It was an awesome room right on the water’s edge. We checked in immediately and were finally able to get our vacation started. About 30 minutes later there was a knock at the door. To our surprise, Terrence sent us a bottle of champagne and chocolates and wished us a “Happy Anniversary.”
What started out as a tough day was made so much better by a kind Marriott front desk guy, Terrence. I just finished sending my survey with these comments to Marriott. I’ve been a long time customer of theirs and, needless to say, will continue to honor their service with my loyalty. Fortunately, there are guys like Terrence in the world to offset ones like you experienced at the Hilton.
Wow! Awesome story!
Seems to be a lot of love for Marriott on this post — I need to give them a try.
And congrats on the anniversary!
I like your blog. Most people would not go through all the hoops you did. Most people don’t keep such records about the various contacts you had with the company. This story reminded me of any number of experiences we have had. We usually get the fair result after much work. Good luck in the future when you begin working with the government on social security and medicare premiums. Take the government’s own published rates in place for the year you are talking about. Take 1040s and W2s. For telephone conversations use speaker phone attached to power source and work on some other task for the 50 minute wait. Keep records of who you spoke with and the times.
I know. Ugh. At least it should make for some great blog posts! 🙂
I travel a lot and have top tier status with Hilton, Starwood, and Marriott. I have no loyalty and will stay at any hotel that is cheaper or provides better amenities than the other. The secret is the hotel number and 800 number that you call are not designed to help you. You are just another number….
I say this respectfully, but it doesn’t sound like you still direct hundred of thousands of dollars their way nor stay with them with any frequency, so you are just another customer. The fact that you didn’t know about the 4/5 stays mean that you never read travel blogs, visit flyertalk.com, etc., so they knew you were just another customer throwing 3-6 nights a year their way.
All hotel Diamonds\Platinums status holders are give their own 800 number to a concierge that work these issues for you. More importantly, the quickest easiest way for an average user to get results is twitter. A quick post about a problem will bring immediate help.
It’s probably part of the “problem” that I don’t control that much spending any longer nor do I stay with them as frequently. As a result, they treat me differently. As a result of that, i react to them differently.
BTW, I never knew about the 4/5, read travel blogs, etc. when I traveled frequently and oversaw the travel spending noted above.
I used to be an information technology consultant so I have been using Hilton for 30+ years (along will the other chains). I traveled almost every week during that time and I found Hilton to consistently be among the best. Two years ago I changed jobs and stopped traveling. The terms and conditions in the Honors program is that if your account is inactive for more than a year then you lose your points…well I lost mine (~600,000). I checked about 18 months later and noticed them all gone. This could have been the subject for a mega rant but guess what…they fixed it. I called customer service, they explained the program and how it works, and then agreed to reinstate 50% of my points and then said they would put the other 50% back in if I stayed with Hilton within the next 12 months. I did and they put all my points back in. So I am still a Hilton fan.
BTW: I also had the Hilton Vacations experience. We did ours in Hawaii and it was fantastic. We paid to upgrade from a standard room to a suite and then extended from 4 nights to 7. It ended up costing us about $700 but we also got a free rental car, a two bedroom suite, and $200 of food credit. We sat through a 2-3 hour sales pitch but we planned for it going it. We evaluated their offer like a proposal bid, compared to alternatives, and then showed them that it was not a good value for our situation in life (we are experience junkies and like to do different things every quarter). They accepted our reasoning and we parted amicably. I had a similar experience with Marriott Vacations in Myrtle Beach and it went the same way. These vacations offers are not so bad as long as you know what you are getting into and plan your exit strategy in advance.
That’s a good story about them. That was the sort of experience I used to have as well.
Bob: Glad you wrote this, because I did not know if/when Hilton Points expired. They do after twelve months of non-activity. (American Airlines keeps telling me the exact date on which my points will expire–18 months is their limit. That should be a commendation for them, as it is to a business’s advantage to have people not use their points).
To the larger discussion– My opinion is that customer service centers that do not have managers capable of overriding “the system” drive away more business than the salaries of such managers would cost. Probably drive away employees, too.
We did the DC Hilton Grand Vacation presentation in Dupont and it wasn’t so bad. 1.5 hours and they didn’t go overboard that much. They did offer to open up a Hilton credit card for us after we told them we couldn’t afford it. There are lots of Hilton timeshare horror stories out there, so I don’t know why anyone would sign up. I kind of felt bad for the salespeople working there, pretty depressing job. I mean, who still buys timeshares?
I’m not sure why we signed up either. You can read the post I linked to with details — maybe you can tell me why! Ha!
Good to hear that it wasn’t that bad. Kinda scary that they wanted you to charge it when you said you couldn’t afford it.
Yes, the salespeople have “interesting” jobs. But they stay for some reason, probably because they sell enough people on it to make a good living. We did pay for the stay/presentation, so it’s not like Hilton loses from it…
We paid, too and it wasn’t cheap, but about 1/2 of what DC Hilton prices run. They ask the probing questions that feign interest, and show you the glossy brochure properties that everyone says are NEVER available despite the surcharges. We went with repeating in a monotone voice that we have 2 kids to put through college and we are allergic to debt. Even the “Closer” knew we were a lost cause.
I had a similar experience with Airbnb this summer and like you, just felt like my valid points weren’t being acknowledged. And I now choose never to rent (or host a beautiful 1 br apt in a resort town) from them again. A minor inconvenience on my part, but I simply don’t get why they would forgo a lot of future revenue by sticking to a stupid policy. I agreed with your post. Some policies should be modified to keep a customer. To me, that’s a no brainer with regard to companies who want to keep customers.
My wife is like a stonewall at these things. No way she would ever say yes.
I don’t travel as much as you did and I’m sure my net worth isn’t as high but when I travel for fun these days I try to stay at very nice hotels. I’m fine with spartan accommodations like a Holiday Inn Express on occasion but I won’t compromise with cleanliness. Hmmm- maybe that’s why my net worth isn’t higher. LOL. But a bad hotel on a vacation or family trip ruins it for me- been there done that. If I travelled 20 weeks a year my perspective might be different. I’m still “working” but have lots of flexibility wrt hotels I book myself for business trips thankfully.
Agree 100% on vacation travel! I didn’t consider these trips vacation and frankly I probably wouldn’t stay in a hotel on vacation (for the reasons you note — it ruins the trip for me).
A good example of this was our trip earlier this year to Grand Cayman. You can see details of that here:
Nice! Let me ask you something. I’m assuming you log all this info during trips, etc? Either that or your attention to details and recall is amazing.
Yep, during the trip.
I have an old-school journal for just this purpose. Anything I think could become a blog post I write in it as close to the event happening as possible.
IT guy here. Hilton like many companies have outsourced much of their system development to offshore (i.e. India)., usually managed by someone like Accenture (this is what Hilton did). In my experience this ALWAYS results in a disaster of a solution. Nobody takes ownership for the end-to-end functionality, developers do exactly what the poorly written/designed spec says (vs. apply some common sense & forethought), etc. This is also why so many IT solutions are so hackable. You get what you pay for. It will get worse before it gets better unfortunately.
Yes. When you outsource things you might save on costs but quality can suffer.
Accidental FIRE says
I’m loyal to Hampton Inns and have never had a bad experience to date. I see why you’re abandoning them, but until I have a similar experience, and I hope I don’t, I think Hampton’s are great.
I am a road warrior. I have been a member of the Holiday Inn, Marriott and Hilton rewards programs. I think I have close to 1,000,000 Hilton points or dollars. At one point or another they all have issues and they have all risen to the occasion, occasionally. At Hilton any time I have asked for something they have delivered. Usually it is in finding the right person, sorry to say there are a lot of employed but not so competent people. Speaking with the manager at the front desk is way more effective than trying to do anything over the phone.
I will share that Marriott has taken care of me on two separate occasions. Once we had this little storm called Katrina and a Marriott Courtyard in Memphis put my wife, kids, in-laws, cats and dogs and then local friends up for about a month. I had a ton of points and told them to use them up and then bill me. They never touched my points or sent me a bill. I lived in a Residence Inn for over a year and had to check out for week. They let me keep all my belongings in the room and did not charge me while I was gone. I just wasn’t a fan when the courtyard went from free breakfast to the Cafe with over priced muffins and coffee. Residence inns could use a face lift.
This rant caught my eye because I would love to tell my recent story about my ATT internet. Think about dozens of calls, wrong equipment, two technicians that can’t do their job and never ending price changes. Unfortunately it is a sign of the times and I still don’t have a solution.
I will end with the fact that I worked for a large company whose values included Listen to the Voice of the Customer. They never did…
After 20 Years of weekly travel I have stayed in em all, I have had overall good experiences with Hilton and retained Diamond Status for many years but I have found inconsistencies with cleanliness that I don’t tolerate. I have never had a problem bad enough that local staff did not resolve, however I find their points system devalued and not as easy to use as Marriott. I have been a Marriott Platinum member consistently for 18 years and have had good and bad experiences with them however find them to be consistently responsive to issues. A few years ago I booked a few nights at the Vinoy in St Pete FL on points, I forget how many, but it was a lot. Some golfers were in the surrounding rooms, a bit noisy but not terrible, I happened to joke with the desk clerk about it while checking out, she excused herself for a minute and the manager returned. He apologized and returned all my points and invited us back for another weekend on the house, I was floored as I was not looking for anything. Just an example of why I am loyal Marriott.
I am equally loyal to Southwest Airlines for many of the same reasons.
Yes. That’s great customer service…above and beyond expectations.
Sorry to hear you had multiple bad experiences. I’m Diamond with Hilton, and have had an occasional bad experience over the years. But I have also had issues with IHG and Marriot properties. My approach has been, if you travel enough, issues can and will happen at any hotel brand.
If I didn’t have business travel that got me elite status, I would probably go the all Airbnb route. But even with Airbnb you will still have issues. My finance just stayed at a place in Croatia, it had over hundred 5 star reviews. It was a horrible experience for her – the whole place smelled like cat pee. They left after the first night.
I read your blog pretty often. Generally you have great posts but you’re dead wrong here. If the store has a sale for buy four get one free, and you return one item, are you owed 20% of what you paid as a refund? Nope. You returned the free one. If you didn’t notice that they charged you 4x the nightly rate instead of 5x in the first place, that’s on you. Not them.
And you’re absolutely right — HGV is a dumpster fire. But they’re not Hilton, just licensing the name. You can be angry Hilton licenses their name to a company like that but you can’t blame Hilton for HGV’s incompetence.
And just push harder on HGV. After I put in a down payment on one of their “deals” and couldn’t find a single week available in a 2-month window, off season, 4-6 months out (and it took them two more months of “call us next week and we’ll get it sorted”), I asked for my deposit back and they gave it to me. That was a pleasant surprise at least. I knew what I was getting into with HGV, why didn’t you? How many people have you met that are thrilled they bought a timeshare?
Seriously. If this is an example of your new format, these rant articles aren’t going to do you any favors
I think you’re not reading correctly.
I bought FIVE nights and paid for FIVE nights with points. Then they rolled me into their program, I only used four, and they didn’t want to give the fifth night’s points back. If you’re going to disagree, that’s fine, but get the facts straight.
I haven’t met anyone thrilled with a timeshare and that’s why I don’t plan to get one — or even put a deposit down.
I can see why you left an anonymous email address in your comment. I would too if I was this rude. I have a post coming up in a couple months that’s perfect for you…
Just a note, your URL for Latest Timeshare Adventure up above isn’t a link but simply a URL.
Tim Rath says
I travel a lot for work too and went through this dilemma after a series of bad experiences including finding a used condom in the Hampton Inn I booked with my points for a family vacation! However, I’ll have to say I’ve had similar bad experiences with Marriott and most recently I tried to use points for a trip to Barcelona and it was a real hassel. Using HHonors points are so easy compared to the hoops I had to jump through to use my Marriott rewards points. I’ve come to a personal conclusion that just like the airlines they’re all about the same and preference to one or the other comes with good and bad streaks!
Yikes! That’s nasty!
This is one reason I generally avoid points programs as well as go for cash back with credit cards — it’s often such a hassle to redeem anything that it’s not worth it.
K. Butler says
It just goes to prove that “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”…eventually. In the meantime you have to jump through hoops. Good customer service is not an apology, it’s promptly and efficiently making things right when you’ve been wronged. Don’t blame you for dumping them!
Wow! This post really brought out the haters. I thought the article was completely reasonable. Really shocked by some of the comments.
I got a recent influx of new readers and I think they don’t like me. Ha!
I alluded to it in a comment above, but I actually have a post ready about this specific issue — web haters/trolls. But I work well in advance, so it won’t be published for a couple months.
Until then, you and the rest of the non-haters can enjoy the thoughts depicted in the graphic here:
Love that Theory!
Dr. Dave says
My company requires us to stay at a Hilton property unless there is no other option. (I suspect someone is getting a kickback.) I travel a lot and got to like the Hilton properties and booked a stay in one for my wife, mother-in-law and I. When we got to the Orlando Hilton, we were told they were sold out. No problem – I have a reservation.
Yes, but they were still sold out as a large group had come and Hilton always gives groups preference.
I felt like I was in a Seinfeld bit: “You see a reservation means that . . ”
“I know what a reservation is!”
“Apparently, you don’t.”
What is the point of having a reservation if they can cancel it?
The manager offered to let me use his phone to call Hilton, but wouldn’t even make an effort to find me a hotel himself.
It took me 90 minutes to find a room on the phone while my very tired elderly MIL needed a nap, but they finally found us another room a few miles away. We were not offered any comforts while we waited.
The manager didn’t even seem sorry. His clearly didn’t care.
The following year I attended a conference in Dallas. Knowing that the hotels near the conference center would fill up for the conference, I booked almost a year in advance. Two weeks before the conference Hilton called me. You guessed it. A large group had booked the hotel and I was getting bounced.
I was not happy.
I called everyone I could in their corporate and mine. No luck.
They told me the hotel they put me in was only a few minutes away from the conference by train.
It was more like an hour.
I’m done with Hilton for myself.
I stay there for work travel (They pay, they make the call.) and use the points up as fast as I have a free night to use. They can stuff their credit card.
Other than that, Holiday Inn is where I stay.
Hilton does not consider my business worth anything.
Message received. I’ll take my business elsewhere.
Wow, that is horrible! I’ve never heard of a hotel canceling reservations like that!
Thank you for sharing your experience as it is one that is unfortunately common in the industry. I’ve worked front desk management for 3 large hotels, including a Hilton and I can tell you that I’ve personally handled this exact problem before with all 3. It’s one that is difficult to explain to a customer, but not one without a proper solution. The points Hilton awards are centralized, meaning the individual hotels cannot generate or modify points reservations. This is where it becomes difficult when you want to modify your existing reservation. The only way you can fix this from the hotel standpoint is cancel and rebook. Now, unfortunately, you have to call their central reservations to rebook due to the aforementioned centralization of points. I know this process is like pulling teeth and I was always frustrated when I was trying to fix these problems for guests. I feel your pain, I really do. As for the rate, hotel companies incorporate what is generally known as full pattern length of stay where you have a blended rate of say $139 per night for 5 nights. However, each individual day may have a different rate based on demand in the market. College move ins are big demand drivers for one. So your rate may have been different based on your arrival day and length if stay. Rather than tell customers a breakdown per night, they smooth it out to one price per night. This also gets complicated when your stay is shortened, especially when it is booked with points. I completely understand your frustration with this. It’s one I truly empathize with yourself and also the hotel team because it makes the business relationship complicated when it does not have to be. You should be upset, I would be. Now, I still work with Hilton but in a different capacity and I’m sure there are people who would love to hear your feedback. As an employee, it’s an amazing company to work for and I’m really proud to be apart of it. Does your business have a negotiated rate with Hilton? I’d really hate to see you go with the amount of loyalty you’ve displayed. Hilton follows media closely so I’d be surprised if nobody contacted you about your experience. I hope this helps reassure you people care within the company about your experience.
I’m sure the backend is quite complicated. I’ve dealt with that previously as an executive — having a complicated process and trying to work with it to make it simple/easy for the customer. As you know, the customer doesn’t care about how difficult the process is, he/she just wants it fix/handled in a way they expect from a business with good customer service. It’s hard to do, I know.
My business does not have a negotiated rate with Hilton as my business is simply me. 🙂
No, no one has contacted me from Hilton.
I do appreciate both your comment and the tone of it. If I had run into you during the events above I would have likely instead written a glowing post about the outcomes…
Yes, could not be more correct that customers do not care about the backend, only the result. However, I try to inject some reasoning behind the hotels decisions because I’m of course slightly biased having worked on the other end haha. I would say it’s mostly the fault of hotel staff not feeling confident in their problem solving skills which is why you see instances where people try to pass the buck so to speak. Anyway, I wish you the best of luck in your travels and I really hope you reconsider as it is probably in the best interest of both parties you are satisfied in the end. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about Hilton or hotels in general.
Good luck with all the junk phone calls you will receive after that timeshare presentation. I foolishly gave my cell #, and although block every time I receive from the same prefix with unidentified caller and have pressed 2 to not receive any more, I still get calls. Years later. Ugh.
Bernie Johnson says
If readers take the time to read through this post and the responses, it’s an interesting insight to where we are as a society. I fully appreciate trying to get maximum bang for your buck. It seems as if the complexity of IT infrastructure, outsourcing and other various factors, quality customer is becoming increasingly difficult to provide. I can only imagine how difficult it has to be for the employees on the front line of this dynamic. I find it interesting that political correctness has overshadowed frank and honest communication, yet the internet seems to encourage people to become rude and offensive. I agree that differing opinions and opposing points of view is a central part of getting the most from blogs of this nature.
As for the timeshare presentation, at this point in my life, I wouldn’t waste my precious time with a high pressure timeshare presentation.
I had similar experience with ComfortInn/Choice Hotel just recently. Its unfortunate that level of customer service had dropped significantly with hotel chains. There’s my method of dealing with this type of issues: 1)always ask for CS supervisors and deal only with someone in charge, 2)If i don’t get my money back within 20 minutes on the phone with him/her, I just hangup and call back to try to talk to another supervisor, 3)if i don’t get my money back after 2 calls, I would assume this is a lost cause and just hangup and forget about it. My time is way to valuable dealing with idiots over 100 bucks 😛 BTW, I recommend using Citi’s Prestige credit card, you get the 4th night hotel stay for free, I have saved so much with this card. Happy Traveling 🙂
Same old story, different chain. Eventually we all experience the same old worn out stories. We switch to the next “wonderful” hotel chain and eventually experience the same kind of experience. Is any chain really different than the next? Not really. I am a lifetime diamond level at Hilton (1000 nights, 10 years at diamond level) and have had to argue many cases; some I won, many were my own fault, but never did I say I was going to change chains because I knew it would be no different anywhere else. Nor did I change credit cards. In the end, the points used for such places as the Waldorf-Astoria in Rome and the benefits I received far out-weighed any pain and suffering I received from stateside efforts. At this rate you will never reach any significant tier eith any chain. But with all your money what difference does it make? Just like the airlines. No need to switch as it will be no different, eventually.
I’m past my days of high points with hotels and airlines — I just don’t travel that much anymore (at least staying in hotels — opting more for AirBnBs on longer vacations).
Seems like Marriott is getting a lot of love here today so my plan is to try them. We’ll see…
I love the HIlton points program – been a member and used the program for years saving thousands in lodging at some of their most aspirational properties in the world. The others are right – when you book 4 nights with points, it costs X number of points. When you book 5 nights with points it costs the SAME. Dropping the last night wouldnt result in a refund…because it was a free bonus night.
I love the HIlton points program – been a member and used the program for years saving thousands in lodging while traveling the world. The others are right – when you book 4 nights with points, it costs X number of points. When you book 5 nights with points it costs the SAME. Dropping the last night wouldnt result in a refund…because it was a free bonus night!
Obviously you know my life and experiences much better than I do.
You must also find it perplexing that Hilton originally agreed to refund my points and then said “no” because of the 4/5 deal. Perhaps you know their program better than they do as well?
And is it also standard practice to not let someone change a reservation (in any way) when they’ve paid to have that right?
Yes, im a diamond member and find their customer service and quality to be severely lacking. It has been my experience that when the system wants to do something it is very difficult for them to override it and fix your issue. I stay over a hundred eighty nights per year with Hilton and have also recently told them that I will be going to another chain. I have found that Hampton does not teach their team members appropriate customer service techniques to resolve issues expediently.
Paul T says
It’s sad how just a few problems can ruin a years-long relationship.
I have been staying at Hilton properties for business and pleasure for 15+ years, have held diamond status for several years in a row (had a 2-3 weeks a month travel a while back), am currently basic silver and have just over 1 million points.
I can think of a few problems similar to the ones you described (minus the timeshare thing – those are always terrible in some way or another, but when I was young and money was tight, it was an acceptable way to stay free).
But I have to say, in each of those cases I can recall, Hilton eventually did the right thing – even if it did take a few calls, throwing my status-weight around, threatening to move to Marriott or the idle threat of a social media smear campaign (idle because I don’t have a blog or use social media in that way). It sucks, and it’s stupid that a valued long-time customer should have to jump through such hoops.
However, in this day and age, where anyone can smear any business over even the most trivial thing through social media or review websites like Trip Advisor (my go-to when looking for a hotel in an unfamiliar city) it’s a lot for the hotel and the brand to address correctly.
I also see degredation in the benefits various tiers receive. The ability to upgrade rooms with points, the complimentary full breakfast buffet for gold and diamond now requiring a buy-up from continental, etc.
Rather than looking at current status, they should see the longevity of the relationship and handle any situation from that perspective.
It seems, as a brand, they are forgetting Conrad Hilton’s principles.
All that said, I consider my relationship with Hilton a good one and one I will continue. Hopefully posts like yours will reach them and they will reevaluate how they handle situations and treat their long-term relationships.
I wish you well with your new chain.
ESI, you have reaped the benefits of your stays at Hilton for years as mentioned above. You are not entitled. The rules apply even to you, ESI. You should have known about the free night with points. Also, for the other person in advance, I am not a Hilton employee, just a customer who has had great experiences with Hilton and a few bad ones, but still loyal.
Money Beagle says
We haven’t had a recession in ten years. I’ve noticed that everyone seems to be traveling these days. My guess is that times are pretty good for Hilton and for others, so they’re not putting as much effort into customer service, simply because they don’t have to.
Mark my words, if a recession hit and people stopped traveling, they’d find their customer service legs again.
ESI – I would not have been as patient with Hilton Honors as you were. You seemed reasonable when working through the situation and got frustrated when all else failed. And for those who say that rich people should suck it up….well maybe that’s why they’re not rich and have animosity towards you. Ignorance I suppose.
For what it’s worth, I am a Platinum Marriott cardholder. Once I got the “for life” status Hilton approached me (I had nothing to lose, right?) So I pursued it. They made me jump through too many hoops and have stayed with Marriott since. I am loyal to Marriott and have no reason to change.
Keep up the good work.
Hilton is a nightmare I’m only waiting for the class action law suit. Sell you time share bullshit. I own Elara property shares, there is never a weekend available. They charge my card $1100 deposit utilizing my credit on Amex after I paid 130,000 points for 2 days at a curio collection hotel. The hotel staff acts like it’s a privilege to stay. Hilton will be hit with class action. If it’s not already in one.
Edward W says
First of my apologies for bumping an old post.
I found it uniquely profound that I have had a very similar issue lately and more amazed that there can be such issues and loss of established customer base over such trivial issues. My experience also happened to occur in the DC/DMV area on two separate stays. Both were booked using the iPhone app from Hilton. Both cases the app showed a room rate which I was comfortable with. Once booked a confirmation email is sent, which I almost never look at. Arguably that’s my fault, and my only recourse is that if your organization is so shady that I must double check your every action I am simply taking my business elsewhere. Which it seems to be the case in this matter and this rant is only for future users and fellow commiseraters. What seems to have happened (and no I did not screen capture the rate on the app, see above), is that once the room is booked on the app either due to a glitch, on purpose, or poor programming a different rate is sent in the confirmation email and what is ultimately charged. I was told that this can occur when the hotel is heavily booked. Which I can completely understand, but show me the rate on the app prior to booking so I can make the choice of either to stay there at the elevated rate or go somewhere else. That appears not to be the case. This has occurred only in the DC area for me (though that might be due to higher demand in that area) both while booking at the DoubleTree in Crystal City and most recently at the Hilton in Rockville.
Despite having been a seasoned traveler who solely books Hilton properties for the past 8 years, Diamond Member, and only asking that the room rate be altered from the inflated rate (which I would not have booked the room had I known that to be the rate) to the more typical daily rate, there apparently was nothing that could be done. It pains me to see the years of good service and perks which I’ve acquired be wasted on such a trivial matter (the total price difference of about $250). I am going to be performing similar work and travel for the next 20 years and it baffles me how an organization would throw away such a simple win.
If anyone has a similar experience please post a comment as I would like to see if this is just a one off instance or if this is a systemic issue that is either known or unknown by Hilton.
Stevens B says
Well let me tell you after 22 years I am DONE with hilton. I am just fed up with 35K a night for a Garden inn. Everyone at work said switch to mariott and I did and never looked back.
I even called the presidents line to explain why and in fairness, whoever I spoke with stayed with me for 30 minutes while I told him my story we picked varies cites and went online together and checked Mariott and Hilton at comparible hotels and in EVERY case Mariott was 12,500 and hilton at least 35,000.
Mariott status matched me, And thats that it, so long Hilton.
So far this year 75 stays banked even more points then with hilton and hotels rewards cost a 3rd
Hilton Hater says
I’m a long time mid – level Marriott status person who made the BIG mistake of trying Hilton because I have Gold status with them for a few months.Never again! Dealing with them to fix their screw ups is a time consuming nightmare and their app sucks.The stay at one of their Flagship properties was like staying in a motel. I’m sticking with Marriott!!
I think every company has it’s horror stories, humans after all do run them. I for one will stand behind the Hilton brand because of one situation where they went above and beyond for me and my family. This past April we were staying at one of their locations in the St Pete area of Florida waiting to board a cruise ship the following day. My niece had a seizure and suffered a cardiac arrest on the floor of our hotel room. As we rushed to follow the ambulance their front desk staff was on the phone with their General manager. The GM came in on his day off and waited to speak to us. As my niece lay on life support at the hospital he gave directions to his FD to extend our reservations and block as many rooms as we needed for out of state family that was rushing in. In the end my niece did not make it home with us. We had a total of 5 rooms for multiple nights and upon check-out we found that they had been fully comp’d. The Hilton staffed was there for us in our time of need, the GM stayed in contact throughout our ordeal, we had housekeeping and FD staff that hugged, cried and prayed with us. I will never forget what they did for us and a dispute over cost, points or one time poor service would not change my mind. By the way, they advertise their 5th night free in emails (which are constant when a Hilton honors member), key packets and advertising in their rooms.
This is seriously painful to read, i have been with Hilton for 15 years. At my hotel we strive to provide the best customer service possible and i think we do a great job at it. (I work for a large Hilton property) i cannot see that happening here, it would be totally unacceptable. I am embarrassed to read what you had to go through, getting the run around like that is beyond awful customer service. I would have switched hotel chain also, do not blame you. I cant answer for the 1800 service and online but i am certain our hotel would have handled the problem quickly and efficient, that is no way to treat loyal Gold and Diamond Honors members. Take care!
Dakota girl says
I found your post while Googling my own frustration with Hilton.
So here we are in MPlS for a cheer competition – meaning thousands of girls. The convention center is attached with a walkway so it was common sense to stay here.
COMPUTERS HAVE BEEN DOWN FOR 24 HOURS. The 2 check-in lines took 3 hours and were a block long. as they had to do everything manually WTF?
Who the hell is their IT department??
Melissa Schroeder says
Good luck finding a new partner who never has any problems/issues/ blips which you spend a lot of time detailing here. Have you heard the saying that: the grass is always greener? I bet you will find that your new partner of choice isn’t perfect, either. We could all spend more time focusing on the good. Seriously, one night not being refunded? A lot of mental energy you wasted on that as opposed to being grateful for all that you have and the ability to have been fortunate enough to travel as much as you do.
That being said, Hilton Grand Vacations and most timeshares are a scam. It’s best if everyone learns that from the painful process of just using the promotional stay. It’s painful – just like having a timeshare.