Saturday, February 25, 2006

Disapointment #1- I got the magazine that featured the knitted vase cozies on it's cover.... only there are no knitting patterns for them. All they did was take old sweaters and chop the sleeves off. They didn't even show how they did it... all they had was a small two by three inch picture and a sentence about them in the lower left hand corner of a page. Guess I need to figure it out myself!

Disapointment #2 - The hotel we stayed at in Ottawa is refusing to compensate us for the damage to the bug... not even our hotel stay. Even though the very week before we traveled to Canada the bug had been looked at by a mechanic that put on new tires, a mechanic that changed the oil and a mechanic that inspected it... and none of them reported a problem with the key or the starter, the hotel maintains that there is no way the key or the starter could have been damaged while in their possession. So apparently both our key and the starter just happened to croak within a two day period. The manager actually said "Maybe you have a lemon." The thing is... I understand accidents happen, and maybe the key was on it's way to failing (the starter was definitely damaged by repeatedly holding the key turned after the engine had already been started though), but wouldn't a business still do something as an act of good faith? Instead the manager argued on the phone with Aaron for an hour and two minutes. I can't believe that the cost of a two night stay is worth more to them than good customer relations. Oh well.


  1. Perhaps you should be speaking to that man's manager? Sometimes it takes a little extra effort and speaking to a higher up to get the desired results. It's kind of insulting for him to say that your car is perhaps a "lemon" when you just had all the mechanics take a look at it so recently and none of them said a peep about the key. Good luck!

  2. Well I guess you are not going to stay there again. What a terrible customer service policy! Obviously an emaployee tried to steal it. Seems like he has sour lemons. EWWW!

  3. Ugh! I'm so sorry about the whole thing with your car and the hotel. It's such a bummer when you get poor customer service.

  4. You need to write a letter to or call someone higher up in their management. Now you are fueled not only with the damage to the car but an hour's worth of bad customer service. I would keep at it until they give you something. Even if they don't reimburse you they should offer you free stay vouchers.

  5. I love Canada but I've found that it is Totally different when it comes to custumer relations and just how they deal with issus, I was 8 months pregnant and checked into a 5 star hotel wanting just an average room, the manager was saying the hotel was booked, gave me a the more expensive suite(she didn't give me a discount) and once in the room found the air conditioning was broke (it was July) Suddenly after an hour of saying there was no other rooms and refusing our money back, she miraculously found 15 extra rooms! I can relate to your story!God Bless the good ole USA!

  6. ewww - and he had to have that conversation after just having had his wisdom teeth pulled? That's just adding insult to injury... in a manner of speaking...

  7. We should start a letter-writing campaign! It's interesting though, what the anonymous commenter said about cultural differences in customer service. Is Canada a tipping country? I lived in New Zealand for 5 months and I was so excited to go to restaurants and bars knowing that I didn't have to tip. Since I've been home, I've been an even more generous tipper because now I know the difference between good service and mediocre service.

  8. I wanted to say that I'm sorry that you had to deal with such a reject but I remember the power you have.

    I watched an Oprah show on which she had an expert complainer on. These are the suggestions that she had.

    1. Communicate the problem
    2. Communicate what you want done about it
    3. Ascertain whether the person you are dealing with has the authority to solve the problem in an acceptable manner. If not move on to someone who can.
    4. Explain the benefits of addressing the problem and the actions you will take if the problem is not addressed(ie you will be forced to name names and contact the better business bureau you have a web page with a huge readship and the know how to post on every travel review page out there)

    And one last personal piece of advice from a Canadian who has worked in customer service...there is a bias that is regularly enforced that Americans are aggressive...the truth is that Canadians are just not assertive and would rather avoid confrontation than get satisfaction in a lot of cases. If you can gain the sympathies of the person you are dealing with it will go a long way to getting a desired result.

    Or of course if that's just too much work and too annoying you could do it the Canadian way and just let absolutely everyone know that you were offended by hotel X and are never going back there. Sometimes passive aggressive is the way to go :)

    Sorry for the long comment. Best of luck!

  9. To the person who mentioned Canadian customer service: I don't know enough about customer relations in Canada, to know whether that's just a Canadian thing. I've got friends & relatives in Canada, who have mentioned on many occasions they were compensated for problems they had with certain companies there. There are certainly numerous American companies who are pretty bad with customer service. Flying constantly for business, I've put up with multitudes of problems that U.S. hotels could have rectified, but didn't.

    If you want to persue this, you might have better luck in contacting the hotel's corporate office (if it's a chain), or a manager above the one you spoke with, if there is one.

    But really in the end, you don't know for sure whether the hotel had something to do with the bug's problems at all. Seems fishy, yes, but things constantly happen where clues look like they lead to something being a big _possibility_, but that doesn't make it so.

    Being a manager myself, I get people coming at me constantly asking for compensation for things that can't be proven. It's my job to figure out which things I should compensate for, and which things no.

    Despite the car being checked out, the mechanics could have missed something with your starter. Even if you have had great service from them in the past. In that case, it wouldn't be fair to the hotel to give things away free. My mechanic father has told me that things can happen in an instant, that weren't noticed by sight before.

    I think it's rather silly that the hotel manager said, "Maybe you have a lemon" & then proceeded to waste time arguing for over an hour, but I don't think it's fair that any company should feel they need to always (I'm putting emphasis on the word "always", because sometimes it is better to give a freebie to customers who will spread bad word of mouth without proof) give something for free, when in the end, there truly isn't enough proof.

    This may just be one of those things that you waste no further time on. I'm not being rude. But with the information given, you are admitting that you don't know enough about how it happened, but yet wondering why you didn't get something for free, when it may not have anything to do with them.

    Arguing on the phone with them for over and hour, and worrying about it getting the hotel to admit what can't be proven, costs you money and stress, too.

  10. Oops! Sorry, that first paragraph of mine was about Canadian customer service, but everything written after that, was for ljc.

    None of it was intended to start a fight or debate. My issue, is that there just isn't enough proof to contend that something is owed. I would say that arguing with them for over and hour, contends that something is owed.

  11. I've had bad and good service all over the world, I don't think it's a Canadian thing, it's a crappy customer service policy thing. Usually hotels have tiny signs posted in obscure places that state that your vehicle can be parked there 'at your own risk' but since it was fine before you left it with the valet they should at least give you a free stay. But would you take it? I probably wouldn't! Sorry you wound up with a bad experience.98% of Canadians are amazing people. 2% are lowlife scum!

  12. The bad customer service has NOTHING to do with the fact that it was in Canada. Canada has good customer service and bad customer service just like the USA. Some hotels are good about it, some hotels are crappy, and some just depend on who you're actually talking to within the company. I've had bad customer service in the USA but that doesn't make me assume that Americans generally have crappy customer service.

  13. You can always write the hotel, or their corporate office, send a link to your website and let them know your readership number, and hint that you could publish their name here, but haven't yet. Even if there isn't *proof* that something happened there, it's always in a company's best interest to agree with a customer. It's not like you are asking them to buy you a new car or something. what happened to goodwill in commerce?

  14. Sorry you are having a difficult time, but you will be able to figure out those vase cozies after all! They would be extremely easy to knit sans pattern. Just knit with something stretchy - pretty much anything but cotton. And knit a tube in the round (on circular knitting needles) that's slightly smaller than the circumfrence of the vase (or shaving can!). Looks like their tubes were knit in Knit 4, Purl 2 rib. You can cover anything in any color your heart desires! Thanks for the cute idea!

  15. I had a friend who had a really bad experience with a Canadian hotel in Niagara Falls - but I know she can be a bit unrealistic about expectations, too.

    Sonny's route to defeating people who didn't want to deal with him on a custoemr service type thing was to break into "OK, who do I sue?" - that got him to a manager and a solution, in his favor, right away.
    Not the best side of our society that we're so litigious, but does instill a sense of urgency some companies might not otherwise have.
    DK if that'd work over the border....

  16. Where did you stay? I would like to know in case I ever get a chance to get back to Ottawa again.

  17. I'm sorry about the hotel issue. May I suggest you share the name of the hotel here? I am a fan of blackballing companies like that and what better way to get the word out than via your website? :o)

  18. Jenny, I had a similar bad experience with at a very large hotel in the United States recently. Their bell service damaged my Apple PowerBook. It was bumped or dropped with enough force to dent the edge of the metal case and it was in a Tumi cordura laptop bag which has a cushioned inner heavy cordura sleeve.

    I had it in the bag in my car on the drive back home and noticed the damage when I unpacked it at home. I called the hotel and filed a claim with their security department. I was then contacted by their third party risk management firm.

    I just recently received a letter indicating that after a thorough investigation they found the hotel and their employees not to be at fault. I tried calling the hotel to speak with another manager and she told me the hotel could do nothing once it was handed over to the claim agency.

    I have left two messages with the risk management company over the past couple of weeks to call me back and have not heard from them since. I am so furious about this experience that I am sorely tempted to publish their name on my website and flickr.

    It just irks me that companies have no sense of customer service anymore. They haven't even as much as apologized for the inconvenience or damage. Of course they probably can't or else they would be admitting liability.

    It looks like I am going to have to file a claim with my insurance company.

    The saddest part of this is Toni and I had a lovely time at the hotel and would love to stay there again, but we have a bad taste in our mouth because of this experience, I don't know if we could enjoy ourselves.

    I understand that hotels can't compensate every person who claims their property was damaged, but I would have felt better if they would have offered a free stay in lieu of compensation to show that they cared about me. It wouldn't cost them a great deal to offer a room and it would have gone a long way to rebuild my faith and loyalty.

    I know this doesn't help you, but perhaps it can help you feel a bit better knowing that you're not alone. I don't know you personally, but from everything I know about you, I truly believe you are being honest about this experience. Unfortunately, it's sad the hotel didn't extend you the same courtesy.

  19. I am so sorry you had such a bad experience at the hotel and that you didn't get anywhere on the phone with them. As a Canadian living in the US, I want to apologize for the experience you had. It really upsets me when people say they had a bad time in Canada and that the people were mean/rude/ignorant. I really love for people to go to Canada and enjoy everything it has to offer and be able to tell others so that they do the same....just as I would do when travelling to other countries. The key is that ignorant people can live anywhere and you never know when you are going to come across one!

    I would definitely write a letter to the corporate office and follow up with some phone calls. The LEAST the manager could have done was been more understanding and offered some advice to steps you can take if it is out of his hands.

    On three different occasions, while travelling in the USA and the Bahamas, we had bad hotels and had to write letters explaining what had happened. The one in California had the head of the corporation contact us immediately, whereas the other hotel in Pennsylvania just ignored the contacts and we have heard nothing since. The one in the Bahamas responded immediately. The bad part is that even the Companies that did respond still didn't offer any more than their deepest apologies to us.

    I wish you the best of luck and hope that you still decide to travel to Canada (maybe just avoid that particular hotel!). And one of the other posters was sure to spread the word of the name of the hotel so the rest of us can inform anyone we know that might be thinking of staying there!

  20. I posted a photograph of the damage done by the hotel's bell service to my PowerBook at flickr.

  21. I can totally sympathize with you for your damages. This past weekend I was puked on at a restaurant I was eating at by a drunk customer. My sweater that I wear as a coat was ruined. I don't think dry cleaning will help it as it is saturated and foul smelling. I would like to be compensated with payment for a new sweater/coat. I am now having trouble finding something similar as the sweater was one of a kind. I can't even begin to tell you how much emotional stress that event also put on me since I had to travel 1.5 hours to get home with puke in my hair and had no coat to wear when the weather was about 5 degrees outside. I was given a $10 gift certificate to the restaurant for future use when I left there. I need to write a convincing letter to the restaurant and corporate office to get them to compensate me. Let me tell you, being thrown up on is no fun at all, especially by a stranger! This has never happened to me before and I just don't know what to do!

  22. I am guessing you used a credit card to pay for your room, right? Call the CC company and complain. It's amazing how quickly things can get resolved when there's money involved! Each company has a customer service group that handles these types of issues, and I bet you will get some sort of satisfaction, if not a refund. I recently had to call Am Ex to help resolve an issue with a gift I bought for my mom at Sharper Image. They dragged their feet sending a replacement item until Am Ex got involved, and man, did I get resolution fast.

    Good luck!

  23. Do they know who you are? Call them and say, "I'm LJC! As in LJC,FYI! I won a blog award. And if you can't compensate me soon, the thousands of people who voted for me will be boycotting your hotel!"

    If that doesn't sound good, you can always have a lawyer friend call. Nothing works quicker than the word "lawyer," even if there's no intent to use it.

  24. As a Canadian and fan of your blog, I would like to apologize for the way that you were treated. I know that you have traveled enough in Canada to know that this is not always typical -- and that you HAVE had good experiences, but as we all know, one bad apple...

    Anyway, I hope that you will continue to visit Ottawa, Toronto, and other great cities. Have you ever been to Montreal?

    Please keep in mind that this is not representative of how ALL Canadian hotels do business -- but it's unfortunate it had to happen in the first place, and for that I apologize.

    Hope something works out, I'm sorry I didn't have any constructive suggestions!

  25. Rest assured, I never related the bad customer relations experience to Canada. In fact I have found Canadians to be incredibly friendly and helpful. I can not say enough good things about the staff that works at the Toronto Film Festival every year. Scheduling the movies is such a complicated process and every time they hold my hand through it and are so great. This certainly will not stop me from taking holidays in Canada!

  26. Disappointment #3 - That ljc didn't spill the beans about who and where. We need to know what hotel to avoid and who to give the bad publicity to!