One of the small benefits of travel is that if you stay at hotels or fly the same airlines frequently, you have opportunities to sign up for rewards or benefits for using their services frequently. After some time, you could bank some serious points if you travel frequently.
I do, and for many years rarely if ever took advantage of points earned for stays at hotels, or airlines until recently, when Tami and I got to stay at a nice hotel in Ocean city Maryland. While this was a short stay, only 3 nights, it was truly a nice break and at a nice location, which for a moment made all of the travel and work seem a little more worth while.
Shortly before taking this trip, while booking this one in fact, Priority Club Rewards, the program of which I am a platinum member these days, tried to sell me ( and did so successfully) on a getaway package where I could choose up to 4 days and nights at a location in Orlando Florida, a Sunspree resort to be exact, and because of my status actually get passes to Disney and enjoy the area. Now, I was hesitant, but agreed to listen on, and this seemed like a good thing, and as I agreed that this was something I was interested in, the person, promptly put me on hold and sent me to the "next" person.
Now at this point, I was given the impression that this was a form of gift because of the many nights I'd stayed with them, and that all I had to do was relinquish some of my points and I had a great little package. Then the pitch begins. Now the second phone person in, this one now tells me I need to make a deposit of $150.00, which for this package to me seems a bargain. I am apprehensive but agree, he takes my credit card info, and lets me know that I have to give up 15,000 points regardless of if I change my mind, and I again say ok.
At this time, I am passed on to phone person number 3. This one is the one who drops the hammer. Yup, I'm committed now, and at this time they tell me I have to give up 2 hours of my time for a briefing for a timeshare at a location close by (15 minutes away so they say) and now I am feeling a little taken, but say ok, and figure I can give up a couple of hours in return for 3 - 4 days at this resort, and Disneys theme parks.
I am told I have 45 days to make my decisions as to the dates I want to do this. Well,, within 48 hours the nagging phone calls begin, and then the spam mail for Flip key vacation rentals. The nagging phone calls were almost daily over a period of 3 weeks. So today after letting them know last week, that I was busy when they called, and they asked what was a good time, and I stated Monday morning between 8am and 12pm that day, so naturally they called me 4 times between the hours of 3 pm, and 8:30 pm, of course no respect at all to what I'd said or my time. Am I a customer here or a number?
Keep in mind, this is the hospitality industry I am speaking of. I am supposed to be a valued customer?? Arguably in the past 1+ years my overnights with them have been in excess of 10k. That's alot of room nights and a lot of travel just for one customer with them.
So today I pick up the phone ( they have called me nonstop sometimes 2-3 times over a 5 minute period, and mind you Never leave a message!! Hmmm kind of suspicious yes? ) , and am hesitant still but committed to confirm some dates, however also little aggravated as I feel like I am being pushed. Not a great way to go into this huh? I let them know of some dates and that this is one of the few times my wife and I can travel and pick a few days that reside around the Thanksgiving holiday, in fact one day is the day before Thanksgiving. The man promptly tells me that will be an additional 99.00 because it is on a holiday. Now I know this, I have been going to Florida for many years now, and I know that Disney and their hotels are not terribly busy during those days. I have been there enough times to know this. So, I am not staying on premium nights. And even so, really??? Given what I have spent with them, I know see the nickel and dime process happening, and at this point, I say ENOUGH. I can't go forward and would like my deposit back. Of course the man on the line, says it's non refundable. Wow, what a bonus package for a platinum member!!!
I understand keeping my points, but now keeping my money too, and so I explain to this person, that this was not how I understood the deposit to work. His comment, I will go back and listen to the tapes of your conversations, and counsel with my supervisor, and they will be in touch. Well of course I have heard nothing back, and am for sure out money as well. A nice bonus,, some humiliation on top of all of this too?? I'm a liar too? I have been in customer service for most of my adult life. In this business what the customer perceives to be real is in fact real. These folks are so tied up in selling timeshares they forget that these names are from loyal customers whom fortunately in this line of service actually do have plenty of choices.
To me what has just happened is nothing more than old fashioned extortion. This is my bonus prize for being a Platinum Member of Priority Rewards for Holiday Inns brand. I cannot even express how absolutely stupid I feel for falling prey to this practice of phone marketing, and truly feel had. What really bothers me, is that this brand is tainted for me for the indefinite future, and I have no reason to believe they will do anything to right this ridiculous situation. However, I also know, that Never again, will I fall for this, and highly reccommend to everyone, if it looks too good to be true,,, well you know the answer. Buyer and Loyal customer, be loyal to yourself only.
24 hours later, since I have written the Priority rewards folks, and not a call nor even an email confirmation back. This is how they answer frustrated customers.... Strange though, after staying at a certain hotel in Danville for more than a year now, and they know my preference is (always has been) non smoking, today as I traveled to the Danville Holiday Inn I am oddly assigned a double (2 queen bed room) on the farthest end of the hotel on the top floor, and it is a smoking room. They normally upgrade me as a Platinum priority guest. NOT TODAY. There are very few guests in the hotel as the parking lot is not even half full, so there should be plenty of non smoking rooms available, and normally they put me on the first floor even during busy times... Hmmm, odd huh? Me thinks not.
You know, a nice Middle finger would have been better.