Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Ire of Unsatisfied Customers

(UPDATE, 7/14, 11:52 a.m. PT: Suzanne wrote in me this last night: "I just got off the phone with the MGM and although they didn't honor the rate they did offer me a decent rate (lower than my original booking) plus enough in comps to make up the difference. The gentleman that I spoke with was very understanding and seemed to be genuinely sorry for the troubles even though it certainly was not his fault (I'm sure this weekend has been no picnic for him either). He did say that he will also extend the offer to the rooms that my friends had booked which hopefully will redeem me a little bit on that front. In the end I'm still going, my friends are still going and the MGM is still getting our money. I really think this whole situation could have been handled so much better but business is business. It's too bad that Harrah's didn't catch wind of this and offer up something to those who had their reservations canceled. They could have scooped 1500 reservations without even trying.)" All's well that ends well. For her, anyhow. Any similar stories out there?)

The prior post offered the official explanation for the MGMGrand.Com rate-code, uh, problem. (I like to reserve "fiasco" for things like when the entire room reservation systems for several of their hotels
shuts down for days and the local media doesn't give a fig.)

I thought it would be worthwhile for those of you who think this is a trivial matter from parts of our "nation of whiners" to post tourist Suzanne Ferguson's letter to the MGM Grand. She has given me permission to do so.

Before I post her letter, though, just one thing I thought of after I posted Alan Feldman's comments. Alan made reference to one person threatening legal action. Can I just urge y'all, no matter how steamed you may be, not to do that. It's fruitless -- you're not suing over such a small matter and if you are you'll almost certainly lose and waste more money than paying the difference on the hotel room for a few days -- and it pretty much guarantees whatever efforts the reservationist is making to fix the problem or help you out will stop dead in its tracks. The minute you utter the word "lawyer," they shut down altogether and won't even continue to talk to you. You're doing yourself a disservice and, more than likely, you're lying anyway.

Suzanne didn't do that. She just told her story and it is compelling and far from trivial.

To whom it may concern:

I am one of the customers who has had their reservation canceled (received email "** Important MGM Grand Information **" ) and I am more than unhappy to say the very least. When I saw the link to this deal online, I actually called the MGM directly to see if I was eligible to book.

It took me about 15 minutes on the phone with the gentleman in reservations who went and checked with his manager and casino marketing and he was advised that yes, I could go ahead and book this rate. (I had given him the promo code that appeared and that is what he went and checked on.) His instructions to me were to book through the link and then cancel my previous reservation either online or by calling him back. He even commented that he felt horrible because he had just told the customer before me that she couldn't book it and that he should have checked into further for her, which is what he had done for me.

After speaking with him I followed his instructions and re-booked, received my confirmation immediately and then let some other friends know that they could book it as well so that they could join me in Vegas, adding 4 more people to the trip who wouldn't have come otherwise.

I was not trying to book something I was not entitled to. As a consumer I did everything right by calling and confirming my eligibility for this promotion and all I have gotten from the MGM is a canceled weekend, a story about the website being hacked -- which raises some other serious issues of either security breaches or the MGM out right lying to it's customers -- and some annoyed friends who have now booked their flights and have nowhere to stay.

I would like to give MGM the opportunity to make this right by honoring my reservation and salvaging me as a current and future customer. I did absolutely nothing wrong by completing this reservation and would like to see that the MGM will do the right thing, take responsibility for their own error and prove to me that I am indeed a "Valued Guest."

Suzanne Ferguson

We'll see...


Anonymous said...

Whatever happened to the idea that it's better to have a room sold for cheap than a room sitting empty?

While I agree in principle, if they want less legal threats maybe they should stop providing such bad service. I feel bad for the operator who is simply being told what to say by the big boss, but if everyone grits their teeth and just says "okay" then how does the big boss know how angry everyone is?

Apparently that one person's legal threat, as laughable as it might be, was vocal enough to reach Alan Feldman. So maybe it's not as completely pointless as you make it out to be. If that one person made a blip on his radar, imagine what would have happened with more.

Maybe if that had happened, they might feel bad about misleading customers instead of making a token gesture with hollow apologies. They might actually feel coerced into offering everyone a better deal on a product with a fluid value, worth more or less depending on if the powers that be feel you deserve a good deal.


Anon: Let me clarify. I don't have any idea whether they "want" fewer legal threats or not. I was just making an observation that threatening legal action is a lousy way to get any satisfaction in this situation. That's all.

Anonymous said...

For the podcastalooza weekend, MGM wants $179 for their cheapest room. You compare that to $69 a night on offer. That's a major hit. And if the MGM doesn't think they'll make it up in customer spending elsewhere, why should they extend that rate to just anyone? The fact they got a $89 room is still a huge value if you ask me.

As for Suzanne, I hope they see how much she's spent with MGM in the past (via their Players Club) to see how much of a hit she's worth. The big time gamblers are gonna get their rooms (plus food and beverage) comped on their play. Is the lost good will worth $220? Harrah's... errr Caesars Entertainment isn't doing favors for the low rollers (or high rollers for that matter) so the options for the value Vegas traveler aren't that great.

Anonymous said...

I was effected by this and although I have stayed at MGM in past, they didnt care. Although I would never spend money or effort on legal action....I do have something on my side: The Media. Vegas seems to be the #1 travel desitantion...where I come form and I work for a national magazine that often features a travel section. I think an idea I may propose at the next meeting is VEGAS hotels: The Good, the bad and the down right ugly. Guess where MGM goes....

Joey H said...

Let me get this straight. Suzanne CALLED to verify that she could use the rate code? They said YES? And now they won't honor that rate?

That's AWFUL customer service. Shame on you, MGM.

Suzanne said...

joey h. - that is exactly what happened. They had all of my information in front of them, I gave them the promo code I wanted to use, they checked with the reservations supervisor and casino marketing while I waited on hold and then gave me the green light to re-book at the lower rate.

I have been asked by several people why I have kept my reservation at the MGM after being treated so poorly and in all honesty there is just nothing that the reservations people can do for me and I don't feel that there is any point in making their lives miserable for something that the upper ranks have decided.

I am very grateful that Steve took the time to talk to me and discuss what happened here as this has affected so many people.

Kevin said...

Hey Suzanne, can you give me the phone # to MGM which you called? I just replied a complaint after I got my cancellation e-mail. I booked a room for the Labor Day weekend. I haven't got a reply back yet. Should I just might as well call them and see what they can offer me??

GregoryZephyr said...

How much do you want to bet that at some point in the past someone in MGM's marketing department proposed a project to automatically match the invited guest discount codes they mail with reservations being made online using the discount codes? And, how much do you want to bet that someone in MGM management at that time looked at the cost (probably a few hundred thousand dollars) and said, "No, we don't see enough of a business benefit to build that." Perhaps they will rethink that idea now.