April 8, 2010 (This is a long draining fiasco—that I can't believe is happening. Hopefully it will end in a positive light soon!)
On April 7, 2010 my husband and I were looking up hotels for my parents. They were planning a trip to pay respects overseas to my aunt who had just passed, and for the fact my parents took this very hard my husband and I recommended they took a break from the reality here at home to cope.
We decided to visit various websites in finding a perfect hotel for them. We found a Holiday Inn Express on Priceline.com and found the price to be very reasonable. For the fact my husband is a Priority Club member, which issues points and extra service attention via InterContinental Hotel Group hotels (which owns Holiday Inn Express), he insisted we go through the company directly. Over time, we had believed dealing directly with the provider entails more security and quality service, until now.
Unfortunately IHG website prices were priced higher than what Priceline.com had offered. Our initial representative from IHG verified the Priceline price and forwarded us to their lowest internet rate guarantee agent. We were patient being placed on hold a couple of times and transferred. The guarantee representative also verified the price difference and issued a Case # claim for 24 hours. The case number would be what IHG needed, once we booked on the IHG website. The representative instated that the room had to be an “Advance, standard room.” Understood.
My husband and I wanted to place the reservations under my parents name, since it would be them checking in, but we wanted to pay for the reservation for them. They had been through a lot and wanted them to have a part of their vacation worry free. We went directly to the IHG website and noticed that no where on the website allocated this option. It listed the paying member as a guest and allowed room for an additional guest, which was not what we wanted.
We would not be with my parents, and wanted to make sure they could check-in without us. It would be awful if we booked and the hotel management rejected them. We've done this plenty of times before on Expedia and Travelocity and had no problems, but wanted to get our facts straight before we booked. The website openly stated, “Book online or call 1-888-897-0089.” Nothing different right? Wrong. It actually should say book online or else.
So we called IHG again. We spoke with the representative VB1324 (I'm not sure I even believe if this was accurate anymore after what we've gone through), but she informed us that she would be able to take care of that concern for us. She could issue the reservation under their name, and we could pay for it. Perfect, just what we needed. We then informed her we did have a price guarantee Case ID # for a price guarantee (obviously this was important as we wouldn't have created a Case ID in the prior to booking). We openly asked if the case number we got would apply to this booking. She told us yes. The price online was the same price she had so we continued to book with her.
Of course, if the representative had said: NO the price guarantee wouldn't be honored I would have found a plan b and booked via another route still with Holiday Inn Express.
After the booking we immediately called the guarantee price department to apply the case #, only to be told we didn't book on the website so there is no way they could honor the price change and because we booked an advance purchase price (which we were told we had to do) we were stuck with the price. My heart dropped.
We thought we did everything right, tried to be careful, called the representatives numerous times when we had questions, thought we asked the right questions, only to be told two different things by employees and now we the consumer feel screwed. The price difference with the foreign currency exchange rate is estimated to be around $200 for the same hotel on the same number of nights.
Our complaint is disheartening, because of one unknowledgeable representative, we were punished. I can't believe, actually more or less stunned that IHG had a representative who was obviously NOT knowledgeable about the terms and conditions of services the company offered. I can't believe that our only mistake and the biggest mistake was we trusted the company. We trusted the person they hired to answer our questions and concerns and by trusting her, we feel betrayed by the company themselves.
Furthermore, the representative who booked our reservation did it wrong. She listed my husband as a guest and my father as an additional guest. It was everything we didn't want. She didn't even listen to our needs. Why have customer service reps if they don't listen to what your needs. Her booking was identical to the one I came across on the website. If I was going to book it that way, I wouldn't have called her in the first place for help.
In a panic my husband and I tried recalling reservations again and the price guarantee line, only to talk to powerless representatives, which one in particular was snippy and rude. They were telling us how everything we were saying was wrong, and all we were doing was repeating what the booking representative informed us. I understand they could possibly be international employees and are confined to the rules and regulation of the employer, but I can't believe no one wanted or could help us at that point.
Finally after talking to a couple people, we were transferred to guest relations. Right now, the guest relation representative (who I honestly believe is trying her best for us, and we highly appreciate it), is trying to talk to the Holiday Inn Express in Shanghai, but at the moment no one speaks English enough to understand the situation. So, we're waiting for a manager. I hope it works out.
Sadly all the representative who booked our reservation had to say was, “Sorry sir, if I book for this reservation for you, the price guarantee will not work. It will be best for you to book online.” Simple enough, and instead we find ourselves submerged in this fiasco.
Supposedly they record the conversation for quality assurance (which we had hoped that was the case, as this would be the proof we needed), when I called verify this statement of course “it's only conducted randomly.” What are we to do? All I could do now is patiently wait. Lesson learned though, I doubt I will ever book through a representative again!
This was our only way to reference our voice outside of IHG in this matter, as we don't have monitored voice recording or notes in our computer as they do. We as a consumer are seriously staying afloat without a paddle. Just be weary of what customer service reps tell you, it could be totally wrong!
P.S. Companies please please please make sure your reps are fully aware of terms and conditions of new and old services you provide. They are all we can turn to when we have questions about your company's services.
I do hope I can come back to tell you it worked out.