Ever Taken Advantage of a Satisfaction Guarantee Offer?

Hilton_Garden_Inn_Satisfaction_Promise“Satisfaction Guarantee” is a term that I hear thrown around a lot these days.  My interpretation of that phrase is that if I’m not satisfied with any aspect of the service or product I receive, I’m entitled to a full refund.  That seems like a pretty bold statement, doesn’t it?  What business in their right mind would allow a customer to get a refund for any reason?  Seems to me like they wouldn’t make any money that way, but yet we still see these guarantees all the time.

Sometimes you’ll see giant signs posted in the hallway(like to the side) offering satisfaction guarantees but other times these guarantees aren’t as obvious.  Now that I’m an expert traveler(4 trips in 1.5 months!), I’ve had a lot of recent interactions with customer service agents, hotel staff and even telephone reps.  Nearly everyone I’ve talked to over the past couple months was insightful, caring and wanted to help, but there were still a few bad apples out there that made me think twice about whether I should do business with them again.

Putting the Right People in the Right Spot

Not everyone is made to work in customer service.  Generally, you should put your most outgoing, passionate, and considerate employees in customer service since they’ll be having a lot of interaction with customers.  That seems like common sense, but customer service is usually a low paying, un-rewarding job.  It doesn’t tend to exactly attract the top talent around and that’s why you’ll rarely find what you want in a customer service rep.

My Unsatisfactory Stay with Hilton

On a recent trip to New York, we stayed in Albany for one night at the Hilton Garden Inn.  I picked this hotel because it was close to our appointment the next morning and so I could finally use my Hitlon Gold card.  I hit Hilton Gold status last year but haven’t stayed at a Hilton since.  The benefits aren’t great, but the big one is the ability to get a free room upgrade should there be availability.

I figured the upgrade was all but guaranteed since this was a Sunday evening in Albany, NY in March.  Not really your typical spring break destination :)  But when we got there, the girl at the front desk had already printed out my room key and when I asked her about a suite upgrade she cavalierly brushed me off.  I wasn’t really in the mood to argue in front of my fiancee, so I took her word for it and we headed up to our room.  The room was a decent size but very average in every aspect, not really what I was expecting for $150.

After I unpacked, I decided to check online if a suite was available and sure enough there were multiple suites available.  I went down to the front desk and asked about this.  Apparently, there was a computer glitch and that’s why I wasn’t given the upgrade, yea right.  Instead of owning up to their mistake, they decided to blame the computer instead of using their brains and realizing that the hotel was probably at 50% capacity on a Sunday night in the middle of the winter.  I ended up getting the upgrade and the rest of my stay was awesome but that initial experience definitely left a sour taste in my mouth.

Are They Really Going to Give Me a Refund?

When we got back to San Diego, I decided to look into the Hilton Garden Inn Satisfaction Promise since frankly I wasn’t very satisfied.  I searched high and low but to no avail, there was no form or e-mail contact about the “Satisfaction Promise” on their website.  I decided to try them via Twitter and they actually responded within an hour saying they had located my reservation and wanted to know more about what happend.

Long story short, I e-mailed them what happened and after just a couple e-mails back and forth they told me they would be refunding my stay.  WOW, I couldn’t believe it.  Apparently, their satisfaction guarantee is real.  They make it a little bit difficult to actually get in contact with someone about it, but once I did, they were very prompt and efficient dealing with my concerns.

I honestly don’t know if this one experience would have been enough to set me off Hilton forever.  After my initial snafu, I actually really enjoyed staying there.  Even though I thought the room was a little overpriced, it was pretty comparable to others of similar quality in the area.  All in all, I would say their satisfaction guarantee probably worked in this case, since it left me with a good impression and I’d definitely be willing to give them another shot.

I think most of the companies that offer satisfaction guarantees do it more for the re-assurance it provides.  They count on the fact that most people won’t actually take them up on the offer unless they truly have a horrible experience.

Readers, what other satisfaction guarantees have you encountered out there?  Do you think it’s ok to take advantage of these offers or would you only do it if you truly felt wronged?

-Harry @ PF Pro

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Hi, I'm Harry, the owner and head writer for Your PF Pro. I started this site back in 2011 in order to create a place where young professionals could come and get all of their financial questions answered. On the site, you'll find articles on everything from asset allocation for retirement to saving money at Chipotle! So enjoy..

Comments

    • Ben says

      Quality control is generally pretty excellent, but every once in awhile you get something that’s gone bad before the expiration date. Mispackaging, poor handling, and other things happen and the big brands don’t want a one-off error to impact your perception of their products. For example, Kraft just sent me a check to replace a box of CapriSun grape juice pouches that had fermented, all it took was a short phone call.

      • says

        Oh interesting, for some reason, I never think to return perishable products. Although I did just buy some pasta sauce the other night that tasted wayyyy too sweet for some reason, maybe I’ll try and return that. But since the sauce was only a $1.50 maybe it isn’t worth my time at this point.

    • says

      Yea sometimes it’s not really worth it for me to contact companies but I think it’s more about the principal in these cases then the money. I don’t really care that much about the money, but I don’t want to patronize businesses that don’t treat me well as a customer.

  1. says

    If I pay for a service/product and I don’t get what I pay for and there is a 100% money back satisfaction guarantee I will call them on it. I think that when we spend our money on products as consumers we should have some sort of recall if the product is defective and doesn’t live up to the expectations set out by the manufacturer.

    I do however think it’s wrong when people complain for nothing or just to try and get free things, or discounts on future purchases. An example was last week my wife’s deodorant can was leaking so we called up and told them about the problem and they are sending out coupons for her. They may request the product by mail and that is fine so they can use it for Quality purposes.
    Canadianbudgetbinder recently posted…Mr.CBB’s Creamy Ham And Cheese Macaroni BakeMy Profile

    • says

      I know there are definitely people who take advantage of it but I don’t think I’ve ever done that. I’ll only ask for a refund if I feel it’s truly deserved.

  2. says

    Not saying this was the only reason you got somewhere since you DID do your homework on the subject but I’m sure it helped a bit by being gold status. Having worked in retail and now the restaurant industry, giving customers what they want is pretty damn easy, what makes a decent customer service worker a sour apple though is that one jackass customer who is out looking for a fight or a freebie. After a few of those, you give up on the rest so although the girl was clearly in the wrong, try not to be too harsh on her. Taking the initiative to print the key out beforehand seems like she was trying to do you both a favor by cutting your time standing at the counter after a possible long trip or plane ride.

    My only problem is, if that’s the case, shouldn’t she have noticed you were gold and IF she was what I mentioned above, wouldn’t she have already upgraded you? I mean…it’s not like it costs her anything.
    Jeremy recently posted…Was Superman A Millionaire?My Profile

    • says

      Yea I did feel a little bit bad but when I spoke with her at the counter she almost made it seem like it was my fault. What the heck? Haha that’s what made me the most angry. IF she would have been super apologetic and taken responsibility I probably wouldn’t have even contacted them.

      I forgot to mention that I told the front desk worker to have the manager contact me and she never did so that only added to my fire.

  3. says

    Costco essentially offers this for just about any product you buy, where if you have a problem with it over the life of the product, they’ll refund your purchase price, no questions asked. It doesn’t apply to things like TVs and computers, but we had a baby monitor that we had purchased almost two years prior, and the connection broke off and it would no longer charge. Took it to the store and they handed us back the cash to the penny of what we paid.
    Money Beagle recently posted…As Pet Care Costs Continue To Rise, Ask When Enough Is EnoughMy Profile

    • says

      Yea Costco definitely has one of the best return policies around. I think you can just about return anything, including perishables too if you aren’t satisfied.

      But I know some people in college who took big time advantage of their policies and ruined it for the rest of us. I heard of guys buying tv’s at the beginning of the year and returning them at the end like a free rental :(

  4. says

    That’s great that you spoke up for yourself and got a refund! I’ve occasionally spoken up if I got the wrong order at a restaurant – in that case, the manager will usually swing by and say my meal is free.
    anna recently posted…Confessions CatharsisMy Profile

    • says

      For some reason I never really speak up at restaurants. I definitely would if I got the wrong order but I never say anything if the dish isn’t that good, maybe I’ll try it next time haha.

  5. says

    Harry,

    You misunderstood the HHonor Gold benefits. The upgrade privilege depends on the brand of hotels you stay at. Hilton Garden Inn isn’t one of them. You see the Gold benefits when you log into you HHonors account, under My Profile -> Hotel Benefits. You get upgrade only when you stay at Conrad, Doubletree, Hilton, and Waldorf Astoria. At Hilton Garden Inn, you get either free breakfast or 750 extra points.

    Of course the front desk should’ve explained this nicely to you. Then you won’t be dissatisfied, but they really didn’t owe you an upgrade or a refund.
    Harry Sit recently posted…Obama Budget Proposal: Chained CPI and Cap on Retirement AccountsMy Profile

    • says

      Hmm, looks like you’re right. Weird though, b/c when I called in a few months ago they told me I’d get an upgrade if a suite was available. Either way, it worked out but maybe that’s why I didn’t get an automatic upgrade. The benefits for Hilton Gold are pretty crappy other than the free suite upgrade. But I did get 2 coupons for free bottles of water haha!

  6. says

    The squeaky wheel gets the grease! I definitely lodge complaints when service is bad. (I do it in a polite, professional way, of course, and I only do it when I’ve genuinely had a bad experience.) Sometimes its more hassle than its worth, but sometimes it results in discounts that are well worthwhile. And it also lets the management know what aspects of their operation they should improve upon.
    Paula @ Afford Anything recently posted…The Only Two Things You Need To Know To Invest in Real EstateMy Profile

    • says

      Good points Paula, I always say something b/c I don’t want bad service to go on unnoticed. It’s the same reason I leave bad tips when I get bad service. I don’t want the waiter/waitress to think he/she was doing a good job, I want them to know I didn’t appreciate it. They probably thinks I’m just a cheap bastard though haha.

      • Doug Shapleigh says

        The thing to remember when tipping in a restaurant or bar is that many of them have a mandatory “tip out policy” in which a percentage of the total sale or a percentage of the tips received is “tipped out” to bussers, bartenders, food runners, host(ess), etc. so you could be screwing everyone even if most of them did a good job.

        I have managed a few restaurants in my day and have seen varying policies from 10% of tips received to bartenders + 5% to hostess + 5% to bussers. I’ve also seen 5% of bar sales to the bartender + 1.5% food to host(ess) and bussers + whatever you felt the expo. deserved. Leave a bad tip and it can actually hurt the server more than you think since it then comes out of their pocket to pay the others when it’s based on sales!

        Remember that tipped employees in many states earn far below minimum wage as a base pay. In several states (14 of them) tipped employees can be paid as little as $2.13 an hour which is the federal minimum. Check out hourly pay by state at http://www.dol.gov/whd/state/tipped.htm

        If you really had a bad experience and felt it was bad enough to stiff them on the tip, it’s best to alert the manager or supervisor to the problem. Tell the manager what happened and that you want the tip to go to the others involved and not the waiter/waitress if your drinks were good, the bussers kept your water full, the hostess seats you promptly (or took care of that special request like a booth with a view or a quiet corner of the restaurant), etc.

        If a manager knows about the problem they can fix it, they can make sure the tip goes to the other people who deserved it and more importantly the staff takes the hit from their tips and not out of their pocket from their already low wage.

        • says

          Thanks for your comment Doug. I’ve never worked in a restaurant but I was kind of shocked to find out about the whole tipping out process from friends in the industry. I usually give a tip anywhere from 10-25% depending on the level of service but I’ve been known to leave a dollar under my water glass for really amazing water fill-up service haha.

          I like your suggestion of alerting the manager, that way the problem might actually get solved. I’m sure that servers probably think I’m just being cheap when I leave a bad tip, but really I’m trying to let them know that they need to work on their service.

  7. Mignon says

    As a hotel professional and former Hilton chain employee, the 100% Satisfaction Guarantee is taken extremely serious. The idea of the policy is to make General Managers and supervisory teams stay on their toes to ensure guest satisfaction from the start. Every employee is able to give the 100% Satisfaction Guarantee from the Housekeepers to the maintenance staff on up. Honestly you could have addressed it with the staff or the manager on duty and they could have given it to you on the spot.
    For a Hilton property to not have any 100%’s on file when the Quality Assurance Inspector comes to visit is a red flag because no hotel is flawless all the time!
    I find it odd that you found customer service assistance on Twitter because being a HHonors member it should be on the back of your card for convenience purposes.

    • says

      Thanks for the input, that was my only stay in the past couple years with a Hilton so I’ll probably give them another shot some day. Either way, the satisfaction guarantee definitely made me want to come back since they are obviously serious about CS.

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