How Not to Respond to a Complaint

By | June 2, 2010 at 7:45 pm | 4 comments | Disney Parks | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Like many of you, I’ve been following Katie’s Old Key West saga over on thedvclife.  I saw an update tonight in my Google Reader where Katie received a call from DVC in response to her letter.  At first, I was just going to comment, but as I read the exchange between her and “Jane Representative”, I decided a comment wasn’t going to be enough, so here we are. First, if you haven’t yet, read the latest OKW saga update over at thedvclife. At first, the call seemed to go well; Jane thanked her for writing and claimed that DVC tries to respond to all comments.  That alone must be tough to do considering the large number of members. Things, however, quickly went south.

Jane Representative: “And you received a credit to purchase breakfast and a wonderful room upgrade.” kidanikatie: “Yes, and while I do appreciate that, even with the room we were upgraded to, the conditions were poor.”

A $100 credit for breakfast was nice and would have been more than enough had the problems ended there.  However, they didn’t.  The second room was also bug-filled, and another move, this time to Saratoga Springs, was arranged. When Katie arrived in her Saratoga room, however, it was filled with the smell of cigarette smoke.  Broken and beaten, she decided to get some sleep instead of complain yet again for another room.  To me, the cigarette smoke is worse than the bugs.  Here’s how this part of the conversation went with “Jane”.

Jane Representative: “We can’t stop people from smoking in the rooms.” kidanikatie: “I totally understand, however, it is my feeling that if the room is left that way it shouldn’t be released until the air quality is fixed. Not to mention that the room I was moved to AGAIN had bugs and the construction.”

Katie is exactly right.  If housekeeping finds the smell of smoke in a room, it should be reported immediately and the room should be taken offline.  Disney should, in my opinion, take action against those who smoke in rooms because it causes damage to Disney’s property, but I’m sure Disney fears backlash against such action.  This is a potential health hazard to asthmatics and others sensitive to the odor. In her letter, Katie didn’t ask for anything in particular for her inconvenience.  However, this seemed to confuse “Jane” rather than give her the opportunity to make up for Katie’s trouble.

Jane Representative: “I’m not sure what you want. This isn’t a cash reservation where we can give you money back.” kidanikatie: “You know, I’m not sure either. I do think points returned to my account are deserved but most importantly I’m glad my letter was received and I do hope that the room issues are fixed. That is the point.” Jane Representative: “Yes we do take note of the situation and we will definitely look into it. We are so sorry.”

Jane should have done something here to make it look like Disney was going above and beyond to make one of its loyal DVC members happy.  Instead, confusion and excuses dominated the conversation. So why not just write this as a comment on thedvclife?  Because this is one of the most important aspects of business; interaction with the customer.  Employees should be properly trained to handle a situation in a way where the customer is satisfied when the customer has a proper complaint instead of the hollow apology Katie described.  In my opinion, Disney should have credited Katie’s account with some, if not all, of the points used for her trip.  Make a customer with valid complaints feel like they have been properly addressed, and most of the time you’ll keep that customer for life. To me, this felt like a response simply to say they responded; why should Disney bother when they know they’re getting Katie’s money?  Even if she sells her DVC membership, someone else will still pay these dues and take Disney trips in her place.  I feel Disney should be extra careful with DVC members, because these members are some of the most vocal whether the experience is positive or negative.  If the DVC members are spreading regular negative experiences around, how does that sound to a guest coming to a Disney park for the first time?

Personally, I think Katie should call DVC back, ask for a supervisor, and request points be returned to her.  This was an unacceptable visit; no one should need to change rooms twice and still not have a satisfactory room.

Related posts:

  1. Disney Vacation Club: Not Always a Huge Investment
  2. Disney Vacation Club: The Cost of Ownership
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  • Katie

    Great article Scott and thanks for the support. You know how nervous I was even mentioning the situation and now the amount of comments and discussions from it has really brought a new topic into the light. This was wrong and we should make it right no matter if it IS Disney! I'm sleeping on it and reading more comments that come in. I'll post the next steps I take of course. Website looks fantastic my friend, as always!

  • Ray

    Totally agree with you. They should had worked harder to have a satisfactory ending instead of the confusion & dissatisfaction. I feel like the call made the situation worse rather than helped it.

  • Cliff Wu

    very well put, scott. the response was woefully inadequate and dvc should compensate katie with something. even if giving points back isn't possible, there are still other ways. disney cast members are supposed to have leeway to do what they feel is best. in this case, the reparations, while a gesture of good faith, fell far short of expectations, unbeknownst to the cast members who arranged them. something else should be done, such as perhaps crediting her points from one of her future trips or arranging a free stay at another disney deluxe property or maybe free ddp for one of her upcoming trips.

    i agree with ray that the call seemed to make it worse, although after i take a step back, it's like the call was more unhelpful. not calling would have been disastrous as well. this call reeked more of incompetence.

  • Will

    I actually have to agree with DVC's response to Katie. As a fellow DVC member, I am truly sorry for Katie's troubles. I do think Katie made two errors in this situation (1) she didn't pick up the phone as soon as she walked into the smokey room at Saratoga Springs Resort. I know it was late and it seems like she didn't want to bother Andrew again but that was another situation that could have been resolved immediately and it's all part of Andrew's job. When Katie complained she was accommodated with a room change, resort change and $100. Since she didn't complain again she did not give Disney the option to fix the situation, she made the choice to stay in the smokey hotel room. Complaining after the fact only makes them aware of the situation and her troubles. (2) Katie's letter never mentions what she wants except “to make sure that the Most Magical Place on Earth that I choose to visit stays that way.” Her complaint letter should have just stated facts (names, dates, room numbers) and, most importantly, what she wanted DVC to do in response. Just my thoughts.