Those of you who have been following this blog for some time will know that complaining is not all about getting freebies. For me, it is always the principle of the thing; I complain about the smallest of things, principle of the thing, I complain in person to politicians, principle of the thing, I take Tesco to court which pounds per hour was nothing to do with getting freebies that’s for sure(!) but was certainly about the principle of the thing, I get refunds for friends when they are out of pocket, principle of the thing, I help people out on social media with advice on getting refunds and redress, principle of the thing. Some people may see this as time poorly spent and that complainers are sad etc etc., if that’s you, then you tell that to the people who have been helped and remember your stance when you make an expensive purchase and want your money back because the thing is faulty. Oh and don’t complain about fat cats either, because some of the reason they get paid so much is because people don’t complain about their services.
So with that in mind I was astounded when my latest complaint elicited the rudest response I have ever received from a CEO. (Up until now, the rudest CEOS have just been the ones such as Clarke who just ignored customers). Admittedly I have never complained to Ryanair CEO but even he has apparently seen the error of his ways.
Now, I am a reviewer for What’s Good to Do. A great site reviewing lots of products and services around the country, check them out. As such I offered to review a variety of places over a number of different dates with Great Hotels of The World. GHOTW is a global sales and marketing alliance. The Iberostar in Majorca was offered for 3 nights in October. I had asked how much an upgrade from B & B would be to all inclusive. (i.e. I wanted to pay for the upgrade) I was offered €122.40 a night per room on All Inclusive. The offer had already included B & B and one dinner for one night. So obviously one night upgrade from B & B plus dinner would be less than the other 2 nights of upgrade form just B & B. I pointed out the following:
“1) On the Iberostar own website for those nights B & B = €186.66 AI = €296.82 a difference of €110.16 therefore the difference is €110.82 not €122.40
2) One night dinner is provided for the review. Therefore an upgrade from to all inclusive is certainly not €122.”
After a ridiculous email exchange including telling GHOTW PR team the same thing 6 times and each of those 6 times that I was not asking for anything extra free, I was asking not to be overcharged, I gave up.
The director of What’s Good to Do tried to speak to staff and explain the same, that the website said a lower price and that the dinner would not be free if paying the same extra rate for each of the 3 nights so that the hotel was in effect overcharging. But I received another email to say that the rate was correct and another email with the offer previously received. I was even told that the review must be a positive one!!!
So, I emailed the GHOTW CEO. I explained that it is usual for a reviewer to be offered a discounted rate for extra nights or upgrades to the stay on offer. I wasn’t even asking for this! I just wanted to upgrade. I did however object to being overcharged twice over. Once, telling me that the price was more than advertised on the website and secondly charging me the same for an upgrade from B & B to AI as from B, B & dinner to AI. This is the response I received:
I have read your email with interest.
I get many of these emails and whilst on many occasions i have great sympathy with the genuine concerns expressed. In this case i would like to suggest that you really need to get a life and stop bothering well meaning busy people with this sad self indulgent rambling.
If you and your freeloading friends on these various websites are not happy with a price quoted then you should perhaps seek alternative accommodation?
I hope this helps. With the kindest regards and best wishes
(Typos are his not mine)
Remember, I was not asking for a freebie, I was merely pointing out that that I was being overcharged. So it would appear from this email that:
- Mr Gould feels that people on these websites (I mentioned review sites, blogs and my own) are also freeloaders. So if you are a reviewer or journalist that has ever reviewed something and got the item or service for free before taking the time to write a review then that’s you!
- If you have ever used the information on my site to gain refunds and redress I guess he means you too!
- If you have bought my book to gain refunds and redress I suppose he means you as well!
- I guess if you have liked my Facebook and certainly if you interact with me on there then he includes you as a free loading friend on these websites!
- The reviewer receives a couple of hundred pounds worth of stay (no travel) – The hotel receives much free advertisement. I would suggest that several thousand people reading a review is worth slightly more than the couple of hundred pounds that the reviewer “saves” before writing up the piece. No advertisement costs, not even having to pay anyone to design the advert. So as a PR company GHOTW is doing a great job huh?
Wonder what the other hotels in this group think of the way that the PR company handles publicity?!
So who is the freeloader? The person who seeks refunds and redress when put out of pocket/the reviewer who undertakes some work in return for a free service or product, or the company that uses reviews as a cheaper method of traditional advertising and then insults anyone who evidences overcharging?
Should you be a reviewer or journalist that undertakes reviews and doesn’t take kindly to the above you can contact Peter Gould here