Monday, 24 August 2015

You Can Check Out Any Time You Want, But You Can Never Have Your Cash

Update: I was phoned by someone in Park Inn management today. They were unreservedly apologetic, immediately agreed to pay the bank fines incurred during this situation, and asked what it would take to make me happy and willing to use them again in the future.  Not being very good at haggling, I didn't manage to say anything particularly helpful at this point, but nevertheless I've been offered my next stay there in a superior room, with breakfast, at an almost two-thirds discount, so long as it's within the next year. I am perfectly willing to call myself happy with that offer. Obviously this doesn't change the basic message here: if you're planning on using Park Inn by Radisson, please make sure to pay in advance. The takeaway message from management was that the failure was in not letting me know the block can take a week to clear, rather than the block not working as intended. Paying in advance solves this problem in its entirety.

My thanks to my various twitter peeps who also tweeted the hotel to complain about how badly things had gone wrong).

For anyone following my ongoing problems with the Heathrow Park Inn by Radisson, I include my complaint to them below.  Be warned, it's not at all funny. I love amusing complaints as much as the next person, but I tend not to write them, partially because it takes time to come up with jokes that I'd rather spend on enjoyable writing tasks, but also because I don't want to run the risk that someone amongst this shower of incompetents and jobsworths might find my complaint amusing.

So in no way think of this as writing to entertain. I just thought people might want to know how useless this chain has been in dealing with my problem.  Bear in mind that whilst this complaint is now written, as you can see, I haven't actually sent it, because the "email us" page at the Park Inn website doesn't seem to work. Irony? Crushing inevitability? It can be so hard to tell...

Dear Park Inn by Radisson

I was expecting to hear from your management team about this problem already, but since that hasn't happened (far from the first time I have been misled by your hotel chain) I shall comment here.

My stay was perfectly fine, but the financial snarl your hotel left me in following that stay was thoroughly unacceptable. Upon checking in, I was asked to provide the card I would pay for my stay with so it could be verified. Nothing was mentioned about blocking money in my account, but this is exactly what happened. This caused minor problems as I was sharing a room and my room-mate had not yet transferred his half of the money, meaning for the whole of Saturday 8th August I had effectively paid for the hotel (if I can't touch that money because you have blocked it, it is no different to you having taken it) despite your staff telling me I need not do it until the following day.  This problem was compounded by your staff failing to mention that the £50 deposit (which I had not been informed of prior to check in) was PER PERSON, meaning a further £100 was blocked in my account, all without my permission.

All of that I would have happily forgiven were it not for the fact that when I checked out of the hotel on Sunday and paid for my stay, your hotel didn't remove the block. As a result I had £172 removed from my account for my stay and a FURTHER £272 that I was not allowed to access for a full working week.

Some of the £272 you failed to unblock - I was promised by your staff the money would be unblocked immediately upon payment for the room - was money set aside various other payments due to come out of my account over the FULL WEEK you kept the block in place, which of course now could not go out.  I am therefore being charged by my bank for failing to make payments I had budgeted for and your chain then rendered impossible.

I did not remain idle during the five days you let the block linger. On Tuesday 11th August I phoned your Heathrow hotel to complain. I spoke to someone at the front desk who - after initially insisting this was a problem for the bank to solve, something I already knew untrue, and after following some persuading - agreed to phone my bank branch (Barclays, Durham) to cancel the hold, and to email me once this was complete.  No email ever arrived.

On that Tuesday I also made contact with the Park Inn twitter account, which started following me to offer more assistance. Despite multiple tweets to this account from me, this account only sent me one message a day. On the Wednesday (the day after I had complained to Heathrow Park Inn and received no sign of them working at my problem) I was tweeted to ask if the problem had been resolved. I replied at 9:32am that it had not. 20 HOURS later, I received another tweet asking for my reservation details (already given to the hotel in question) and email (likewise already available to you). 24 hours after THAT - almost five full days after I had paid for my room and almost three full days since my initial complaint - I received another tweet asking I give you 48 MORE hours to resolve the problem (a problem that could be solved by one phone call to my bank, let us not forget). By this point the hold had reached the end of its seven day life span and was automatically terminated. When I tweeted your account to let you know the situation had finally been resolved despite you taking no obvious action, your response was to tell me that this had always been a possible result of the system you use, information that would have been vastly helpful seven days earlier, but at the time it was given amounted to nothing but blame shifting (you implied in that tweet that my bank may have been at least partly to blame).

To sum up, then, I was not made sufficiently aware of a deposit being needed before arriving at the hotel (perhaps this was written somewhere and I didn't see it, but that in itself suggests it should be made more obvious), I was NEVER told that deposit was per person even when the money was being blocked, I was NEVER told my money would be blocked in the first place, the block wasn't cancelled even after I paid for our room, I was told this problem would be resolved on Tuesday 11th and it was not, and it took the Park Inn twitter feed almost three full days to get around to asking me for two further full days to solve this exceptionally simple problem. Having so totally failed at every stage to inform me of what you were doing and acting in any way to put right what you had gotten wrong, you then sent me a message saying this is just what happens, and maybe my bank was the problem.

The total cost of the fines I have incurred as a result of this catalogue of errors and failures is £8, which I fully expect to be reimbursed by you - a small amount, yes, but one I absolutely should not have to pay. It will take far more than that most minimal of gestures to ever persuade me to stay in one of your hotels again, but it would at least be a start.

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