Buying Respect on Layaway
It wasn’t the best day. The seats I thought I was supposed to get on my flight to DC weren’t what were showing up on my boarding pass -- I figured I could at least take care of the second leg of my trip when I got to Atlanta, but they changed the gate from the time it took me to get from my arrival flight to the gate that was on the monitors when I landed.
I fought my way to the other end of the terminal only to find that there was another flight to DC that had been cancelled and there was a huge line for the harried gate agent. Flashing my MVP Gold status, however, got me back in the exit row where I wanted to be.
When I got to my hotel in DC the woman behind the counter cheerily informed me that there had been a problem with the room and that they had moved me to a “sister hotel” which turned out to be five miles away which really sucked for me because I hadn't rented a car. Nothing they could do, but shuttle me between hotels.
What had really happened was they grossly overbooked the hotel and I was overflow. In this case I didn’t have a status with the hotel -- I haven’t been collecting hotel points because I don’t really like those hotels and I try to avoid them.
But that night I got online and got myself a Hilton Honors number. I back filled it with the past couple “sister hotels” I’ve stayed in, put a future trip into the system, and immediately got Silver Status. I won’t be the first chump to get bumped next time.
Customer service isn’t something you simply get because you’re a customer. It’s about “Customer Rewards.” It’s not really about “loyalty” -- you could stay in a hotel once a year and always stay at the same hotel because you’re such a loyal customer, but you’ll never get rewarded for that. It’s about how much money you spend. It’s not about how good a person you are, it’s about how good a customer you are.
I don’t think I can really be morally outraged about it. I’ve always felt that you get the level of service that you pay for; it’s simply that you pay over time now. You always pay for a First Class seat, but most of the folks sitting up there bought it slowly over time not at the exorbitant price posted online.
Think of it as a temporal currency -- we all know that you can’t buy time, but you can always invest it. So, through our little reward cards and Most Valued Passenger programs, we invest those hours spent sitting in tin cans or sleeping in cinderblock boxes so we can sit in a bigger seat in the tin can and sleep in the cinder block box that we want to.
'Cause you served your time, and the customer care folks will serve you better.