Hotel Des Indes lied to me about Suite availability.

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I've just checked in at Hotel Des Indes in The Hague for the night, having booked a standard room not too long ago. I also hold Starwood Preferred Guest Platinum, which entitles me to an upgrade to the highest available ‘normal' suite. For this hotel this is the Junior Suite.

Upon arriving at the reception I asked the check-in agent what room I was placed in. She said an “Executive Room”. When I asked if there were any Junior Suites available, she said they were sold out and so that's why I was in the room I was.

Fine. I took my keys and went to my room with a raised eyebrow. Perhaps I should have behaved more Dutch and told her bluntly I didn't believe her. I had checked Suite availability only this morning.

Junior Suites don't tend to sell out that easily in this hotel. They're simply too expensive. So checking the hotel's website for tonight after entering my Executive Room, here's what I saw:

Rooms of all types were available tonight

Rooms of all types were available tonight

So being dissatisfied with what I saw I called SPG Platinum customer service line to inform them about this situation. At first he was reluctant to help, quoting this kind of debate was “out of his scope”, but I asserted him to ask his supervisor.I was put on hold for around 10 minutes whilst he consulted his manager and also called the General Manager of Hotel Des Indes.

The phone agent said someone would come to my door soon.Sure enough before I'd hung up the General Manager had come to meet me in person and to show the available Junior Suite. The reason for this being available?

The phone agent's excuse: He was told by the GM that they had already acknowledged my elite status with the single upgrade, and they already thought my Executive room was better than the available Junior Suite. I immediately dismissed the first part as bullshit and dishonest to the terms of the SPG programme. I wasn't inclined to believe the latter either.

The GM's excuse: The check-in girl was “fairly new” and so didn't know the rules so clearly. Whilst I don't think I've seen her before, I'd imagine it's within their training to know that Platinums get upgraded to the best available room…after all this Flyertalk thread gives all positive reviews of Platinum member services.

This kind of upgrade kerfuffle tends to happen a lot at SPG properties. Sure I can understand they don't want to give away one of their highest revenue rooms for free, but I really shouldn't have to argue for something that's their published incentive and to which I'm entitled. Thankfully I'm now in the Junior Suite and the GM even gave me a complementary drinks voucher to compensate. Maybe I'll just pick the champagne in the minibar eh? 😉

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Comments

  1. Absolutely, you did the right thing! SPG properties tend to not observe the terms of the program…..always stand up for what you should receive!

  2. I found this post to be rather distasteful and somewhat smug.

    “I immediately dismissed the first part as bullshit”

    I get that you are writing about not getting an upgrade, but is it really necessary to use language like this? You didn’t even speak to anyone at the hotel about this in person correct? You did not even try and contact the on duty manager after getting into your room and checking the website. Why you language or an attitude via your blog that you would not have the courage to use in person or on the phone?

    “The GM’s excuse: The check-in girl was “fairly new” and so didn’t know the rules so clearly. Whilst I don’t think I’ve seen her before, I’d imagine it’s within their training to know that Platinums get upgraded to the best available room…after all this Flyertalk thread gives all positive reviews of Platinum member services.”

    Front desk agents aren’t responsible for upgrading platinums. If you did your homework you would see that these are often done a day or two before check in using a proprietary algorithm with a list of which platinums have top priority for upgrades. Front desk agents are there to check you in. If you aren’t given the best room available they may have assumed there is a reason behind it. You didn’t ask at that time to be put in the best room. Maybe she was lying about the availability of a Jr Suite? It is equally just as likely that she may have been new as the GM said.

    You got the Jr Suite and a drink for service recovery, why are you complaining?

    • @ Alan
      I did say “bullshit” down the phone, and I did tell the GM that “at least one person is lying to me”. All accepted the criticism. I haven’t posted anything here I didn’t say to their face. It can be construed as somewhat arrogant or DYKWIA, but the facts did not align with their word.

      Also why did I call the Platinum line before speaking to the GM? Because going through the ‘official’ route has my call and query documented by SPG rather than relying on the hotel’s satellite system. These kind of complaints can be fed into their customer satisfaction surveys.

      Also, by definition of platinum benefits, I don’t need to request the highest available room. It should be there waiting for me.

      As for the proprietary algorithm…I’m not convinced. The fact there was a room free to upgrade into and I checked in at 10pm and it was being sold online undermines that argument.

      A check-in girl being “fairly new”…maybe she is. But I can’t believe for a second that a “fairly new” person can’t tell the difference between an empty room and an occupied room on the manifest.

  3. I’m with Alan on this. All I saw in your post was “Whine, whine, whine…”

    Why didn’t you ask to speak nicely to the GM when you were first at the desk, instead of whining on the phone? You’ve ruined three people’s day now and embarrassed someone who is new…

    This self entitlement and importance that premier members of hotel programmes is frankly sickening. You didn’t initially get upgraded… Get over it….

    • I think you’re exaggerating by saying “ruining three people’s day”.

      I’m only playing by what they published in the rules and the facts of the resource being available. I see it as false advertising and that is illegal.

      So you might be satisfied without an upgrade. That’s fine by me, and I leave it there. I just do things by the written rules and with maximum efficiency where possible.

  4. Alan,
    This sort thing happens all the time, far too often for it to be just a coincidence, or a lack of training. They practically force you to make a stink to get what you are entitled to.

  5. SPG Platinum customer service reps have no real control over the individual properties. I have numerous stories of both getting much less and much more than I expected. I say expected not “am entitled to” as the wording of the program rules is usually such that you are not “entitled” to anything. Even if there was a suite available in the AM it may have been held as it was booked and backed by a credit card. I also like to get every freebie going but chill out if I don’t get it. If I really want a suite or a Business Class seat and want as close to a 100% guarantee as possible that I will get it, I put my money where my mouth is! I was once tossed out of paid Business on a transatlantic flight because of a change of equipment [smaller plane without First and all the Firsts send back to Business and half the businesses tossed into cattle] and believe me that is a lot less fun that not getting a suite upgrade!

  6. So mean but so true !
    It happens often. It happened to me dew weeks ago at Hilton Docklands in London and Marriott Warsaw. “No room available Sir” and we I checked on their website plenty of rooms were free. I wasn’t brave enough or maybe lazy to call the customer service.
    I will do it next time 🙂

  7. @Matron
    I don’t think it’s sicking… but there was no attempt to talk to the property before contacting Starwood. That’s my major issue. To be honest this is far from original material and it seems this blog struggles to find relevant content. I only read this because it was featured on the main page of boardingarea.

    So here is a question.. When should you put a property on blast? You got the suite and were compensated for your time/frustration.. so do you find it necessary to call two people at this property liars when you only had a short conversation with one during check-in?

    I post nothing here that I wouldn’t say to your face. I would like to see you call the GM a liar to their face.

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