Church of the Customer Blog« How profitable, really? | Main | AMD: what about customers? »
July 18, 2005
How profitable, really?
Answer: When you stay at the Silver Spring, Maryland Hilton.
That's the cost to use a PC and a printer in the hotel's business center for 7 1/2 minutes. As I discovered when I used the center to print an airline boarding pass during a recent trip, Hilton charges by the minute.
But the printer refused to print my boarding pass, even from two different PCs. Very quickly, my credit card was dinged $20, sans boarding pass.
A hotel manager was gracious about my predicament and instructed the front desk clerk to print my boarding pass and refund my $20. When I asked him why the hotel charges a per-minute rate for using the business center, he said his hands were tied: it was corporate policy.
What a terrific way to disappoint one's best customers. How could smart and well-paid executives possibly think that $.69 per-minute charges to use a PC ($1.99 per minute to use a printer) would do anything but create a poor word-of-mouth experience? Is this level of nickel-and-diming worth the ire of countless customers?
Ironically, high-speed Internet in Hilton rooms is free. Welcome to bi-polar marketing.
Wonder what Kyle and Don over at the new Experience Journal Podcast would say about this customer experience?
Other blogs that reference How profitable, really?:
» Stupid from *Star In The Margin
There's no other way to describe this brain lapse by Hilton...charging astronomical fees to use their business center while offering in-room internet for free. Either give it away for free or charge a nominal $5/day to cover your costs. But, instead th... [Read More]
Incidentally, I ran into the same thing in Hawaii.... I printed my boarding pass to PDF then used a free email to FAX service and sent the FAX to the front desk.
The girl at the desk gave me the fax free.....
A bit of a pain, but cheaper than $20...!
We recently stayed at a hotel in Victoria. I was shocked to find out that they still charge for internet access.
I had a bit more reasonable rate of $7 at the Hyatt in Denver last week, but that's still appaling. Seriously, how does it look on an expense report to your employer when you say "$7 for business center access...to print a boarding pass I could have printed free from a kiosk at the airport" (time wasted at airport kiosk not withstanding...)
Had the same thing happen in Las Vegas. Mandalay Bay Resort will print your boarding pass for free, but when I stayed at the MGM Grand, they couldn't do it. I had to use the business center (yeah, about $20).
Funny thing is when I asked the front desk clerk why they wouldn't print a boarding pass as a service to a client, especially when their competition (who is soon to be about their ONLY competition on the strip) would do it for free, she said, "You know, that's a really good idea..."
actually its silver spring, with no s. common error :)
Jackie, thanks for sharing your story. I have posted some thoughts on the topic at our blog
Thanks for inviting us to the conversation!
Thanks for the spelling correction on Silver Spring. I've corrected it in the post.
This two faced customer service is becoming increasingly common. They attract you with their core business features and repel you with non-core features.
It's remarkable how often there is this incredible gouging at hotel business centres. However, I was in one recently (Calgary Holiday Inn I think) that had NO CHARGE AT ALL to use the business centre. How delightful!
AND they had current equipment, often a problem in these situations.
On a longer term project in Jamaica where I was frequently staying at a Hilton, I seriously thought about the merits of bringing a printer with me from Toronto. The major barrier was the almost certain hassle from customs, who would assume I was importing the device, not travelling with it.
I agree that this is becoming more and more common. I think these "marketers" (and I use that term loosely in these kinds of cases) are banking on getting by with a bunch of folks who figure there's nothing they can do. I've begun demanding compensation every time something like this happens (free minutes from my cell provider, etc.). Even if it's just a pittance, if enough people do it, companies will realize nonsense like this is not good for relations and no longer profitable enough to condone.
And how about a $5 charge to receive a Fedex package, as I reported in my blog a couple of weeks ago after staying at the Westin in San Antonio? http://takebishop.com/wordpress/archives/2005/07/16/westin-cheese/
These hotels need to have a metric that can factor in customer's disappointment, anger vs. the quick extra buck they make in these unfriendly ways.