How a $20,000 Mexican vacation turned into a fight over $500: Roseman
When you buy a product or service, you agree to a set of terms and conditions that you expect to be honoured.
I often hear about companies that fail to follow their own contract rules. Customers may climb the corporate ladder with a complaint and still get no relief, as these stories show.
Mexican hotel charged for room not used
Joanne Clarke and her husband took six family members to the Grand Sunset Princess resort in the Mayan Riviera, Mexico, from Dec. 25, 2016, to Jan. 1, 2017.
In early February, she wrote to the CEO of Sunwing Vacations, outlining problems they encountered (such as rude hotel staff and lack of promised amenities).
“I never got a response,” she said. “The main problem is that we’re owed $ 500 for a room we rented on our last day at the resort. It was already occupied and we couldn’t use it.”
The family had rented four rooms on Jan. 1 from noon (checkout time) until 6 p.m. (pickup time), but only three rooms were free. The front desk manager could not find another room, but said he’d reimburse them for the cost.
Clarke tried to get an immediate refund posted to her credit card. She was told the hotel manager had to approve the transaction and wasn’t working that day.
“We contacted the hotel many times, but the staff always had a different excuse as to why they couldn’t refund the money,” she said on March 30.
“Our travel agent at the Flight Centre also made many attempts. The hotel now says that tax laws don’t allow them to refund money out of the country.
“We spent $ 20,000 to take our family to the resort and I refuse to pay them $ 500 for a room we didn’t get.”
Rachel Goldrick, a spokesperson for the large Canadian-owned travel company, said Sunwing only heard about the dispute in late March. (Clarke’s letter must have gone astray.)
Because of a discrepancy between what the hotel offered and what Clarke said was wrongly charged, Sunwing Vacations had to check the credit card receipt. Once that arrived, it agreed to a refund.
Real Canadian Superstore overcharges for reduced item
Steve Chan had a frustrating time at the superstore’s Scarborough Town Centre location. He heard there was a sale on Goody brand combs, with 50 per cent off the last ticketed price.
“I bought a comb priced at $ 6.94, which should have been $ 3.47. But after checking out, I saw they had charged me $ 4.94,” he told me.
He asked for a correction, but a customer service staffer said the original price (hidden behind the last ticketed price) was $ 12.49. If he didn’t want to pay $ 4.94, he’d have to pay $ 6.25 (half the original price).
The store staffer wrote “final sale” on his receipt, which meant he had trouble returning the comb the next day. He finally got a refund.
“Although it’s only a small amount of money, this behaviour feels very offensive. It’s obviously bullying to the customer,” he said.
Karen Gumbs, a spokesperson for Loblaw Companies, which owns the chain), blamed poor staff training for the error.
“The price of the Goody items has been reduced a few times and the customer discount is now more than 50 per cent of the original price,” she said.
“Unfortunately, the signage in the department was not updated to reflect the additional discount, creating a confusing experience for the customer.
“We have followed up with store management and are updating our procedures to assist with preventing this confusion in the future.”
Chan was happy to see that preventive action would be taken. He said Loblaw’s should teach customer service staff how to handle customers’ inquiries politely and properly.
Goodlife Fitness cancels membership without notice
Justin Porter, a Goodlife customer for 15 years, had never missed a payment. Then he changed bank accounts and forgot to tell the company.
“I was set up on direct withdrawal and I missed a payment (my fault admittedly). When I walked into the gym and was told my account was suspended, I called Goodlife and paid the outstanding balance,” he said.
“Later, I was told that my account was cancelled. I had to go to a new Goodlife and sign up as a member.
“At no time did they email me, call me or write me to advise that my account was going to be or was in suspension. I’ve spoken with three levels of seniority and all of them have washed their hands of it.”
Carla Brown, Goodlife’s manager of member accounts, called Porter the same day she received his forwarded email. He now has his membership reinstated – and at the same rate he was paying before.
“It’s great to hear the member was satisfied,” she said.
My advice: Service providers should treat you fairly and respectfully, whether you pay $ 20,000 for a vacation or $ 4.94 for a comb. They should not cut you off without notice if you are a long-time customer in good standing.
Standing up for your rights can be tough – and lonely – when no one is listening. You may have to bring in outside help to reinforce your point.
Ellen Roseman (email@example.com ) appears in Smart Money.
TORONTO STAR | BUSINESS | PERSONAL_FINANCE