During a recent Hilton Garden Inn stay on business, I had such a bad dry cleaning experience that management needed to be notified. There are a few important points to remember while writing your own complaint letter.
- Just the Facts – Keep the description of the event(s) factual and include an appropriate degree of detail. Notice I said “appropriate degree” of detail. Remember your audience is most likely a manager and they’re mostly interested in knowing how you were mistreated. Unnecessary details are a waste of the reader’s time, will probably make you sound whiny, and make the reader less interested in making you feel better.
- Praise the Company – A common technique in providing feedback to someone is providing a list of good qualities about that person before getting to the point and providing the bad qualities. Others might call this “letting them down easy” or “softening the blow” and it applies just as well to complain letters. Let the company know that you chose their service in the first place for a particular reason and you have come to expect excellent service.
- Offer a Clear Resolution – Put yourself in the shoes of the reader. How would you respond to this unsatisfied customer to make them feel happy? There is not always an obvious response to a complaint, especially if the writer does not state what they want to “make up” for their bad experience. As the writer, you should take the opportunity to state your reasonable demands rather than relying on the manager to offer a meager consolation. I recommend partial or full refund, reward points, or a voucher for future service.
My sample hotel complaint letter has been included below to use as an example. Let me know how the letter could be improved in the comments!
I am writing to make you aware of the unbelievably poor customer service I have received at the Hilton Garden Inn [location removed]. I cannot find a more appropriate email address for customer satisfaction-related emails so my apologies if this email does not reach the right person.
I travel frequently for business and have been staying at exclusively Hilton hotels for the past few months. My HHonors number is [number removed]. I have become accustomed to receiving top-notch customer service at Hilton hotels, but your Garden Inn in [location removed] appears to be quite the exception. I am staying at the Hilton Garden Inn [location removed] for the week and handed three dress shirts to the night manager last night to be dry cleaned today. He assured me that they would be ready this evening to be picked up. Upon checking at the front desk this evening, the same night manager said that the laundry had not even been taken to the cleaners. In fact, he showed me that the bag was still sitting behind the front desk. More than 24 hours had elapsed and the bag had not moved an inch! Astounding! The man blamed his coworkers for not reading the note that he left for them and took no responsibility for the debacle. I also noticed that he would not look me in the eye as he delivered this news which felt very strange and disingenuous. He apologized on his coworker’s behalf and offered to pay for the cleaning, which strikes me as the absolute least he could do. I am now forced to meet the same important client tomorrow while wearing the same clothes as yesterday. Wearing the same clothes for multiple days in a row is unprofessional and really, quite embarrassing.
I understand that people sometimes make mistakes, but my bag of laundry has been sitting in plain view behind the front desk for multiple employees to see. I’m not sure how many times dry cleaning is taken out each day but I’m really shocked that no one had the awareness to wonder why a dry cleaning bag did not move from it’s spot for their entire shift. Not one person made an effort to provide that basic level of customer service to me over a 24 hour period. Dry cleaning is a standard hotel service – the bags are provided to each customer in every room. This is not some extravagant perk that is only provided to loyal HHonors members like myself. This is a basic service which I expect from any hotel that I stay at and is essential for me to maintain a professional image with my clients. Because of this, I am not sure the Hilton brand is capable of providing basic services while I’m on business and am considering to stop staying at Hilton altogether in the future. I believe the only fair remedy for this unfortunate situation is to provide a refund of my total price of my stay.
For those of you who are wondering, I eventually received an email from the manager of this hotel with an apology and notice of the full refund of the price of my stay. Yes, there are decent people out there!