This week I came up to Whistler, BC, to attend the Paralympics to root for my son who is a paralympian. I made my hotel arrangements through this group, telling them what I was doing up there (being a parent who needed to be near the Paralympic events) and the criteria I needed to meet (be near restaurants etc.).
Knowing they would be taking the money out of my VISA on a specific date, and that it was a non-cancellable charge, I called twice after making my booking to ensure I was getting my criteria met. I kept being told, “Don’t worry. You are 5-7 minutes away from everything. There is one bus that connects everything and leaves just outside the hotel every 5 minutes.” Something didn’t feel right, and so I called more than I normally would.
When traveling up from Vancouver on the shuttle, stangely I was the very very last person to be dropped off (rather than in the village nearest the Paralympic slopes), and found myself going halfway up a mountain absolutely nowhere near the mountain where the paralympians would be racing – about 40 minutes (and two buses, it turned out) from my son’s races. And the hotel, The Coast Blackcomb Suites, had no restaurant anywhere nearby. It was obviously not appropriate for my needs.
When I arrived at the hotel and realized what had happened, the lovely, wonderful front desk person Sarah called her equally lovely manager, Todd. Between them they set about sorting me out, getting me another hotel in a better location, and giving me a refund. Given that they probably wouldn’t be able to fill my room (booked for 7 nights) it cost them. But they were more concerned that I was happy. Todd also said that it was the 2nd time that week he’d had the same situation with Whistler.com: they had placed a customer in a hotel inappropriate for their needs.
We called the manager at Whistler.com to complain. “You’re only 5-7 minutes away,” she said, sounding like a record. When I repeated my criteria again, she said, “OH! You mean the OLYMPIC village, not the town of Whistler! Oh, that’s different! We didn’t realize that.!” I don’t know how well any of you know me, but being unclear is not something I do, especially after 3 calls.
When I told her she’d have to fix it (at 6 pm), she said she’d try but ‘…unfortunately…’ When she got to that point, I opened up a mouth.
“Try?? Try?? You’re going to get me another room NOW and charge me NO MORE than what I’ve already paid. You should have done your trying over the past 3 months.”
“I don’t know if…”
“Don’t start with me,” I warned. “I’m too tired, too cranky, and too annoyed to be nice with you.”
Then she said the magic words: “I don’t know why you’re mad at ME. I didn’t do anything!”
“What the hell are you talking about! You’re the manager! You’re responsible.” You all don’t want to hear what else I said – I don’t do well with managers who don’t take responsibility, especially when they leave me stuck, far away from where I should be, in a strange town, with hundreds of appropriate hotels to choose from, on a 14 hour travel day with no place to sleep.
Eventually, they got me a lovely Junior Suite at the Westin. Once there, the manager took me in and fed me (they paid for my meal) because they wanted me happy. The two young men at the bar said they had worked for Whistler.com and quit because they only wanted to ‘close the deal’ and they didn’t care what they told the clients.
Come on folks. In this day and age, mistakes like this get reported and sent all over the globe in moments. Lying to customers is not OK. Not taking responsibility to make sure mistakes are handled is not OK.
Until the folks at Whistler.com clean up their act, take care of customers, take responsibility for mistakes, and learn to really listen to what customers need, I propose that people use a different hotel management service when coming to Whistler.