Thursday, April 17, 2008

Complaint Letters and Claim Etiquette

I recieved a rather interesting letter yesterday from a concerned reader, who purportedly was in a conversation with some of the BRG claims staff. He reports that many of the claims staff are overwhelmed by the number of claims they are receiving, and that some of the staff were in tears because of harassing and violent phone calls from individuals who were unfamiliar with the claims process and the terms and conditions of the BRG. Some of these individuals are reportedly threatening lawsuits if their claims are not approved.

I know many people on the internet see the announcements of this blog on the net, quickly check out the details, and muddle through their claims, only to be rejected because they don't know how to file a claim. They don't know the rules. Most of you do, thankfully, but there are a lot of emails I get daily asking me the simplest of questions (ie. are these rooms really free or is it a scam, how do you know I wont be charged, will you guarantee it?, would 2 queens be the same as 2 doubles because its still 2 beds, etc etc). Please, please, read the first few entries of this blog (mid January) and LEARN before you claim.

Here are my suggestions, which I expect all my readers to abide by:

1) Be NICE to Triprewards staff members. Friendliness makes everyone happy.
2) Don't demand anything, anytime. They have their rules, so follow them and don't make up your own rules.
3) Don't overdo your claims. If you know you're not going to use a room, why book it?
4) Can't use a room you booked? Cancel it. Don't screw the hotel over because you changed your mind. They'll keep that room available and not be able to sell it.
5) Give them time. If they don't answer within 4 hours, just chill. Wait until the end of the day, and then resubmit your claim or make a courtesy call. Never yell at them, you'll be blacklisted and screw yourself over for life.

If any of my readers are being threatening on the phone with BRG staff, shame on you. They're all mostly young women in their early 20's who don't deserve to be yelled at because you filed your claims wrong. All they do is follow a set of terms and conditions which are easily found on the internet. Read these. Read the posts about claims early in this blog. Follow the rules. If you do this, your claims will be approved. Don't expect an invalid claim to be approved - these people play by the book. If you are claiming lawsuits, that is just pathetic, and have fun in court trying to convince the judge that they NEED to give you a free room. They don't need to give you anything. They have covered their butts with the clause that claims must be filed "to their own satisfaction" - that's the BRG staff's satisfaction, not yours.

Get rid of the "us against them" mindset. This blog is not about sticking it to the Man and screwing Triprewards over as much as we can. This blog is a simple notification tool about rooms that can be issued for free, but by no means am I trying to screw a company over. It's their guarantee, I didn't offer myself the free rooms, they did. I just know how to get them. They can pull the guarantee at any time, and when they do, I won't be angry with them - I'll be thankful that a company actually kept their word and did give us free rooms for finding a rate lower than theirs. So, I plead to you, don't book more than you need, and cancel rooms you won't be using.


BearlyAmusing said...

Also, the BRG Customer Care folks can be your best friends, too.

Today, I arrived at a Super8 to check-in for a free night only to find that the hotel management was DENYING my claim. The entire management team was in Las Vegas for a "meeting" but had left specific instructions to deny the free room. The poor front desk clerk was caught in the middle. She called the manager and put me on the phone with him. He proceeded to call me a "thief" who resorted to "trickery" for successfully claiming 4 nights at this property over the next 6 weeks. Now, these were not back-to-back nights, but 4 separate stays between April 17 and May 27.

I called Customer Care and spoke with one of the agents who actually had approved one of my stays. She apologized profusely for the manner in which I was treated. She offered to call the hotel, but since mgmt was gone, there really wasn't much anyone could do since the management was in Lasa Vegas. The TR agent did call while I was checking in (and leaving a credit card to conditionally "pay" the $80+ rate.)

Customer Care indicated that if the hotel did in fact charge me, I would receive a check from TripRewards to reimburse me. Not the best situation, but only more evidence that the problem is not often Corporate TripRewards but rather the short-sighted, small-minded, tight-fisted hotel owners who agree to marketing terms and affiliations, yet reneg when pushed on the matter.

I was so unfuriated by the whole matter that I was tempted to post the hotel and the lower road, and let them be deluged with valid claims, as expedia is still showing this property lower-priced.

But then again, I wouldn't want newbies to be subjected to the harassment I experienced.

David said...

While this has never happened to me personally (good luck I guess) it has happened to some people I know. More often than not, the hotel simply doesn't know why they should be giving you a free room.

Triprewards staff are very helpful and friendly, I agree, and they are your only hope in situations like yours. I am sure everything will work out for you. The hotel receives 50% of the room rate back from Triprewards, so I'm not sure why they put up such a stink.

Next time this happens to you, tell him if his rates weren't so high, this wouldn't have happened to him.

BearlyAmusing said...

The main problem was that the management team was all away in Las Vegas. The manager on the phone just kept repeating that he was "denying the claim" and that I resorted to "trickery". He clearly was not prepared to listen to anything I said.

I remained "above-the-fray" and calm as the manager ranted, stating that I followed the T+C as outlined on the website and that my claims had been "approved". At that point, he went off on the "stupid" customer service at TR, saying they don't compare "apples to apples".

The TR rate was $87.99 while the expedia rate was $83. Not a huge difference, but certainly a valid difference.

I looked at and they have now yanked all availability for this property for the remainder of 2008. Rooms remain available on TR.

If I end up being charged, I will file a BBB claim. I have pages of documentation showing that I was approved for each BRG.

David said...

First off, I'm interested in learning which property this was. If you don't mind publishing the name, please do so, or email it to me at

I think you handled the situation well, and that you'll come out ahead with the free rooms despite the problems. Simply tell the hotel at check out that your rate is zero and that you will be disputing any charges with your credit card company - fax your reservations showing the $0.00 rate to your credit card company and you're set. And, file a BBB claim as well as complain to Triprewards head office reporting the rude management.

BearlyAmusing said...

All's well that ends well. I checked out at 1102AM. There was a different front desk clerk on duty and she had to call the manager to ask "what are we doing about Room XXX". A few minutes later, she announced that "the fax says you only pay the tax", which came to a whopping $5.01 on a $87.00 room.

I have a second $0.00 BRG night scheduled for Sunday night. I just reviewed my reservation online and it still indicates $0.00 as the rate.


David said...

I've had the "only pay the tax" situations too. One room in the New York area ran me $18.00 all-told due to all of their contrived taxes that they make up on the spot.

Glad to hear it worked out for you.