Are you being subtly obnoxious?

March 26, 2008 |  by  |  General
  • SumoMe

Sometimes, exerting a little pressure on customers to get them to use your services again seems perfectly reasonable from the company’s point of view.

From a recent Hilton email:

.. But Time is Running Out

We don’t want to lose you as a valued member. Please act by
June 01, 2008 to keep your HHonors account open. If no activity is recorded by that time, the remaining point balance will be forfeited and your account will be closed. Prior to your account closing, you may redeem your points for any eligible reward. For a complete listing of HHonors rewards, click  here.

To which I replied:

If you really don’t want to lose a valuable member, don’t apply this pressure. Just keep the account open and don’t hit me with arbitrary requirements.

To which they replied:

As long as you keep your account active by recording at least one eligible point earning activity every 12 months, your HHonors points will not expire.  However, should you go more than 12 months without recording any eligible activity, your account will be deactivated and your accumulated point balance will be forfeited. If you do not have an activity, your account will be automatically closed due to inactivity.

If you have any further questions regarding your HHonors account, please let me know.


Hilton Reservations and Customer Care

2050 Chennault Drive

Carrolton, TX 75001

To which I replied:

Thanks for responding personally.

If you knew how arbitrary, threatening and non-customer-oriented that sounds, you would not do it or say it. It’s so bad that I’m going to use it as an example of bad customer policies and communication in my blog and my speeches. Thanks for the material.

Here’s the communication that I would have liked to have received. Wouldn’t this have been better?

Dear Mr. Silverman,

We noticed that you haven’t stayed at a Hilton for a while. Is this just an accidental byproduct of naturally fluctuating travel patterns, has our competition provided something better, or did we do something that you are not happy with? While we usually close down inactive accounts after a year of inactivity, if you click on this link to tell us to keep it open, we will be happy to do so.  But more importantly, if there is anything that we can improve or rectify, I want to hear about it so that I can personally intervene to make it right.

We know that it is very hard to get new customers but it is very easy to lose them. While our business is formally called the hospitality business, we know that we are in the happiness business. We are passionate about constantly improving our level of hospitality and your happiness. Please take a moment to tell me what we can do better, no matter how ambitious or how minor it may seem from your perspective. Our legendary level of service comes from two things: a few occasional major breakthroughs and hundreds of minor improvements. Many of these come from customer suggestions, even though our professionals literally stay up nights figuring out improvements. We don’t just say that you are a “valued member.” As you will see if you take the trouble to jot down a few thoughts, we take your happiness seriously and will demonstrate to you just how valuable we consider your patronage.

Bee, your personal customer advocate.

BTW, call me at ——– if you want to talk about this personally.


Some hotel firms, other firms, actually to send letters like this — and mean it. They follow up, make things right, provide personal service and don’t send out form letters.

By the way, I have no gripe about Hilton Hotels. My last stay at a DoubleTree in LA was wonderful. Too bad they had to ruin it with bad corporate communications. Come to think of it, I’ve gone more than a year on occasion without staying at a Marriott. They never cancelled my account.

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