As you likely already know, Club Carlson just launched a terrific promotion where if you stay one night at a Radisson, Country Inn & Suites, or Park Inn you can earn 44,000 – 50,000 bonus points.  I am a huge fan of this promo, and even hosted an #antislumberparty Twitter party for those who wanted to stay up until midnight to register right when the promo started.  However, I am very much not a fan of an anti-customer stance they have taken regarding reservations made before the promotion started.

Last week on their official Facebook page, Club Carlson was asked this question -

Will the reservation made before May 15 but check in/out during the Big Night Giveaway promotion period, is that eligible for this promotion?

The Club Carlson said -

We don’t want to give away too much information, but to answer your question, yes.

Thankfully Infamous DX saved the screen shot below showing the initial response.

That seems pretty darn clear to me, and given that it was information provided by Club Carlson, it certainly seemed official enough for some to go ahead and make reservations.  As you can see below, after a little while (before the promo launched, and the full terms and conditions were released), that post from Club Carlson on their Facebook page disappeared.  Not a good sign.

 

Then, when the promo launched, the terms and conditions stated that “Promotion is not valid on existing reservations and is subject to availability.”  Clearly it was not a good situation that Club Carlson had stated one thing on Facebook and another in the official terms, but I know many of us had hopes they would do the right thing and make exceptions for those who made reservations based on the info they received on the Facebook page.  In my view, at the very least they should allow people the opportunity to cancel those reservations without penalty regardless or the regular rate rules.

In some ways, this brings up a bigger question – can you trust a company’s “official” social media presence?  The Club Carlson Facebook page has over 47,000 “likes”, so that is a bunch of people to misinform.  I totally understand that mistakes happen, and that this could very well have just been one employee (or heck, even intern) who made an honest mistake.  I actually even feel bad for whoever it was that posted that misinformation.  However, in my opinion, it is a company’s job to do the right thing when that happens – especially when that error causes people to spend money that they otherwise may not have.  Many family budgets are tight these days, and the thought that someone could have locked in a non-refundable rate for the purposes of this promo only to have that reservation not count, makes me pretty angry.

To be clear, I did not make a reservation before the promo launched, so this post is in no way about my own needs in regards to this promo.  I just don’t think it is right to only post about how great the promo is, and ignore the fact that this issue is being poorly handled.  I know several folks including Deals We Like, Infamous DX, and myself have been Tweeting and posting on Facebook to try to convince Club Carlson to make exceptions for some folks who made reservations based on the info they were provided by Club Carlson.  We have all been met with a polite and firm “no”.  Deals We Like even has a similar post to this one on her site today.  I’m sure posting about this will get me taken off the “Club Carlson Christmas Fruitcake List”, but like I said, if you are going to post the good, in my mind you gotta post the bad.  I still hold out a shred of hope that Club Carlson will reverse their position and make exceptions for those who believed what was posted on Facebook.  I mean, if you can’t trust a company’s official social media presence, what is the point of even having that presence?

 

Posted by Mommy Points | 42 Comments

42 Responses to “Club Carlson Not Honoring Some Info Posted About “Big Night Giveaway””

  1. Up&Away says:

    I hear what you’re saying and I don’t really disagree, but at the same time, I would not have made a non-refundable reservation before the promo started and the official T&C’s were released. Especially since that was not allowed during the last promo. IMO, those who did so were taking a risk. And the $ value for that risk (difference between booking now vs booking the non-refundable rate last week) is probably not enough to have bothered with.

  2. dealswelike says:

    I’ll be joining you in Club Carlson’s “naughty” list. Me and Dana are now e-mail buddies – well not really buddies as she is not responding :(

  3. Tim 2 says:

    MP, the fact that they took the time to remove the post from the facebook speaks volumes.

  4. colleen says:

    Very nice post. Much appreciated. I cancelled and re-booked, but it’s really a much bigger issue as you point out.

  5. dealswelike says:

    @Up&Away – I agree that it was definitely a chance that people took, however, there were some that had to book then due to limited availability at the hotel. The hotel is now sold out so they really can’t cancel and rebook. The whole point of the promotion is to get people to actually stay at the hotel instead of mattress runs so in this instance the person truly does want to experience a Country Inn & Suites. But I agree, rules are rules, but there was definitely an error made on Club Carlsons side with the Facebook message and then deleting it without acknowledging the mistake. They should have, instead, owned up to the mistake and informed folks immediately. That is my biggest concern.

  6. Dennis says:

    Thanks for the post, I didn’t quite believe it when they first posted that statement anyways…

  7. Ram says:

    Good one MP. I would like to hear what CC had to say about this. Even if an employee has made a mistake, IMO CC should be coming up with a responsible response. If they honor those stays that would be the best thing that can be done. At the least people who booked rooms at non refundable prices should be given the option to cancel without any charges. Should see.

  8. LarryInNYC says:

    The inevitable result of making such a big deal out of this kind of mistake will be to eliminate any kind of spontaneous communication with the company. I think we’ll have a lot of cheerful “no comment” comments coming from Carlson in the future.
    .
    Also, I have to say that the folks who passed this information on without pointing out that it was unlikely to be true ought to bear some of the responsibility to those people who may have made non-refundable reservations. The only reasonable advice to give in the absence of official terms and conditions is “wait for the terms and conditions”.
    .
    Finally, Carlson could probably ameliorate the negative feelings created by this boondoggle by at least admitting that the Facebook information was mistaken and came from an employee not sufficiently familiar with the terms and conditions and not authorized in any way to interpret them.

  9. Rayn says:

    @Up&Away Totally agreed.
    At the same time, I would like to share my story here.
    I actually have a planned stay on Mar 28th, 13 days after the beginning of the promo. I decided to deal with Club Carlson for this stay due to this promo (there are many cheaper options available for this stay).
    On the other side, as many of you may know, in order to get the pre-paid discount on Club Carlson properties, one have to book the stay 14 days in advance. Thus I was on a tough situation whether I want to risk the 44k points and possible another paid stay with Club Carlson to save about $20 bucks or secure the 44k points.
    I end up dealing with the safer option and hold my click for the reservation until the promotion starteed (it was only several minutes after the pre-paid discount is no longer an option)
    What I want to say here is that, to me $20 in saving for a hotel night is decent but not worth the risk of 44k big points promo. For other travelers, no matter what kind of deal/promo you are going to do, you really have to do your own math and value the points/miles you are using or risking. Every one’s miles may vary, read more, calculate more and enjoy the rest!

  10. craz says:

    well if I had made a res I too would be piffed . But I would contact the Hotel by calling ask for the mgr and explain it to them. Id say how about this what if I go ahead right now and make another res for the exact same date and when you see that come in CX the 1 I made on 5/xx/12 If the rate went down (it does sometimes even on non-ref rates)Id say put down on teh new res that the person who checks me in to up rate teh arte to what I reserved teh 1st time so theers no loss of rev

    see sir/mam Im not trying to get out of the res its just a CC rep on the web said we can bok a non-ref now and it will count towards the promo.When CC decdied against that in the end but didnt say anything until after we registered. So by you heping out I will be indebted to your Hotel and thsuly anytime Im back in teh area will remember how you helped me out and thusly will want to stay by you again even if theers no promo

    Of cause if you live within an hour of the place dont use the 2nd paragraph

  11. MichaelP says:

    I had previous reservations at the 25% off rate for this promo. I cancelled those reservations without penalty. Oh well.

  12. Voice of reason says:

    Your sense of entitlement is unbelievable. You knew damn well the official terms and conditions came out on 12 AM CT May 15 and not a minute before, regardless of what anything said by anyone on Facebook.

  13. CodeAdam10 says:

    This is what happens when a company tries to keep in touch with their customers and assist in answering questions about something that they haven’t officially released yet. OK, someone made a mistake. Does it really mandate bad press towards Club Carlson? Can any one of you nice bloggers say you have never ever posted something and later retracted it for whatever reason. It happens. They could have kept things hush-hush until the ‘Live’ day.

    @dealswelike: The countless folks who have emailed you with worries about their nonrefundable reservations … has any one of them even attempted to contact Club Carlson or the hotel manager directly to see if they can be helpful and just cancel/rebook the Same reservation on the spot as an exception? I guess if they have and Club Carlson is being total jerks about it then maybe we can continue to complain but if no one has really tried to fix their reservation and they are just publicly humiliating a good promotion then that’s just total nonsense.

  14. Jamison says:

    everyone should use the AAA rate.. its just about the cheapest option and lets you cancel before 6PM local time the day of arrival.

  15. Jimgotkp says:

    As I said once before, bad business practices. Why support a business when they do stuff like this and don’t apologize for their mistakes. Instead of deleting posts whenever they feel like it, they should notify everyone on their FB page. Is it that hard to release a “statement” on their Facebook page? No.

  16. Eric says:

    I actually made a reservation based on the information provided on Facebook. I had an upcoming stay and feared that the rates might go up when the promo was launched.

    I would definitely have waited if I there had been some ambiguity on what would count as eligible stays. I took the “yes” on Carlson Clubs faccebook page at face value. What’s your advice regarding my case?

  17. Lindsay says:

    I’m in the screenshot! Hehe. I’m just sore that I have a cash+points stay booked already that would cost me almost double to rebook, and it’d be nice to get big points for that stay, which I was planning to be able to do because of their previous Facebook response. Am I massively pissed? No, just annoyed that they’re not honoring something an official rep released to the public.

  18. Ruy says:

    I couldn’t agree more. If Club Carlson wants to enjoy the benefits associated with marketing through social media channels like Facebook, which are cost and time effective, they should stand behind what their designated rep said on their Facebook page and take responsibility for it. It is like sending a mail piece advertising a promotion and later claiming that what was written on the postcard was incorrect.

  19. Miles says:

    Reneging on a statement that reasonable people could believe to be official company policy?

    In this day of travel blogs, social media and TripAdvisor ratings, that sounds to me like a career-limiting move on someone’s part.

  20. mommypoints says:

    @Up&Away, I didn’t either, but I try to think about it from the point of view from someone who doesn’t do these sorts of things on a regular basis and doesn’t remember what the exact rules were six months ago. For those folks, I could see how this was easily very misleading.
    @Deals, ha ha. Well, can’t say we aren’t trying. ;)
    @Tim2, I agree. Of course, they couldn’t very well leave it there as it would confuse more folks, but pretending it didn’t exist isn’t my favorite option.
    @colleen, thanks. I agree, it is a larger issue. Sorry to hear you had to rebook!
    @Dennis, I think that some who had participated in this promo before were (rightfully) skeptical with that statement.
    @Ram, I totally agree with you.
    @LarryInNYC, if you are referring to miles and points blogs, most of them that I got a chance to read before the promo launched did a pretty good job of warning repeatedly that the terms and conditions were not yet out and were clear about where they info they were sharing was coming from. However, I do think that you should be able to trust what a company’s official social media presence posts. Personally, I would rather be given a “no comment” answer in a situation like this than bad information.
    @Rayn, good example. Again, I think we all have to remember that we are the exception here. Most of the traveling public does not spend time on forums and blogs related to miles and points. Many of us here seemed to have known there was a calculated risk, but many more casual travelers would have read and trusted what was posted on Facebook and not even realized there was a risk.
    @craz, that is a good suggestion for folks who are in that situation. Thanks!
    @MichaelP, glad you were able to cancel without penalty but sorry you lost out on the 25% discount.
    @Voice of Reason, sense of entitlement? Entitled to what? The only thing I feel entitled to is accurate info from an official voice of a company – and if there is an honest mistake there, then I guess I feel a reasonable fix to that mistake is in order. As I pointed out in my post, this issue does not personally impact me at all, so I am not exactly sure what your comment is trying to imply. Regardless, thanks for your input.
    @CodeAdam10, I love social media and the way it can be used by a company to stay in touch with customers, but that info has to be accurate, otherwise what is the point. When a mistake is made (and yes, we all make mistakes), I feel that the problem shouldn’t then lie with the consumers for trusting that info. Many of us have tried to get CC to make some exceptions on this for the last several days, but they refuse to. In my mind, it isn’t really about them deserving bad press, it is about consumers deserving good info.
    @Jamison, I love AAA rates. Not just for CC but with many hotel chains. Thanks for the suggestion!
    @Jimgotkp, agree. It’s not about spilling the milk, it’s about what you do to clean it up.
    @Eric, that stinks and I totally understand your position. I would try reaching out to the hotel directly and see if they will help you cancel and rebook at the same rate. Of course, you could also try CC directly and see what they say. Keep me posted and sorry to hear that!
    @Lindsay, that stinks! I agree, this isn’t a “the sky is falling” problem, but It is certainly annoying and is costing customers, like you, more money.
    @Ruy, totally agree.
    @Miles, I feel bad for whoever made that error as it sounds like they were just trying to be helpful. I think that the company is the one who should step-up and make good on what their employee said (at least on a case by case basis).

  21. toomanybooks says:

    I had a feeling the final T&Cs would not allow pre-existing reservations. The 3-day sale that was ending right before the launch of the Big Promo was the tipoff.

  22. GoldPoints says:

    From the SoGo! promotion registration e-mail confirmation:

    “Simply complete a qualifying one night stay at any Country Inns & Suites by Carlson hotel now through July 15, 2012 and earn enough bonus Gold Points for a FREE night at any Country Inns & Suites location worldwide.”

  23. CU says:

    I agree with you MP. If someone has a social media presence and is paid to speak on behalf of the company, what they say should be binding. If the spokesperson negligently misrepresented the terms of the promotion, at the very least the company owes its customers an apology and some sort of amends to the people who relied on the company spokesperson (which is what a social media person is) to their detriment.

  24. [...] This lack of a response is creating some bad press for Club Carlson:  Mommy Points – Club Carlson not honoring some infor posted about “Big Night Giveaway” (May 17) and Deals We Like – Club Carlson Big Night Giveaway Promotion Updates (May [...]

  25. jiml says:

    If Club Carlson is not going to honor their commitments made on social media, then they need to withdraw their presence from social media. Obviously they have shown their comments on social media are not trustworthy. They need to deploy their commitments on those media where they are going to honor them.

  26. Anon says:

    Is anyone absolutely positive that using the AAA rate or any other discounted rate won’t disqualify your stay from counting for the promotion?

  27. [...] social media fallout on forum sites like FlyerTalk, MilePoint and blogs like Mommy Points and Deals We Like and Loyalty Traveler here are due to the fact that Club Carlson posted on its [...]

  28. [...] (typeof(addthis_share) == "undefined"){ addthis_share = [];}As you may have read on Mommy Points and Loyalty Traveler, there are some major issues with the handling of these free night promotions. [...]

  29. Up&Away says:

    @Anon – As long as it’s a points-qualifying rate, it should be good for the promotion. Points-qualifying rates should include AAA, Govt rates, and advanced purchase rates. The only one I know of that does not qualify is the Friends & Family rate. Of course, an exception could be made on any of those at a particular property, so check your rate details. If it doesn’t say “Not eligible for points” (or something to that effect) then you should be good.

  30. J in NC says:

    I called as soon as the promo was announced and asked if I made reservation before it went live would it count and the rep said it was so new they did not know. I decided to wait until the promotion started, and was able to get two rooms at the AAA rate, which are refundable. I agree anyone booking before the promo started was taking a chance, I would have at least booked a refundable rate if I was going to reserve before the promo started. I will probably transfer the 100k to US Air during grand slam since we are already using last year’s 100k to stay two nights in Chicago and there really aren’t Radissons in many other places we visit.

  31. Msowna says:

    Here’s the problem, and “family travel bloggers” are really at the root of it.

    Sites such as Fatwallet, FT, etc have certain protocols for dealing with companies with obvious mistakes and/or loopholes they haven’t closed yet. Typically that protocol is to STFU and do not make a huge deal out of it (i.e. write a blog post).

    When our lovely family travel bloggers make a huge deal out of something that was obviously overlooked or a grey area, it forces the company in question to take a hard line stance on the issue – usually not in our favor.

    So again, in the name of page views and ultimately income for you, the community sarcastically thanks you for possibly forcing Carlson’s hand.

  32. mommypoints says:

    @toomanybooks, I think many who have done many things like this might have sniffed out a potential problem. ;)
    @GoldPoints, yeah, the devil is in details on this one.
    @CU, agreed.
    @jiml, absolutely.
    @Anon, as long as the rate earns Gold Points you are good to go. Just click on rate details to verify that.
    @Up&Away, thanks for helping out!
    @J in NC, good job planning ahead for the GS. I like to think from the point of view from someone who trusts what a company says and they wouldn’t even know they were taking a chance, but good for you for being cautious in this instance!
    @Msowna, not surprisingly, I have to disagree. Some folks wouldn’t even know that reservations made before the promo launched no longer counted were it not for posts like this. I wish I had the power to force Club Carlson’s hand, though it certainly would be in the opposite direction than you suggest.
    I’m not exactly sure why I should be quiet about a company wronging it’s customers, but I do appreciate you taking the time to comment. Lots of opinions on this one it seems. As far as page views go, I’m pretty certain the posts where I write good things about the promo get far more page views than the ones where I write negative things, but I feel both are equally important to put out there.

  33. J in NC says:

    Nice reply MP, I am just saying I knew it would be taking a chance since I asked and was told they didn’t know, others that relied on the FB info may not have thought they were taking a chance.

  34. mommypoints says:

    @J in NC, very true. It is always good to double check and make decisions with all available info, especially with stuff like this. It’s just too bad that we have to double check. ;) Thanks for the comment.

  35. Sweeney says:

    I made two reservations at a CI&S (one for me, one for my husband) during the 3-day sale before the promo started. OF course, I would much rather pay that price than the current rate, about $25 difference for each room.

    I’m just going to wait it out and hope that the pressure gets to CS and they allow it… I am optimistic!

  36. I would have to agree…I personally waited to make reservations till I was registered for the promo. Mistakes do happen, however, it seems like this “do the right thing” sort of situation would only serve them better in taking care of their customers.

  37. Jonathan says:

    Curious if it matters if you book via the Radisson website for Country Inn, or not? Radisson has better Mr. Rebates, and ebates portal than country inn.

  38. [...] Was Empty!)Kevy on Hyatt Lost Pines Delivers Again (Even Though the Resort Was Empty!)Jonathan on Club Carlson Not Honoring Some Info Posted About “Big Night Giveaway”mommypoints on Hyatt Lost Pines Delivers Again (Even Though the Resort Was Empty!)wijomas on Hyatt [...]

  39. The Wanderer says:

    New update on the Radisson Facebook page today. Looks like existing reservations will count now!!! Read about it here: http://bit.ly/JrT3lz

  40. mommypoints says:

    @The Wanderer, yes, great news!

  41. [...] can read what others had to say about the issue over at Mommy Points, Deals We Like, The Hustle Blog, and Loyalty Traveler. Overall, many members have been disappointed [...]

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