Whatever Happened to Customer Service? A Road-Weary Tale

UnknownThe story begins, appropriately enough, with a theft.  Namely, my wallet from a counter top in a sundries shop at a hotel while out of town in Las Vegas for business for a week. But the adventure really began trying to report the theft, cancel my primary personal business card and, it was my hope, secure cash from my credit card company (Citibank Visa) of more than 20 years. Turns out they were inept (and will soon not be my credit card company) and stuck on policy. And they were far from alone.

Now, you would think that being a customer in good standing for more than two decades would allow for the wiring or advancement of cash to my casino hotel. More than two hours and four “customer service specialists” later, I had run as much out of patience as I was now out of on-hand money.  Obviously concerned with fraud, I was shuttled from one person to the next (each barely more understandable than the last) as I told my tale over and over and over again.  In the end, I was informed, no cash would be forthcoming. Rather, I would be sent a replacement card to my hotel within 24-48 hours – maybe – as they were unable to commit exactly to a date and time. Las Vegas. Four days left in my business trip. No money. No I.D. No help.

My quest for green sustenance took me next to Western Union, which, I was informed, had a location in the hotel next to me. I would need I.D (also for the plane ride home), so I had my birth certificate and passport scanned and emailed. Upon arriving at Harrah’s the next day to pick up a Western Union wire from home, I was informed by the hotel that as I was not a hotel guest, they could not accommodate me. (Guess where I will never be staying).  The valet at that hotel did allow me to ride an airport shuttle to another Western Union location several miles away off the strip gratis (again, I had zero money) where the adventure continued.

At Check City, where a steady stream of characters rolled in and out, I was informed that their policy dictated that they could not accept my scanned birth certificate and passport for the dollar amount I wished to secure. Family at home had to start the process over again, allowing me to eventually secure about half the cash I originally sought. Not wanting to spend this lesser amount on a cab (with more than two more days of my trip to go), I walked the several miles back to my hotel over the next 40 minutes.  Within the next hour, I happened to call my hotel’s business and package office and was told my credit card had arrived! Funny, my hotel had not informed me; it was mere intuition that had moved me to call and discover my gift, about an hour before the office was scheduled to close.

The day ended with my desire to relieve some stress by hitting the hotel gym. I left my room at 9pm and discovered upon arrival that the gym was closed for the day (evidently open 6a-8p – barely more than doctor’s hours for a gym in a supposed 24-hour hotel casino). Upon returning to my room, I discovered, almost poetically, that I had not brought my room card. Rather, I had brought my newly arrived Citibank Visa card – forcing a walk through the casino in my workout gear to the front desk for a replacement room card.

It is ultimately sad that the honest majority is inconvenienced (sometimes seriously if not dangerously) because policies are set to protect against the dishonest minority.  These “rules” also ignore what is best for the customer (or, in the case of Harrah’s, a potential customer). They ignore decency, compassion and the consideration of individual situations and the human condition. It has been an unpleasant eye opener for me and a stark realization that “customer service” has become an almost moronic oxymoron.