Hilton has had a lot of bad press lately with all the kerfuffle about their points devaluation/award chart restructuring. While I took note of the new award chart, I was also trying to wrap my head around the fact that I was already in the middle of spending over 600,000 Hilton points. Gulp. Yes, you read that right.
Six. Hundred. Thousand.
Why? What? Where?
Well. Ahem. Last year, I asked my kids where they would go if they could go ANYWHERE. Because of a memorable (and maybe not in a good way) trip to Hawaii a few years ago, I think they wanted a do-over, so they yelled in unison, “Hawaii!” Since I love Hawaii, I was happy to comply. Besides, I wanted a do-over, too. So I planned a very luxurious trip. If you are interested, you can read about the details here.
The short story is that I was able to amass enough points for two oceanview rooms for four nights at the Grand Wailea on Maui. (In case you are wondering why we wanted two rooms…the answer is a big part of the reason we wanted a do-over). The final piece in my jigsaw puzzle of points was the “2 Free Weekend Nights” feature of the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve cards. I planned to use the two certificates for two rooms on our final night.
As soon as I received the reward certificates (via email, about 10 days after my Reserve card statement closed), I called in to triumphantly make the reservation. The customer service rep who answered my call was very friendly, and happily participated in my excitement when I told him that I wanted to redeem a reward certificate. “Great!” he said. “Where are you going?”
“The Grand Wailea!” I sang. “Great redemption, right?”
Then there was a beat of silence. “Um,” he said, giddiness gone. “Let me check and see if your date is available.”
He was back on the line within a minute. Good news! My date was available..BUT…bad news! The system was not letting him make the reservation because it looked like a one-night stay. To his credit, he tried everything he could think of, but to no avail. I thanked him, hung up, and decided to send an email instead. I explained the situation in detail, and I got this breezy response:
Dear Pixie Points,
Thank you for your inquiry regarding your upcoming trip. We appreciate you taking the time to contact us. I’m very happy that you are now able to go on such a wonderful vacation. Hawaii is truly paradise!
While I wish I could help, the Hilton HHonors Email Department does not have access to reservations. Please contact Reservations at one of the numbers listed below.
Really? You wish you could help?
Time to switch to the phone. I just asked to make a 2-night reservation. At this point, whatever: I would straighten it out after I locked it down. The frazzled rep claimed that I couldn’t use my certificates at the Grand Wailea. Since I knew this wasn’t true, I asked her to please just try to make the booking. “I could lose my job!” she hissed. Finally she agreed to call the Help Desk. Several minutes later, she returned, claiming that the Help Desk was too busy to answer her question. Maybe I could call back later.
OMG. Time for another email, this time to Reservations. I just wanted to book a 2-night stay at the Grand Wailea. Could they please help me with this simple request? Apparently not. Here’s what I got back:
Dear Pixie Points,
Thank you for your inquiry regarding an upcoming stay. We appreciate you taking the time to contact us.
I do apologize for the inconvenience this may have created for you. Please be advised that the free night certificates can only be used for standard rooms and the hotel currently does not have any standard rooms available for your time period.
If there is anything else we can assist you with, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Um, okay. But I’m looking at the website right now and there’s mad availability. In every room category. For points, for cash, for points and cash. And there has been for days. Do they think I don’t have internet access? That I can’t just check for myself? Still a mystery.
Time for a direct tweet. Why I didn’t think of this before, I have no idea.
After a few informational tweets/haikus:
Want to book a stay/My reward certificate/does not seem to work
Can you please help me/This is my fifth Hilton call/I’m counting on you
Two nights standard room/One night, two rooms – I don’t care/I just want a night
I was ultimately matched with a SUPER HELPFUL, efficient, professional, friendly rep. Not only did he quickly resolve the situation that had brought the rest of the Hilton reps to a grinding halt, he was able to make it better: he gave us an oceanview room, simply tacking on a night’s stay in the same room type to our existing reservation.
So I went from grumbling to grateful in a handful of haikus.