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A Royal RCCL complaint letter . . .

Discussion in 'Royal Caribbean' started by Joe Farrell, Sep 24, 2015.

  1. Joe Farrell

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    I did send this - but - it was also fun to write and got 'it out of me' if you know what I mean. We got a really good deal on the Royal Suite - less than $5k for the week - so i did not complain too aggressively - but if you want a good letter format - offering a solution is a rare thing - The exec who responded said they had dropped the ball on a couple of these and actually refunded half of our extras cost - which was a VERY nice gesture . .


    February 27, 2009
    Mr. [deleted]
    Executive Vice President – Customer Relations
    Royal Caribbean Cruise Line

    Miami, FL
    Re: Farrell – Reservation xxxxxxx
    Royal Suite – Legend of the Seas – Feb. 18, 2009
    Dear Mr. ______:
    My wife and I have just returned from our cruise in
    the Royal Suite on Legend. We were underwhelmed with
    the service provided to suite guests. Royal Caribbean
    [RCL] provided exactly the service promised, no more,
    and no less. Premium cabin customers expect to be
    impressed with service above the standard, not to be
    treated like any other passenger in a non-premium
    cabin, who is paying non-premium rates. To keep our
    business, we needed to be impressed with service above
    our expectations, not to simply have them met.

    We will not bore you with the details or each issue,
    but we do have 4 specific instances where service
    could have been enhanced at little cost, greatly
    improving the suite guest experience:

    Embarkation:
    I have heard from various cruise reviews that RCL
    suite guests are met and escorted on board. Not us.
    We were pointed to the suite check-in desk at the
    port, were checked-in and then pointed to the ship and
    told we could board. No “Welcome Aboard,” no special
    interaction at all with any shore or crew member.
    When we arrived on board at Noon, we were told that
    cabins would not be ready until 1.30p. We were
    treated no differently that any other guest. It
    appears that this ‘perk’ may only apply to repeat
    customers or on certain ships.
    Recommendation: Suite guests should be escorted to
    the ship by a shore services person and met by their
    cabin attendant, concierge lounge attendant or some
    member of the crew and escorted to their cabin. RCL
    lets the last cruise suite guests off first, and thus
    has at least three hours to get the cabins ready for
    the next cruise before boarding. If the suite area is
    properly staffed, this is plenty of time to allow the
    cabins to be prepped for the next guest. If the
    customer’s suite is not ready, ask them to wait a few
    minutes for a proper welcome.

    Form Letters and Spa Appointments:
    We received a form letter from the hotel director
    welcoming us on board, giving us the wrong name of the
    current Captain, and were thereon ‘informed’ that
    certain spa reservations had already been made for us.
    What was surprising was that even though RCL had our
    contact information on file for months prior to the
    cruise, no one contacted us to ask what spa
    appointments we might like. If the hotel director is
    going to all the trouble to make appointments, then
    perhaps he might like to know which ones to make.
    Likewise, when my wife called to change the
    appointments, she received an attitude and confusion
    over how to change them. Why should the guest deal
    with a prissy attitude from spa staff over changing
    appointments which they never made?

    Recommendation: If the hotel director has email
    contact info (or travel agent info) for the suite
    guest, why not simply ask the customer what spa
    appointments they want? On ships without concierge
    availability, assign a staff person this job. It is
    fairly simple, takes less than an hour a week if done
    properly, and, if the guest does not respond, then
    they do not respond, if they do, they are made to feel
    special. This costs RCL nothing, since I presume
    management has free email access for customer and
    corporate issues. Such would enhance the special
    feeling of being in a premium cabin.

    Cabin Attendant:
    Our cabin attendant had twelve cabins, most of which
    were suites. His first words to me were not hello and
    welcome aboard, but ‘we are not doing the evening
    turndown from Tampa.” That certainly set the tone for
    the week. It was not about what the guests needs
    were, but what RCL decided our experience would be. I
    had our son traveling with us and I needed to contact
    someone for help in pulling out the sofa bed since it
    required four separate steps to get it open instead of
    simply pulling on the frame. Likewise, we had to ask
    that the ice bucket be restocked with ice once it
    melted after the first day.

    Recommendation: Cut down the number of cabins
    serviced by an attendant and actually encourage the
    cabin attendant to act almost as a part time butler.
    We were never asked what else we needed. There was
    almost no interaction between our cabin attendant and
    us and I made the point with the tip.

    Evening Canapés:
    Apparently on formal nights there is an evening hors
    d’oeuvres service. What it consisted of is the suite
    doorbell ringing and someone shoving a plate of
    something into my hands. The items were nice and
    flavorful, but why did we get them and from whom?

    Recommendation: Have the waiter either actually say
    something when they present the canapés or, place a
    card on the plate explaining what it is. To shove a
    plate of food into someone’s hands, with no
    explanation, is not professional and presents a poor
    image. If you are going to do the service, do it with
    style and let people know why they are getting it.

    Adventure Ocean – Ages 12-14:
    There is no supervision for this program on the
    Legend. RCL should speak with a developmental
    psychologist and ask exactly how inviting an open
    room, with older teenagers hanging out and sometimes
    making out, is to boys and girls 12-14 years old. Is
    it intimidating? You bet. My review of the daily
    activity forms revealed no supervised activities in
    the evenings and zero effort paid to have a meet and
    mingle for the younger teens. The first night was a
    ‘get acquainted’ with staff and the program
    presentation for parents, and the next day activities
    started that had no counselor present, and no age
    appropriate efforts made to have these very young
    teens feel comfortable. I have two specific examples
    of how the program failed. First, on the third night
    of the cruise I saw two boys, age 12 or 13, walk up to
    the Optix [teen] lounge, peer in, look at each other and then
    walk away. Next, on Day 6 there was a mini-golf
    tournament. Guess who won? A 47 year old man. My
    wife, who is not a teenager, came in second. Not a
    single child won anything. This was supposed to be a
    kid’s activity?

    Recommendation: Put some structure in the program at
    the beginning of the week for the ‘tweens and young
    teens [i.e., 12-14] to give an emotional safety net to
    feel comfortable meeting other kids. Allow the
    12-14’s to have a few structured and required
    activities to get them out of their shy shells, help
    them meet other kids away from the 15-17 year olds who
    are in a whole different place in their lives. Get
    some counselors involved in these activities and
    actually have prizes or something for the kids in this
    age group if you intend to have activities for them.

    We do not want refunds or any special compensation.
    We gave RCL a chance to win our loyalty for our
    premium cabin dollars, and you failed. As the
    airlines say, we have other choices and we intend to
    exercise that choice and cruise in a premium cabin on
    a cruise that wants our premium cabin expenditure. If
    you wish to speak with either of us, or confirm any
    information, please feel free to do so. If you wish
    to retain our future business, about the only thing to
    do so would be to provide us a complementary suite
    upgrade on another RCL ship to see if perhaps we just
    got a bad crew or picked the wrong ship or ship class.


    There were some excellent parts of our cruise, one of
    which included the debarkation, but it seems a like a
    customer service failure to me to excel at getting me
    off the ship. Do you not see the disconnect with the
    message being sent?

    Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.
    Very truly yours,
     
    #1
  2. McNeal

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    Joe
    Now that's tellin' 'em. Good for you. If I have any criticism at all, I'd say you were a little too forgiving. :eek:

    I'd have been much harsher in my tone and demands for restitution. This is the perfect scenario to demand a full refund and a comp upgrade to a suite from a balcony on your next cruise. :p
    John
     
    #2
  3. Joe Farrell

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    harshness of tone gets you nowhere -
    And premium and RCCL are an oxymoron.

    You'd NEVER get that from a cruise company - ever -
     
    #3
  4. George M

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    I've learned a lot from this post. Apparently a "Get-It-Off-My-Chest" litany of problems sometimes really works! So much for the bullet points and concise messages that are so often recommended on this forum. (If there were a tongue-in-cheek emoji I would have appended it here). I'm actually amazed that RCCL refunded 50% of the extras. They must have seen what an important contributor you are here, based upon your "Likes Received" to "Messages" ratio.
     
    #4
  5. Joe Farrell

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    I thank you for the thoughts- but this was 2009 - I could have bullet pointed it but sometimes you need you tell the tale . . .plus - it was 2009.

    The travel industry has a lot less tolerance now - they're 6 years deeper into just wanting people to give them money . . . without providing value.
     
    #5
  6. Neil

    Neil Moderator
    Staff Member Advocate

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    Joe, your letter was very well written and why I believe it was taken as well as it was is that you didn't merely complain - you offered a solution for every issue that you had. Too often people complain but an effective letter tells the company what they could have done to prevent the solution.

    We try to follow this when writing to a company and find that the letters are better received than those without suggestions on how to correct a problem.

    Thanks for posting this. If you are looking for a superior customer service product you need to use the high end cruise lines, like Azamara, Regent or Seaborne
     
    #6
  7. Joe Farrell

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    My philosophy is don't bring me problems - bring me solutions. Not a single one of those issues involved RCCL spending 5 cents. Even the 'get another cabin attendant' was free to them - there are still Indonesians for whom that is a really good job and they have a line down the block when they hire - they even charge them for the airline ticket to get them to a port, and room and board on the ship - so the tips they make barely get them 20-25% of what the tip is. . . .
     
    #7
    Neil likes this.
  8. jsn55

    Staff Member Advocate

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    So glad you posted this, Joe, it's an invaluable "lesson in complaining". I've had good luck with complaint letters to all kinds of entities over the years, and by reading yours, I realize that offering solutions to the complaints is very well received by the company.
    I'll keep your letter in my reference file ... when we get organized for 'consumer education' posts, this topic should be one of them. People get so angry and frustrated that their complaint letters are often just tossed, doing nobody any good. Your letter is the way to complain and be recognized.
     
    #8
    Neil likes this.
  9. Mike Z

    Staff Member Advocate

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    Going to sound cruel here, but the ONLY reason anyone bothered to read that letter was because you included the words "Royal Suite" in the very first part of the message. Anyone else writing that much would have had their letter tossed in the trash and probably never even responded to as it was so long and lecturing. As they say, money talks.
     
    #9
  10. Joe Farrell

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    Mike - this was back in 2009 . . . the companies had more tolerance!
     
    #10
  11. jsn55

    Staff Member Advocate

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    Yer a tough cookie, Mike Z! Even today, I think Joe's letter would get read ... but probably only because he was a high-profile customer ... nothing wrong with the Royal Suite life.
     
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