A Royal RCCL complaint letter . . .

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#1
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,
 
Sep 22, 2014
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#2
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
 
#4
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.
 
#5
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.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
#6
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
 
#7
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
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. . . .
 
Likes: Neil Maley

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#8
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.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Jan 8, 2015
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#9
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.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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San Francisco
#11
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.
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.