Saturday, 18 August 2012

The Dark Side...

Hospitality business faces tougher challenges in this modern age of connectivity.  While on the one hand online travel forums are an excellent marketing tool where good guest reviews attract guest traffic, there unfortunately is a dark side to it…

Online travel sites can become an instrument of destruction of a business when fake malicious reviews are posted to hurt a business like a lightning bolt.  This is why it becomes of penultimate importance for corporate management of a hotel to ensure that all their T’s are crossed and I’s dotted in making sure that their house is in order.  It gives them the confidence to publicly dispute questionable allegations and set the records straight.

Hotel Rafayel has not been immune to such questionable reviews, but our policy dictates that we remain transparent and honest with our customers, making sure we rectify misconceptions immediately and publicly.  We believe it is vital for our survival to exhibit our principles and ethos to let everyone know who and how we are.  The latest example is this extremely destructive review and our public reply to it:

“Dirty room and rude lazy staff! Made fraugelent charges to my card after I checked out!”
Reviewed August 17, 2012 NEW

I stayed at this hotel for a weekend in the Summer of 2012.

I have stayed in many of the top hotels in London, and this hotel was recommended to me by a colleague who stayed here for one night a few months ago.
When I arrived at the hotel at 5pm I was told that my room was not ready and told to wait, no apology was offered no explanation I was literally told "oh it's not ready yet, you will have to wait" I was then shooed away with a hand gesture so that the receptionist could see to the next couple checking in (who were given their room key card no problem).
After standing in the lobby for 20 minutes I approached the receptionist again to ask if my room was ready yet, her respond was "if it was ready I would have told you".
After 15 more minutes she rudely told me the room was ready, I was then checked in, the whole time the receptionist was have a very animated conversation with a collegue, which she continued the entire time she was checking me in, and when asked a question she looked at me with disgusts because I interrupted her conversation.

When I finally got to the room I was hoping for a relaxing bath and something to eat after traveling all day.
Unfortunatly the concierge who showed me to my room was very rude,
He 'dumped' my bags (one containing my MacBook) down onto the floor quite hard, he did not offer to show me how to work any of the rooms controls, and when I asked he told me it was "easy to figure out, even a moron can do it" but when I asked him to show me he seemed very annoyed and me the most useless 'demonstration' that I have ever witnessed.
I didn't dare ask again so I just thanked him and told him that I was sure I would manage on my own. I then went over to pick up my bags, but he did not leave, I began to remove my laptop from my bag and he just stood there staring at me, clearing his thoat three times.
I asked him if there was anything else and he just stood staring, I asked again and he put out he hand.
Now I am usually the first person to offer a tip when it is deserved, but I did not think the service this man offered was entitled to anything, and certainly not when it was insisted.
I said thank you but I don't require anything else, and yet he still refused to leave, and continued to clear his throat.
He then began staring at my handbag.
I asked him to leave so that I could unpack and he trust his hand at me,
I asked him to leave and he told me it was polite to tip the concierge in 5* hotels.
I told him that I was fully aware of that, but decent polite service was also expected in 5* hotels. I asked him to leave again and again he thrust his hand at me. I told him that I was not going to give him a tip and that I wanted him to leave, now.
He left, slammed the door and then I heard him call my a bi**h.

Unfortunatly this was not then end of my disappointment.
The room was dirty, I had to wash out the bath before I could use it as it had hair and soap scum around it from the last use. I did call down to reception, but nobody came to the room.
There was also rubbish, in various places in the room, suspecting that the room had not been cleaned from the last occupants I asked that someone come and change the bedding for me, but nobody came.
After an hour I went down to the reception (after no answer on the phone) myself and asked to change rooms, I was told that the hotel was fully booked and there were no empty rooms.
I then asked for someone to come and change the bedding as the room has clearly not been cleaned.
It took another 4 calls and 2 hours minutes for anyone to come to my room.

The food I ordered from room service was inedable and had to be sent back, twice. The third meal was still disgusting and I called to ask for it to be taken away as it was revolting and inedable.

I stayed for two nights and it didn't get any better.
I had to call and request fresh towels and linen.

On check out I discoved that I had been charged for all three room service meals that I had sent back!
I was also charged for items from the mini bar that I had not had.
I refused to pay for them.
And after a long discussion they were eventually forgiven. which my receipt shows.

When I returned home I discovered that a second charge had been made to my card AFTER I had left, for the room service meals, mini bar items and several other unknown charges.

I am very annoyed and have already contacted my bank and informed them that these are fraudulent charges.

I also made several written complaints to the management, none of which they even bothered to respond to.


Hotel Rafayel Management Reply:

Dear Guest,

This is a killer review that can hurt any corporation severely, but we are sure we will be able to highlight the inconsistencies in your post that are ample.  Since the publication of your review we have investigated to find out the details of your stay.

1.      You claim that you have written several letters.  Most disappointingly we have gone through our entire database but find no record of any such complaint in the month of July, or even in the last six months.  After having checked thoroughly, in the entire month of July, no overcharge has been made to any customer card, neither have we made any refunds for such an error. We cannot trace this at all with our best efforts. We would request you to send us all the details immediately. If we can bother to respond within 12 hours on a public forum it would be more like us to respond to customer complaints within 24 hours and not to sleep on it, especially to an explosive complaint like yours that could not have been avoided.

2.      Our standard policy, if a room is not available, is to request the customer to wait in the restaurant with a river view.  From your review it appears that this was not the case yet any customer that is delayed so late - until 5 - due to non-availability of the room is recorded in our system. Unfortunately in the last 12 months not a single incident of such an oversight has been recorded. Our house-keeping goes off at 4.00 PM and we simply do not leave room preparations to 5 PM, this would be catastrophic.  Most unfortunately we could not find any complaint on such an incident. 

3.      Reception and Concierge rudeness: This is not our speech or approach, we would not exist in this business if we called people “Morons,” what justification do we have? Our staff is professional and very courteous. We DO NOT accord such treatment to our guests.  We serve around 50,000 guests per annum and in the last three years, our policy is that “Customer is king.” If any of our staff acts in such a manner they will be severely disciplined; we are here to serve not to abuse our guests.

We refuse this allegation without further substantiation from your side as to the time of arrival.   We can find the person in no time.  Such deliberate oversight, if it occurred, is just not acceptable. We can get CCTV footage of all this if you give us the details to help sort out the issues if in fact it happened, especially where we would be able to find out ‘who took you up’ and who asked for the tip and who allegedly  abused you. These are very grave accusations.

Our 2” main doors (5.08 cm thick) are equipped with ‘Hafele’ locking system that cannot be banged. To avoid problems of banging sounds for other customers, the whole lobby is totally sound proof from the room, the whole idea being that the noise should not be heard from the other side.  You allege that the concierge banged the door and literally abused you using the ‘ B-word ‘.  Even the toilet seats from ‘Roca’ are hydraulic, designed to come down gradually to avoid any banging which may cause disturbance to other guests sharing rooms. The pains we have taken have cost us £150 instead of £10.

We once again request you that circumstantial evidence unfortunately does not support your allegations.  Our staff’s conduct with other customers has always been above board.  And if we have ever discovered an unusual tendency of greed in our porters, like we did on a single isolated occasion, we immediately removed such staff on mere suspicion, forget the notion that we will live with it for years. This is not us and we as a corporation will defend such an allegation unless we are given full information.

Such an attitude will be severely censured and will lead to automatic suspension of the staff. We can determine the culprit if you let us have more details instead of anonymous reviews where we spent hours to discover the identity and still are not even 10 percent as records of such incidents do not exist.

4.       We have 95% star rating on ‘cleanliness’ in our 600 reviews here and also on other third party sites, we never ever had complaints like this, this is not us, we don’t see this as us, we will stop the business than to act in such a horrendous manner as you have depicted us.

We take pride in our cleanliness and it is handled ably by a lady director of the company who is here from 6.00 in the morning every day; cleaning and food and beverages plus service forms the core of our approach here.

We are top class cleaners and this is something that is just not probable.  We are not an ordinary hotel as far as our dedication and commitment to serve is concerned. We serve with pride: that is us.

We claim that we are affordable luxury; we don’t give away rooms like that.  There are three levels of checks and controls before a room can be given out to guests, and we are happy to share our reports with you which would show how steps are taken, from guest checkout to new arrival, to ensure that the room is thoroughly turned around with the kind of luxury we think our guests deserve.  We have never been accused of giving dirty rooms away, or with bathroom scum or unclean lines or lack of towels, this is not us. This is something that rejects our ethos and our corporate identity.

In the entire three years of our kitchen, our food has never been returned thrice, such gross cooking would raise eyebrows at the highest level  Ours is a fine dining place, and we take pride in our connoisseur skills and think we serve great food; our ambience in the Banyan, as most have written, is exceptional. We have checked our entire record and have been unable to find a single incident in July or last three years where food was returned thrice, it is just not true, no return has been observed in any of our records - neither in July nor in the last three years of our existence. We have checked the entire food and beverage data, the guest which has similar name as you was given free food for 23 pounds due to a change of room that was requested but we could not give. We have taken evidence from our head chef and found your allegation to be untrue so far.  We would like to receive the bill you paid that would help us to trace the whole accusation painstakingly.   The only times we may have had complaints are likely to be with steaks which are not cooked to the desired level of the guests or in a rare mix-up between the different flavours of prawns served.

It’s a shame you have not noticed the many facilities at the hotel offered to our guests. Free 20 MB Wi-Fi, free shuttle service, large rooms and bathrooms, Hypnos beds, World class linen, 50% discount on food at the Banyan restaurant and on spa therapies, a Library with the latest books...just to name a few.

Please note that for you it is a review but for us it is our fledgling business that is attacked so openly and if this is the kind of business we run, we have no right to claim ourselves as a pro- customer business. This is not us.  We are proud of our service, and we will continue to serve with pride but our whole plan is to get to the bottom of this, with the hope that one day you will not advise people to “avoid us like the plague,” once we discover the facts that we so confidently refute.  We are so confident that we have selected this review to appear in our blog and in our facebook page, because our customers know this is not us.  This is the kind of review which helps us to establish who we are..."This is exactly not us".

1 comment:

  1. I stay in the Rafayel about 30 times a year. I am convinced that the review posted here is ficticious and malicious. I would recommend this hotel to anyone. I love it there, its the best value in london. The rooms are spotless. The staff are so polite I sometimes feel embarrassed by the rudeness of the guests!!! The Banyan is peacful and relaxing. The views to the river and Albert Bridge are spectacular. I know that the owner and staff would be appalled by this so called review. I have been staying here for two years. There is not a word of truth in it. Mr. M J