Chapter 5a: You Call That Customer Service?!

I had a recent interview and one of the questions I was asked was “What was the worst customer service experience you had?”

Honestly, I was dumbfounded at this question. I knew I had experienced poor customer service before, but couldn’t think of a specific time. So naturally, I made up a story about Wal-Mart and got the job.

It wasn’t until getting my uniform, that I would have an unforgettable customer service disaster.

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I had to order safety equipment for my job, I don’t drive and therefore must have items delivered to my home. As most people would expect when ordering online items will be delivered to your door or your community postal office.

WRONG!

Watching the online tracking I could see my package was out for delivery. Fast forward 10.5 hours later I had to leave (for driving school, ironically). I ended up missing the package by 13 minutes.

I package ends up at a holding depot 30 minutes away in another town.

I waited until noon the next day, and the tracking information hadn’t been updated (this companies policy is to update after 10 am local time every day). So I called the shipping depot and spoke with the manager asking them what was up, they assured me the package would be delivered tomorrow.

Tomorrow

Tomorrow comes. It’s after 10 am and there’s no update. I call the shipping company again and ended up talking to some call centre in India–Classic!

He gives me instruction to leave a note on my front door for the delivery guy and could see in his “system” the package was indeed scheduled for delivery that day.

The package NEVER came!

I had to go to training that day and they let it slide that I didn’t have my safety equipment. I was given a warning if I didn’t have the next time I would be “let go”.

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The Next Day

At this point, I’m irate (as someone who works in hospitality I never get this point) but I’m steaming at the ears. I call them again.

I explain the situation to the call centre lady. She was VERY good at her job and for the first time, I felt like I was getting somewhere. I made it abundantly clear to her if I didn’t get my safety equipment in the next 48 hours I would lose my job!

She understood and together we filed a formal complaint, made the package priority tracking, and contacted the shipping depot manager who had no choice by days end to contact me.

I speak with the manager and it was the same one from two days prior. I tell her if she doesn’t correct this issue by days end I would call corporate. She assures me that my package is a priority.

I call corporate anyhow and gave them my complaint file number and make sure that there is a tracked phone call with them. They told me they would look into the issue and don’t understand why this had been such as service failure.

The Following Day

THE PACKAGE NEVER COMES.

I feel defeated and call the shipping company again, giving no restraint to my profanities. The Manager ended up calling again. She apologised and said that this was yet another service failure on the companies behalf and that the driver would be facing disciplinary actions.

I’m told my package couldn’t be delivered until after the weekend. I tell here that’s not good enough and she needs to do better but nothing.

After the Weekend

My boyfriend rallies and helps me. We ended going to the store and buying the equipment before my shift (This made more sense than picking up the package as it was the opposite direction of where my work was).

I show up to work and they gave me a slide as it wasn’t the “right equipment” and I needed the other items. They give me a final warning.

I get home from my shift and….

THE PACKAGE NEVER CAME!!

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The Next Morning

I had to work early and despite being given a warning tried to see if they would give me a slide or light duty options. I was wrong and let go.

I get a call from the holding depot asking when I’m coming into getting the package 30 minutes from my home. I tell them there a bunch of idiots and I’m refusing the package now.

This was only the beginning of the customer service nightmare I had to go through to get this equipment refunded to me. Stay tuned for Chapter 5b: You Call That Customer Service?!

This was one of the many events that happened to that contributed to my depression that was mentioned in Thank-you for the Love and Chapter 4: The Downside to Word of Mouth. I just wanted to share my experiences with those who seem to have continuous bad luck such as myself.

Have you had an awful customer service experience? Let me know in the comments below and don’t be afraid to give this post a like.

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Chapter 3: Hitting Rock Bottom in Niagara Falls

This wasn’t a planned post, but I can’t sleep and I need to vent.

I just lost my job, one that I’ve wanted since I stepped foot in Niagara Falls, 2 years ago. I hope by writing about this I can bring some light to struggles of gaining full-time employment in the Niagara Falls Tourism industry.

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If you read Prologue: Get to Know me then you are well aware how I even ended up in Niagara Falls to start with.

Long story short, I was hired in December as a permanent full-time front of house position. Which means it was day 89 out of 90 days and I could be let go for no apparent reason.

This is exactly what happened.

In my time there I had only been “dicked” around for hours despite being full time. Management decided to cut the number of people working (to save on operating costs) and thus this cut me to 0-6 hours a week.

Even thought there was a lack of hours, I still made my best of the situation. I had worked my butt off for two years to gain experience to even be in this position at this property.

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There I was sitting in a conference room with my Manager and a lady from HR who I’ve never seen before. A company branded envelope sat in front of me as they told me of my termination.

I couldn’t help but feel dumbfounded. I have never been written up and never pulled “aside” for a special talk. There was no hint that I was going to be let go, let alone a chance to improve my work performance.

My work bag was littered from with letters from upper management in recognition of going above and beyond for the guest. My fridge at home was caked in letters from guests who enjoyed their experience because of me.

As I asked them why I was being let go (I’ve never been fired before, I couldn’t help but feel angry) they looked at with me with manufactured sorrow.

They simply stated that “the company is going in a different direction, and I wasn’t the fit they’re looking for”. In this instance, my now ex-Manager fingered the envelope closer to me.

I knew this was simply the company being nothing more than a bunch of cheap f****s. This was merely nothing more than a ploy to save money because they already had no shifts to give me.

But you know what, you lost a phenomenal employee.

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The truth is, because of the severe decline in hours I was really struggling financially and still am. The have had numerous suicidal thoughts and many nights of staying up with anxiety or just simply crying myself to sleep. The stress was carrying over to my boyfriend and your seven-year relationship was going in a dangerous direction.

I feel comfort in knowing I don’t have to deal with them anymore. I excited to see what door opens, as this one closes.

In all of this, I just want to thank the supporters of Lidsandtricks.com. I have said it before but I always mean it. The love you guys give me gives me confidence when I’m down and this is honestly my happy place.

I started this blog when I was struggling with a severe concussion and I still am healing from that.  Even in recent months, I have enjoyed bringing you content 5-6 days a week while I struggled to work.

I am gracious for the love and support from all of you. Free feel to sound off in the comments below I always enjoy what you guys have to say.

 

Chapter 2: Trapped 46 Floors Above

There are some things in a hotel that are routine. For myself doing room showings was one of them.

In Niagara Falls, people come from all over the world to pay a ridiculous amount of money for a Fallsview room. Guest will go from hotel to hotel to see the different angles of each property.

What happens when a piece of equipment decides to malfunction on 46th floor when doing a room show? For most its their fear, including mine.

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I got a call to do a room showing for a Mother and her young Daughter. They had come from Latin America with their Grandparents for a once in a lifetime vacation.

There we were riding the elevator with four other individuals. We were on our way to see a premium fallsview junior suite on the 46th floor.

As we ascend, I’m telling them all about the hotel and area attractions. The car stops on the 41st floor and a couple gets out.

We’re up next.

The car stops on the 46th floor. The door opens but only 7 inches and an awful grinding noise ensues. I smash my fists against the door as I have seen the maintenance team do many times to unstick the tracks. The other occupants get ready to try and pry the door open. I tell them not to, out of concern for there own safety. These are high speed elevators and the doors will slam shut (coming from personal experience).

And they did.  The couple looks at me with disbelief as I just saved their lives (or body parts).

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We hang there listening to the other elevators passing us. I start to count to thirty in my head. As I’m doing this the girl begins to get anxious asking her Mom questions.

I hit thirty and ask if everyone is okay. Everyone is fine but the Girl begins to tear up.

I count thirty again. Sometimes when there is a power issue the elevator will just stall and come back to life moments later.

No movement I call for emergency service on the elevator phone. At this particular property you speak with reservations and they decide what’s best.

As I’m on the phone with them the elevator shoots up to the 49th floor and the doors jerk open. Everyone gets out. I apologize to the couple and turn my attention to the Girl.

I give the Mother a couple minutes to talk and calm her Daughter down. We then take the stairs down three flights to see the room.

Once we finish the room showing, I get them ready to take them back down to the lobby. The Daughter starts to have a panic attack as she realizes she has to get back on the elevator. The Mother starts to speak to her and calm her down.

I tell her that she doesn’t have to get on the “main elevators” but I can take her on the “secret ones” instead. She shakes her head in agreement and guide them to the employee area to take the cargo elevators. In this time I give them a disclaimer that I cannot guarantee the cleanliness of the elevators as they are “staff” elevators.

After about ten minutes the elevator arrives and there is no one aboard. I can see the Mother eyeing down the car. Hand prints all over the metal lining, lettuce smashed into the metal grading, and a dirty rubber glove tucked into the corner.

After numerous stops and a full car of housekeepers, we arrived back at the lobby.

I guide them back towards the front desk.  Instead the b-line out the backdoor without even saying thank-you or good-bye.

This became the beginning of many elevator entrapment with guests and by myself.

 

Chapter 1: Have you Worked in a Hotel Before?

Have you ever worked in a hotel before?

This question, although simple holds significance in the hotel industry. It seems like no matter what kind of property you work at anywhere in the world, there will be one questions you will be asked over and over again. Have you worked in a hotel before?

It took me a long time to understand why my co-workers were so concern with my experience or lack of when I was starting out. As time went on, I watched as many new hires got drilled with this question. Then I switched properties and  it became a broken record from every new person I met “Have you worked in a hotel before?”

It took a long time to realize that my co-workers weren’t interested in my resume. They were more concern with my integrity if s*** hit the fan–and it will.

In the front of house hotels occur to be well oiled machines, but behind the scene that’s a completely different story. Often you will find yourself in questionable position that no one told you about or trained you for.

If I  were to break it down it would look like 50% emergency response, 20% service recovery, and 30% full moon syndrome. Working in a hotel is far more than check in, check out, and housekeeping services.

At the end of it all, you question your problem solving skills, your morals, and most of all your integrity.

You ask yourself why do I continue to work in this industry?

For some, this is too much and they throw in the towel. A new hire comes along to take their place and the cycle starts all over again. When introducing yourself you ask them “Have you worked in a hotel before?”

Prologue: Get to Know me

As promised in my new years announcement I was going to share my expertise in the hospitality field. I’m smirking as I write this, because the stories I do plan on sharing are just, for a lack of a better word–bat s*** crazy.

Unfortunately today is a more get to know me post to set up the stories to come.

In order for me to express myself I will be renaming people and locations in my stories. I feel like some of the businesses and people in my life have a right to their privacy and I will protecting that.

My hospitality journey began 6 years ago.

I have a diploma in Tourism and Travel that I achieved while living in the Greater Toronto Area and have upgraded some of courses to University level. Although I got into one of the top two hospitality programs in Canada, I had to make the decision to drop out because I was at the point of being bankrupted. This is still one of biggest regrets I have today but I know I made the right decision for my future as I already had a diploma.

So my boyfriend and myself made the drastic decision to move to Niagara Falls, Canada! His grandmother owned a house outside of Niagara Falls that was sitting unused, so we moved it. Astonishingly, our living expenses dropped by 75% from insurance, gas and, rent. To my bewilderment, even though it was 2 hours away from where I grew it up it was a drastically different place.

Passionate locals and even crazier tourists. I never knew my career would put me in some of the questionable situations that I have been in including medicals, dealing with hookers, being assaulted by drunk patrons, and stuck in elevators–11 times.

I have worked for the best 4 star properties (Niagara Falls doesn’t have any 5 stars) and crappiest 3 star properties. When it comes to hotels you get what you pay for but even more when you work there.

Stay tuned everyone there’s some crazy stories coming your way.

Tell me what you think about the tripandtricks section in the comments below. Do you have any questions that you want addressed?

Remember to follow me on Twitter and Instagram @Lidsandtricks. Every follow and like means so much.

 

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