To conclude with this topic I am going return to a few of the comments and responses and explain how we see these issues. There was general agreement on Case # 1 so I will mostly comment on Case # 2.
Chris Parrot wrote:
“Refunding the cost of this meal/excursion would be fine if it had gone wrong in some way, but a straight refund is probably insufficient where they actually said they didn’t want it in the first place.”
Once we have decided that a refund is due a number of factors go into deciding the size of the refund. Chris mentions one of them here. Other factors are how badly we screwed up, the amount of pain and anguish we caused, to what extent the guest could have corrected the error by pointing it out at the time and the civility and reasonableness of the compliant taken as a whole. The range for refunds goes from the full amount to three times the full amount paid. Taking all these factors into account we decided on only a full refund for the lunch and three times the amount paid for the room at Monteverde Lodge in Case # 1.
Admittedly these determinations are at least somewhat arbitrary.
Chris Parrot also wrote:
“A gesture of goodwill (a payment), [for the substitution of the airplane. MK] if the explanation of the circumstances at the time hadn’t been handled well, might be suitable here.”
I agree. The question is, since I was not there, how can I determine whether the explanation was handled well. Unless the person who gave the explanation tells me that he blew it (and it happens on occasion, the only criteria I have is the reasonableness of the complaint as a whole.
Shannon Borrego wrote:
“CRE should state in the itinerary that they will do their best to provide the services requested but that they reserve the right to substitute planes (or whatever else needs to be substituted) should an unforeseen problem arise.”
We have that in our Terms and Conditions. Everybody who buys services from us agrees to abide by them. Almost every time I buy something on line or over the phone I agree to abide by terms and conditions that I have not read. I suspect that is the case with most of the persons who buy services from us. Adding more Terms and Conditions to the itinerary would almost surely result in our guests reading and remembering less of what is most important for them to know both before they decide to buy and during their vacation.
The way I see it is that we have to have the terms and conditions, but when we have to resort to them we already have a problem. Common sense and fairness rather than the Terms and Conditions need to be the criteria for whether or not we owe refunds and how much. If we stuck strictly to the Terms and Conditions we would give a fewer and smaller refunds than we actually do.
Our genera policy is that the benefit of the doubt goes to the guest. But we do not want to create a situation in which we reward extremely unreasonable or unscrupulous people from taking advantage of us.
Your frank comments on this topic have been very helpful. Please keep them coming.
Coming next week….
In another comment Glen Glines wrote:
“The secret to CRE success is picking the right people to be the face of CRE. Perhaps the next step is to, once in a while, say no to the wrong client.”
Actually, when we spot prospective guests who we do not feel are good fits we encourage them to reconsider. In next weeks post I’ll share with you two such cases.