Marriot Service

So here’s a fun little story of how companies can alienate customers…

I had made a reservation at the Marriot Hotel in Farmington, CT last week but had to cancel.  When I cancelled, I was a little past the "official" cancellation time, but was very polite with everyone I spoke with and customer service for Marriot called the hotel and got a "one-time exception" for me to cancel without penalties or getting charged for the room (it was just one night). 

Sound great, right?

Ahh… but of course, the system broke down and I check my bank account yesterday to find that my checking account was overdrawn… I panic a bit since I was quite sure I had several hundred dollars in it.  Well gosh darn it, don’t you know that they had taken out the $200 for the room?!!?  And of course, I had about another $200 worth of debit card transactions that hit on the same day, which ended up putting me as overdrawn. 

Then my loooovely bank, Citizens Bank decides that since I don’t have enough money in my account, the logical thing to do is to charge me $29 for each item that didn’t have insufficient funds.  Since this had been going on for almost three days (shouldn’t have my card been turned down at some point!?!?), I now have ANOTHER $200 in fees that this little goof-up from Marriot has resulted in. 

So I call the Marriot and they initial say that they can’t find a charge.  I assure them that I’m not delusional and sure enough, a few hours later they find it.  So they call me back and say that all they need is the cancellation number or the name of the person I spoke with at customer service.  Which is SUPER, since I was driving at the time and didn’t exactly have the ability to write any of that down.  So now I need to call them and try to track that down.

As of right now, it’ll be a long time before I stay in another Marriot…

One Ringy Dingy…

Today I was complimented by someone on a voice mail message I left.  I always thought that I left good messages ("I give good message", I guess), being sure to leave my phone number and my name twice, as well as a summary of where I’m calling from and why. 

It really comes from the fact that I myself get extremely annoyed at people who leave bad messages.  Cell phones that cut out are bad enough, but when people leave a 2 minute message, and leave their number ONCE at the end of the message, AND then reads it too quick, is just really annoying to me.  It takes up my time, which is simply inconsiderate.  Not saying I probably haven’t done it once or twice myself, but I do try to make it a point of trying to NOT do it.

So here’s my short little guide to giving good voice messages:

  1. Say hello at the start of the message using the person’s name, which helps to confirm that you reached the right number/extension (this assumes you know the person’s name.  If for some strange reason you do not, state YOUR name and say that you hope you’re reaching the right person, but if not, you hope that they can point you in the right direction)
  2. State YOUR name clearly and where you’re calling from ("My name is Derek Archambault, calling from Medport in Providence, RI")
  3. State what you’re calling about succinctly ("I’m calling to obtain a quote for some radio commercial production")
  4. Go into some appropriate level of pertinent detail, but don’t try to do everything on the message ("we need to do it quickly, within the next week and hope you can help us out")
  5. ASK the person to call you back.  Don’t just give a number – say "I would appreciate a call back at your earliest convenience" or something to that affect
  6. Leave your number.  Say it in a clear, SLOW tone of voice, and PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE use the natural rhythm of phone numbers.  There’s nothing worse than someone who takes a 555-555-5555 number and reads it as 55-55-55-55-55 or whatever.  It’s annoying and really messes up the person taking the message!!
  7. Then state your name, company and your phone number AGAIN, also clearly and slowly.  Repetition is KEY, as not all voice mail systems have a "rewind" option – only a "replay" one, and even then, its possible that there was a solar flare on the sun during the first time or an alien landed on the phone cables, etc., and it didn’t come through clearly.
  8. End by saying "thank you" and "I look forward to hearing from you soon" or "Call with any questions" or other appropriate ending.

That’s it – its very simple, but is one of those things that would probably make for a much better, more enjoyable and friendlier work environment if everyone did it.

P.S. Congrats Patriots!!!

Philadelphia Freedom

So my friend John (quick introduction to three major characters in my life: John, Eric (a.k.a. “Erock”), Lynn, and myself have been friends since seventh grade. Pretty much family, really) just left after a night of planning for a great lost weekend for him, Eric, and myself. We were originally thinking of going to NYC and then going to Philly in a single weekend, but between the costs of doing that and the amount of travel time involved, it just makes more sense to do one city.

We’re actually leaning towards Philly, since its less expensive and its basically new to us (I was there about 8 or 9 years ago for a student conference in college, and had a great time, but hell, I wasn’t even 21) as opposed to NYC, which we’ve all been to at least once in the last few years.

If anyone actually starts reading this thing, perhaps they could make some reccomendations as to what to do and where to go while in Philly? I’m looking for good restaurant reccomendations, brewpubs, comedy clubs, rock bands to try to check out, live music venues, clubs, great music stores, cooly funky shops (yeah, I know we need to hit South Street), and the like. Places that a couple of guy friends could have fun, have a good laugh, hear some good music, eat some good food, and drink some good drink.

Music Overload

A couple of years ago, the pundits were running around predicting the death of the music industry because of MP3’s, digital formats, pirating, etc. etc.  blah blah blah. 

Well, let me tell you, I have recently realized that for the first time ever, even *I* may be overwhelmed by the music choices out there now.  I now have a CD collection thats over 1,200 strong, an iTunes program that has 100’s of songs, both downloaded and ripped from my CD collection, and XM radio that I can use both in my car and in my house, as well as an additional subscription to them online so I can listen to them at work.  Add to that just the regular radio stations out there, and I’m able to be surrounded by music 24/7/365.

Now I’m thinking of adding an MP3 player to that mix just to be a bit more "portable" (was away on a one-night business trip last week and brought along a CD player and a CD, and realized that it would have been nice to have an iPod, in case anyone would like to buy it for me….). 

Don’t get me wrong – I’m lovin’ it, but I’ve had XM for almost a year now, and iTunes for about six months, and I’m realizing that my CD’s are starting to collect dust unless I’m ripping them onto iTunes.  Though I’m still buying new ones.  Its remarkable to be able to have all these great musical choices at my fingertips.

I guess the question is this – do all these new channels of distribution have any positive impacts on the art of music?  I’m listening to the "Unsigned" channel on XM as I write this, and I hear a lot of stuff that’s not groundbreaking, but still far better than most of the crap that’s on regular radio (which I actually can’t stand any more, except for the local classical and public radio stations, which don’t have all the usual obnoxious FM radio station hooey).   I’m glad that they are getting airtime SOMEWHERE, but wouldn’t it be great if more people could hear them?

Dragged Kicking and Screaming into 2005

Welcome to my first blog entry.  Basically giving it a test drive to see how it would work for my job, which happens to be marketing these products:  I know the web site needs help, but that’s why I’m there!

Special thanks to John Cass for being my "blog mentor," and as my first act of blogging repricocity, here’s a link to his blog:

In case there’s actually someone reading this, what can you expect here?  Hmm… some talk about marketing (my profession), music (my passion), cooking (my other passion) and probably some strange random thougths (my personality).