I don’t know how many times I can explain this to you.
Yesterday, I had the delight of dealing with a previous guest via email. This guest, plain and simple, did not understand what the hotel was telling him, despite being explained multiple times by multiple staff members. I am somewhat amused about how many times I have explained this to the guest, who just plain does not get it. So for your amusement and reading pleasure, I bring you a copy of the email trail.
My specific hotel – as well as all other hotels in our company – takes a $100 pre-authorisation on a credit card upon arrival. This is not a charge, however it does freeze the funds and so they are unavailable whilst this hold is in place. In most online banking statements it can appear as a debit – however we are very clear in advising that this is a pending authorisation. This hold will automatically release, generally within 3-5 business days, although some debit Visa/Mastercards can take longer. The longest I’ve heard, however, is 10 business days, and that’s with smaller credit unions. We do have the option of faxing the individual bank requesting the urgent release, most of the time this has about a 4 hour turnaround.
Also of note is that, if we have not charged the guest during their stay, and the hold has been released, there will be no record of the authorisation on their account. Given that, y’know, it’s not a charge. Guests will not see a debit and then a credit. There will just be no transaction. Most people after we explain this, understand.
And it’s on the registration card, the legal document, they sign on arrival.
Not this guest.
We received this email from a guest last Thursday. My colleague, also a duty manager, responded initially, however he was not working yesterday and I started responding halfway through.
To whom it may concern,
My name is [Guest Name], and I stayed at your hotel from the 14th April–>16 April 2012 and the reception indicated to me that I will be receiving my bond of $100 within 5 business days. I have called three times in the past weeks and everytime the person on reception said they will email my bank in regards to the matter. I Still have not recieved my bond and I am not happy! It has been more than two weeks. If there is no response or action taken immediately, I certainly will be speaking to a higher manager and taking the matter further.
Not an uncommon email, although three weeks after the stay is unusual given that it should be released, regardless of us contacting the bank or not. My colleague responds:
Please accept our sincere apologies, I think I was the one who spoke to you before regarding your bond.
I did send a fax to your bank which I believe is [Bank], it is strange that the bank have still not actioned my fax.
Please accept my apology and I will contact the bank right now.
This particular bank is normally pretty fast at cancelling pre-authorisations when we send faxes, which is a bit odd. Nothing more, until the guest emails again yesterday:
I am absoultely disgusted by your service, it has been more than 4 weeks since I have stayed there and i still have not received my $100 bond. I would definately not recommend anyone to stay at your hotel. I expect my bond to be back into my account or i will be taking the matter further.
Okay, seriously now. This is a local bank. There is no way that the authorisation would still be on hold. At all. So I respond, and try to clarify.
Please be advised that you will not see a debit and then subsequent credit of the amount but the initial authorisation will disappear completely from your account. Could you please advise what the transaction specifies if it is still listed when you look at your account?
At this point, I’m attempting to get him to check his account and see if there are actually any transactions from the hotel in the first place.
Sorry I don’t quite understand what you are trying to say. There is not debit to my account yet??
…and I don’t understand your email, either.
Can you please advise if your bank statement is showing any transactions posted from our hotel?
People, before accusing us of charging you, please look at your statements.
Please be advised that there are no transactions by the hotel.
There we have it. I (incorrectly) assume that with my final email, this is sorted.
If this is the case, then there are no funds being held by the hotel and the bond has automatically released back to your card.
Should you have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact us.
Done and dusted, right?
I don’t understand there is no refund back into my account
Are you actually kidding me right now?! It’s a good thing I was in the office when I read that email, because a couple of choice words popped out. I attempt to explain. Again.
You will not see a refund as nothing was charged to your card.
The hotel pre-authorisation is just a temporary hold of the funds and releases automatically, as stated previously you will not see a debit (charge) of $100 and a credit (refund) of $100 to your account – the authorisation will release within 3-5 business days of when the card is first swiped and, as nothing was charged by the hotel on departure, will disappear from your statement.
As you have stated previously, there are no transactions by the hotel on your account, as such there are no monies owed back to the card as nothing was charged.
If you have any further queries regarding this I would suggest you contact your bank as they may be able to clarify their individual processes.
Long story short, it would appear that the guest can’t keep track of his money, is expecting $100 to appear in his account, when in reality he’s just spent it.I swear, if I look at my emails the next day and see that he still doesn’t understand?
I’m bloody charging his credit card $100 and refunding it $100 so that he gets his precious refund.
UPDATE: I came the next day and checked the emails, a single line response of “thank you I understand now”. I’m not sure if the millionth explanation finally got through to him, or he called the bank, but either way, thank god!