Yet Another Example of How IHG Rewards Club Might Have the WORST Customer Service

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A good measure of the quality of an airline or hotel chain ISN’T when everything goes right – although that certainly helps – it is how that company responds when things go wrong. For example, my problem with many low-cost carriers isn’t with the service and product when operations are running smoothly; it’s that the situation turns into the Hunger Games or the Lord of the Flies when weather or air traffic control issues cause delays throughout the network. (of course BA isn’t immune to this either, but their meltdowns often seem to be total, rather than the consequence of a French strike – and they do tend to deliver after the fact with bonus Avios, status extensions, etc.)

With individual hotels and hotel chains the situation is similar. My favourites tend to:

  • Resolve any issue as quickly as possible
  • Provide a token (points, free night, whatever) as compensation for the inconvenience.

But, in my experience, IHG Rewards Club has the worst customer service. By far! There are few things I wouldn’t rather do than call IHG Rewards Club to chase up missing points. So, when I was doing some housekeeping on my IHG Rewards Club account, I noticed that I was missing a few hundred “Welcome Amenity” points. I also noticed that a reward night wasn’t included in my counter for 2017 nights. So I decided to use the online “missing points” form to chase it up.

To my surprise, I received the following e-mail:

Hi Mr. Sowerby,

Thanks for emailing us; I hope all is well. My name is X [redacted] and I’m happy to help you with your IHG® Rewards Platinum account today.

I’m sorry for any confusion. Please note that all Rewards Night stays are non-qualifying stays [emphasis mine] therefore, it is not counted towards any IHG Elite Levels.

Thanks for being a valued Platinum Elite member! Please let us know if you have any questions.

We’re always here to help,

+44 870 607 2582

 

 

Naturally, the lazy responder won’t have known he was communicating with somebody who knows a fair bit more about loyalty programmes than your average member. (plus a blogger with more than a handful of readers!) Twenty seconds of searching on the IHG website (in case something had changed) and I came up with the correct answer, which is that of course reward nights count for status purposes.

I know that not every customer service agent is perfectly trained. I know that mistakes can be made. But why do lazy agents just invent lies to avoid doing their jobs? And why do so many of them seem to work for IHG Rewards Club?

I certainly won’t be calling that premium number in the UK to sort out this minor issue. Yet Agent X has provided me with yet another reason to stay with other hotel chains…

What about you? Do you have any stories about customer service at IHG Rewards Club?

 

Comments

  1. Akilagam says

    What is very unfortunate about IHG Customer Service is that they are all robotic and generally do not apply any pragmatic intelligence while dealing with issues. I sometimes wonder why do we need humans to say “this is what system says and I cannot do anything about it”. They can take a lesson or two from some chains that are even more budget-y than IHG in dealing with customer issues – Like say, Choice Hotels or La Quinta Inns.

    My worst experience was with their Lowest Price Guarantee where a lowest non-refundable rate on one of their property was $79. However, the room was available in Orbitz for $62. But, they wouldnt honor the difference in price stating that the terms of the rooms are not exactly the same – While they had the rate a non-refundable, Orbitz had the lower rate to be refundable. Horrible!

    • Craig Sowerby says

      I’ve long since given up on IHG’s BRG. Although I have to say that the BRG agents aren’t idiots – it’s just that they are trained very well to spot any minor difference in terms, so as to deny the free night claim. Horrible for customers, but essentially what IHG corporate wants…

  2. Marcus Syngen-Smythe says

    Thanks Craig – good to hear your story.
    It has reminded me to put in a claim for something that did not process. Your excellent article has helped show me how to do this. I am fully expectant that they will send a useless answer now, but at least I will make a first attempt. Cheers and all the best, Marcus.

    • Craig Sowerby says

      Cheers. They seem to be OK at adding points randomly. Less OK at re-doing a stay transaction correctly (i.e. having your stay go through with the correct points, etc.). And completely rubbish at using their brains to check their own programme’s rules!

  3. Clive Brown says

    I’m a relatively recent convert to the IHG brand, having regulaly stayed with Premier Inn and Travelodge previously (and often the same or more expensive rates).

    In the past few months out of about 16 stays this year I’ve had to chase up Welcome points on at least four occasions. The last occasion was in respect of the first night of three consecutive nights away in three different hotels: a CP and two HIs. As a then Gold Elite member I believe I should have had 400 points Welcome bonus for the CP stay.

    I used the missing points claim and got a response saying:

    “Hi Clive

    I hope you’re having a great day. My name is Rudolph and I’d be happy to help you with your IHG® Rewards Club account.

    I read your email about your missing points from your stay at PTRWE . I’m sorry the Welcome bonus points were not posted right away.

    as per checking you’ve been awarded 300 welcome bonus points last March 17, 2018 and you must be able to see that on your account/
    current point balance as of today would be “195,443” points

    I hope this answered your concern. If there’s anything else, please let us know — we’d be happy to follow up.

    Thank you for reaching us today. We value your loyalty.

    Speak to you soon,

    Rudolph”

    Now the quality of English is somewhat disturbing, but the guy was clearly wrong. As I responded to him, if he looked closely at the points awarded on 17th March they were cleaqrly for the second night’s stay at HI Peterborough. And surely he should have known that the Welcome bonus ofr CP/Gold would be 400 not 300. Subsequent to my response I did get 300 points credited: I just couldn’t be bothered to quibble about 100 points.

    • Craig Sowerby says

      Welcome points are notorious for not posting properly. (and that is usually the front desk forgetting) In fact, if I haven’t received an email – “You have received welcome amenity points” – between check-in and arriving to my room, I know that they probably won’t post. (so I can remind the front desk if I’m inclined to bother, or to ask to switch to the welcome drink)

      I rather preferred when certain Holiday Inn Expresses would just give you a code that you could input yourself to claim the points.

  4. yourhotelier says

    I am a 5 star hotel owner and IHG actually came to us to propose the brands to enter my hotels. However, with how bad their rewards membership can be I am totally turned off.

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