Chapter Five: Nonevent of a Lifetime
Chapter 1: Vegas, Baby! — http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-5/
Chapter 2: Missouri Loves Company — http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-10/
Chapter 3: Stand Back. These People are Professionals — http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-12/
Chapter 4: Miami Vise, August 11, 2017 – https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-15/
Chapter 6: Upcoming
By David Franks
I have been remiss in my reportage for quite some time. My lovely wife and I had relatively few problems with our travels in 2017 and 2018, other than the mundane, yet piquant, annoyances of dealing with Diamond Resorts (DR) through their interminable Member Services labyrinth. Except for the immediate disappearance of our points when we booked cruises, there was no consistency in the way cruise reservations were handled—how long the processing took, whom to contact, making final arrangements—you know: significant details. We went on another Caribbean cruise, an Adriatic cruise (only the cruise involved DR), and an Alaska cruise. Diamond had nothing to do with any missed air connections, medical emergencies or bad weather that might have occurred; I can’t help but think that if DR had been in charge of happenstance, then it would have been exquisitely painful.
In late 2018, we were offered a $500 cruise voucher as an incentive to pay dues in full by 1 January 2019. As I would have anyway, I did so, and a few days later, I tried to redeem (or claim) the voucher according to the instructions. I ended up with a $500 gift card in a new account at privilegesredemptioncenter[dot]com, a d/b/a of ICE, which operated DR’s cruise department at the time. After some hours on the phone, I was able to determine that nobody at DR or ICE knew anything about the voucher, but I was informed that I could not apply the value of the voucher to any cruise through DR—even though DR had offered the incentive! That issue was never resolved; apparently, it was just another DR misdirection.
In early April 2019. I looked through DR’s cruise offerings. They had nothing that particularly interested me or my lovely wife, but we decided to look into an Event of a Lifetime (EOL) cruise in mid-May. It would be on one of Royal Caribbean’s immense Imperial Pleasure Dreadnoughts (or whatever they call them), and we figured that maybe we could explore the ship and do more people-watching than usual. I called DR, and when I mentioned EOL, I was immediately connected to a Platinum Specialist for a hard sell of its transcendent wonders and life-changing benefits. After about half an hour with the agent, I was able to cut in and tell her that we were kind of stuck with it, and to sign us up. She connected me to another Platinum Specialist to book the thing, and, while listening to more hard selling, I watched the points disappear from our account less than a minute later.
A few days later, after several emails back and forth with the two Platinum Specialists, I logged back into DR to see if I had a message about the cruise. There was no reservation shown in my account; the points were still gone, however. I called Member Services, and after quite some time I was informed that my booking had been canceled on the day it was booked because my lovely wife and I “wouldn’t have enjoyed it.”
We had not been notified or consulted regarding the cancellation, nor had our points been refunded; in fact, after the reservation was canceled, I had exchanged emails with one or both of the Platinum Specialists, who seemed to be unaware of the cancellation. In the meantime, I had paid for over $1,000 worth of plane tickets and a nonrefundable hotel room. There were a couple of other glitches as well.
I was told (probably against protocol) that Diamond’s (former) Senior VP of Customer Service and Club Operations at DR, had a hand in the cancellation, so I sent her an email. She replied to offer the assurance that her decision was “not arbitrary”, because I clearly would not have enjoyed the cruise—or maybe because she thought I would have been a disruptive influence. Apparently, my calls to Member Services were recorded for revenge purposes rather than for training and quality assurance purposes.
Being an animal myself, I act like a trapped animal when I am in a trap. I ask every DR employee I talk to to be sure that my call is used for training and quality assurance purposes. I try to make it clear to customer service agents that my inevitable obscene, scatological, and/or blasphemous rants are directed at the company. I expressly hold them blameless because they are as much victims of a horrible company as I am—until they cross me. I object to being lied to and to having my business mishandled, and I do not consider it my “professional” obligation to not call a dung heap a pile of sh!t. They are—professionals or not—the ones being paid. Telling customers or members to shut up because you are a professional does not constitute service.
The Senior VP then called me and sort of apologized for the scores of hellish hours I had endured on the phone with DR Member Services since becoming a member. She didn’t apologize for the perverse phone system design, the system’s tendency to drop calls, the lack of agent training, the poor internal communication, or the unreturned phone calls, but she did promise me that the DR website was being redesigned. She put me in contact with a VP at ICE, and he found a half-transit Panama Canal cruise that was satisfactory to us. The VP complained a bit about the expense of appeasing us (adjustments to flights and hotels above the points we paid), but maybe she just wanted us to know that she had done us a tremendous favor. I sent her a long follow-up email because I certainly wanted her to know that she shouldn’t have had to.
The Panama Canal cruise was lovely—though it didn’t nullify the ordeal—and the canal itself was fascinating. I can see why they made a palindrome for it:
A MAN, A PLAN, A CANAL—PANAMA!
Thank you, David, we look forward to your next “Misadventure” with Diamond Resorts, it would appear the so-called “Customer Service” staff are in dire need of real customer service training. It is one of the most laughable comments that I have ever heard for a cancellation, “You wouldn’t have enjoyed it”, how the hell would they know what someone else would enjoy?
If this is a sample of the “customer service” Diamond style, which members can expect, it is little wonder that the reputation of Diamond is fast going downhill, and that is without all the deceit we see from the “sales agents”. Customer Service is a front-line position, it reflects a company’s attitude to its clients, in this case, timeshare, whose “MEMBERS” pay huge annual fees to belong to what is “MARKETED” as a ” prestigious club”. They do not expect to be run around the houses and be given stupid comments by those who they are dealing with.
Unfortunately, it is a reflection of the attitude of the vast majority of companies today, not just in timeshare, although they do appear to have the worst reputation, the policy seems to be “we got your money, now bog off!” Call me old-fashioned, but I always believed and practised at work that the customer is king, he is the one who pays your wages, treat them with the respect you would expect when the roles are reversed.
That is it for this week, On Monday we begin the week with the final episode of our Anfi: The Story behind the News, with a follow-up series on the Tauro Beach Project which is being prepared. We hope to go into a little more detail on this tale, one that it was hoped would never get out.
While working on another article, I realised that it was rather quiet, just the sound of the TV, when I turned around, Baby Dog was enthralled by the program on TV, it was a wildlife program, a picture I couldn’t miss, he was not amused when he realised I had the camera.