26 Minutes, 59 Seconds Speaking to Customer Service in Central America! UPDATED


UPDATE: Credit card company went to bat. In warp speed, they got hotel to remove second day charge and said the credit will appear on card in one or two business days. Bingo.

Aaaah, the joys of fighting corporate America. Hilton’s line Hampton Inn is the battle du jour. Specifically the Knoxville Downtown Hampton Inn. Let the fun begin!

We stayed at Hampton Inn the whole trip, our personal preference when traveling within the USA. Predictably clean. Free good breakfast. Priced right. And with so many stays under our belt, my elevated Hilton Honors status gets us some perks. I know, you’re thinking whoop-de-doo, they get perks at Hampton Inn? Aren’t they special.

The first night of the journey was in Knoxville, a city that we were really looking forward to seeing. I think I told you that the night we arrived and took a walk, we were the ONLY people on the main drag. Oh yes, one homeless guy too. I asked the woman behind the desk if we should be worried, and she said no, no problem. My city street smarts told me otherwise – safety in numbers is my motto, the identical feeling I had in Charlotte NC a year or so ago when walking back to the hotel from the NASCAR HQ and was the only one. No thanks.

The next morning I reported to you all that we took the several free trolleys the town has to get our Knoxville city bearings and to decide what to see first but after seeing the whole city was deserted AND hearing that a major thunderstorm was brewing overhead, we decided to bail. Calling ahead to Little Rock’s Hampton Inn to find they had room was first, then telling the Manager in Knoxville we were leaving early.

Here’s the rub. He told us that he would charge us the second night because that was his policy! I said whoa, the hotel is empty, the city is empty, it’s not a football Saturday, so why charge us? Besides, look at the forecast! We’d be sitting in our room all day. He didn’t care, said unless he could resell the rooms, we’d have to pay for the two nights. There wasn’t much we could do at that point so we left, got to Little Rock and because we arrived a day early there, we first told them we were ahead a day and would be changing the day of departure.

Their response? No problem. Come and go as you please. No charge.

While still on the road, we called Hampton Inn Customer Service and had a lengthy conversation with a man who told us we should NOT have been charged the second night in Knoxville. He read us the hotel’s specific cancellation policy, which logically says during UT football season and on any home game Saturday, cancellations mean paying anyway. That makes sense. I get that, but here we were practically the only people at the hotel and were being penalized, with bad weather coming to boot.

Unfortunately, during that cell phone conversation, we got cut off but I noted the date and time I called so I could continue the battle when we got home.

Fast forward to this morning. I got Sophia in Central America, who, like so many customer service agents today, had an accent so thick it was impossible to understand her.

Sophia’s tale was totally contrary to the first agent’s story. She said the other agent should be fired for lying to us, her exact words, that Hilton’s policy is the customer is always responsible for the full reservation unless the on site manager says otherwise.

The Knoxville Hampton Inn’s own webpage says we could leave with no charge and the first agent told us the same thing. We were NOT in town during any minimum stay period either.


So it came down to us being stuck with an ornery Manager, who probably wasn’t making his quota and was pissed his empty hotel was going to be one room emptier. He didn’t care one hoot that the storm was coming and you know, from my tale of woe, that the storms were awful, brutal actually!

Kicker, not only did we get charged the two nights, we got charged a second night of car parking (this Hampton Inn had secure indoor car parking, a modest fee of $10 per night but still, even if they felt they had to charge US, at least don’t charge us the car parking fee.

I got NOWHERE with Sophia – she said it is what it is, our only recourse is calling the manager directly in Knoxville and pleading our case with him. We all know how that will go. It’s not easy to call any hotel manager directly – you never know what days he’s working, what time he might be busy and not want to have a half-hour chat. so I asked Sophia is the manager had a direct email address. Nope. My luck.

I haven’t decided what to do next. Likely nothing, chalk it up to Knoxville sucking big time all around but still, I hate to be taken advantage of and in this case, the Manager definitely could have easily let us walk with no charge but he chose not to, for whatever reason. maybe he didn’t like we were New Yorkers or that we were worried about walking on empty streets? Live and learn. It wasn’t the most expensive mistake we’ve ever made.


29 thoughts on “26 Minutes, 59 Seconds Speaking to Customer Service in Central America! UPDATED

  1. My least favorite part of traveling is dealing with these kinds of issues and there’s always one, no matter how well you think you are prepared. Fight the fight girl.

  2. The hotel’s own stated policy makes your case look open and shut to me, anyway. Cite this to your credit card company and tell them you’re withholding payment pending a resolution. Also, always demand to speak to a supervisor if you don’t get satisfaction from the first phone rep you talk to.

    1. Agree with all you said. It’s mustering up the enthusiasm to fight. You know I’m never going to get the manager on the first call, never. That’ll mean having him call me back and so on and so on. I hate these kinds of issues.

  3. my suggestion would be to tweet to Hilton if you still have a twitter account. That might well get you a response.

    1. Is Anon @ 11:41 the same guy who commented that Bush should eff off? Where’d he come from?

      Agree with Brit and Anonymous @ 11:19. Open and shut case. Don’t take Sophia’s word for it. By the way, how did you know you were calling Central America?

      1. I asked Sophia where she was located. Central America is what she answered, no more specific than that. She didn’t sound Central American to my ear, more Pakistani or Indian, similar to the accent of the other agent to whom I spoke. I figured I was talking o Mumbai.

  4. Forget the manager; he’s had his chance. Let your credit card company go to bat for you. I’ve called both MasterCard and AMEX about similar disputed charges and both companies stepped up, investigated and got the charges reversed.

  5. You may have been talking to the Phillipines, as a lot of call center work has been sent offshore there now. Labor there is probably cheaper than India. I’m not aware of any Central America call centers.

    To close the sale of our Riverside house, I had to call and request a payoff letter. The bank customer service 800 number would not speak with our attorney. Turns out I was speaking to the Phillipines, whose job was to try to understand what you said, and then send an email to their contact in the states. They weren’t allowed to call. I kid you not. Said payoff letter when received did not mention per diem and I had to go round and round to sort this out. Would have been funny if not so tedious and unnecessary.

    I also agree with appealing to the credit card company. They will almost always back up their customer, which can be a good reason to use plastic and not cash.

    1. What a tale re your bank payoff letter and phone call! Wow!! I was suspect too when she said Central America because who says Central America? No one, you’d name the specific country. Philippines makes MUCH more sense to the accents I heard.

      I don’t think hotels even allow cash anymore, do they? I mean you can’t check in today without some credit card.

      I’m letting AMEX do the fighting.

    1. Thanks. Even if the credit card company resolves this for me, and I suspect they will, I’d still like to make a point, which I tried to make to Sophia and went to deaf ears, is our entire trip was Hampton Inn and that should mean something. Hotels want us to be loyal and when we are, we should be treated well.

        1. I saw the WAGMAG link on the right hand side of the Sotheby’s page to the house listing but thanks for this hotel fixer article. What on earth is WAGMAG? I don’t think it’s anything designed for us deplorables. More the elitists because in the hotel fixer article what he says is crazy, and rude, like this “Demand a better room or what you want”. I don’t like to be at hotels where guests DEMAND. I like to get treated well but I come from the school that honey gets you a lot farther than piss and vinegar. Like the problem we had last year in Jamaica, we had a wonderful long conversation with the head of operations and she was most understanding and not only gave us a credit, she insisted that if we go back in 2018, we contact her first. We made no demands. I’ve not watched Hotel Impossible.

        2. There used to be a free publication called WAG that was distributed to Bedford realtors, hairdressers, certain stores. Guess they’ve graduated to a more glossy approach to dishing local news. Didn’t associate WAGMAG immediately to WAG.

  6. Costa Rica is a big call center country. Our church supports a school there and one of the extras is a computer training lab for the mothers so they can develop the skills to get a call center job.

    1. I’m no expert but I’d think to have a call center requires fluency in English before computer training. Sophia, while heavily accented, knew what I was telling her and knew what to say. That means a high level of understanding of a language. Who pays for that, the hotel chain, and why can’t it be in West Virginia or Kentucky or Texas?

      I only ever felt fluent in French when I could argue in it.

  7. Check out TripAdvisor for this hotel.
    It’s the #5 hotel in Knoxville!
    Leave a snarky comment to get some rewarding revenge.

    1. Probably won’t do that. The hotel itself was nice. The location was great. The place clean. There was nothing to complain about. For me it’s only the managers decision to penalize us when he shouldn’t have.

  8. Glad you’re home safe. Enjoyed review of trip. Miss Dawg. Maybe a new animal for you two? Lotsa animals in need … maybe one could make a happy life in your spledent digs? Good fodder for blog! And all of us faithful readers!

    1. Thanks. Alas, unlikely we will add another dog at this point. Maybe once we land in the house after New York. For now, there’s some freedom to come and go. We also have the joy of giving away all of Dawg’s beds and bowls and food. We did her proud.

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