Bad customer service can take a company down. Sadly, this basic marketing tenet seems to have been lost to Gordion Hotel (a Vigan-based hotel) and group buying website Ensogo.
It’s been one month now and my problem with a voucher I bought from Ensogo is still not solved. (For details on how this all started, read the other post Problem with group buying site Ensogo.)
Yes, Ensogo has been contacting me in the past weeks saying they are “working” to solve the problem. In fact, in the first week I made the post, they said they are already finding a solution — so they are requesting that the blog post be removed.
Shrewd move, right? No solution yet but they want all negative publicity removed.
But the worst they did happened Friday last week. They offered me a “compromise” — that is, they will issue a full refund IF AND ONLY IF I remove the blog post about the problem with Ensogo and Gordion Hotel.
Does Ensogo and Gordion Hotel really think can bully their own customers?
I got furious the moment they offered this “compromise.” Here is a hotel that advertised on Ensogo a 50% discount on their room rates — only to be discovered that you can actually directly reserve with the hotel at a price EVEN cheaper than the announced 50% discounted rates! (see Gordion Hotel’s rates here)
Their website is enough proof that you can indeed reserve the Deluxe rooms at P3,000 per room per night. This means for a 3 days/2 nights stay, you only have to pay P6,000. (Yes, I kept screenshots of the website.)
So if Ensogo marketed this “for only P8,999” — 50% off from the original price of P17,999 (link to the Ensogo deal here) — what do you call that?
Deceptive advertising? Fraud? Scam? You decide.
It was already annoying that Ensogo had the nerve to request that the post be removed even if they have not solved the problem yet. But they made the matter worse by offering a “compromise:” full refund IF AND ONLY IF the negative blog post is removed.
To Ensogo and Gordion Hotel: that is not how you should run your business.
By addressing the problem in a high-and-mighty way, you risk losing customers in the process. Why? Because people will spread the news about how bad your customer service is and how bad you treat your customers. This post is a start.
So to everyone dealing with Gordion Hotel and Ensogo, beware.
Update (June 27, 2011): More than a month since this issue came up, after more than 190+ Facebook likes for this article, and another 150+ likes in the initial Ensogo/Gordion Hotel problem post, I can now sigh and say: finally, it’s over.
Last Monday, June 27, I got a message from Ensogo that they have made a full refund of my payment. This was supposedly a triumph on my part but looking back, there was nothing to be happy about because it took Ensogo more than a month to address a simple problem that could have been resolved in less than a week.
Let me, then, take time to educate Ensogo why their customer service was an EPIC FAILURE.
EPIC FAIL #1: When I discovered the price discrepancy between the promo rates and the actual hotel rates on May 16, I immediately called your office but after one hour of constant tries, no one from your customer support answered the phone. This was a regular business hour, mind you — from 10-11 am, on a Monday.
EPIC FAIL #2: Around 3 p.m. that same day, I tried calling the office again and after several tries, finally someone answered. The guy on the other line, a certain “Hannibal,” instructed me to email him at firstname.lastname@example.org so they can “start the investigation.” Within 10 minutes, I already sent him the email. Now, you should have at least acknowledged that you got the email; a simple auto-responder would have sufficed. That’s a sign that you were looking into the problem. Customers hate it when they don’t know if their concern is being addressed. And true enough, after one week, my problem turned out to be pending still.
EPIC FAIL #3: One week later, on May 23, a certain Katherine called me up to say that Ensogo’s Country Manager saw the Ensogo problem post and that she was assigned to address my concern. I said good, I already emailed my complaint and I just want a full refund. She told me she has not seen the email I have sent. Surprise, surprise! Apparently, Ensogo knew of the problem because of the blog post (and no one seemed to have read the original email I sent to Hannibal). She asked that I forward the email to her so she can take a look. Now, the annoying part: she asked that I remove the blog post I made about Ensogo. Of course, I refused. I told her I’m not going to remove or edit the post unless they address my refund request.
EPIC FAIL #4: On May 31, I received an email saying that my request has been approved:
This is to inform you that your refund request for Gordion Hotel unused vouchers is granted. If your mode of payment is bancnet, paypal, over the counter we can credit to your Ensogo Account so that you can use it for your next purchased transaction or cash deposit to your Bank Account. But if your mode of payment is credit card we will refund thru credit card.
Cat G. Toring
End of story? Unfortunately not. Since I paid via credit card, I expected a transaction reversal on my credit card in the next few days. However, two weeks have passed and I still have not received any refund. I decided to email Ensogo again on June 9 requesting for an update.
EPIC FAIL #5: On June 10, Katherine from Ensogo called me again to say that they have approved my refund request. There’s a catch, though: what they’re offering is a “compromise,” meaning, I’ll get 50% refund ASAP but will only get the other 50% if and only if I completely delete the post and remove all comments about Ensogo. I got furious and told them it’s either I get the full refund or I don’t get it at all — in that case, I’ll go to the DTI to report them.
EPIC FAIL #6: On June 21, more than a month since this problem started, another representative from Ensogo, Aki, called. She told me they have decided to fully refund my payment. I asked how I’ll get the refund, if via credit card or bank deposit. Aki didn’t know the answer and she had to put me on hold while she asked someone in the background. After a few seconds, she said she’ll deposit it to my bank account. I asked when I’ll be able to receive the refund. Again, she didn’t know the answer and had to go back to the person in the background. A few seconds later, she told me “within the next 3 days.” She then asked if I’m available to meet with Ensogo’s country manager (who’s most probably interested in doing damage control for the company). I told her we’ll discuss that after I’ve received my full payment.
In the end, here’s my message to you Ensogo guys: this problem would not have lasted one month and would not have been forwarded to hundreds of group buying customers had you addressed this concern properly. You should not bully your customers or treat them like stupid money machines.
Your competitors are even wiser than you. One other local group buying site wanted to exploit the situation and asked me if I want to be a paid endorser of their website. Of course, I had the decency to decline the offer.
I hope this becomes a valuable lesson to all businesses, not just to group buying sites in the Philippines. Treat your customers with respect because you owe your existence to them.