I am a member of the "Hilton Honors" program, through which our family earns points by staying at the Hilton family of hotels when we travel. The points can later be redeemed for hotel rooms or upgrades.The other day, I received the following e-mail:
Dear Ms. Lolamouse
We've missed you! We haven't noticed any activity on your HHonors account in more than nine months.
Remember, to keep your account active, you must earn HHonors points at least once every 12 months. Otherwise, all of your points may be forfeited.
There are lots of easy ways for you to save your HHonors points, if you act by July 01, 2011:
- Stay at any of the 3,000-plus Hilton Worldwide hotels
- Earn points with one of our many partners
- Sign up for a Hilton HHonors® Card from American Express
- Apply for a Citi® Hilton HHonors® Visa® Signature Card
- Purchase HHonors points online
- Shop at our online Earnings Mall, featuring thousands of premium items....blah, blah, blah...
In other words, spend money at their hotels ASAP or they're nicking my hard-earned points! What kind of crap is that?!! I have over 55,000 points, which we were saving for a future trip when we actually have some money for a future trip. We haven't traveled this year because we're tightening our budget, like so many people.
Well, I had to ask myself, "Are you a woman or a mouse?" "Both!" I answered. So I wrote to the Hilton Corporation the following missive:
To Whom It May Concern,
I recently received an email informing me that if I did not stay at a Hilton within 3 months or engage in one of several other activities involving the purchase of points and/or merchandise, I would forfeit my Hilton Honors points. In today's economy, I find it totally reprehensible that a loyal customer would be threatened like this. Our family has limited our travel this year due to financial constraints. We have not stayed at other hotel chains, but rather we have stayed home. When our future plans were to include travel, we had planned to use Hilton hotels.
I fail to understand how you can justify appropriating Hilton Honor points that I have legitimately earned as a loyal customer. I will tell you that if this outrageous demand is not immediately lifted, Hilton Hotels will lose a loyal customer, and I will not hesitate to make this company's policy transparent to more people. Again, in this difficult economy, I would think that you would be looking for ways to help your customers stay loyal to your brand rather than trying to threaten them.
I eagerly await your response.
And the result?
Dear Ms. Lolamouse
Thank you for your message to Hilton Reservations and Customer Care. It is my pleasure to assist you today with your HHonors account.
As a one time exception, we have extended your account through July 31, 2012.
We appreciate this opportunity to assist you and thank you for your continued loyalty! If you have any further questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to let us know.
So, we have an additional year to stay at a Hilton or earn more points before they threaten us again. Not a total victory but not bad. The squeaky wheel gets the oil, and the squeaky mouse gets what she wants.
I post this episode to encourage everyone to stand up to corporate bullying. The worst that can happen is that you won't get what you want, but you just may. Remember, the customer holds the purse strings - use them to tie the balls of the big corporations and then TUG!