The biggest complaint mistake you’ll ever make

If you have a gripe with a company — and let’s face it, at some point, everyone has a gripe with a company — here’s a cautionary tale about complaining.

It comes to us by way of Tracey Phillips. She had a problem with a hotel’s change policy. Specifically, every time she changed the date of her stay, the hotel insisted on charging her a fee, which is an increasingly common problem.

Instead of the grassroots approach to problem-solving, which I always recommend — in other words, starting with a real-time resolution at the lowest level, and working your way up — Tracey went straight to the top. She wrote an impassioned letter to the CEO, asking for a one-time exception to the hotel’s rules.

And, no surprise, she hasn’t received a response yet.

Phillips’ instincts are understandable. She may have endured a series of “nos” from call center employees or front-desk workers before she finally gave up and fired off a letter to the company’s top executive.

There are no authoritative surveys on the average response rate for a chief executive, but my experience as a consumer advocate tells me it’s very low, probably less than 1 percent. Sure, a handful of caring CEOs take the time to respond and fix the problem, but they’re few and far between.

Generally, the best you can hope for is that the executive will ask an assistant to forward your emails or letters back to the customer-service department, where they will generate yet another form response. At worst, the complaint will go into the old circular file, and you’ll never hear from the company again.

So who do you complain to?

Start at the bottom.
Problems with any business are best resolved in real-time with an employee. Whether you’re dealing with a hotel or a cable TV company, the person in front of you now is your first stop on the complaint train. Employees are often empowered to fix a problem right away. I just heard from a former car rental company employee who admitted that his company integrates these fixes, which can range from a 10 percent discount to a comped car rental, into employee training.

Work your way up, slowly.
A polite, in-person appeal to a manager can work wonders to fix any customer grievance, because these supervisors often have even more ways to fix your problem. They can override a reservations system, match a price and even zero out your bill you’re unhappy. But you don’t get if you don’t ask. Here, of course, politeness is incredibly important. Some of my misguided colleagues also like to say, “You don’t get if you don’t ask” — but what they really mean is: “If I don’t have my way, I’m going to stomp my feet and flash my platinum card until you give up.” That’s not only rude, but it’s also bad for everyone, because it further deteriorates the relationship between companies and their customers.

The pen is mightier.
At some point, when you’ve walked out the front door, you’ll have to switch to the written word. After you’ve exhausted the opportunities for a real-time resolution, you’ll want to start a reliable paper trail, which usually begins with an email sent through the company’s website. This may seem like a waste of time, but it isn’t. Remember, an email thread can be forwarded to a supervisor after you receive a form denial. A promise by phone? There’s no proof your call was ever made. I list the names and email addresses of most mid-level customer service VPs on my consumer advocacy website.

When all else fails, appeal to the CEO.
Ever wonder which appeals to a top executive are successful? Well, other than your good manners and brevity, which count for a lot, it’s the strength of your case. If you can prove that you’ve gone through the process of complaining in person and in writing, and have worked your way up the chain, then you’re far likelier to get a positive resolution. Then — and only then — should you take your grievance all the way to the top. Remember that the “no” you get from the top might be the company’s final answer, so don’t ask until you’ve exhausted all other avenues.

After Phillips contacted me, she decided to bump her complaint a few levels down. Good call. She’s still waiting to hear back from the hotel.

I’m hoping for the best.

Have you ever fixed a problem by complaining to the CEO?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook - LinkedIn - Google Plus

  • polexia_rogue

    “it’s the strength of your case”

    very important point.
    customers need to ask “why would the CEO help me?”

    the most common way seems to be to go to social media first then to the CEO since now your problem has “fans” or “followers” who are eagerly awaiting the CEO’s response.

    But if the customer does not have a good reason no help will come.

    There was an article on retailhellunderground where a customer got mad at the hotel because they could not issue a refund for a reservation paid for on a 3rd party website.

    I can totally see THAT customer writing to the CEO of the hotel chain and getting no response.

  • Cindy Kaebisch

    I voted yes, but only because I wasn’t intending to go straight to the top. I actually called the customer service department at the HQ of the Woodman’s chain of grocery stores (long story but it involved expiration dates). Instead of just giving me an email or a phone number, the secretary’s question was “Do you want to talk to Phil?” Not Mr. Woodman, not a different department – “Phil”. We spoke on the phone for a few minutes and that little bit of super special customer service keeps me going back there. A few years later, I met “Phil” at the grand opening of a new store. He was not standing there shaking the hands of customers – he was in the produce department, unloading boxes of bananas. Now THAT’S a CEO!


    I did 30 years ago when I got married. I had been to a bridal show sponsored by an upscale department store chain that is no longer in business and had won the honeymoon grand prize. When we went to book we were given all sorts of excuses as to why we could not take the trip when we wanted to. Without the trip we could not afford the no-tell motel, much less an actual honeymoon trip. After numerous efforts to get booked I got fed up and complained in writing to the CEO of that department store chain. (It was a small chain in some southern cities.) I was very surprised when I received a phone call from the CEO himself apologizing and telling me who to call to get all arranged. By then the hotel included was fully booked but the CEO had us booked in a comparable hotel in the same city. I doubt that would work today–too many layers between customers and the CEO. Some of those layers are undoubtedly there to slow things down in some instances but today I would look at the CEO as last resort.

  • AJPeabody

    In the (very) few occasions when I felt the need to use the CEO card, I did not involve the CEO. From my past experiences in large organizations, I knew the person I really wanted was the administragtive assistant to the CEO, you know, the person who actually gets things done when the CEO says he will do it.. I ask not for a solution, but for a referral to the person in the organization who could fix the problem. Then that person gets me with a problem and “Jane Smith from Mr. Big’s office says you are the person who can help me with my problem.” Usually, that works.

  • Justin

    Here’s thre life lessons:

    Rude, Crude, and Belligerent people are unpleasant to handle. Reps will say anything to get rid of you, but don’t expect results.

    Kill with Kindness. I don’t mean be a pushover. Making a well argued, firm, but VERY POLITE case stands a better chance. Remember, if people empathize, they’re more willing to work towards a solution.

    Documentation. Documentation. Documentation. A well-documented paper trail creates a stronger case.

  • Justin

    Hitting up executives works like a charm, too. Find their email and lobby off a well worded complaint. Save for a last resort, because a no here, might be the final answer.

  • Justin

    While the show “Undercover Boss” is fake, genuine interactions between upper management and employees make a company. Easy to forget who keeps the place running from the ground up.

  • RWD

    Years ago I was denied insurance because the insurance company misunderstood my doctor’s note on a chart. I provided them with a letter from the doctor explaining it and no luck. I call the company directly and someone’s assistant ( a saint) gave me the name and address of every executive in the chain of command including the CEO in charge of denying me insurance.

    I started at the bottom writing nice letters. When no response was received I sent a letter to the next guy up the chain indicating I got no response from the last person as well as restating the problem and I also cc’d the last person I wrote to. Doing this, I think I got to the #2 guy before they finally approved the insurance.

  • Kathryn Carver Binau

    I appreciate your view point. This past summer I had such a bad experience with a large restaurant chain based in Tampa Florida that I wrote both the CEO and the VP of Training and Development. My letter was professional and requested an understanding of a policy. To this day, i am surprised that I have heard absolutely nothing from this company. Perhaps I should have started lower…..

  • Alan Gore

    Something like this happened to me once, when after writing my Congressman about an issue the rep himself called back and we had a long phone conversation in which I could explain my full position. Now THAT was cool.

    But if you have trouble getting through to corporate customer service, nothing beats the newfound influence of social media. Go through a company’s own Twitter presence, if any, or through public fora that are influential to the industry concerned. For example, review sites are dandy for getting noticed when you have product quality problems (“Dude, you’re getting flamed online!”).

  • RetiredNavyphotog

    I don’t think you made a mistake contacting the CEO and VP of Training and Development.
    Leadership starts at the top.
    Even if the CEO did not see your correspondence, someone did – and they did not do their job by responding to your bad experience.
    It is unfortunate, but I would never go back to that restaurant again.
    For those in charge, here is a piece of advice: a complaint is probably relayed to at least 30 people…you tell your family, you tell your friends, you tell your co-workers.

  • Nigel Appleby

    Close to 15 years ago, we didn’t get our final on board statement before disembarking from a HAL cruise. It’s not that important but I like to see it because of the conversion from US$ to Canadian. I used the contact us from their web site, when that didn’t generata a response I sent an email. When that didn’t work either I sent a polite registered letter to the CEO, that generated the response I wanted to gether with an apology. Much more recently when I had a problem the HALcontact us worked exactly the way it is supposed to.
    By way of disclosure we have been cruising with HALsince 1993 – 18 cruises.


    Just looked at that link. Looks like a great blog!! There goes my day!

  • AirlineEmployee

    About a year ago I had a bad experience at an Outback restaurant; having to wait an unnecessary amount of time due to poor “crowd” organization and withholding information about seating in the bar area (which I would gladly have accepted but was never offered). A supervisor and a manager were called over, at which time I complained that the “idiot” working reception in the front should have been more organized and informative.

    They seated us in the bar area and then proceeded to dress me down that I called one of their employees an idiot (though I had not said it within earshot of that person). It just went round and round until the point we were ready to order – at which time they suddenly had none of our choices available. Needless to say, we just left the restaurant.

    I sent an e-mail that evening (feedback on their website) giving the details and I’m happy to say a very high level executive with Outback got back to me within days and offered to phone me at my leisure. We spoke about a week later and he sent us a $100 gift card for Outback. I also want to add that it’s important to be polite, not get loud or over-reactive. I also apologized for having called one of his employees an idiot and most importantly, whenever I do complain about something, I remember we are all human, we make mistakes and my goal is not to get someone in trouble or fired….it’s just feedback. Be nice, don’t lie.

  • emanon256

    I had to reach out to a CEO once. I stayed at a franchised hotel in a different country quite some time ago, before I knew about CE. The hotel was in horrible shape, most of the restaurants were closed, there were sanitary issues, and the staff was trying to scam us right and left with bogus charges (Go to the one open restaurant, order food, and have a 1 placed before the tip. A $10 tip became a $100 tip after I signed, etc.) When the manager on duty offered no help, I made a reservation for another hotel and checked out early. At checkout I indicated which charges were fraudulent, and didn’t sign the statement, I actually wrote “Under Protect” on the signature block (They would not let me leave until I signed, and they controlled the transportation there were no taxis and the next business or hotel was over 5 miles away). I e-mailed the hotel and requested a refund of the nights that I didn’t stay. I got a letter back from the GM, stating that he would give me 25,000 points, and that he didn’t appreciate my “Story Telling” and it offended him and his staff. I did get the points, but I also got billed for the fraudulent charges, and an additional $200 with no explanation. I contacted the GM again, and never heard back. I e-mailed the corporate hotel office, and was told since it’s a franchise, I need to deal with the hotel directly, they could not help. I filed a dispute with the credit card, and the hotel provided a totally new receipt for several additional nights that I didn’t stay (and were not even part of my original reservation), and a letter stating that I stayed all of those nights, and my bill was for lodging, and they don’t understand my “story telling”. They also took their new final bill, and cut and pasted my signature from a receipt onto the bill. I explained to the credit card company that this was cut and pasted, and provided my own receipts, etc. and the credit card company stated that hotel bills are often not final until after someone leaves, and they can’t reverse the charges since I did stay and sue the hotel (Which was not true). I was chocked that I lost the dispute.

    At that point, I sent all of my correspondences, receipts, letter from the GM, credit card disputes, etc. with a letter via certified mail to CEO himself. I got a phone call from his assistant, who was one of the nicest people I have ever spoken to. She apologized, and said they will take care of everything and that the GM would be reprimanded. She asked me what I thought was fair, and I asked for a refund of the fraudulent charges as well as the extra money they charged. She then got me a refund of the fraudulent charges and the $200, as well as a 50% refund on my entire actual stay, and gave me 50,000 points on top of it.

  • emanon256

    When I used to supervise a call center, I always gave out my real name, and people knew our address, and a few times people figure out my e-mail address. I often got thank you letters. And the occasional complaint which I always addressed. However, one time I got the nastiest, most inflammatory letter, insulting my entire organization and calling me out personally. It was from the parent of a customer, and the customer had done something that the parent disagreed with, and it was too late for them to fix it. I had spoken to the customer, and gave her options, but she didn’t like them. I talked to my boss, and he taught me that sometimes the best way to handle a letter, is to ignore it and never respond. Now I wasn’t a CEO, but I did learn a valuable lesson. And I completely understand why some people don’t return letters.

  • Dutchess

    “I also want to add that it’s important to be polite”

    So, your idea of being polite is calling an employee an “idiot?” I guess because it wasn’t “within earshot of that person” that it’s somehow okay? Your story seems to be full of contradictions. Your philosophy of “remember we are all human, we make mistakes” and “be nice” includes name calling? Seems like you deserved how you were treated.

    Also, just because the CEO/executive gave you a $100 gift card doesn’t mean you deserved it. Large corporate chains like this often pay off people just to make them go away, despite the fact that they were in the wrong, because they don’t want to deal with an irate customers.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Agreed. If a client called on of of my staff members an “idiot” the relationship would be soon over. Not a client I’d want. I think the $100 was hush money.

  • Vec14

    While I have never had to complain to the CEO of a company or their assistant yet, I do believe there are situations that warrant bringing in the higher-ups – but these have to be pretty extreme – something that cannot be handled via normal channels or involves illegal or possibly illegal behavior. The closest I’ve come is contacting an executive with a cellphone company I was with years ago – I lived in an area they admitted dead zone, had no service and was trying to get out of my contract without the huge termination fee – no luck, but did get a letter and a phone call from them.

  • bodega3

    As annoyed as you might get at a restaurant, it isn’t advisable to make a server or anyone who will be around your food insulted or mad. Stories abound on what can and have happened to the items on your plate….legal or not!

  • flutiefan

    over the years, i’ve had so many customers claim that they know the founder of my company (a very well-respected businessman, who hasn’t been with the company in over a decade) or our CEO when trying to make a complaint. Usually it’s when I’m following policy and they don’t like it. I welcome them to please contact the honcho that they know, and please let them know that I’m enforcing this particular rule, as they are the one who wrote it. Don’t try to name-drop, it’s embarrassing.

  • omgstfualready

    Name calling is never appropriate; any 1st grader can teach you that should you be willing to listen and grow.

  • omgstfualready

    THere is nothing above or beneath any employee. A staff needs to step it up and go beyond their comfort zone. A manager needs to do what it takes to support the staff.

  • bodega3

    I am unclear on if Chris or Tracey thinks the hotel change fee is a problem? If Tracey changes her reservation a lot and that hotel has a fee, why does she continue to stay there?

  • Cindy Kaebisch

    Same thing happened to a project partner in college. We needed some information from Herb Kohl’s office and Mr. Kohl called her back personally.

  • Daddydo

    No! Never jump the chain of command! Any ex or current military person would tell to you start at the bottom and work yourself up the chain of command for a reasonably sound problem, or get in trouble for jumping that same chain.
    Tracey is not entitled to a resolution of any type, or is she entiled to break the rules? She started at the top, the CEO probably said who cares and bumped it down to the lowest level of interest. WE HAVE RULES! Why should I bend them for you? Buy the fully refundable rates and change to you heart’s content.

  • emanon256

    I think, “I know your CEO” is one step below the, “I pay your salary” line.

    When I was selling my old car, I got to talking to a potential buyer who wanted the car for his son and he asked where I worked. It turns out he had done some business with my company, he then stated I need to give him a discount because of all the money he gave my company. I thought he was joking, but he was serious! When I told him I can’t give him 50% off on the car he pulled the, “I pay your salary” line and got really angry with me. I tried to reason with him, but eventually he vowed to have my job and hung up on me.

  • Name

    To think that a CEO, or anyone at the executive level, would be interested in solving your customer service problem is silly. If you can’t communicate with customer service and they won’t bump you up to a supervisor, thank them and call back to get someone who is interested in doing their job. It’s just the price we pay for outsourcing.

  • Justin

    United Broke My Guitar. Got the airline to reconsider snowballing customers when the video went viral. Even used the song in their training.

  • Justin

    Bon Appetite. To think what angry wait staff do with food… Best not to think.

  • Justin

    Did this happen to be in Rome, Italy?

    I’d booked a room with loyalty points and the shyster hotel gave me a story “electricity and plumbing” didn’t work on the third level. I suspect they didn’t want to honor my points and had booked the room out to another guest. I protested, walked around for about 6 hours and came back. Stating I’d give them time to correct these problems. Of course, they were “still issues”.

    They walked me to another hotel via a cab. Other place was off the beat and path and god I got lost. Say the least, I paid a taxi to get my back where I needed after getting lost. I stayed in another Hotel for 2nd day. 1 & 3 were at shyster hotel and 2 was at one I liked. No hotel had 3 consecutive days available.

    Suffice to say on day 3, back at shyster hotel, they again shirked me and then stuck me in a crappy room adjoining another person. I got to hear his toilet flush all night as the rooms were connected. The keyhole on the door even looked directly into mine (creepy).

    Thank god corporate compensated me. I got both nights back + 1 extra night after a few weeks of back and forth. Supervisor was appalled at the lies the hotel gave. Even she saw through it all. Nothing they said made one word of sense.

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    most complaints form my experience can only now be handled via email + many companies are getting rid of their toll free phone lines (too many frivilous calls) & you can now only call them on toll lines. In Australia they are called 1900 number & cost anything from $1 to $5 a minute.

  • emanon256

    Not Italy, south east Asia. I had to take a plane to get to another hotel.

  • bodega3

    That, too, bad. I use toll free numbers all the time and with my phone plan, long distance is free, so no cost to make calls. In our industry we have reps, so they are our first step in contacting a company. I prefer writing a letter to email, and often use both. How many letters to CEO’s of a large company get past the mail room or past their email readers?

  • AirlineEmployee

    @ Dutchess…………Wow, talk about misreading my experience. I’ll simplify it so you can understand. Again, my complaint was to his superiors, the supervisor and manager. It was not loud or abusive on my part nor did I even complain to the front receptionist at fault. In fact, the supervisor was the one who lost it – she got loud and started deriding me for even suggesting that one of her employees was an idiot. He was. He seated people (out of order) that arrived after others were already waiting there (including my family) for over 45 minutes. This location does not take reservations in advance. There were empty tables that were not being cleaned and remained empty while other patrons and myself asked about that, met only with a dumb blank stare; no explanation.
    I only ended up at a table in the bar section after I saw this same receptionist seat people there who came in now 55 minutes after me. Only then, when asked did he tell me that the bar section was available. 55 minutes ?? He did not volunteer this availability at any time prior — to any patron waiting during that 55 minutes. Yes, I still stand by my opinion – he was an idiot.
    So for those of you who disagree, so be it. I make no apologies for complaining to available management staff. What I find irritating is the fact that the supervisory staff were more concerned about loudly and embarassingly lecturing me about my critiquing him as an idiot rather than just trying to assuage the problem quietly…….and then both taking our order but immediately (almost in collusion) deciding there was no more prime rib available – at 6:00 pm in the evening ??. Certainly I wasn’t going to stay to eat at that location; ergo, my e-mail sent to their “we welcome your feedback” website that evening.

    Frankly, I wasn’t doing it to get a free meal. I truly gave feedback complaining about a very disorganized location and staff, and a “supervisory” response that was less than stellar. If she handled it right, she would have saved her company $100. My comment (and later phone conversation) about being polite, honest and not wanting to get someone in trouble was all mentioned in my e-mail to him – basically as contrite admission on my part that I was wrong to infer anybody was idiotic but the disorganization of the place and poor supervisory response still stood, and still emphasizing my goal was not to get people in trouble. He was very appreciative to me. None of this was done in a loud, crass, over-reactive or rude way.
    In summary, I guess you are a person who just never has the misfortune to deal with crassholes or has ever had a bad customer service experience. Or maybe you’re just too passive and don’t see it when people are treating you poorly or walking all over you. Good for you. If the Outback district manager didn’t want to send me the $100 gift card, he certainly wouldn’t have answered my e-mail positively or gone the extra mile of setting up a phone conversation a week later to “make me go away”. Good luck on your complaint methods or lack thereof.

  • John Kroner

    We had a homeowner’s claim with American Family Insurance a few years ago — nothing major, just some vandalism to the front of the house and window damage. Everything was fixed and paid for but (I still don’t believe this myself) FIVE MONTHS LATER we get a letter advising us that the claim had been incorrectly paid and we owed the company $700.00 (somewhere there, can’t remember exactly). So we called to speak to the adjuster – sorry, he no longer works for the company. We contacted our agent and the people he gave us – no luck whatsoever. Pay up. At the advice of our agent, we copied all the relevant documentation and sent it with a polite cover letter to the CEO of American Family Insurance. A couple of weeks later, we got a call from the company — telling us that we didn’t have to pay the $700 (although he told us he still thinks we owe it). I have to think this was the result of the letter. The whole thing was completely bizarre, and I had never before or since heard of an insurance company deciding after the fact that more money was owed.

  • AirlineEmployee

    I agree with you there, that’s one thing I thought of when we left the restaurant. We did eventually use the gift card from Outback (much appreciated) but we ate at a different location. Never did I think I would not patronize Outback ever again because of one bad experience. I happen to like them, overall.

  • Dutchess

    “I make no apologies for complaining to available management staff.”

    You just don’t get it, do you?

    I didn’t misread your experience. I read that you called her an idiot and I lost all sympathy for you. The fact that you still see no problem with calling employees names or belittling them to their supervisors, even if not to their face, is telling and sad. You continue to ignore your role in the outcome. Had you followed your own advice and been polite and kind and treated people as “humans” this would have ended very differently. I think the manager did the right thing defending his employee and regardless of whatever wait, you were out of line calling ANYONE an idiot.

    So, whatever your intentions were with your complaint, you come out as petty and childish because you decided to stoop to the level of name calling. So no wonder they threw $100 your way, you can’t reason with a child.

  • FM

    A couple of years ago, my hard drive died on a Macbook Air. As it was out of warranty, I paid the company $100 to install a new hard drive. Not more than 3 months, that new hard drive died. Now they wanted $300 to install a new hard drive. Understandably I was not happy as I would expect my new HD to last more than 3 months. Appeals to the stores (yup, went to 2 local stores) did not do anything. So, my husband wrote to the CEO. A couple of days later, we got a call from the customer service manager at the local store (which was one of the stores we went to) who told us to come in and they will take care of me. All I expected was a new HD installed, instead they gave me a new Macbook Air and even upgraded it for me at no charge.
    I guess it depends on your case. Sometimes, the lower chains work and sometimes they do not. I do agree that you should try the lower chains first.

  • AirlineEmployee

    Talk about not getting it. So then I guess if you are treated badly in a restaurant or by an airline or any establishment you consider it okay not to complain at all ?; Just be walked over like a doormat ? Or you have NEVER, ever been treated badly by a customer service person, ever, anywhere and if you did, you refused, pushed out of your mind, that any other human being on this earth could be an idiot or a rearend orifice? How politically correct.

    Again, if you read through my posting, I admitted my error, I expressed my contrite feeling for having inferred an employee of Outback was an idiot (I just should have kept that thought to myself according to you) while dealing with the manager and supervisor. I can only hope you are not a lawyer or judge; I’d be in the electric chair already.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Yes, I still stand by my opinion – he was an idiot.
    So for those of
    you who disagree, so be it. I make no apologies for complaining to
    available management staff. What I find irritating is the fact that
    the supervisory staff were more concerned about loudly and embarassingly
    lecturing me about my critiquing him as an idiot rather than just
    trying to assuage the problem quietly…….

    I think what you are missing is that once you referred to the employee as an idiot, you basically pee’d in the drinking water. No one is disputing that you had every right to make a complaint. However, your choice of words completely undermined any legitimacy that you had as well as needlessly antagonized the co-workers.

    By your post, that choice of language appears to have been intentional; a verbal attack if you will. IMO, that makes it much worse than any perceived “incompetence” on the part of the employee.

  • AirlineEmployee

    Then, by your definition, I can say the same about the Manager/Supervisor (undermined themselves by not dealing with me in an adult manner by getting loud and embarrassing). Instead, they chose to just let my inference of a coworker being an idiot be the only problem of the day. They stopped at that and dropped the ball as far as I am concerned. My god, if dealing with the word “idiot” is their worst problem, what would they do if people got loud or drunk or physical ?

    A good manager should be able to resolve a problem calmly, face the controversy without over-reacting instead of “getting back” at the customer immediately. In other words figure out a way to win over or keep the customer now and/or in the future. In fact, no apologies were given to me (for the unnecessary wait, for the disorganized setup with tables visibly available but people not being seated, and lack of communication by the guy at the reception podium). They just didn’t want to hear it and made no effort to smooth it over or assuage me.

    The problem was only dealt with correctly when the District Manager answered my e-mail and proactively reached out to talk to me on the telephone. I did not ask him for any compensation, he willingly volunteered the gift card; this, after I apologized (admitted my error) for inference of any one of Outback’s employees being an idiot.

    I sincerely hope you can all rest easy now that I’ve admitted over and over my mistake and “horrible” use of the word idiot to that local Outback restaurant manager. I hope they all survived and didn’t need to seek professional help having to deal with customers that might object to bad service. Ideally, I at least started at the bottom wrung (Outback website) but got a high level manager’s response. Thanks to him, I will continue to enjoy my visits to Outback.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I think you hit the nail on the head. Once you apologized for your error in judgment, it was all good. I suspect had you exercised the same good judgment when dealing with the problem at the time you would have been accommodated without the need to escalate

  • Dutchess

    The stars are aligned in scary ways.
    I am in agreement with CCF twice in two days!

  • AirlineEmployee

    Thank you, exactly.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Time to play lottery :P

  • Lisa Brenns

    I reserved a rental car with a well known rental car co. Through Priceline. I forgot to change the pickup time which was 4 hrs. Later. I called the co. And they told me to call Priceline. Priceline said call the co. This went on for 2 days. So I looked up the CEO on the site and sent an email to him and the director of customer service. Got a call 4 hrs. Later front rental car co, he was so polite and professional and waived the added charge! What a great co who knows the definition of customer satisfaction! I will now ONLY use this co for rentals because of how professionally and respectably they handled my complaint!!!

  • Crissy Maier

    I did complain to a CEO once, and although the problem could not be resolved, it was because the problem could not be solved (IT issue). But, the CEO’s office was the only one who actually tried to resolve my issue. While I hate that company to this day, I can respect that they actually made an effort, but still wonder why I had to go to the CEO’s office to get that to happen.