Good companies and bad companies

There is the saying "shit flows downstream" which is an easy way to describe companies.  Top management creates the culture of the company.  Policy making, customer relations all come from above and so the saying goes "shit flows downstream".  I have had my share of dealing with 3 huge international corporations the past few days.  I talked to some companies several times others just once.  Some of them have been terrific while others have amazed me on how their internal operations are run.

The three companies are American Express, UPS and Starwood Hotels.  Here is the story.  I swear, you can’t make this stuff up.

We are staying at the Grand Bretagne in Athens.  Emily leaves two of her summer dresses in the closet.  I usually check but it was early, we had different rooms and they are old enough to give the room a once over…right?  Wrong.  She realize this the minute we get to Santorini.  No problem.  I call the Grand Bretagne and tell them the situation. I also email them as a second back up.  As a third back up I tell the concierge at the Vedema Hotel where we are staying in Santorini because both hotels are part of the Starwood Hotels organization.  I love Greece but sense of urgency is just not in their nature or vocabulary. 

The next day, no dresses.  I ask the concierge at the Vedema, I call the hotel in Athens.  Oh yes, they know about the dresses but the courier didn’t show up yesterday.  You are kidding me right?  A huge hotel like that an UPS doesn’t come daily to drop stuff off? 

At this point, we have a bit of a glitch in our plans.  We might leave Santorini and fly to Paris for the last two days.  Long story not worth repeating.  So, I tell the hotel in Athens to send the dresses to a hotel in Paris because that is where we will be.  The dresses now go.  Now we aren’t going to Paris, we are going to stay in Santorini.  The dresses arrive in Paris the next day. 

I call the hotel in Paris and ask them to please send the dresses to Hotel Vedema, express over night so I can have them the next day.  Sure.  They are pretty efficient in Paris.  The dresses go out.  I ask the Hotel Vedema to get me a tracking number.  They do but can’t call UPS because they are not open.  Have they ever thought about going online to look?  So, I do.

The package gets to Greece over night as promised.  Then the package bounces around the island for two days now four.  The people at the Vedema have no sense that I actually need the dresses before I go back to the US and that is certainly not from my inability to convey that we want the dresses. We end up going home without the dresses.

I am now tracking the dresses on UPS.  They are still yet to be delivered to the Vedema because they need a contact number in Santorini even though the address is a hotel. Don’t have to be that clever to figure that one out and the island is not exactly big.  Everyone on the island knows of the hotel but I guess UPS.

I call UPS, a multi national company.  They are worthless. I called them two days in a row.  Same answer.  Even though they are a multi national company, the domestic company in the US doesn’t have a way to talk with the international area of UPS.  They give me a number in Greece to call.  Although I can track the package on line, I can’t get them the phone number  that they possibly need to deliver the package to the Vedema or tell them to reroute the package because their computers don’t talk to one another.  Someone at UPS actually told me it was about customs but it isn’t.  Love people who give you bullshit answers on the phone when truth is they have no idea what they are talking about.  Calling Greece is impossible because of the 7 hour time difference and I woke up too late to get to talk to them today.  UPS says both times, even after talking to a supervisor, sorry but we can’t help you.  Honestly, I always thought UPS was a great company.  Wrong.

I come up with an idea.  I call the Starwood Hotel company and ask immediately for a supervisor in the consumer relations area.  Shannon is my gal.  I give her the saga.  She gets it all.  I have dealt with this group before when the Vedema only read every other email with my credit card info on it and after 3 days I just called Starwood and they took care of everything.  She is getting the Vedema to call UPS (she wrote this to the person who runs the hotel) and have them release the package.  Then she is making sure I get the dresses by Friday. 

My guess is she will actually make this happen. I doubt we will see the dresses by Friday but probably sometime next week. 

Oh on the American Express front.  When we were going to go to Paris, American Express, who I use for travel, screwed everything up.  I usually use the same guy but because of the time difference I used someone else because I needed to get things done.  When we realize that we aren’t going to do it, they had already canceled all of our flights in the system for getting back to the states.  American Express rose to the occasion, re-booked us on new flights and picked up the cost for everything.  The problem with AMEX is they are so big that sometimes you get someone fantastic on the other end of the phone and other times you get someone who isn’t up to speed.  Also, I hate their website. 

Frankly I am exhausted and can hardly wait to see the dresses.  Through this process I might never use UPS again, I am a fan of Starwood Hotels and AMEX gets the nod for standing up for their mistakes.