How I Got a Free Hotel Room

Friday night I had plans to get a hotel room, order some take out and watch a movie on the fancy flat screen television with my boyfriend. We didn’t have the time or money to take a tropical vacation for spring break, so this was our great escape. Unfortunately, our plans were derailed when I found that both of the TVs in the moderately price hotel suite were broken.

We’re not complainers, but we called the front desk and asked politely if someone could take a look at the problem. After promptly sending a technician, he informed us that there was nothing he could do and that it was too late to get a new room with working TVs.

It didn’t phase us. We watched the planes at Portland International Jetport take off and land, listened to Spotify radio, and visited the hotel pool.

Our hotel room, while beautiful, did not deliver on the hotel's promises without working TVs

Our hotel room, while beautiful, did not deliver on the hotel's promises without working TVs

Upon checking out the next morning, the front desk manager asked me if everything was all right with our room. I had to be honest. “The room was lovely,” I said, “but unfortunately the TVs didn’t work and this impacted our plans. Is there anything that can be done?”

The woman apologized quickly and said, “Let me take care of that for you.” As she worked away on the computer, I continued to explain our situation. I was calm, appealed to her on a personal level, and expressed exactly what I wanted from the situation. In the end, I was handed my receipt. All charges had been refunded. “Please come stay with us again, Miss Keene.”

Have you ever paid for something, only to find that it was not worth your money? Did a company fail to deliver on their promises? Have you ever been disappointed with the service you received from a business?

The more important question: Did you tell someone about it?

If you believe the service or product you received was not worth your money, do not chalk it up to bad luck and settle for poor quality. Here is how to complain in a socially acceptable way and effectively negotiate for some or all of your money back.

Tips for Effective Negotiation

1. Appeal on a personal level

Let the service provider know that whatever they can do to help you in the situation will be appreciated. Learnvest recommends using phrases like, “I can tell you’re about to make my day,” and, “I really need someone like you to help me out of this jam.” Make the person helping you feel great about what they’re doing.

2. Critique not punish

Imagine if I had said, “The room was awful. The TVs didn’t work and it ruined our night!” Would the front desk manager want to help me? Probably not. Focus on what you want out of the situation instead of what you don’t have. Asking the question, “Is there anything you can do?” opens the situation up for discussion.

3. Cool, Calm, Collected

Never be rude. Always be polite. I complimented the hotel room first, because it really was lovely, but the TVs just didn’t work. Service providers may have to deal with grumpy customers frequently, so be the person who makes their job a little easier. 

4. Have a Clear Goal

My goal was to receive a rate reduction and I kept this in focus at all times. In the end, I met and exceeded my goal by receiving a full refund. Make your goal specific and reasonable. It will help you identify when to stand strong and when to ease up.  

5. Speak to the right person

If the service provider you’re speaking to does not have the ability to assist you, ask politely for someone who does.

6. Express your gratitude

Success! You’ve reached your goal and were partially or maybe even fully refunded! Thank your service provider. They are in the business of making customers happy, so let them know they’ve done a great job.

If you believe you received a product or service that was not worth your money, say something. Making reasonable requests to get the most out of your purchase is a smart money move. For more tips on effective negotiation, check out this post from LearnVest.

Kylie K.