Thursday, October 6, 2011

My return letter to RCCL's initial response

New to this blog?  Check out the original complaint here:

And here is my preliminary response...


I apologize for not yet contacting you.  Your initial response was exasperating, to say the least.  I have delayed calling in order to calm down, compose my thoughts, and respond rationally.

In short, Royal Caribbean's first letter seemed to be poor if not callous use of standard customer response templates.  One of the divisions I oversee in my own job uses them, and they're easy to spot, particularly when they're used ignorantly and badly.  The letter contained a few details ("infants and toddlers...ten points...") indicating someone skimmed my complaints, but only a few.  It's not clear if anyone actually read and understood them.

Fully three of the five paragraphs (the first, second and fifth) are not specific to any complaint.  Certain courtesies are always required in such letters, but the sheer number of cliches and platitudes seems excessive and lazy.  Royal Caribbean could have been responding to a customer who complained about slow elevators, undercooked vegetables, sloppily-dressed staff, carpet stains, or anything else.  I personally believe that my complaints about a starving infant, an unusable bed, and an almost total lack of activities (to take only the most obvious examples) are of a different magnitude, and deserve a different approach.  The final line in particular ("We hope to have another opportunity to welcome you and your family onboard one of our ships again in the future") is strikingly naive.

The third paragraph is slightly more specific, but only slightly.  It broadly addresses the general issue of customer expectations.  After reading it I concluded that Royal Caribbean feels my complaints have no substance, and that they are a matter of perception and preparation.  I can not disagree more.  I myself addressed the issue of customer expectations in my letter, but only in the third of three recommendations.  Ignoring the first recommendation in particular--a comprehensive review of service limitations with a view to change them for the better--is to miss the whole point of my letter.  My cruise was not awful because my expectations were too high, or because I wasn't prepared.  My cruise was awful because Royal Caribbean treats infants, toddlers and their parents awfully.

The fourth paragraph is simply abhorrent.  Saying that "each of the concerns..was individually submitted into a database" blithely dismisses the concerns themselves.  It baldly reduces me to a statistic, and ignores the fact that each of the concerns is a symptom of a much larger problem, i.e. that Royal Caribbean treats infants, toddlers and their parents awfully.

I will try to call you next week during your business hours, using the 1-888 number you provided.  Non-American telephone providers can't work with the toll-free number you provided.  I thought this was further evidence of the inattentiveness in your response, but in fact with a little research I found a VOIP service that can make such calls, and I will utilize it next week.

In the meantime, please note that I've started a blog: .  I've also entered my thoughts into,,, and one or two other sites, making reference to my blog in each of them.  The blog already pops up in Google searches as well.  All of these references result in a couple of hits per day.  That might not seem like a lot, but it's several hundred potential customers each year who will be better informed about Royal Caribbean's awful treatment of infants, toddlers, and their parents--and now its poor treatment of customer complaints as well.

1 comment:

  1. Unfortunately this tends to be the kind of response one gets from cruise lines when complaining after the event. They almost have a 'we have had your money now go away' attitude. It's not right and they will lose a few customers but I really don't think they are that bothered; ships sail more or less full anyway.

    The key here is dealing with issues at the time; I see that you involved the Maitre'd but there are at least a couple of management layers above him and it may have been useful to have escalated the issues to the Hotel Director - ultimately it's his responsibility.

    I am truly sorry that you had a miserable cruise and I genuinely hope your blog has some positive impact.