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Old Jan 28, 14, 11:34 am   #31
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I, too, am surprised that staff is not working from home. But then, it's easy to second-guess the business decisions of others.
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Old Jan 28, 14, 12:17 pm   #32
 
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Seems illogical to me too. Just don't see Starwood finding a lot of people in Wichita working for near minimum wage that are experienced with their brands or even with hotels in general to be able to provide high end customer service to some of Starwood's best customers. You can only train people so much and as all of us know, just because you know the basics of the Westin brand doesn't mean that a person will have the same experience at the Westin LAX as the Westin Excelsior.

People look to Starwood for superior customer service which has kept me very loyal. If the strategy is now to lay off experienced employees and move to locations offering the greatest tax breaks, and hiring the lowest wage workers possible, then that is a degradation of the Starwood experience.

Emirates for instance degrades their brand by giving their flight attendants little rest after ULH flights. A flight attendant that can barely stay awake at the beginning of a 16 flight from SFO to DXB is just not going to provide the best service. Many times when you call EK on the phone you also get a clueless agent that has no power to resolve the simplest of problems. I choose not to give my money to them.

United's outsourcing of their phone support years ago lead to so many poor customer service experience that I would not recommend any of our staff members fly with them as dealing with problem resolution was just too painful. Going the cheapest route possible is often not the best long term solution for the success of the company.

Dangling the possibility of a tax savings or whatever looks good on paper, but the end result is often not good for the low wage workers, the states giving the incentives and losing out on tax revenue, or the companies which thought they were getting a good deal by moving labor to the cheapest location.

Sometimes you need to pay a little more for better quality and more experience.
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Old Jan 28, 14, 7:10 pm   #33
 
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Workers in the Midwest tend to give their employers a better bang for the buck.
The area is loaded with call centers based on the fact that the employees show up for work and speak decent English. I'm guessing that Lancaster had problems neither of us know about. Three different reps servicing one account within 12 months might be a clue.
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Old Jan 28, 14, 10:40 pm   #34
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Originally Posted by hedoman View Post
Workers in the Midwest tend to give their employers a better bang for the buck.
The area is loaded with call centers based on the fact that the employees show up for work and speak decent English. I'm guessing that Lancaster had problems neither of us know about. Three different reps servicing one account within 12 months might be a clue.
Yep, midwest workers often have good work ethics and are the products of good public school systems, so that a high school grad is literate, numerate, and has good problem solving skills as well as computer skills.

A well known example of an outstanding midwestern small-town call center is the Chisholm elite reservations center that NW established and DL is now expanding. As a top tier elite, I love it when my call is answered by the Iron Range of northern Minnesota.
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Old Jan 29, 14, 2:11 pm   #35
 
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Originally Posted by hedoman View Post
Workers in the Midwest tend to give their employers a better bang for the buck.
The area is loaded with call centers based on the fact that the employees show up for work and speak decent English. I'm guessing that Lancaster had problems neither of us know about. Three different reps servicing one account within 12 months might be a clue.
There's not much to do in Lancaster except show up for work.

I know of at least one agent who did work from home.....in L.A.
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Old Jan 29, 14, 7:59 pm   #36
 
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Originally Posted by sfozrhfco View Post
How many people willing to work for presumably low wages in Wichita have the money to experience many global or even domestic Starwood properties?

Guess for my next trip to Overland Park, KS, I will now be able to get the low down on the Four Points there.
And the people working in the Lancaster call center also worked for low wages out of a derelict old shopping mall and didn't have much experience at spgs global properties. Sucks for the people working there, but some of you seem to think this center (and Lancaster) was much more than it was...
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Old Jan 31, 14, 12:53 pm   #37
 
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Angry

I agree with comments previously shared by landeej and others of like mind. Perhaps clublounger had never had the need to rely on his/her personal platinum concierge when in a tight spot. Mine worked miracles for me in the past, which is saying a lot considering that I had terrible experiences (provided incorrect information, promises made but never kept...) with other, less capable Starwood platinum concierges when I first attained platinum status, until I found the one in Lancaster with whom I worked for the past four years.

As for Star Lurker, save the party line. It's the exact, word for word, rhetoric I received in response to an email I sent to Starwood concerning my displeasure in the closing of Lancaster. The transition has NOT been seamless for your platinum members as you should have been able to ascertain from most of the postings on this site.

In my case, I sent to my concierge an email request for a new reservation I needed. Unfortunately, it was sent on 01.23.14. When it went unanswered, I sent a follow-up email, also unanswered. I finally called yesterday, only to be told by another concierge that the Lancaster office had been closed. So, my reservation request went unattended for a week.

You call that "seamless", Star Lurker?

I call it one big blunder on the part of Starwood. Not only does it seem that Starwood considers its employees to be expendable commodities, but its platinum members as well. Doesn't give me that acknowledged, appreciated, warm fuzzy feeling that Starwood would like customers to believe they will receive if they attain platinum status.

Starwood would have been well served by hiring a PR expert before charging forward with the decision to close Lancaster. The decision, no doubt, would have been the same, but the manner in which Starwood employees and clients were treated might have been more "seamless". Perhaps then Starwood might not be seen as just another big, bad corporate entity with this black mark on its reputation.

If Starwood still has not figured it out: Competent, reliable, professional, caring personal platinum concierges are one of the best selling features the company has. (had?) Starwood underestimated their importance to its most loyal customers. The staff in the Lancaster office deserve better, and so do the Starwood platinum members.

Good luck, Lancaster staff!
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Old Jan 31, 14, 7:02 pm   #38
 
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I was saddened too because it took a while to develop a relationship with my former Lancaster Ambassador rep. However, my new rep seems to be nice and I'll give her a chance before I make any judgements. Why is everyone assuming the new agents will be worse? Let's give them a chance and see.

As for Starwood... they are a publicly traded company based in a capitalistic society. As such they must manage earnings growth. This is not unusual for publicly traded companies in America. This does not mean it's the best way to go about it - but I'm surprised everyone is surprised. This is how business is currently done in the States and it's a rare publicly traded company that does it differently (although a few come to mind such as Berkshire Hathaway and Amazon).
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Old Jan 31, 14, 10:32 pm   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sfozrhfco View Post
Emirates for instance degrades their brand by giving their flight attendants little rest after ULH flights. A flight attendant that can barely stay awake at the beginning of a 16 flight from SFO to DXB is just not going to provide the best service.
Not saying there aren't a few who have schedules that don't allow for appropriate rest time between ULH flights, but this is contradictory to the personal experience of many of my friends who work for EK on ULH routes.
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Old Feb 2, 14, 3:09 am   #40
 
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Thumbs down

Quote:
Originally Posted by liten View Post
I agree with comments previously shared by landeej and others of like mind. Perhaps clublounger had never had the need to rely on his/her personal platinum concierge when in a tight spot. Mine worked miracles for me in the past, which is saying a lot considering that I had terrible experiences (provided incorrect information, promises made but never kept...) with other, less capable Starwood platinum concierges when I first attained platinum status, until I found the one in Lancaster with whom I worked for the past four years.

As for Star Lurker, save the party line. It's the exact, word for word, rhetoric I received in response to an email I sent to Starwood concerning my displeasure in the closing of Lancaster. The transition has NOT been seamless for your platinum members as you should have been able to ascertain from most of the postings on this site.

In my case, I sent to my concierge an email request for a new reservation I needed. Unfortunately, it was sent on 01.23.14. When it went unanswered, I sent a follow-up email, also unanswered. I finally called yesterday, only to be told by another concierge that the Lancaster office had been closed. So, my reservation request went unattended for a week.

You call that "seamless", Star Lurker?

I call it one big blunder on the part of Starwood. Not only does it seem that Starwood considers its employees to be expendable commodities, but its platinum members as well. Doesn't give me that acknowledged, appreciated, warm fuzzy feeling that Starwood would like customers to believe they will receive if they attain platinum status.

Starwood would have been well served by hiring a PR expert before charging forward with the decision to close Lancaster. The decision, no doubt, would have been the same, but the manner in which Starwood employees and clients were treated might have been more "seamless". Perhaps then Starwood might not be seen as just another big, bad corporate entity with this black mark on its reputation.

If Starwood still has not figured it out: Competent, reliable, professional, caring personal platinum concierges are one of the best selling features the company has. (had?) Starwood underestimated their importance to its most loyal customers. The staff in the Lancaster office deserve better, and so do the Starwood platinum members.

Good luck, Lancaster staff!
Agree that they handled this poorly...
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Last edited by Crazy4Birds; Feb 2, 14 at 3:47 am.
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Old Feb 2, 14, 11:28 am   #41
 
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Originally Posted by TravelinSperry View Post
I was saddened too because it took a while to develop a relationship with my former Lancaster Ambassador rep. However, my new rep seems to be nice and I'll give her a chance before I make any judgements. Why is everyone assuming the new agents will be worse? Let's give them a chance and see.

As for Starwood... they are a publicly traded company based in a capitalistic society. As such they must manage earnings growth. This is not unusual for publicly traded companies in America. This does not mean it's the best way to go about it - but I'm surprised everyone is surprised. This is how business is currently done in the States and it's a rare publicly traded company that does it differently (although a few come to mind such as Berkshire Hathaway and Amazon).
Not saying that Starwood did not have a right nor, perhaps, an obligation to its shareholders to close the Lancaster office, as unfortunate as that is for those who worked there, including my outstanding platinum concierge. I'm sorry for them, especially in an economic environment which has not recovered fully, and I wish them all the very best.

From the standpoint of a loyal member, the manner in which Starwood handled the closing of Lancaster was nothing but a disaster. I'm glad if you have found someone new at Starwood with whom to work. Judging from my own experience and the postings of others, that is not true for all of us. I had a reservation request which was ignored for a week and probably would be still had I not become aware of the situation by other means and taken the necessary action. That is not a "seamless" transition.

And as for my skepticism about transferring my allegiance to a new platinum concierge, it is a healthy skepticism based upon some very poor past experiences with other, random platinum concierges at Starwood. Not all platinum concierges are equal, and using one who possibly is a newbie in Wichita is not my idea of "platinum" service.
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Old Feb 2, 14, 1:55 pm   #42
 
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Lancaster (California) Call Center Closed

Why in the world are people emailing reservation requests when you can use the SPG app or website and make the reservation in less than 2 minutes.

I feel for folks losing their jobs but this thread is bordering on ridiculous. Corporations have every right to choose where they do business. The plat centre I dealt with most happened to be in St Thomas, Ont near my childhood residence. But I dealt with Ireland and Texas frequently as well. The platinum benefits provide access to a concierge, NOT a specific concierge.

What would have happened if the individual you dealt with most happened to quit? Would you still be upset with Starwood for allowing this to happen because it is an inconvenience to you?
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Old Feb 2, 14, 4:43 pm   #43
 
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Originally Posted by wolvie007 View Post
Why in the world are people emailing reservation requests when you can use the SPG app or website and make the reservation in less than 2 minutes.
. That's not the issue here, as you well know. Most of us book on website or app.

[/quote]
I feel for folks losing their jobs but this thread is bordering on ridiculous. Corporations have every right to choose where they do business. The plat centre I dealt with most happened to be in St Thomas, Ont near my childhood residence. But I dealt with Ireland and Texas frequently as well. The platinum benefits provide access to a concierge, NOT a specific concierge.

What would have happened if the individual you dealt with most happened to quit? Would you still be upset with Starwood for allowing this to happen because it is an inconvenience to you?[/quote].
That is irrelevant, of course, to this situation where Starwood apparently let a large number of employees go, some of whom we had developed very dependable working relationships with. Just because this doesn't affect you, or that you don't care that it affects some of us, doesn't mean it was the right thing for Starwood to do, especially in the way that they did it.
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Old Feb 3, 14, 10:32 pm   #44
 
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It appears my new Ambassador is working her first job... ever. She sent me an email today telling me she wanted to email me to update my stay preferences and wanted to know if it would be OK to email me. Um, er... you email me to ask if you can email me? I truly hope this isn't a sign of things to come.
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Old Feb 5, 14, 8:25 am   #45
 
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Originally Posted by TravelinSperry View Post
It appears my new Ambassador is working her first job... ever. She sent me an email today telling me she wanted to email me to update my stay preferences and wanted to know if it would be OK to email me. Um, er... you email me to ask if you can email me? I truly hope this isn't a sign of things to come.
Unfortunately, I think that is going to happen frequently. There are going to be a lot of new hires in Wichita.

It is presumed that "platinum" concierges are seasoned, but everyone has to start somewhere, and they have varying levels of experience. I learned that the hard way before I was fortunate enough to find the personal platinum concierge with whom I worked until Lancaster closed. And, that is why I chose to work with one, "personal" concierge, rather than just dealing with whomever picked up the 800 #.
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