A Happy Ending
About a month ago, we were in St. Louis to watch the Missouri Valley Conference basketball tournament. Unfortunately, son Ted’s UNI team lost on Friday night and we had hotel rooms booked through the weekend. Instead of wallowing in the defeat, we decided to take advantage of being in St. Louis and wanted to get to know the town. Daughter Jenni was pushing us to do an “escape room”. This is an emerging trend where participants get locked in a room and have to decipher codes and solve puzzles to escape. Most rooms allow you 60 minutes to do all that and “escape”.
Under Jenni’s encouragement, we agreed to follow her lead and she signed us up for an escape experience on Saturday night. The place she chose was only a few blocks from our hotel so we gathered the six adults and two children and headed toward our adventure. I was a little apprehensive for a couple of reasons. First of all I wasn’t sure that we (I) could solve the clues and riddles and get out with a win. Secondly, with a 3 year old and a 2 year old, there was a realistic probably that one or more of our group would be distracted. Refer to reason #1 and you will see that I think we needed all the brain power we could muster.
We arrived at the escape room about 10 minutes early, and started to check in. I waited for Jenni to confirm the reservation she made by playing with the grandkids. It appeared to be taking longer than I thought it should take and Jenni told us that the people working there couldn’t find our reservation. It turns out that while we were deciding to go to the escape room, Jenni accidently booked Sunday night instead of Saturday night. A mistake that could happen to anyone. The man working the front desk asked if we could come back on Sunday, and assured us it would be a lot of fun.
Jenni explained that we were from out of town and Sunday just wasn’t possible. They worked together for a reasonable alternative, but the only time available that night was going to be way too late for our group. Was there a possibility that we could get a refund? Jenni was nice enough to book the experience on her credit card and we were going to pay her back. The worker explained that it was their stated policy, and he did not have the authority to give refunds. Clearly it was not the company’s fault. On the other hand, he agreed to give Jenni the regional manager’s contact information and they might be willing to help. Disappointed on several fronts, we set out trying to figure out our plan B.
If you are a regular reader of this space, you know that I encourage all small business owners and managers to empower all their employees to make good decisions on behalf of the company. Personally I think the worker should have had the authority to refund Jenni’s money. They would have created goodwill and we would have spread the word about them, so that when we returned to St. Louis for the 2018 tournament, more UNI fans would patronize their business. But that didn’t happen. What did happen is that Jenni contacted the regional manager and asked for the refund. Weeks went by with minor communication and no refund.
Just last week Jenni receive a couple of e-mails. The first apologized for not responding sooner, blaming the issue on a change of booking systems. But the tone was nice, and he asked for additional information. No promise other than a discussion with the owners. Two days later, Jenni had a refund! All’s well that ends well. Jenni is happy and will recommend that we return to that escape room next year.
Small Business Today is a bi-weekly feature written by Tom Friedman, market president of First National Bank, Ankeny.