Have you ever been gifted a gift that’s been overly difficult to redeem?

I’d call that a CLAYTON’S GIFT…. The gift you get when you’re not getting a gift…

[Reference to the infamous non-alcoholic beverage made by Clayton’s back in the 1980s…. under the slogan: “The drink you have when you’re not having a drink….”]

You know the type…. Like a “cash-back” deal when you buy something… Really? Why can’t they simply give me a discount on what I pay at the time that I buy?

You get the gist…

My sister gifted me a Hyatt Gift Card for my significant birthday 17 months ago…

Now the amount on the gift card is also very significant.

But….

The back of the card reads “this card expires 12 months from the date of issue.”

It also reads that it is “valid in Australian Hyatt properties only.”

So, I decided that I wanted to use it in August 2021 at the Park Hyatt in Sydney. With a Sydney Harbour waterfront and Opera House views, the Park Hyatt Hotel in Sydney is regarded by many as Sydney’s Number 1 Hotel. [I have stayed there before]

But, and it is a big but, when my wife and I on several separate occasions phoned the Park Hyatt Hotel in Sydney trying to book accommodation using the gift card, we both felt as though the staff that we dealt with had tried to DISTANCE THEMSELVES [the Park Hyatt Hotel Sydney] from Hyatt [the parent company].

My wife and I on separate occasions were both informed that my gift card may not be accepted at the Park Hyatt Hotel in Sydney, and that the card may only be accepted at OTHER run of the mill ordinary plain Hyatt Hotels.

I said, that with all of the COVID related travel issues, we had not been able to visit Sydney to use the gift card before their supposed 12 month expiry time [mentioned on the back of the gift card], and that we were calling in advance now to confirm that the gift card still had value. [We live two hours drive from Sydney now]

Now, I know that the mention of the words “Park Hyatt” and “Hyatt Hotels” may immediately turn off a lot of people.

[“Who cares about those posh people and their posh hotels?”]

But this is about honouring a gift card.

This is about all businesses and the whole gift card industry.

The gift card and gift voucher industry has been proven to be a REAL SHAM. Many an organisation has been seen to have snatched money from unused gift cards and stuffed it into their own coffers without any exchange for goods or services, simply because the card or voucher has over-run its expiry date.

When really, businesses can easily account for funds received from unredeemed cards and vouchers as an asset in their company ledgers.

And as such, these cards should never have an expiry date. They are, in reality, unused credit for future transactions.

As I said to the Park Hyatt Hotel staff that I spoke to on the phone, it just seems wrong that my sister has gifted me a gift card for my significant birthday, but the Hyatt organisation, by putting this 12 month “Use By” expiry note on the card, has snaffled the gift for themselves without even a care in the world as to the ETHICS of their actions…

The story continues:

So here’s where we are at this morning.

Online, I have been able to access information that the gift card has a three-year expiry and that I still have nineteen months to use the card.

Obviously this is in line with national consumer legislation enacted to prevent the values of gift cards from being snaffled up too quickly.

Secondly, online, I was able to access the Park Hyatt Hotel reservations from the Hyatt parent company website, so there is an umbilical connection there despite the information that I had received on the phone from Park Hyatt staff implying a disconnection between this Hotel and the parent group.

However…

Using the gift card to pay in part towards the accommodation we seek, is also proving a challenge.

With COVID-19 restricting and limiting airline travel, I have often used [accumulated] Frequent Flyer Points to purchase hotel accommodation.

So I tried to use “points plus pay” to book the accommodation at the Park Hyatt Hotel. [This is not a Hyatt problem I’m unpacking here].

I can purchase the accommodation on the dates I’m looking for using points plus pay on the Qantas website. But I need to use a credit card, it seems, for the “Pay” part, not a Hyatt gift card.

Looks like I’m having to get back on the phone to the people at the Park Hyatt Sydney for assistance…

Do you think I’m looking forward to doing this?

The moral of the story….

Again, I know that this story appears to be about posh people and posh hotels, and the average man in the street doesn’t care if posh people are hard darn by, EVER, but the culture here of making things difficult for the customer, rather than making things as pleasant as possible, well that culture purveys itself across the gift card industry quite a lot, and across the hotel industry too from time to time.

This article should be a wakeup call to those organisations that behave in this manner of making life a little bit more difficult than it needs to be.

Ultimately, I’d have been emotionally much better off if my sister had gifted me cash rather than a gift card for my birthday.

And therein lies the irony.

I am being punished for being gifted a gift card that bears the Hyatt name.

And in reality, I don’t think the owners of Hyatt would be too impressed with what’s happened to me on a grass roots level.

The staff that we dealt with at The Park Hyatt need to realise a couple of things:

Firstly, if the gift card bears the Hyatt name, then they, as Hyatt employees, need to own the problems that that gift card has created, and they need to have the Service Recovery processes in hand to make things better.

And make things better quickly.

And secondly, the staff that we dealt with at the Park Hyatt also need to know that the “gift” is actually me, to them. I have been gifted as a customer to them, the Hyatt, by my sister. And so far, these staff, have not offered me any “warm and fuzzy” experiences.

Now that we know that the gift card has another 19 months to run, my wife and I are thinking that we’ll probably stay somewhere else in August, and use the card at another Hyatt Hotel another time.

Stay tuned for the next instalment….

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