DansDeals.com: Working To Make It Happen!

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Update, 02/26:
Ric Garrido has already typed up a full timeline of the deal history, so I’ll punt on writing all of the gory details and tackle this from another angle…

Ever have a company try to back out of an offering?  You may want to read this!

On Thursday some 112 (or 113? somehow the number jumped from 112 to 113 on Friday, long after the deal ended) people bought a deal for a night at the presidential suite at The Fairmont San Francisco. The real reason they bought it was for a fringe benefit of the deal, lifetime Platinum status at Fairmont.  Lifetime status gets you an annual free night at Fairmont hotels worldwide.  (A night at The Plaza NYC, Savoy London, or the Kea Lani Maui can go for upwards of $600 for a night).  It also comes with other bennies like a handful of annual upgrade certificates and an annual $100 spa or restaurant voucher.

I called the hotel and Fairmont President’s Club to confirm the details of the deal and they were all familiar with the offer, including the lifetime platinum status.

Not long after the deal was posted the $2,000 package sold out.  Later that evening the deal said “sold out”, even though it was still showing 112 sold as it did many hours before that.  Commenters on the deal on this site reported that they had spoken to employees in the hotel who had confirmed that somewhere along the line a massive mistake occurred and the deal had been pulled prematurely.

A commenter by the name of “don’t bother” wrote at 5:10pm. “just spoke to district manager at hotel because as i was purchasing it sold out, so i got an email confirm but no actual confirmation #. he told me living social totally messed up the deal, it was for one year plat not lifetime and they are pulling the whole thing $10,000 also. oh well.”

A commenter by the name of “me” wrote a little later, “dan, i spoke to some guy Benjamin Shih at the fairmont, he was the west coast regional manager and he basically told me they were in a frenzy dealing with this… and that they told living social 1 year and living social worded it wrong. he was working with some guy in DC who he couldn’t reach ect. im just repeating info he told me. thats why they cut the deal completely. he offered me the one night at 50% off.. as if i am paying $2000 for one night in a hotel. i dont know if they will honor it or not. my guess would be yes with only 112 sold!”

Apparently, the fringe benefit of Platinum status was only supposed to last for one year, not for the lifetime of the purchaser! But that’s not what was promised at the time of the sale. Would Fairmont honor the deal as advertised or would they try to weasel their way out of it?

On Friday at about 9am PST I called the hotel sales staff to hear for myself what the story was.  They confirmed that a mistake had been made and that the outcome was still undecided. I was told that I would be contacted later in the day.

That was my cue to kick it into high-gear! They were not about to take away my lifetime Platinum status without a fight!

I tweeted from my @dansdeals twitter account to @FairmontSF, @fairmonthotels, and @LivingSocial: “Rumor has it that Fairmont may not honor the lifetime Platinum promised in the LS deal, hope you’re ready for the bad press!”

They tweeted back “Hi all, a promo ran yesterday on Living Social in error. It’s since been shut down, and we are working on fixing it as soon as possible!”

Didn’t sound very promising!

The next thing I did was compose an EECB, an executive email carpet bomb. This tactic involves composing a formal, clear, and concise email explaining the situation and the result that you wish to see.

I’ve done this in the past when I had a Dell computer that broke that was under their complete care protection. My computer was an ultra-compact 12″ laptop and they had replaced it with a monster 17″ laptop. I had tried reasoning with their offshore customer service to no avail as there were no “Inspiron” compact laptops being made. Soon after sending out the EECB I received a call from their executive office saying that they would replace my Inspiron laptop with a 13″ Studio XPS laptop.

To send out an EECB then have to gather email addresses. In this case I wanted to email contacts at the Fairmont San Francisco, Fairmont Headquarters, Fairmont President’s Club, and Living Social. To get those emails you can search on google, or you can figure out the company email format. For Dell it is Firstname_Lastname@dell.com. In Fairmont’s case it is Firstname.Lastname@fairmont.com. Living Social’s C-level executives can be reached by just using Firstname@livingsocial.com. Look up the names of the top executives and other relevant sales staff and fire away!

In this EECB the main points I covered were:
-Summary of what the deal was for. After all the people you’re emailing don’t necessarily know what happened.
-That it was purchased by 112 people in good faith at rates of $2,000-$10,000.
-The bad press that would ensue from myself and other influential bloggers would be picked up by the national media.
-If Fairmont did not honor the deal as promised it will cost Fairmont and Living Social far more in negative PR than the cost of honoring the deal.

I felt it was important for Fairmont and Living Social to realize that we weren’t just 112 folks who spent $2,000 and would go away quietly. If they were not going to honor the deal our voices would be heard!

As far as including Living Social in the EECB is concerned, a deal doesn’t run on sites like Groupon or Living Social without it being checked over by many people with a contract signed by the client after they check it over as well. If Fairmont ultimately decided to back out it would be in Living Social’s best interest to push them to honor it as well. After all, their own reputation is only as good as their deals being honored, so I felt it was worth getting them involved as well.

I still hadn’t heard back from the hotel so I called the hotel back. When I asked a sales rep if she knew the status of the deal she said that they were compiling a list of purchasers and that they would reach out to each purchaser individually on Tuesday to let them know the final story.

I told her that the deadline for refunds from Living Social in Monday and she got excited, “Oh do you just want a refund?” No, I want to hear that you will be honoring the deal as promised, but if you do plan on reneging at least let us know before it’s too late. (Of course you can always do a chargeback as well within 60 days, but that’s besides the point)

A number of us were debating what the right move would be at this point. Obviously email pressure would be crucial, but was it too early for me to make a post on this site blasting Fairmont and Living Social for creating the mess and ignoring it? Or should we give them time to figure out what to do. On the one hand we didn’t want them to decide to ignore the 112 of us and just offer us refunds. But on the other we didn’t want to apply too much pressure prematurely…

Another person who purchased the deal had a contact with USAToday and arranged for me to be the face of the Fairmont 112 and tell the reporter what was going on. Operation Lifetime Platinum was in full force. We figured we were in for a long-haul. Fairmont was being non-responsive at that point and Living Social had sent out certificates that made no mention of the Platinum offer.

And then almost as soon as our operation had started I got a call from Benjamin Shih at Fairmont. This was the same person that a DansDeals commenter reported speaking to that had said the whole thing was a mistake. He told me to give him until the end of the day before writing anything bad about Fairmont. He also said that they were literally jumping through hoops to see if would be possible to honor every aspect of the deal as promised and that he would be calling me back as soon as he could give me a definitive answer either way.

Soon thereafter he did return the call and let me know that they would be honoring the deal and would grant all purchasers lifetime Platinum status! He told me that the same info would be shortly sent out via press release and twitter, which they were.

At the end of the day Fairmont came through with flying colors
and even though there was apparently a mistake made, they did decide in a timely fashion to honor the deal and in turn, create 112 people that will be undoubtedly be priceless ambassadors for the Fairmont brand. I just hope nobody loses their job over the deal!

And I’m just happy that I was able to play a part in helping us reach such a quick and positive resolution!

Were you one of the lucky buyers of this deal? Have your own story of working with a company to keep them honest? Hit the comments!
————————————————————————-
Originally posted on 02/25:
Yesterday Fairmont Hotels ran a great deal on Living Social, a daily deal group-buying website.

They tried to back out, but I just got a call back from them that the effort to get them to honor it had succeeded, they will be honoring the deal as advertised despite the “human error!”
I’ll write more after Shabbos about how I helped convince them that it would be in their best interest to honor it…

In the meantime, kudos to Fairmont for doing the right thing and doing it quickly!!!

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46 Comments On "DansDeals.com: Working To Make It Happen!"

All opinions expressed below are user generated and the opinions aren’t provided, reviewed or endorsed by any advertiser or DansDeals.

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James

Dan, thanks for all your efforts in putting on the full court press to get Fairmont and LivingSocial to honor the error in such a timely manner.

Laker

If you make a deal and publish it, you should honor it. I purchased the deal but am requesting a refund. My conscience does not feel right in taking advantage of someone’s error like this. We are all human and make mistakes.

Eli

Wow! Tell us more!

Daniel

Laker, I will buy yours If you are willing to sell it. Email me at peroneustertius@gmail.com if interested.

Bp_man

Thanks Dan,
We appreciate your afford!

danr

I tried to buy it but it gave me a message saying sold out. I just checked my email after shabbas and got an emaild from livingsocial offering me the deal, but I would have to respond by 11am this morning on Shabbas. I will try to call them and tell them I could call earlier, I hope they will give it to me. Just need to make sure the platinum for life is included

yonah

If someone wants to sell me their $2000 membership I will buy it as well. Please email
dukeeldorado@gmail.com. Thanks

miguel

@Lakers I will buy yours for more than you paid. miguel@foridic.com

tt

Laker, I will buy it cash

ttcanada@yahoo.com

MLM

anyone willing to pay $10,000 for it. Ill sell mine at that price.

Fred

Dan, I’m impressed.

dan

Hey dan I’m a bucher looking to go to jails in jacksonvile for purim any normal priced flights I checked but can’t find any under 240 please reply thx!!!!

es21729

Interestingly enough I had a story with Fairmont several years ago, I was planning a trip to Florida and wanted to stay at the Fairmont Turnberry Isle in Aventura. I searched around online looking for a deal and found on one of their websites an offer for something like $50 or $100 a night at any of their hotels. I printed the page up, good thing because that night the deal was down. I called and tried booking Turnberry for 4 nights at that rate, was told it only applied to one of their hotels in Dallas or something like that. After some back and forth and me faxing the deal over, they finally agreed to give me a $50/day restaurant credit. I balked at that, instead asking for a free upgrade from my standard $300/night room to a $1000/night suite, which they gave in to. I’ve been a loyal Fairmont customer/fan since then. SO upset I missed out on this deal!!!

benolaa

Special thanks to whitedoor on milepoint for finding this deal!

danFan

@dan: dude….hes not a travel agent…if theres a deal worth publishing, he will….you also didnt say where youre leaving from…try dans deals forums for this type of help

Dan

@benolaa:
Actually, the first mention I found, and the one I attributed a hat tip to in the original post, was Shenanigans on FT.

Chaim2

I live nearby San Fransisco, so if any of you don’t want to stay in the suite this year, email me. freebemine [at] gmail [dot] com

Chaim

Dan,

How do we get the lifetime status do take effect?

Living social sent me an email saying fairmont will honor the deal but made no mention of whether we should be getting certificates stating the lifetime status or do we have to call in to get fairmont to mail/eemail them to us or what?
Is there some sort of membership card we should be receiving?

Do we have to wait to receive the certificates in the mail before booking?
I want to book a room at one of their hotels and then upgrade using the certificate.

Please advise.
Thanks!

Chaim

Oh, and thanks a million for all your efforts!!

Dan

@Chaim:
We’ll all be contacted this week for more info on registering for the status.

Tzvi Tauby

Anyone who bought this deal that would like to donate the night in SF Fairmont to a very worthy orginization called iVolunteer-WE match young profetionals who visit Holocaust survivors in their homes on a wekly basis. Please see our website ivolunteerny.com. I will give you a tax reciept for the full retail value of $4000( or more). you can email me and we can work out a deal.This wold greatly benefit our annual fundaraiser. Thank you. tzvi@ivolunteerny.com.

me

dan, i saw someone mention this early in the original post but im wondering if it actually can be done .. for those of us who got the deal, where can we status match? thanks

mo

I bought the 10,000 dollar one by mistake and I called up to switch it and they told me no problem that within 24 hrs it will be changed … 24hrs later no change called up and they told me since it was already sold out they cant switch it for me even though the day b4 they said they can .
Then fri night I got a email from a costumer care supervisor stating
“I am contacting you on behalf of LivingSocial to express our appreciation of your patronage and our regret that you were unable to obtain the One-Night Stay for Two in the Presidential Suite for $2,000.

I do apologize that due to an error in our system you were denied the purchase after receiving confirmation. I spoke with you over the phone earlier today, and was unable to secure the requested downgrade you wanted. At this time we are able to offer the deal to you, we simply need you to approve the charge to your default credit card by LivingSocial.

Please respond to this email before 11 am EST Saturday February 26th, 2011 as this is a time sensitive matter and cannot be held over for very long. Once the card has been successfully charged you will receive a confirmation email and your voucher will be sent to you next day.”
Being a sabbath observant jew I only got it sat night past the 11 am est deadline
wrote to them explaining and just got a reply that they will switch it .
I am ecstatic cant wait and great job Dan and even greater job by Living Social helping me out .

me

dan… i keep seeing all these ppl who have the same situation as me, that they almost purchased the deal then it died and they are getting emails from LS that they will honor it, so i got a little suspicious and took acloser look at the email after googling the guys name from the email and nothing to do with living social came up i see that he emailed me from dayo.boyd@hungrymachine.com hungrymachine.com? is this spam.. !! help! am I about to get robbed! Im going to call living social now and see if this is for real. in the meantime, ill try and stay calm (and thankful that its amex!)

me

k well livingsocial is closed.

me

i feel like im uncovering something here.. i cant get onto their blog and there are refrences on google searches to living social, is it a spy site?!?!!?

Dan

@me:
I believe hungrymachine are the people behind living social. I think you’re OK 🙂

me

oh. hehe. Better safe than sorry!

Ra

@me how did u start the process who did you write to I also wanted the deal and woke up to late

me

i had an unusual situation, i bought the deal on time, when i clicked buy at $2,000 the page it jumped to was sorry sold out, so that milisecond was my bad luck. I got all the confirmation emails ect from livingsocial I just didnt get an actual confirmation number. I wouldnt try to get it if I “woke up late” good luck though!

Http://

Dan you are so cool! How much do you charge for a year of concierge services?

josh

so just to confirm, dan – if we got the voucher and it says nothing about the platinum lifetime membership, that is consistent with what you are expecting – that we will get separate emails this week to explain how we get the lifetime membership? thanks for the a: and for your help on the deal overall

MILES

Dan me and 5 of my friends purchased lot ticket’s to Poland for $645 and then the airline sold they entire flight to an travel agent and they changed are tickets to a day latter (my return is before i arrive)they are saying the flights is canceled but that travel agent is selling tickets for the same flight number lot is offering only a full refund is there a way i can make an claim against lot polish airlines i want to get compensation for that

ruch

u r really amazing!!!!

alce

what is the best way to go from JFK to Lizensk, then Lizensk to Tel-Aviv, then Tel Aviv to JFk

me

Does anyone know where we can status match if we got this deal?
Thanks!

shell

@Dan – you should get this deal for free, right? Due to LS buy with 3 friends – get yours free?

Chaim

Has anyone heard from Living Social or Fairmont regarding the platinum status?

me

Hey Dan, I am wondering why you updated milepoint with information you received yesterday from the fairmont but you didnt bother telling us, the ppl who got you the deal for free, about what is going on. We would appreciate updates, especially since the fairmont has seemingly chosen you to give them to us by contacting you! Thank you

Dan

@me:
J’accuse!
I actually posted the exact same info to the DansDeals Forums: http://www.dansdeals.com/forums/index.php?topic=5759.0

me

my apologies, im not that familiar with your site, i figured updates would be on the post itself, I will look at the forums in the future. May you be blessed with many happy healthy kids!

Dan

@me:
It’s hard to keep posting updates like that to the main site. A forum is much more conducive to that, which is why we have it!

M

This is not a case of fighting to keep Fairmont honest, but a case of threat and extortion. Shouldn’t the proper approach be to compensate people for the time or whatever resources they spent on signing up for the deal. We all know the truth that for a mistake like that Yes, people will likely loose their jobs, who knows maybe even a Jew will be affected by all of this, so that we can have a great Hotel Stay in Hawaii? Would you do that if Fairmont was owned by a frum Jew?
It’s disgusting to try to threaten them like that, but even more disgusting to glorify the “fight to keep them honest”

Burryhood

Basically a Chillul Hashem bullying yourself onto someone elses mistake to be honored. Real classy, Dan

Dan

@M:
@Burryhood:
A contract is a contract.

You can’t sign a contract and accept consideration and then decide to back out that easily in this country. It’s not like this was a pricing error, there was a signed contract in place.

DanJ

Out of curiousity what happened with your “lifetime” status now that Fairmont is part of Accor?

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