How Ignoring the Rules Created a Loyal Customer

June 27, 2013
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Last Friday night when I learned of the Metro-North train derailment and subsequent suspension of Amtrak service, I got nervous. The following morning I was scheduled to travel to New York City on Amtrak for a one-night getaway. That was not happening anymore. The option to drive the 3.5 hours was there, but with the threat of an extra 30,000 cars on the road it did not seem like my idea of a great way to start a day-vaca. My wife and I made the decision to cancel the trip.

We knew Amtrak would give us our frequent traveler points back, and the various events we planned in NYC had cancellation policies that permitted us to do so without penalty. But the hotel we were staying at, Andaz Wall Street, was booked through It was made clear on our reservation that cancellation would include a full night’s penalty. But what could be the harm in calling?

I called the hotel directly rather than, and spoke to a nice gentleman who had not yet heard about the derailment. I explained what happened, how getting there would be much more difficult, and he promised to check with the reservation supervisor and call me back.

I received a call from him two hours later. He said they had now received 4 or 5 calls from other guests for the same reason, and Andaz would be allowing full cancellation of the reservation without penalty. They could have told me to call They could have told me tough luck, that transportation to NYC wasn’t their problem. They could have let me cancel with a penalty charge. They could have issued a credit and made me book another stay.

Instead, they just refunded my money. All of it. That is what means to have great service. When you push your polices aside for the benefit of the customer, the customer wins. And you the business owner win, because now I’ve written this blog about them. And posted a glowing review on Trip Advisor. And I’m booking again with them later this summer.

UPDATE: A few months later I was able to finally stay at Andaz and it was one of the best hotels I’ve stayed in for under $300 in New York City. Great staff, nice large modern rooms, and excellent service.