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Where to write an official complaint about a hotel in France?

Where to write an official complaint about a hotel in France?

Oct 13th, 2005, 02:17 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 115
Where to write an official complaint about a hotel in France?

We just returned from a wonderful trip to France. Our trip to Avignon was ruined by a 5 star hotel there. They put us in an apartment that is totally TRASH compared to their main property. Everything that they promised on their email to me was just to entice another foreigner. On my return, I wrote a letter to the CEO but there was totally no reply after a week. I feel cheated and angry. We had to cut short our Avignon trip because of the horrible apartment we were given. How can a five star hotel so blatantly
cheat tourists? There is no apology from the management. Is there an email where I can write my complaints to? At least if the management apologizes I will not be so mad. Please help.
chchtrain is offline  
Oct 13th, 2005, 02:45 AM
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Unfortunately, the French stereotype is to ignore customer complaints. They just don't view customer service the same way as other cultures. This is a constant discussion among French consumers, as well.

I've written several letters through the years still waiting for a response. Good luck.
NYCTravelSnob is offline  
Oct 13th, 2005, 02:48 AM
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i'm sorry your holiday was ruined and i don't know the answer to your question.

however, i always find that i have the most success with complaint letters if i stick to the facts rather than making judgements like "you are cheating tourists" or "enticing foreigners". often times it is true that a foreigner is treated differently and cheated but they will probably put up defences to this point and ignore your real complaint...that your apartment was flawed, sub-standard or not as advertised. concentrate on what was promised as compared to what was delivered...without making references to why you think this happened. just a tip.
walkinaround is offline  
Oct 13th, 2005, 02:51 AM
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actually, i do agree with NYC. the french attitude in business is "this is how we do it".

i have worked closely with french people for years and they always approach a new customer with "this is what you get" rather than to listen to what they want...a strong cultural characteristic.
walkinaround is offline  
Oct 13th, 2005, 03:26 AM
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Hi ch,

You might wish to write to the Minister for Economy, Finance and Industry.


You could also tell us what happened and where.

You could post to www.tripadvisor.com

ira is offline  
Oct 13th, 2005, 03:46 AM
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If it is a “five star” hotel then that implies that someone gave them five stars. So write to the guidebook, tourist authority or whoever gave them the rating saying that your experience didn’t match up to the rating that they had been given and explain why.

They may well have more influence over the hotel than you do.
david_west is offline  
Oct 13th, 2005, 03:56 AM
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You could try writing to the Avignon Tourist Office

L'Office de tourisme d'Avignon****

Office de Tourisme d'Avignon
41, cours Jean Jaures
BP 8
84000 Avignon cedex1
tel. 04 32 74 32 74
fax 04 90 82 95 03
[email protected]

From abroad
tel. 33-4-32 74 32 74

I agree with walkinaround about not going on about cheating of tourists.

My old mum used to say, "You catch more flies with sugar than vinegar".

Try writing on the lines of "We loved your wonderful city and its friendly people bla bla bla.... but our enjoyment was marred by... (polite and reasonable criticism of the hotel)
MissPrism is offline  
Oct 13th, 2005, 04:26 AM
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If I were in your position I would check to see if the CEO has received your letter/e-mail.

Then write again but rather than send your letter to the CEO I would send it to the hotel General Manager who is likely to be able to give you a quicker and more useful response. Make fure you send it to him personally, don't fire off an e-mail to [email protected]

Out of interest why was the hotel "trash" and what was promised in their e-mail? Did you complain at the hotel and did you give them a chance to put things right?

Technically speaking there are no 5 star hotels in France, the official rating is only 4 stars.

LondonMike is offline  
Oct 13th, 2005, 04:53 AM
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Before this thread deteriorates into an another delicious exercise of French-bashing, here are my to cents about what could be more helpful than general considerations on "strong cultural characteristics" and on the French "ignoring customer complaints" (which the original poster did not do):

1 - Five-star hotels do not exist in France

2 - Concerning the "trash apartment", I do find strange that the features of the room or suite you have been assigned to do not correspond to what was said in a written confirmation, even to "entice foreigners". Did you make any remark on entering the room? A hotel which would do that routinely would not remain in business for a long time, especially in a popular destination like Avignon, where the clientele of such establishments is likely to be more international than local. Can you read French? Any "fine print" you might have missed? If they had to shift you to an "annex" or something like that due to overbooking or renovation, they should have informed you (if not, this is indeed not professional behaviour, and you should therefore demand a discount),

3 - is the property in question independent or member of a chain or franchise? In that case write the headquarters of that chain or franchise (I can help if you need to find the address)

4 - Do write the local Office de tourisme, as suggested by another post. Attach a copy of your confirmation to your letter. It's the local tourism authority,and is operated by the municipality

5 - Try the French hotel and restaurant business association :
Syndicat national des hotels, restaurants, cafetiers et traiteurs (SYNHORCAT)
PR Officer : Ms Florence Da Faria
4 rue de Gramont 75002 PARIS
phone : 33 1 42 96 60 75
[email protected]

Or SYNHORCAT West Provence office :
SYNHORCAT Provence Ouest
BP 43
13 000 Les Saintes Maries de la Mer

6 - You could also contact the Direction régionale du tourisme, the local office of the Tourism ministry (I can find you the address if needed)

I hope this will be of some help,

Francois Leyrat, Paris
Trudaine is offline  
Oct 13th, 2005, 05:09 AM
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Before this thread deteriorates into an another delicious exercise of French-bashing

how is this bashing? in my experience of working in france and with french people for many, many years, this is my opinion of how business is conducted. i did not say that they don't care about the customer...just that they have a different approach (as does each country). Actually i prefer the french approach to my own country's (UK) who in general just have low standards.

i have also worked with the french internationally (ie outside of france) and have had a great deal of experience observing people from other business cultures not being able to adapt to the french way of doing business.

please do not try to degrade my observation to some sort of ignorant "french bashing." if you have experienced various business cultures in addition to france's and want to provide a different opinion, then do so.
walkinaround is offline  
Oct 13th, 2005, 05:14 AM
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(Continued from my previous post) :

The local office of the French tourism ministry is located at the following address :

Délégation régionale au tourisme Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur

2, rue Beauvau
13001 Marseille

Phone : +33 4 91 59 91 91

Fax : +33 4 91 33 16 36
[email protected]

Contact : Dominique SALOMON, Delegue régional

They are responsible for monitoring local tourism businesses and they also handle the star-rating system.

Francois Leyrat, Paris
Trudaine is offline  
Oct 13th, 2005, 05:26 AM
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Thank you, Trudaine/François for the excellent information.

It certainly seemed to me that at least some of the OP's story sounded odd. As Trudaine points out, there is no such thing as a 5-star hotel in France. The OP was either misinformed or otherwise mistaken. Also, it is very common for hotels to have annexes to their main buildings. Sometimes the annexes are the same (or better) quality as the main building; other times not, and the pricing is typically appropriate. We have no information from the OP, just a series of rants without any specifics.

I've had my share of disappointing (and occasionally appalling) hotel stays, but I can't understand how we're supposed to help the OP without a more explicit understanding of what was explicitly promised and what was actually provided.
DonTopaz is offline  
Oct 13th, 2005, 06:00 AM
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I can always trust fodorites to give me information that I cannot find elsewhere. Thank you everyone for pitching in. In my letter (actually I sent an email) to the hotel, I did not once use judgemental terms. I stated facts. I was polite in my letter. I did not make any accusations at all. I wanted to let them know that I came to France mainly to see Provence and we had planned to base ourselves in Avignon for 5 nights. Instead we checked out after 3 nights and had to frantically find accommodation in Paris before our flight back home. I told them that their apartment, which they claimed is finished to the exact standard as their hotel, is actually a farm shed. We were isolated from the hotel property with no service and no security. The walls are chipped and the staircase is not paved. At night when we got back it was pitch dark. We had to find the switch to turn on the lights to the foyer. There were rubbish bins everywhere in the front door, etc....Too many things were not right. I paid for the hotel's name, hence the hefty price. It is the most expensive hotel located near the Palace of Popes. What I paid for 3 nights in a 2 bedroom farm shed is the same as 7 nights in a 3 bedroom apartment in the same location. (I met a gentleman who has an apartment there for rent and his is much better than what I got). Now after hearing your feedback, I am not sure if i should go ahead and write more letters of complaint. It is so stressful and may amount to nothing. Actually I ask myself what do i expect from the hotel? Basically an acknowledgement, that is all. Your opinions, please?
chchtrain is offline  
Oct 13th, 2005, 06:12 AM
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It has always seemed to me that "coping" with the problem was not the reality for some hotel owners, CEO, ...in every country of the world...
I've had to complain rarely, but as well in USA than in France and one time in Great Britain and in every country I've had some nice people and in other times some bad people...
In USA, I remeber at leat 2 times with
resrvation 10 months in advance and arriving we've got a small room for the
higher price and people reserving after us but checking in before have got a much nicer room.No comprehension by the employees, no change and some bad appreciations about strangers...
Idem one time in France...
So, no generality please, bad owners, bad employees are worldwide...
And thank to Trudaine to have pointed out some "imprecisions"...
Best way to complain is "office national du tourisme" , by the ministère du tourisme which is in charge of the "stellar" classement :
no * to ****L(the maximum : "4 stars luxe").
It's work : one time in Paris we were in a *** which was not clean with an
angry owner. I wrote and received a respons : thye've made a new evaluation and hotel has been downstaged in one *.
So, do what you think you have to do.
NB: and NYtravelsnob : your e-mail name is really what you seems to be : snob...
monpetit is offline  
Oct 13th, 2005, 06:17 AM
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Hi ch,

An email is not the same as a letter.

>Actually I ask myself what do i expect from the hotel? Basically an acknowledgement, that is all. Your opinions, please?<

Dear Madame,

We hereby acknowledge receipt of your letter.

We are very sorry that our facilities did not meet your requirements.

If we can be of service to you in the future, please do not hesitate to call upon is.

Truly yours


Did that help?

ira is offline  
Oct 13th, 2005, 06:18 AM
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chchtrain; what is the name of this hotel? Just so that we can avoid it!
Tulips is offline  
Oct 13th, 2005, 06:32 AM
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It seems to me that what they gave you is clearly not what you paid for. Did you take any photos?

If so I would send a detailed letter to the hotel manager - with a copy to all of the appropriate offices/organizations listed above - with the photos - and ask for a very specific partial refund. That way they at least have the opportunity to recify the situation.

Also - do tell us the name of the hotel and put a report on tripadvisor.com.
nytraveler is offline  
Oct 13th, 2005, 06:36 AM
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Three thoughts:

1. Is an apology all you want? Unfortunately, modern businesses do not believe in apologies, and if you agree with what others have written about the French, that is particularly true of French management.

2. If you want to go for something other than an apology or in lieu of an apology (like a partial refund or...?), and you charged your stay on a credit card, you could possibly have challenged the charge with the credit card issuer. Although I don't honestly believe you'd get any money back (and the credit card issuer might say that if you stayed there, you got service), you will at least have inconvenienced the hotel management, who might have to complete forms or answer questions. That might at least make them think twice about doing exactly the same thing again.

3. Word-of-mouth (-web) is powerful, and it's interesting that it took until Tulips' last post for anyone to ask the name of this place. Those who suggested informing various guidebooks, websites, etc. about your experience are right, and/but it would also help to have told the CEO that you do tell people -- and reviewers! -- about your travel experiences and will be giving their hotel a very bad review. Then do it.
Oct 13th, 2005, 06:45 AM
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It must have been pretty bad to cut your stay back. But I wonder - tell us the name of the hotel so we can see if the cottages are pictured. One person's "farm shed" is another's quaint restored out building w/ character. "Isolated" might be quiet, romantic/private to someone else.

And as the others say there are no 5 star hotels in France - another reason to tell us the name of the hotel . . . .
janisj is online now  
Oct 13th, 2005, 07:03 AM
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I think the quibbling over how France doesn't have 5* hotels, only 4*L, isn't useful. It's the same meaning, so makes no difference, and if you are referring to a 4*L hotel, I think that's accurate. However, if you are simply using the term 5* loosely yourself, then it isn't factual.

I don't know what the state of this apartment is, but for a luxury hotel with a luxury apt., I would expect it to be very nice and no trash cans, etc. Other things you complain about appear (on the surface) to be nothing to complain about or irrelevant. For example, the fact that you met someone who paid less for an apt. in a different place doesn't mean anything at all (lots of private owners will have cheaper apts than a hotel). Searching for a lightswitch doesn't sound unusual to me, for example. Not having service in a self-catering apartment would be the norm, also.

I don't know why you aren't mentioning the name, it might help people figure out what's going on. I checked with the Avignon tourist office and there is apparently no 4*L hotel in Avignon, so it does sound like you are not stating things factually. I am assuming this was the Mirande as it is close to the Palace and I've read it does have some apartments. It's not a 4*L hotel. However, it is considered one of the best around there, so if the apartment was truly below their standards, I think you have a right to complain. (I don't know about the farm shed thing, though, that also sounds like it could not be accurate.) I've never read anything very bad about this hotel, always raves, so they do have a reputation to maintain. If you have a valid complaint, I would expect some form of compensation -- maybe rebate of one night's fee or something. Even if they offer you a free stay and you don't intend to go, at least that's some acknowledgement. I definitely would have suggested writing both the hotel and the tourism office -- however, there is nothing in your complaint that sounds like it is relevant for the agency that awards the ratings to the main hotel. Separate apartments wouldn't even be included in those ratings, I imagine.
Christina is offline  

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