A long time ago I was in Zadar, Croatia, I stayed several days in a hostel there which happened to be part of the Hostel International (@hostelling) chain. I remember the person talking to me and saying “Do you want to join our membership program, it’s free?” Sure why not I thought, he handed me over a membership card with a loyalty thing on it so that you can collect stamps, when you collect all six you can have one free nights stay in a hostel. Great I thought, I will hang onto this, I am not going to get the free night this trip but I am sure at some point in time I will use them again so I held onto this membership card. Fast forward to last year and my opportunity to get a sixth stamp and a free night came in Holland where I found a branch of HI in Haarlem, where they asked if I was a member and I handed over the dog eared membership card that I got in Croatia. The guy looked at the card and shook his head.
“Sorry this is not valid anymore, we have phased out these memberships for new ones but I can give you a new membership card”. he said
“Oh, so do I get my free night then?” I asked
“No, that was for the old scheme and this is invalid but I’ll give you a new card and a new stamp and you can start again” he replied
“Erm… okay” I said looking puzzled “So what’ the point in having a membership that your going to phase out and not tell your members about?” I asked slightly annoyed
“I don’t know, I have not been with HI that long” he replied “Here, take this leaflet maybe you can get in touch with them”
Of course I didn’t and took my new membership card with the one stamp on it and put it in my wallet. Fast forward again to now, and as part of this trip around the world I managed to stay in a HI hostel in Merced.
“Are you a member?” asks Larry the hostel owner
“Yes I said I have a membership card here” taking it out of my wallet
“Oh these are not valid anymore” Larry tells me
“But it says it’s valid until June 2013” I told him.
“No they changed it and these are not valid”
So yeah it seems as though HI change their rewards scheme every month or something and even if you do have a card to save your loyalty stamps they probably won’t be valid from one week to another. This time I will be contacting HI, in fact I will direct them at this post and tell them to heir face that their membership scheme sucks. They owe me at least one night in a hostel which would of been €24 or at least a damn fine explanation of why they change the system so much without telling their members and offering them to convert to the new system with their rewards in tact. Not sure if anyone else has had this issue or is it just me. Whatever has happened with it I can tell you one thing, it’s stupid and makes me think that they really have no idea what they are doing.
I’ll let you know if they get in touch.