Dec 17, 2009

lessons learned, time to move on

Over a decade ago, I instituted a rule for myself. After several unfortunate and stressful incidents, I resolved to never start any kind of maintenance work on a computer after midnight, whether software or hardware maintenance.

I suspect I ought to do the same for dealing with people on the phone. On Monday, I called the "Senior Travel Consultant" who had booked my return ticket for a month earlier than I actually needed. (My day starts at 12:30 AM, so by 5:00 PM I'm at the level of mental acuity that most people experience at around 11:00 PM.) It didn't go well.

I reached the agent at her extension, and she told me she would call me back as soon as she was off the other line. An hour later I sent an email to her, outlining my problem and asking her to call. Five minutes later, my phone rang.

Although I began by acknowledging I had failed to catch the error when I gave permission to book the ticket, I was also demanding and sarcastic when I spoke to her. After several delays, she eventually told me that it would cost $250 to change the ticket to the dates I need. Since the ticket I paid $800 for was advertised online for $600, the final total would have been 66% higher than the price which initially caught my attention.

I asked what the company could do to help maintain good customer relations. Half an hour later I received a call, in which I was told that the airline would not drop the $250 charge for changing the date and that if I wanted to get the change locked in at the same price (plus the surcharge, of course) I would have to do it today since my departure date is now sold out. I thanked her calmly and hung up.

Shortly after my final conversation with the agent, I received an email from her. Although it was addressed to me, I'm pretty sure I wasn't supposed to read it.

Client is fine and has been advised of the change fee for his return date . I guess you can say he did do all he could to scare me thats for sure. I did know Janet, l did not book him a wrong date. l am very very careful on air only. I never confirm without having client look at it first always.
Thanks again for being there for support. :)

Based on the address used by the other agent, I guessed at the email address for Janet and forwarded the email to her. I also tried to explain the situation from my perspective. Since the agent had not told me she'd consulted anyone other than the airline, I suspected that Janet was a supervisor. I requested a phone call to discuss the situation.

Tuesday. Wednesday. Thursday. No phone call, no email.

When I looked the company up on the Better Business Bureau website, I learned that I got the email address right. Janet is listed as the "Principal" of the company, and she has decided to completely ignore me.

Instead of naming the company and making a stink, I've decided instead to simply file a complaint with the BBB and warn my friends and colleagues to take the advice of the ancient Romans: Caveat emptor.

This, of course, leaves me with the problem of getting home again. The cheapest option would certainly have been to pay the $250 charge, but the company doesn't seem interested in customer service.

So. Rather than travel back to Paris after I reach Santiago, it looks like I'll hop a cheap flight to London Stansted and then fly directly home to Toronto out of Gatwick. I hope to be in time for Forgiveness Vespers at my home parish.

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