Refunds Are Flights Of Fancy

, , , | Right | November 9, 2019

(I work in a travel agency. A friend from high school has contacted me wanting me to book a huge holiday for her to a set of Pacific Islands. There are four couples going, plus her two little kids, so ten people total. She wants the cheapest possible flights. Cheap as chips flights have GIANT catches; they often have no bags, and are “no changes, no refunds” fares. This means that if you want to change a ticket, the fees to do so are high, because it’s how the airline recoups on the cheap fares. I outline this very carefully for my friend over email. I’ve been bitten by not being super specific before, so I keep copious notes and ensure she understands. My friend is happy with everything, she has her husband review it, and they both sign and book. Two weeks later via email:)

Friend: “So, [Couple #4] can’t come any more, and [Couple #3] want to change how their names are spelled. Can you send me the refund for [Couple #4], and change [Couple #3] to [Name that is not their legal passport name]. “

Me: “Hey, so, as discussed, there’s no refund possible, and we can’t change [Couple #3]’s details as they must be their legal names.”

Friend: “What the h***?! You never told me that! You have to get my money back!”

Me: *sends the signed emails highlighted with the clause about no refunds or changes* “Sorry, but it’s all here like we and [Her Husband] agreed. I can get a refund on the hotel, but not the flights.”

(My friend of over 20+ years goes into meltdown, half pleading, half threatening. As she’s my “friend,” I ask my boss to step in and review everything to ensure I’ve got everything right. He does so and confirms I am totally correct, and he emails her to say so. Two hours later, I get a phone call:)

Friend: “So, your boss emailed me, but I didn’t believe him, and I want my money back. Call the airline for me and get me a refund.”

Me: “That would be a waste of both our times. The airline’s rules are super clear, and on all the paperwork. You wanted the cheapest, right?”

Friend: “Yeah, of course.”

Me: “Well, as I said, this is why they are cheap seats.”

Friend: *screeching* “I WANT THE MONEY!”

(Her husband picks up the phone and proceeds to scream and yell. Everyone in my office can hear the conversation, and as there are no customers in the office, I put the call on speakerphone. My boss finally manages to get a word in edgeways and advises them of the fare rules. After ten minutes of arguing, they finally accept this and hang up. I go for a long break. However, it keeps going!)

Friend: *via email* “So, I rang the airline and they agreed to give us a refund.”

Me: “Really? Why?”

Friend: “They said we were top customers, so you should issue us a refund straight away.”

(I’m instantly suspicious. This airline is not known for their service. Also, if there was a refund coming, we would have to wait for them to send it to us, and then we forward it back. With some airlines, this can take six weeks!)

Me: “Okay, well, they haven’t advised us of this, so I’ll check and let you know. It might take a couple of days.”

Friend: “That’s fine!”

(I manage to get hold of the airline, who confirm that they have spoken with my friend and they told her exactly what I had. No refund. At all. They also note that she became abusive. Before I am able to go back to my friend, I get a phone call from the CEO’s personal assistant. This is HUGE. I think it is to do with something else and go into a panic, and my manager has to calm me down and join me on the phone.)

CEO’s PA: “So, I just got an email and Facebook post from [Friend] saying that she booked refundable tickets, you guys were being rude, not allowing her step-daughter to come, calling her stupid, and stealing her money. Um, I rang her, and she said that while [My Name] was wonderful to deal with, she doesn’t like the policies that are robbing her step-daughter of a dream holiday, especially as she is sick. She cried the whole call! What is going on?! The CEO is really unhappy.”

(My manager turns puce and I have a full-blown panic attack. We end up compiling a report 24 pages long with conversations, emails, and everything we can and send it to both our complaints team and the CEO’s PA. Ultimately, I am vindicated, and all points have said that I did everything correctly — and that there is no step-daughter! However, the CEO decides that we will refund [Couple #4] as a goodwill sign, but they must use the refund and travel within a year of the initial booking. The initial booking was made on February 25th, and we are now in May. The trip was supposed to happen in October. I get this call on February 24th the next year:)

Couple #4: “Hi! We thought we might use this refund!”

Me: *HEAD-DESK*

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Been There, Done That, Complained At The T-Shirt

, , , | Right | November 6, 2019

(A woman from out of state comes into our travel agency.)

Customer: “I want to talk to someone about things to do in this area.”

Me: “Okay, where were you thinking of going?”

Customer: “No, I want to talk to someone who works in the travel department.”

Me: “That would be me, ma’am; I can help you.”

Customer: “Fine, I don’t know where I want to go; that’s why I want to talk to someone.”

Me: “Okay, have you visited the coastal area yet? There are a lot of little—”

Customer: *cutting me off mid-sentence* “Yes, I already did the whole coast.”

Me: “Okay, well, what sorts of things are you interested in seeing or doing?”

Customer: “Things I haven’t seen or done before.”

Me: “Do you want to spend time in nature? Or go to museums? Or shop?”

Customer: “I don’t want to go shopping, I could do that anywhere! I want you to help me go somewhere I haven’t been!”

Me: “Okay, how about Bethel? That is inland and has a nice scenic drive.”

Customer: “No, I already spent time there.”

Me: “Okay, how about Bangor? They have museums and a nice downtown area.”

Customer: “No, that’s way too far away!”

(Bangor is two hours away.)

Me: “Okay, so it sounds like you have pretty much explored everything locally within a two-hour distance. I’m not sure what to advise you at this point.”

Customer: “How about New Hampshire? What is there to do there?”

Me: “Oh! Yeah, if you want to travel there, you could do the White Mountains or Lake Winnipesaukee area!”

Customer: *sighs* “No, I have already seen that.”

Me: “Well, I don’t think I can help you. Here are guides on both states; maybe if you read through them you’ll find something that interests you.”

Customer: “This is why I wanted to talk to someone!”

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Unfiltered Story #160128

, , | Unfiltered | August 16, 2019

Me: Thank you for calling XYZ Cruise lines..my name is () how can I help you?

TA: hello I want to add on gratuities

Me: sure…

TA: wait.. wait ….WAIT ….can you HOLD for me one second while I take this other call?

Me: silence..ta puts me on hold.

TA: hello, hello, HELLO are you there?

Me: yes, I was holding.

Ta: I want to pre pay gratuties.

Me: Can I have the booking number please?

Ta: there are 3

Me: I really only just need one to start with:

TA: gives the booking number

Me: verifies guests and sailing.
Me: I’m happy to add on pre paid gratuities, however, I would be taking payment today for these.

TA: Silence.

Me: I feel there is a piece missing, as currently, there is no money paid on any of these bookings.

TA: oh I don’t actually want to add on pre paid gratuities.

Me: Silence (since this is the reason she called in, wtf am I supposed to say?)

TA: I just need to know HOW MUCH THEY ARE.

Me: I calulate price and give it to her.

Ta: I thought gratuities weren’t going up until next year?

(clearly the TA knows more than she’s letting on…I don’t know why she’s calling)

Me: Yes, they are going up, and your guests ARE SAILING NEXT YEAR. So the price I’m quoting you, is correct.

TA: oh, well ok, fine, can you put them on the booking?

(so,we’ve already had this conversation)

Me: I’d be happy to, I just need the credit card to take payment

TA: but they don’t want to pay today. They haven’t put anymoney down yet.

(deja vu)

Me: Ok,that’s fine.But I can’t add anything with out taking payment. When they are ready to pay,we’ll put them on.

The Great Detroit To Kingston River  

, , , , | Right | July 30, 2019

(I work in a travel agency, specializing in cruises, where we only deal with clients over the phone. Our agency has the word “CRUISE” in the name, and that’s plastered all over our website. It’s also in the phone message you get before you speak to one of the agents.)

Me: “Thank you for calling [Agency]. This is [My Name] speaking; how may I help you?”

Client: *mumble, mumble, mumble*

Me: “I’m sorry, could you please repeat that? I think we have a bad connection; I’m having a hard time hearing you.”

Client:*mumble, mumble, something unintelligible* “Jamaica.”

Me: “Oh, you’d like to visit Jamaica?”

(The client continues to talk under her breath, so I can’t hear more than a few words. Eventually, she finally begins to enunciate clearly.)

Client: “How much are flights to Jamaica?”

Me: “Ma’am, we are a cruise-only agency; we do not deal directly with flights and airfare.”

Client: “Fine, how much are cruises to Jamaica?”

Me: “It depends; there are a lot of different factors: length of time you’re sailing, what ship you’re on, where you leave from—”

Client: *interrupting me* “I want to leave from Michigan.”

Me: “I’m sorry, there are no cruises that originate in Michigan. Other than the Great Lakes, which cruise ships don’t sail on, Michigan is land-locked.”

Client: “But I want to leave from Michigan. I live there.”

Me: *screaming internally* 

(Ultimately, what the woman was looking for — after a LOT of back-and-forth due to her perpetual mumbling — wasn’t even a cruise. I couldn’t help her, but it did make me wonder how people can have such a lack of comprehension over basic geography, especially for where they live.)

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No Vocation For Location, Part 22

, , , , , , , | Working | December 30, 2018

(I call the travel agency that books our flights for work.)

Me: “Hi. I’d like to book a flight from Chicago to Brasilia on October 20th, please.”

Travel Agent: “No problem. What city?”

Me: “Brasilia.”

Travel Agent: “Yes, but what city?”

Me: *slowly and pronouncing every syllable* “Bra-si-li-a.”

Travel Agent: “But what city in Brazil?”

Me: “Brasilia… the capital… of Brazil.”

Travel Agent: “Oh…”

Related:
No Vocation For Location, Part 21
No Vocation For Location, Part 20
No Vocation For Location, Part 19

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