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Don’t Sweat(er) The Latitude

, , , , | Right | May 3, 2022

I am helping a client plan a trip.

Client: “Is it cold in Alaska?”

Me: “Yes, definitely. You should bring warm clothes.”

Client: “So, I should bring a sweater?”

Me: “Ma’am, you are going dog-sledding on a glacier.”

Client: “…so, two sweaters?”

Planning A Holiday Is No Holiday With These Folks

, , , , , | Working | January 26, 2022

The holiday company we used goes out of business. We’ve paid a lot of money for a really special holiday for an anniversary, so we’re obviously devastated. Luckily, at the last minute, the company is bought out, and we are promised an equivalent holiday or our money back.

Immediately upon talking to anyone at the company, they want us to book another holiday, and they give us all sorts of options, many just obviously not a fair alternative.

Eventually, they offer us what seems like a good deal: a week on an all-inclusive beach holiday at a high-specification resort, just like what we booked. But a week before we are due to leave, I have to call them urgently. 

Me: “We’ve just had our rooms confirmed for [holiday reference] and there seems to be a mistake.”

Representative: “Okay, I can see your booking now and it appears to be correct. What was it that you were expecting?”

Me: “This was a replacement for an existing holiday. We had a suite booked then, but now it’s just a standard room.”

Representative: “Okay. Well, I can see that this holiday package offers several activities, where your old booking doesn’t. This is a value of £500 and a much better deal.”

Me: “We don’t want an activity package; we want the nice room.”

Representative: “Well, I’m not sure I can unselect the activities. They are part of the booking.”

Me: “I appreciate that, but that’s not what we were told. We were told it would be like for like.”

We went around in circles. They kept going on about activities, how great they were, and how much they were worth. We kept trying to get them to understand that we wouldn’t use them and therefore, they were worthless. We just wanted what we paid for.

I was about to cancel the whole thing when they did offer a partial refund. It’s not what we wanted, but I reluctantly took it.

The kicker? When we got there, half of the activities were cancelled, and the hotel had a few suites available for upgrades. I actually paid less than the refund we got.

Why some companies are so backward in going forward, I will never understand.

Annoying Times Call For Annoying Measures

, , , , , | Working | November 24, 2021

A couple of years ago, I received an email from the UK branch of an American travel agency, informing [Stranger] that her new account with them had been created successfully. I had received similar emails in the past, always addressed to [Stranger], and the last name was always different, so I suspect a bot was creating accounts in online services that don’t verify email addresses before activating accounts.

I sent [Travel Agency] an email informing them of the fact that I had not created the account and saying I would like them to remove my email address from their systems. No response, and I kept getting emails from them addressed to [Stranger], so I decided to call them.

After talking to a guy who promised to take care of the issue, nothing changed until, one day, I received a confirmation of a flight booking from, let’s say, Manchester to Amsterdam early in the morning on [date]. At least they had had the common sense to not include the entire credit card number used for the booking in the email, no doubt as a result of earlier blunder(s) featuring stolen credit card number(s) and irate customer(s).

That’s when I decided I’d had enough. I went to the site and used the “recover password” function to gain access to the account and deleted the account, after which I blocked the agency’s domain name from my email. The deletion of the account shouldn’t have affected the booking, and even if it did, it’s not my fault they didn’t take action when they had the chance, is it?

Besides, since my email address does not contain the name [Stranger] — or anything even close to it — there is no way that half a dozen [Stranger]s from the UK, all with different last names, have all accidentally entered my email in account registration forms instead of their own, so I doubt than any real [Stanger]s were harmed in the process.

I hope the aftermath caused them at least as bad a headache as their incompetence caused me.

The Only Thing Worse Than A Scammer Is A Racist Scammer

, , , , , , | Right | CREDIT: LitteVoice | October 5, 2021

I work for a travel agency. A guest booked a hotel room for six days. She hasn’t checked in yet when she gives us a call.

Guest: “Can you help me, please? There’s an Asian boy in the lobby playing like a ninja, but he’s holding a real kitchen knife, and I guess those are his parents at the front desk checking in.”

The guest’s friend cuts in.

Friend: “And when we try to approach the front desk, he blocks our way and yells in a satanic language. I guess it’s Chinese. Please help!”

A normal rational person, if they were being harassed, would, of course, call for security, not the travel agency because… what are we supposed to do? Shoo them with brochures?!

Me: “You could try approaching security, or at least call the front desk agent.”

Guest: “No! That won’t do! There’s no one here! It’s just the Asian boy.”

So, yeah, she’s caught in a lie. What makes this fun, though, is that I already know they are trying to take advantage of compensation coupons. The original reservation cost $3,500. For this kind of inconvenience, we can issue up to 15% of the booking value to compensate, BUT it is a pay-later reservation. When it’s a pay-later reservation, we are not really obligated to issue a coupon.

Me: “I’ll have to put you on hold while I call the hotel.”

I press my mute button to find the property’s number. While I am on mute for about a minute, I hear the girls giggling and saying they’re getting free beds today. Nahhhh, bruhhh.

I ring the hotel and ask about the boy.

Employee: “No, there is no Asian boy. The only people in the lobby right now are me and two girls standing by the exit.”

Me: “Were they on the phone for the past few minutes?”

Employee: “Yes, and they’re laughing right now.”

I relayed the “situation” to her, and then she opened the girls’ reservation from her system. I heard her call the girls over to confirm their names and heard them confirm their identities. The agent advised me that they would not tolerate such mentality in the hotel, and if the girls were trying to check in and then cancel the reservation, they would be charged the whole booking amount, and if they didn’t use the reservation, they’d be tagged as no-shows and would be penalized the full amount.

The employee shared that her boss was Asian and would not tolerate such behavior. She told me that I could end the call with the girls and advise them that they’d be taken care of by the front desk agent immediately, and she made me put on the documentation that if they called us back, we needed to refer them immediately to the front desk so they could settle things.

I documented it, of course, but I never got to see how it ended. I’m guessing the girls were charged for the amount either way.

You Gotta Prioritize, Dude

, , , , , | Working | August 21, 2021

I booked a trip to Mallorca, Spain; however, it was cancelled at the last minute for obvious reasons during the current health crisis. I had spent a long, depressing year cooped up in my apartment, had been laid off from my job of eight years as my employer was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, my birthday was coming up… I really wanted an escape!

I returned to the same travel agency from where I had booked my previous excursion and patiently waited nearly a half an hour while the only available agent was with another customer. When it was finally my turn, the agent and I discussed visiting the Canary Islands. He showed me an attractive package.

Me: “I’ll take it!”

And whipped out my credit card.

Suddenly, a fairly attractive older woman looking to be somewhere in her forties appeared in the doorway. She was sporting a plastic-foil-tight leopard-spotted dress that extended just below her butt and no further, and she was wearing more makeup than Marilyn Manson.

Agent: *To me* “Could you excuse me for just two minutes? This lady here had something booked, and she’s going to pay, sign some papers, and be right out of here. Two minutes, tops.”

Internally annoyed at being bumped back into the waiting queue even though it was clearly MY turn — not to mention that I literally had my credit card out and ready to do business — I said that would be okay, and I went back into the waiting room.

Two minutes turned into five, five minutes turned into ten, and ten turned into fifteen. I went and looked into an adjacent window to the office and observed both of them sitting at the desk, leaning forward across so close that their heads were only inches apart, and the agent had this dreamy smile on his face.

I’m sure he had that same dreamy smile on his face when he went out to the waiting room to find it empty.

He later emailed me and apologized for the “unexpected delay,” not that it benefited him at all.