Flights Of Fancy

, , , , , | Right | February 15, 2018

(This previous weekend we held a giant expo and trade fair, where our suppliers offered generous discounts for people who booked reservations or tickets. It was hugely successful. The major condition about it all, however, was that you had to book on those two weekend days, otherwise the prices went back to normal. I am sitting at my desk, four days after the expo, when this occurs. A customer walks in.)

Customer: *yelling* “I want to be served!”

Me: “Welcome! Take a seat! How can I help you today?”

Customer: “I want to talk about the Travel Expo.” *pulls out a full colour newspaper ad from previous weekend’s paper* “I want this price to fly to Los Angeles. For two people.”

Me: “Okay! Unfortunately, those prices were for that weekend only. They are no longer being advertised at that price.”

Customer: *yelling* “I KNOW THAT! I CAN READ!”

(The customer pulls out a sandwich and begins to eat it, dropping food all over my desk and the floor.)

Me: “Um… Would you like me to find flights that might suit you better?”

Customer: “Find me good flights!”

(I do a thorough search, and I am not able to match any prices that resemble the amazing deal offered that weekend. I find the best solution, and I offer it to her. In the meantime, she has been reading the fine print on the advertising.)

Me: “So, the price will be [higher price]. This is the closest I can get to the advertised fare that was being shown at the Expo.”

Customer: “That is disgusting! I want this fare!” *points at ad*

Me: “I would love to be able to give you that price, but as you can see, it was for a limited time.”

Customer: *attempts to stare me down while eating and dropping her sandwich all over my desk area* “I want this price.”

Me: “I cannot give you that price, I am afraid. It was last weekend only.”

Customer: *screeching* “I CAN READ THE FINE PRINT!”

Me: “Would you like me to book you the [higher price] flights? As you’re wanting to fly over the Christmas holiday period, these are very good prices.”

Customer: “NO! You disgust me!”

(The customer throws herself out of the chair and stomps out of the store. At this point my boss walks past.)

Boss: “Have you been eating at your desk?”

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A Hurricane Of Volunteers

, , , , , , | Hopeless | September 30, 2017

(My sister works for a travel agency. Most of her clients rent vacation homes in the Caribbean: Barbuda, Antigua, and other islands recently devastated by a record-breaking hurricane. Because of this disaster, she has been continuously fielding calls from irate customers who either demand refunds, want to know why their flight is cancelled, or generally display a lack of concern for those who lost everything in the hurricane. Then, she gets this gem of a gentleman.)

Caller: “Hi! I wonder if you can tell me about my upcoming vacation. I’m worried the hurricane probably ruined the beach house. I also want to check my flight and see if it’s possible that it’s still a go.”

Sister: “Okay, let me look up your account… Yeah, it looks like your reservation was on one of the islands affected; we haven’t been able to contact anyone on the island, period, let alone the specific owner of the condo you reserved. I don’t see any problems with the airline listed, but that doesn’t mean it will still fly out; everything is a mess down there.”

Caller: “That’s not too surprising. I looked up the airport information, and it looks like they had some damage but are staying open.”

Sister: “I don’t know how long it will take to get the systems back to normal, but I have the information you need to try and start the process for a refund. I know it’s frustrating that everything is held up at the moment, but if you could fill out the forms at least, we can send them for you as soon as possible.”

Caller: “Oh, I don’t plan to cancel. I am just loading up my suitcases with supplies that people are running out of down there, and I’m going to try and volunteer for something if the flight isn’t cancelled. Thanks!” *hangs up*

Sister: *speechless*

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An Operatic Failure

, , , | Right | September 15, 2017

(While I usually work in the head office, I have colleagues who travel to fairs and offices of our clients to see how they are doing and push sales. I get an email from my colleague in sales telling me about a client who got a travel package offer from us, which he forwarded to another travel agency in order to get a better price for the package from them. This is considered okay, but impolite in this business, since you normally keep prices and offers between business partners. Although I was using my best prices for his offer, the client tells my colleague that the other agency can offer him an almost 10% cheaper price, and he wants us to match this price for him in a new offer. I call my coworker.)

Me: “Well, I don’t know how [Competitor] did it, as they have the same services as we do, but they beat our price and they can offer it 10% cheaper. I’m sorry, but I absolutely cannot match that without losing money. It seems like this business is gone for us.”

Coworker: “Okay, well, what can you do? I will inform the client. You can release all the reservations for the opera. Thanks a lot!” *click*

(After a few days she calls again.)

Coworker: “I have the client on the phone again. He demands to speak to you, because I can not give him the information he needs.”

Me: “Sure, just put him through!”

Customer: “Hello?”

Me: ” Yes, hello, this is [Name] with [Company]. How can I help you?

Customer: “Your colleague told me that you cannot match the price of [Competitor].”

Me: “That is unfortunately true. Despite trying my best, I am unfortunately not able to match their pricing. I am very sorry that you book via [Competitor] now, and I hope that you give us another chance next time. I already released all pre-bookings for the opera that I made for you, so you do not have to worry about those.”

Customer: “But I want to book with you, can’t you just match the price of [Competitor]? I really want to book with you, and the offer is including the same services, it’s just the price.”

Me: “I am really sorry, but I can’t. And even if I could, the tickets are most probably gone now, since the piece is very popular, and it’s probably sold out by now. “

Customer: “Are you saying that I just lost the opera tickets?! I already booked the flight tickets for my client and cannot cancel any more! The opera was the only reason my clients wanted to go!”

Me: “I am sorry, but didn’t you say you have an offer from [Competitor]? Doesn’t he have tickets reserved for you?”

Customer: “Well, of course I don’t! Don’t you know the concept of a bluff?”

Me: “So, you told us you had another offer, but in reality just wanted to get a cheaper price by tricking us?”

Customer: “Well… yes! That is how business works!”

Me: “Sir, I am sorry, but this is not how it works. At least not if you want to keep on working with us. Good luck getting tickets with [Competitor].” *click*

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Cape Of Good Hope They Get Fired

, , , | Working | September 7, 2017

(I’m the customer. I am at home, calling a travel agency on the phone. The agent who takes my call sounds middle-aged, with a strong Southern drawl.)

Me: “I’d like to get an estimate on a round-trip ticket to Cape Town.”

Agent: “Cape Town? You mean Cape Cod. That’s in Massachusetts, honey.”

Me: “No. I do not mean Cape Cod. I mean Cape Town. That is in South Africa.”

Agent: “Cape Town?! Who in heck-fire would want to go there? Are you black?!”

Me: *speechless* “Uh…”

(I hang up on her, fume for ten minutes, then call back. This time, someone else answers. I explain that I called a few minutes ago about a flight to South Africa. The new agent on the phone interrupts.)

New Agent: “Yes, ma’am. You’re interested in Cape Town. We all heard what she said, and we are so sorry. She is now in the manager’s office, and I can promise you she will be let go today. I am so, so sorry.”

(She then gave me preliminary estimates, asked for my number, and spent a day researching cheaper go-arounds, such as flying through different connecting airports in Europe, Florida, and South America. I ended up getting a very good price.)

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They Should Put In A Seat Warning To Not Sit Next To Them

, , | Right | August 31, 2017

(I am part of my travel agency’s back office team that processes customer requests for ticket changes and cancellations. Towards the end of the shift, we receive a very angrily-worded email demanding that we cancel a reservation made on our website.)

Me: “This is [My Name] from [Travel Agency]. I am calling regarding your request to cancel the tickets you booked with us last Friday.”

Customer: “Well, finally! You are thieves and scammers. You told me my card would not get charged! I was just checking availability on those flights, not booking them!”

Me: “Well, you have successfully completed the booking, which would require both putting in full credit card details AND checking the box that says that you have read the rules and you confirm the booking.”

Customer: “That is your representative’s fault! I was told that in order to see if there are seats available I had to put in full credit card details, but he said that if I didn’t want to actually book, I would just need to put in someone else’s card! I used my mother’s card! Why wasn’t the charge declined?!”

Me: “My apologies but that makes no sense. If you have put in full credit card details and the card owner’s ID number, why would the charge be declined? There was no inconsistency between payer details and card details. And why would anyone ever think that you need to put in full credit card details and ID number for ‘just checking’? You can see the search results without going through three additional screens to payment details.”

Customer: “I demand that you cancel the tickets RIGHT NOW and refund me in full TODAY or I will take it to the press! And just so you know, I am a lawyer!”

Me: “Well, as a lawyer, I am sure you are aware of the Consumer Protection Law under which…”

Customer: “Yes! Consumer Protection Law! It says I can cancel for free within 48 hours!”

Me: “…under which you will be charged a cancellation fee of 5% of the reservation’s total value so long as you cancel within 14 days from date of purchase.”

Customer: “But you can’t charge me cancellation fees! Your representative told me my card would not be charged!”

Me: “I can request the recording of that call if you insist, and we will call you back within 24 hours. Which phone number were you talking to that representative from?”

Customer: “Uh… You can’t charge me anyway. I am barred by court order from leaving the country!”

Me: “That has no bearing on your cancellation fees.”

Customer: “Did you hear me? Court order! It’s illegal for you to charge me fees!”

Me: “No, it’s not, but it just might make it illegal for you to purchase a ticket for yourself out of the country.”

Customer: “Okay, fine, I didn’t want to tell you because it’s personal but you’re forcing me. I have a medical reason. I’ll send you a letter from my doctor!”

Me: “I’m afraid consumer protection law fees are not waived for medical reasons. They are already a form of waiver as they are symbolic fees which, within the defined period of time, supersede the much higher fees of the products you purchase, like your non-refundable tickets.”

Customer: “I am serious. I have a valid medical reason! I had breast enlargement surgery!”

Me: “How is that relevant?”

Customer: “I can’t get the sutures wet! I can’t go into the sea! What would I fly to Cyprus for if I can’t go to the beach?!”

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