How to complain

When you travel stuff happens.  We know that.  Flights are late, transfers don’t arrive and sometimes hotels don’t meet up to your expectations.  Having been in this business for more years than I care to confess online I have seen a wide range of travel problems and also a wide range of how different people (and companies) deal with this.

Getting there – the flight – Wow.  Is there anybody out there who has never been impacted by a delay, a cancellation, a “we’ve run out of meals” situation, a mix up in seat selection?  If there is please let me know because that would amaze me.  I remember boarding a flight once in New York with my family (2 adults and 2 kids) with our seat selection clearly stated on the boarding pass only to find once on board that the row we were assigned to did not exist.  We stood to one side while a harried looking flight attendant got everybody else on board while she tried to figure out where to seat us – and yes – we wanted to sit together.  She had the brilliant idea of upgrading us to business class (thank you very much) until she realized we had 2 kids (5 and 12) and suddenly it appeared that we were not eligible for an upgrade.

I think we deserved business class!

I didn’t complain at the time – or afterwards.  Should I have?  I might have got a voucher for future travel from the airline but in the moment all I really wanted was four seats together for me and my family.  So it’s all about priorities.  I was living in the moment and when we eventually got four seats together I was OK.

Another time checking into a flight at an airport I pointed out that I had originally reserved a particular seat and now it had been changed for no reason that I could see.  “Oh” – says the check in agent “You will have to speak to your travel agent about that – they are always doing that.”

“Um … I am my travel agent.  I made the booking.”  She had no answer.

Everyone has a different way of dealing with travel problems so I want to use an example of a very reasonable couple who experienced problems with their vacation and how they dealt with it.

Let’s call them Dave and Heather.

The flight – a special seat selection service had been booked and prepaid with printed documentation and tickets stating the seats.  At check in they were told that these seats were not on the “manifest”.  Dave and Heather pointed out that they had paid extra for this service.  They were asked to produce their Visa receipt????   They realized they were not getting anywhere so offered to pay again for the seat service but were told they could not.  Go figure.

At the hotel they had problems.  Now it is strange but sometimes it is like a weird kind of karma.  Once something starts going wrong those ripples turn into waves and those waves turn into a tsunami.   It went from bad to worse.  The staff were well meaning but ineffective and Heather decided not to waste her precious holiday time with negative feelings and complaints.  It was therefore a bit of an eye opener when a few days later, while standing at the reception desk, she witnessed an absolute melt down with someone checking in and after raising the roof the staff quickly upgraded this person to a presidential suite.

temper

Hmmm – Heather thought to herself.  Maybe being polite and optimistic is not the way to get things done.

Isn’t that sad?  Doesn’t that say something about today’s society.  The Squeaky Wheel – the Threats – the loud voice.

So what should you do when things go wrong when you travel?  Here are a few pointers

  • Take down names. Most airline staff have a name badge.  Make a note of the time.  Airlines and hotels can check shifts and names.
  • Contact the onsite rep – if you have booked through a tour operator there will be a local rep who will either be based at the hotel or will have a desk or contact number so you can reach them and make them aware of your concerns. The local rep keeps in touch with head office in Canada or the USA and is the one most able to quickly deal with any problems.
  • Keep your travel agent up to date – a quick email just advising that you have had problems (and maybe a brief description) and that you are in contact with the local rep. Your travel agent will then be able to monitor things on our side with the tour operator in Canada or the USA.
  • Write it down – a full chronological report of all and everything that went wrong is a great help. If you have your cell phone take a few pictures too.

 

But keep your complaints real….. not like these courtesy of Thomas Cook UK.

“The beach had too many fat people …it was gross.”

“The street signs were not in English.  I don’t understand how anybody can get around.”

“The local women were too beautiful.  It made me feel bad about myself.”

“No one told us there would be fish in the sea.  The children were startled.”

NSB-Sharks

4 responses to “How to complain

  1. Diana Joseph/penticton

    Great reminder of do an do not’s

    Like

  2. We paid a large$$$ sum for our 2 week honeymoon arranged by flight centre with Sunwing where we also stayed at a Sunwing resort in Cancun (Royalton). The resort was horrible, our room was full of black mold and within the first week I became extremely ill, then my husband fell ill as well. When I was finally able to drag myself out of bed and go to the administration office (after complaining to several people who were to help and several days later no one came through) I complained about the dirty room, the black mold and how sick we were. The manager made me sign a letter to move us to a different room, which I did as I would do anything at that moment to get out of our initial room. However the second room was not much better. We laid in bed for an entire week of the holiday unable to move, eat or drink. Our nerves all over our body were on fire so you couldn’t have clothes touch your skin. Anyway when we were back home I tried to call Sunwing head office with no response from anyone. I contacted flight centre who had never actually been to the resort that they highly recommended. Bottom line they told me I signed the paper so nothing could be done. Well I would have given my first born at that moment to get out of that room. And what makes it worse is that I have pictures which I provided yet no one seem to care. We even had to clean our own room when we first arrived as it was dirty, but after several hours of sitting in our room waiting for someone to come we decided it was quicker to clean ourselves so we could just enjoy our trip. No one ever did come. And to top it off the staff was overly pushy to sell shares into their resorts, they would not let you go anywhere else without a big scene and everything was an upgrade even to sit in the restaurant. So over $7,000 lost on a extremely disgraceful experience for that kind of money and we never did get to enjoy our honeymoon. Stay away from Sunwing, their resorts and flilght centre!!! I am hoping to file a lawsuit and get my money back.

    Like

  3. Thank-you and just wondering if you could give some tips on cell phone use thru telus specifically when travelling abroad?

    Like

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