Never Back Down

At the beginning of last month I posted a rant on my luggage (Another Travel Rant…). I finally got some compensation from the airline and I figured I’d do an update on it.

I first submitted a report on Oct 6th the day I returned and I hadn’t heard from AA until Oct 23rd, letting me know that someone from the Seattle office will be contacting me. Again, some time went by and I hadn’t heard anything so I decided to let them know that no one has contacted me up to now. I received a response a few days later on Nov 19th apologizing and again letting me know that the Seattle office has been notified to contact me as soon as possible. I finally got that call on Nov 21st. I was on the phone for about 25 minutes creating a new file with the Supervisor because for some reason she was unable to open my file and see the claim. In the end, because I told her I’m travelling next month and I will like this resolved ASAP, she told me she just received stock luggage and I can come and collect it. The normal procedure would be for me to give them my damaged luggage, they send it to HQ, HQ assesses it and then compensates accordingly.

She told me the box was marked with the same brand as my luggage and even though it wasn’t the same piece, I was happy to take it. I was just hoping for the same brand and not feel like I was being outsmarted by them. She had opened the box as it had just arrived that day and told me the color and let me know it was all soft as mine was a hybrid of hard and soft materials.

After the Thanksgiving festivities, I dragged my husband with me on Sunday afternoon to the airport to collect the piece. I took in my damaged piece and came out with the box with the new piece in it. I didn’t stop to check it (something I should’ve done) and I ran back outside before the police came and made my husband move the car. When I got home, I opened the box and pulled out the piece which was labeled American Explorer not Ricardo. My husband couldn’t contain his laughter because only a few minutes before he was asking if I was receiving the same brand and I said I would not be taking anything less than it. I hopped on the phone and called American. After being shuffled around and getting in contact with the kiosk at the airport, I let them know this isn’t what I was promised and to not throw out my old piece until this gets resolved. The agent told me that as my claim has been closed, with the understanding that I was receiving this new piece of luggage, I had to call their luggage supplier to sort it out. On Monday I called 3 times and got through on the 4th call, which I was lucky to do because it was closing time for the company in Dallas. Throughout this whole ordeal, I was finally able to speak to one person who gave me all the advice and answers for everything I needed to know and what to do.

I learned that American Explorer is made by Ricardo (their lower market pieces – hence the Ricardo box it was in) and that they needed permission from the Supervisor at Seatac to send me the correct piece of luggage. I took her name and direct number and called the Supervisor. By then she was aware of the situation and apologized – she assumed that from the Ricardo box it was a Ricardo piece. I gave her the name of the contact and she said she will call me back once she had spoken to her. I got my call back, asking me to bring back the piece to the airport and that they will be shipping the correct piece directly to me. It’s over. THANK YOU!!!!

The day I went home with the first piece, and realized it was the wrong thing, my husband was telling me to just leave it, and stop getting flustered and going after AA. I was determined for one reason. AA is the only airline I can use to fly home without changing airlines, flights are never “cheap” and I basically conduct most of my travel on them. I didn’t think that it was right that I just let them get away with something like this. If everyone always says “fine, forget about it, I’m done”, then big companies get away with doing things.

Travel isn’t what it used to be. We do not get free food or blankets or pillows. Security is hell. Gone are the days of discounted kids tickets and discounts in general. Tickets have soared in price. Couple that with delays and multiple long flights/layovers, you always need a day to recover from a trip – going and coming. Certain things are expected of us when we travel, so why shouldn’t certain things be expected of those whom we’re paying to get us from A to B?

I managed to keep my temper down after the whole luggage mix up and I was very proud of myself for that. I didn’t want to fly off the handle again like when the incident first occurred. I’m a real stickler for customer service and, unfortunately, as I get the feeling like someone is taking me for an idiot or not behaving as they should in customer service, I get annoyed quickly. As a travel agent, I always gave of my best, even when I was being cussed by someone else’s client, I tried to help them and not return attitude with them. In customer service, your job is to help the customer whether or not you are the reason for their anger. You are there to help not judge.

As I said, this was just to fill you in on what happened since that rant and I promised my husband this wouldn’t be another rant. So I’ll sign off here with a quote I posted the other day.

never back down from getting what is rightfully yours. don’t let people/companies get away with crap. stand up for yourself. 


Another travel rant…

I had a lovely post about my recent trip to post today and I have to put that off until another day. Instead, I’m sharing an experience in hope that others will speak up and get what is due to them from these irresponsible companies.

Yesterday I took three flights to get home. We left Barbados at 730a (GMT -4hrs) and arrived in Seattle at 9pm (GMT-8hrs) – one full day of travelling. We always use American Airlines because it is the only airline that we can use right through to Barbados from Seattle. I always felt like AA was never consistent with their customer service. For the last flight, I went to switch our seats to be together as we were separated by one seat. The agent told me it’s a full flight and he could put me next to my husband and notify the person in that seat of the change. Just before boarding I was called up again, and to my surprised we were bumped up to first class. Now, this was a huge surprise and I was just elated that for the last flight we could be a little more comfortable and have a nice meal. The previous flights went smoothly, without any hiccups and overall we just thought this was a nice trip back.

Until we got our luggage.

20121007-132940.jpgWhen we arrived in Miami (our first stop) after going through immigration, we had to re-check our luggage. When I picked it up, my luggage was fine, so between Miami and Dallas, this had to happen. That dent is the size of my fist, and it has a crack. This piece isn’t even a year old yet and neither my husband nor myself are able to push it out. It’s a hard material and would need to be hammered out if anything. What upset me the most, is that when I pointed it out to the agent at Baggage Claim, she pointed to a sign and said this would be counted as wear and tear and they are not responsible for any dents or cuts or cracks. If this was an old piece of luggage, I wouldn’t have been as pissed. I travel a lot but domestically and use a carry-on. This piece went to Barbados and back twice. We spent money on luggage to ensure that we wouldn’t be buying new pieces constantly because we are aware of the bad treatment luggage gets. But to look at me and say this would be classified as wear and tear? I blew the roof and I had a little twitter rant. Please excuse the language but remember I was pissed.

Of course I mentioned American Airlines, and they responded with the following:

It was basically a link highlighting their conditions for accepting liability. Fine print really, and that just sent me over the roof even more. A link? Really? The second link telling me to share my experience with customer service was even more interesting. There is no number to call. You have to submit a written letter. I guess this was a blessing in disguise for whoever was going to be on the other side of the shit storm I was about to bring. I had a shower and wrote the following email to them:

I am very disappointed and upset with the service I received today while travelling on your airline. I picked up my luggage after flying for over 12 hours on three different flights, only to have damaged luggage (a dent the size of my fist plus a crack in the hard material) that the agent says you are not liable for. That piece is less than a year old and was first and last used for our trip to Barbados for Christmas 2011. As customers, we spend money on luggage to ensure the protection of our belongings and then to see them treated like this is just unacceptable. I was on the verge of praising your company again because I always felt like I received shitty service for this to happen now. I was hoping to attach a picture but there is no option for that and I am not spending money on a stamp to mail you a letter because right now I feel like you do not deserve a cent more from me. You can check with your Twitter correspondent as I posted it there. We just purchased our tickets to go back to Barbados for Christmas  and I honestly feel like it was a huge mistake. I am from Barbados and unfortunately you are the only consistent airline that flies there. You make me not want to fly home, but I have family I want to see. I expect some sort of compensation for this. It was a new piece! 

To add insult to injury, when I opened up my luggage TSA made a mess of my stuff. I bring back a seasoning in a jar that is commonly used back home. It has a bit of liquid in it from the onions etc but is mainly finely chopped ingredients. The last time I brought some back, I sealed the bags and left a note asking TSA to reseal properly and they did. This time I did the same hoping that I would get the same result but unfortunately I didn’t. The one bottle they opened (they were in packs of three) they closed back but didn’t put it back in the bag and the liquid spilled on my husband’s clothes. Imagine, I was livid from the dent in my suitcase but to open up my husband’s when we got home and see that, I totally blew the roof. I had 4 3-packs of the seasoning and they took every single one out of the bags and just left them out. I am very thankful none of them broke as I had the clothing protecting it. I also sent them an email. I was really on a roll last night. But this morning, as I was emptying my dented suitcase I also found that they had ripped one of the tabs used to snap the detachable pouch on. I really didn’t know what to think anymore.

I find it ridiculous that we pay lots of money to travel now, we don’t get any food, and what we have to pay for has the potential to put us in the hospital from being sick from it. Then we have to deal with people tossing our luggage around like garbage and our stuff is damaged and we are left to foot the bill for their irresponsibility. Then when we actually try to do something about it, we’re given a run around that just makes you want to leave everything after a while. I intend to follow through and at least know I was heard and have them held accountable for this at some level. I don’t remember the last time I was this angry. I was coughing and my heart was racing and no matter what my husband did, he couldn’t calm me down. So I headed to church this morning to ask for peace and guidance in dealing with this situation and forgiveness for losing my cool the way I did. It’s the least I could do for now.

I’ll post the good post tomorrow to bring the blog back to it’s happy state. Thanks for reading and please feel free to share your thoughts below!