Category Archives: travel

WestJet vs Air Canada Vacations: Who has better customer service?

Yesterday morning, while doing my bank and credit card reconciliations, I found a charge by WestJet for $19.17 USD from a recent flight.  I searched everywhere for the receipt and couldn’t find it.  Since I thought there was absolutely no hope of seeing my money again, I tweeted “$19.17 USD for a turkey croissant sandwich?  Seriously #WestJet?”. That was at 7:55 a.m.

At 8:21 a.m. I had a response from WestJet saying “that’s not right”.   Within the hour, despite having no receipt, WestJet began processing a refund.  Now that’s awesome customer service!  Because I will tell everyone!

At 9:36 am I tweeted “Well done #WestJet.  Once again your customer service is excellent as is your reaction time”.    You can see,  by the times indicated, how quickly they reacted.

Meanwhile, in January a group of 14 of us went to the Dominican Republic on #AirCanadaVacations.   One couple on the trip paid for an upgrade to a beach view.  They did not get it and requested a refund.  I was promised if I got more than 10 on the trip, I would get a discount on my fare.  Since this was done through a travel agent, he’s dealing with the refunds but it sure isn’t happening fast.    We returned on January 22nd.  Today is February 28th and we’re still waiting.

No contest.  WestJet wins hands down in the customer service game!  Well done #WestJet.  This is the 2nd time you’ve stepped up to the plate…immediately…for me.

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Is it Florida or is it Rhus Tox?

Here I sit in the Sunshine State, which is finally sunny after two very cloudy and windy days, and I realize that my scalp doesn’t hurt as much as it has in the past.

Hmmm…I took my first dose of Rhus tox (poison ivy) a week ago Monday and my second dose last night (sorry, Witchy Woman Mach II, I fell asleep Monday night before taking my second dose) and was way too busy getting ready to go away to pay any attention to how my head felt.  But after 5 days in Florida, I think it feels better.  But why?  Rhus tox?  Vacation?  Florida sun, I mean wind?

Guess I won’t know for sure until I get home.

It sort of makes sense in a weird, homeopathic kind of way that something that makes you itchy after full contact (poison ivy), could be used to deal with itch in a very low homeopathic dose.  After all, I take a copper derivative (copper can cause convulsions) to deal with my restless leg syndrome.

So, while I floss my ulna nerve, stretch and pull my toes, I will also hope that the Rhus tox really is the answer.

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Another example of great customer service: Paragon Travel

I write a lot about good customer service because it so often goes unnoticed in our busy world.  Paragon Travel deserves recognition.

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Thursday I flew to St. John’s, Newfoundland for my annual trip to visit our property manager.  On June 21st I had the major surgery on both feet (as you know).  I was led to believe I would be substantially more recovered than I am, however Wednesday when I was doing some “running” around, I realized that there was no way I was going to be able to stand in lines at the airport…or walk substantial distances to my Gate (which in my life I knew would be at the far end of the airport).

So at 4:50 p.m. Wednesday I emailed Paul at Paragon Travel and said “Paul, is it way too late to try to organize a wheelchair for tomorrow?”  My flight was at 8 a.m. so I figured he would laugh at me.

Nope, no laughing, he got on the phone and sat on hold for an hour…and got me wheelchairs in both airports both coming and going!  Now Paul’s shift is over at 5:30 but he stuck it out until he had accomplished what he set out to do.

Paul could have completely ignored by email, pretended he didn’t see it, but that is not the service that Paragon Travel provides.  in the beginning, Paul worked with me to make sure I got flights that worked for me, getting me to St. John’s as early as possible and back from St. John’s early enough to actually still make it to the cottage on Friday.  I couldn’t find them when doing the research myself.  This final request was above and beyond and ridiculously last minute of me.

But once again, Paul and Paragon Travel came through for me.  As someone who has never used a travel agent before, I now completely understand the value of using a travel agent and will highly recommend them to anyone needing travel assistance and a pleasant experience.

Way to go Paragon Travel!

 

 

 

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The Magic of Disney, Harry Potter and Jaden by Liz Saunders

It’s been a very tiring week.  Vacations are supposed to be relaxing.  Not so with a 9 year old in tow and theme parks to do.

Theme parks every other day should be doable, right?  And physically it wasn’t bad (okay, I lie, my feet were killing me at the end of each day).  Thank goodness for the special pass we could get at both Disney’s Magic Kingdom and Universal Studios, which probably saved us 8 hours in various line ups over 2 (and a bit) days.

It was more the auniversal-new-logo-11-2010ngst and anxiety which were difficult to deal with and exhausting.   Between the bragging “I’ve done Leviathan at Canada’s Wonderland” (I don’t think it’s true, I don’t think he’s tall enough) to the fretting “is this fast?  Does it drop far?  Does it go upside down?” to the  “I’m scared, I don’t want to do this…are you sure it doesn’t go upside down?” to the eventual “I wasn’t scared…that was boring”.

Didn’t seem to matter that we were at Disney…”everything here is for children buddy, nmagic-kingdomothing is going to be too scary” (okay, okay, Space Mountain was pretty scary – but other than that…) followed by Universal where the scary rides were pretty darned obvious and a certain 9 year old would say “you guys are SO chicken that you wont go on that” (The Hulk, Drop Zone).

IMG_0539[1]But I got to try Butterbeer and Pumpkin Juice, visit Hogwarts and Hogsmeade; Jaden enjoyed Jurassic Park (particularly the water ride), Harry Potter (he has an official wand), Shrek, something about Minions and Gru, the Cat in the Hat and all the other lovable (and not so lovable) characters that inhabit the wonderlands that are the Orlando theme parks.

IMG_0544And so it ends.  We had a visit with Auntie Olivia, Bryan, Uncle Bruce, Aunt Betty, all day rain, all day cold and a couple of days that were warmish and sunny.  No relaxing by the pool, no sitting quietly in the sun, but a little boy who had a very memorable adventure in Florida.

And that’s what it should be all about.

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Getting on with life! by Liz Saunders

I can’t believe two weeks have passed since my last blog.

During the cruise, when I was in so much pain from my arthritis, I promised myself that when I returned I would get on the phone to my hand and foot surgeon and make appointments.  Well, I like to keep my promises to myself so I did exactly that and my left hand will be fixed this month and right as rain for the new year.  Had to promise Dr. D that I wouldn’t do anything with my feet for at least six months after hand surgery.  When I saw Dr. C, he said “can’t do anything until June at the earliest”.  Perfect!  So, 6 months and 2 days after fixing my hand, I get both feet fixed at the same time!

Well god forbid I should relax and enjoy pain-free feet, instead 2 days after seeing Dr. C and having a cortisone injection in each big toe, my feet were feeling so pain-free, that I was moving too fast and slammed my baby toe (right foot) into a door frame!  Yup…broke it.  Doc thinks I may also have fractured my fifth metatarsal but I’m afraid to have x-rays.  If I walked into the hospital to have the hand surgery with a cast on my foot, surgery would be cancelled!  So, with the help of a cane, symphytym, arnica and calc phos (thanks Witchy Woman for the arnica) and okay the occasional Tylenol 3 at the beginning, I am soldiering on.  7 days later and I’m almost not limping…almost.

So, life goes on.  And that’s the beauty of being a virtual assistant.  I haven’t missed a day of work and none of my clients have any idea that I’m injured.  I continue to answer their phones, book their appointments, be the customer service rep, create their mailing labels (Xmas card labels and it’s already the 12th, but better late than never!) and clean up their databases.

Good thing they won’t be able to see my hand in a cast!

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Advantage Car Rentals redeems itself – with good customer service! by Liz Saunders

I recently blogged about our “interesting” experience with Advantage Car Rental in Fort Lauderdale.  Well, having said “don’t use this company”, I take it back.

Joe did the research to discover that Advantage Car Rental is owned by Hertz.   He also found the email addresses for Vice President of Hertz, Brian Dickerson and Senior Vice President, Global Customer Care of Hertz, Joseph Eckroth on Trip Advisor.  So we crafted a carefully worded and clear email to them.

That email was sent on Friday.  Apparently we got Mr. Eckroth’s attention.  This is the response Joe got on Tuesday:

Dear Mr. McManus:

Mr. Eckroth has asked that I investigate the situation you wrote about and respond directly to you.

First of all, let me express my sincere apology as well for the difficulties you encountered in Ft. Lauderdale.  I can certainly understand your frustration and disappointment with Advantage and I’m sorry for the inconvenience this caused you while you were trying to enjoy your travels in Florida.  There really is no excuse for the lack of service and assistance you received.  I can assure you that your comments will be forwarded to the appropriate parties to ensure corrective action is taken.

After reviewing the rental record, the contract had not yet been closed by the location.  I have credited the upgrade fee on the billing and closed the contract.  The total amount billed will be $***.**.

Thank you for taking the time to let us know about your experience.  We value your business and hope you will give us the opportunity to regain your confidence in Advantage.

Sincerely,

Sharon Rose

EXECUTIVECUSTOMERSERVICE
The Hertz Corporation | 225 Brae Blvd, Park Ridge, New Jersey 07656
executivecustomerservice@hertz.com | www.hertz.com

Not only has the extra charge been reversed, the amount being charged to our credit card is $22 less than we expected to have to pay!!!   You absolutely can NOT argue with that customer service.

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It all boils down to customer service! by Liz Saunders

Yes, sitting on the floor of the plane between seats!

The trip is over.  I type this sitting on the floor of the plane because we’ve got the best leg room ever  right beside the emergency exit.  But I’ve never seen this much leg room, it’s awesome.  One of the best things of this trip.

The ship was quite impressive compared to the tug boat from 6 years ago, although as previously posted, I did run into an issue almost immediately.

Met and saw a number of interesting people… both on and off the boat.  Jamaica in particular was an experience.  The country is so poor that they natives are very aggressive with tourists.  It’s too bad because it really detracts from the experience.  And since tourism is one of their major industries, it leaves both a bad and sad taste in the mouth.

Imagine, as the voice of a number of companies, if I was rude, pushy and difficult because I was desperate.  People would not call back.  Have you ever had an experience with a debt collector or know what debt collectors’ reputations are all about?  Same idea.  You will pay…you will buy…you will take my illegal taxi on a trip you don’t want to take.

At The Virtual Alternative we pride ourselves on polite and appropriate customer service/representation of your business.   If you think of tourists the same way you think of customers you have to treat them well or they won’t come back!  I certainly will not be making plans to return to Jamaica any time soon, if ever.

So, the Jamaicans we met, while trying to survive, are actually biting the hand that feeds.

And a further example of bad customer service was that of Advantage Car Rentals.  My husband had rented a car – 4 seater with a trunk big enough for 2 suitcases.  When we got to Ft. Lauderdale – remember we were over 7 hours late – they told us they only had a Fiat.  A Fiat?!  2 seater with a trunk that would hold one small case.  Insisted that’s what we had ordered.  My husband would never have booked such a thing.  We argued and they insisted but we were both so tired and frustrated that he didn’t look for his confirmation paper.  Cost an extra $100 to upgrade to the 4 seater we had booked.

Do not use this company!By the time we returned the car, we had found the confirmation paper and we tried again.  Nope, Romel Jean insisted, we had booked a Fiat – that despite the fact that we had a piece of paper which clearly said “economy car” not “sub-compact car” and “4 seater” not “2 seater”.  Not wanting to miss the 2nd flight of our trip, we demurred to deal with it later.  What made it worth it was the horror on Romel’s face when I leaned in and read his name out loud – “What do you want my name for?”  “Well clearly”, said I, “we want it so that when we complain about the car we will also complain about your customer service…or lack thereof.”   Then he tried to fight with me!

Customer service.  It all comes back to customer service.  If you’ve got good customer service, people will return and tell their friends about you.  If you’ve got lousy customer service – or no customer service – people will not return and will probably tell even more friends the “horror story” they experienced.

If you want better customer service for your business, think of The Virtual Alternative, where customer service is our expertise.

And it bears repeating…look at this leg room! Those are my knees in the foreground. Look how far away my carry on is!

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Filed under customer service, Restless Leg Syndrome, The Virtual Alternative, travel, Virtual Assistant