When Michael Tolcott books a car service to take him to the airport, he expects his ride to arrive as agreed. But when the vehicle doesn’t turn up, he is left scrambling to get to the airport and trying not to miss his flight.
Now Tolcott wants to know exactly why the car didn’t arrive — and what, if anything, he’s entitled to.
Tolcott’s story is a lesson about the vagaries of transportation: of how it can be unreliable and that, unfortunately, is just a part of traveling. It’s also a lesson about when to fight a company and when to just use your time on something else.
“In February I reserved a limo from Sanibel Limo to take my wife and me to Fort Myers airport,” Tolcott recalls. “I confirmed all the details on the day of travel, but the car never showed up.”
Now that isn’t helpful — not when you have a flight to catch.
The car service hadn’t called Tolcott to say that they weren’t coming to collect him. And when he called it, to see where the car was, no one answered the phone. Luckily, he was able to find an alternative service at the last minute.
“The ride to the airport and the ordeal through long and slow security lines, was extremely stressful because we did not get to the airport as early as we had planned,” Tolcott recalls. “We finally got to the gate at the last possible minute.”
While Tolcott and his wife managed to catch their flight, and he hadn’t been charged for the service that did not show, he wanted to know why the company hadn’t arrived.
He had, on the way to the airport, managed to speak with the car service provider and an employee had told him he didn’t know why the car hadn’t showed up.
So the next day he called again and this time spoke to a different employee. That employee said they would find out what happened and get back to him.
Somewhat surprisingly, given that he only called that morning, Tolcott emailed the employee and asked for an explanation.
A week later he still hadn’t received a response, so he emailed and called again. This time, the employee who answered told Tolcott that he would get the person in charge to call or email him — and later on that day they did.
“We deeply apologize that we could not service you at the time,” a representative wrote. “Please email, text or call me well in advance for your reservation and I will make sure that we will help you.”
At this point, I admit I would have given up, but Tolcott didn’t. So that day he emailed back asking for a proper explanation. A week later he got a response, again offering him a ride in the future, and with what he thought was “double-talk” as an explanation as to why they never showed up.
Now the response that Tolcott gave to that explanation is something we always advise against: namely saying you will never to use a company again — at least not when you are asking for something from that company.
And if I did need a ride, why in the world would I use the same company that failed to show up last time, failed to let me know that they would be unable to keep the appointment, and even now, after almost 2 full weeks, has still failed to give me any explanation of why that happened?
Why do we advise against such a response? As our own Christopher Elliott explained in a recent story on our site, who would do anything for you if you’ve already decided you’ll never do business with the company again? That’s why we say not to make that threat.
Undeterred by the responses he was getting, Tolcott emailed stating “I give up. You are not responding to my e-mails.” He didn’t quite give up, however, as yet again he asked for an explanation.
The response from the company?
We strive to satisfy all our customers and we have many happy and repeat clients. On rare occasions we can not take care of everyone because of airline delays, traffic jam etc.
We apologise that we could not give you a ride.
That’s when Tolcott contacted us and asked if we could get to the bottom of what happened.
Our advocates tried to get an explanation, but we couldn’t even get a response from the company — I suspect that at this point it had given up.
So is there a lesson here that we can learn? Well, we never tell any of our readers to give up on a case, if you really want to fight. That has to be your choice. I would however, always suggest, to think very carefully about fighting on and to decide whether, if you do, will you really win.
Time is precious and something you can’t ever get back. So sometimes it might just be better to never use a company again and move on. After all, what price do you put on your time?