Sally Bedell and her husband were looking forward to a great trip: a 12-day Cities of Light tour on Viking River Cruises — an itinerary that would have taken them from Paris to Prague, traveling along the Moselle, Rhine and Main Rivers.
I’m honored to introduce our newest columnist, Andrew Der. His weekly feature is called “The Good News Guy” and it offers a much-needed counterpoint to all the negative stories on this site. I hope you find this feature as uplifting and inspiring as I have.
Too often, airline rules add insult to injury.
If you cancel a flight, for example, they make you pay even more for a new one, assuming the fees and fare differential don’t consume the entire value of your credit. And forget about changing the name on your ticket — it’s not allowed.
But those rules are not written in stone. Thank goodness for that.
Caution: This post contains language that may not be appropriate for a family audience.
The most shocking thing about a revelation that a Comcast employee changed a customer’s name to “a**hole” was how shocked everyone was.
Readers reacted with indignation at my report that the company with the worst customer service scores in America would have employees who hated their customers enough to put it in writing.
Warning: This post contains language that may not be appropriate for a family audience.
It’s no secret that employees sometimes feel their customers are jerks. But I’ve never seen one put it in writing — until now.
Google Plus doesn’t like David Books’ name. And now it’s stopped listening to his requests for a social media account. Is there anything he can do to get the company’s attention?
Question: Could you possibly help me with an issue that continually keeps popping up for me. Because of my name — Books — I keep getting denied the right to set up an account with Google Plus, Google’s social network.
I have used Google’s email service for years under my legal name, but when I tried to set up a Google Plus account, I was denied because of my name violating their name policy. I sent a copy of my driver’s license, but was still denied.
There is no way to appeal the denial. I might have a better chance if I could send Google my Facebook credentials, but I have the same problem there. I can’t establish a Facebook account because of (you guessed it) my last name.
Heather Matinde’s problem is fairly common, but when it happens to you, it can sure seem like the end of the world. She’d just paid a small fortune for airline tickets from Los Angeles to Brussels on Expedia, only to discover a serious problem with her sons’ reservation.
Each boy had each others’ middle names on their tickets, and the airline was balking at making a correction. Unfortunately, Matinde didn’t reach out to Expedia and the airline, Jet Airways, within 24 hours and — you guessed it — the airline was refusing to fix the names.
And now, a little story about names, online travel agencies, airlines and the TSA.
Are you still with me?
Good. Because this could affect your next trip if you’re not careful.
Pearl Castellino’s daughter, Ava, has a ticket with the name “Eva” — a ticket her travel agent admits he misspelled. “I told him to double-check the names,” she remembers. Apparently, he didn’t.
Jerry Stannard booked a room at the St. Gregory Luxury Hotel & Suites in Washington through Expedia recently. But when he tried to confirm the reservation by phone, no one had heard of him. He had to pay for another room, even though Expedia already had his money.
Did the hotel lose Stannard’s reservation? Did Expedia forget to tell the St. Gregory he was coming?
No — and no.
Stannard phoned my friends at KCRA when he couldn’t get a $499 refund for the first pre-paid reservation from Expedia. KCRA contacted me for help. Why was was the online agency holding on to his money?
The answer: Stannard had booked a reservation at the St. Gregory. Under a different name.
I asked Expedia to look into this case, and its records show that he failed to remember the correct name he’d booked the room under.
Since they could not find a booking under his name, he and the hotel assumed it had been mistakenly canceled, and he booked another room and was therefore charged twice. I’ve been advised that the record on Mr. Stannard’s itinerary does not contain significant detail from that point, so as a measure of goodwill, Expedia has refunded Mr. Stannard in the amount of $499.
Lesson learned? Try to remember the name on your reservation. Otherwise you might have to pay for your hotel room again.
It was generous of Expedia to give Stannard the benefit of the doubt. But it didn’t have to.
There’s no shortage of sob stories about airline passengers who bought a ticket under a wrong name — like a maiden name or nickname — only to discover they’re holding a worthless piece of paper. So when an airline reverses course and allows a name change for free, then you have a legitimate man-bites-dog story.
The carrier, in this case, is beleaguered United Airlines. The passenger: longtime reader Cliff Ruddick. Here’s what happened:
I booked award tickets on United Airlines’ Web site and I accidentally interchanged my traveling companion’s first and last names on her reservation. When we got to Los Angeles, we tried to check in curbside, but since the names were interchanged on her reservation, the agent sent us into the chaotic ticketing lobby, but told us to find the ticket line for “Quick Clips”.
Uh-oh. Were they about to extract an outrageous change fee from Ruddick at a quick clip? That’s certainly what it looked like.
We explained the problem and the agent behind the counter took about two minutes to fix it in the reservation system. Then — and here is the amazing part — she met us at the end of the reservation counters and personally escorted us upstairs to the lightly-used security line on the second floor and brought us up directly to the front of the line.
Ruddick is neither a million miler or a VIP, so when an agent went the extra mile for him, it took him by surprise. He wrote a letter to the airline, praising the employee. “United gets trashed regularly about its customer service,” he told me. “But I have found they really employ some gems as well as some clunkers.”
Well, let’s hear it for the gems.