Recently my wife, Lisa, and I were greeted with a slew of back-to-back mistakes by people that we had paid for their services. The itinerary of errors began when I contacted a moving company to transport a car from Connecticut to a younger brother’s home located North of Daytona Beach. The salesperson I spoke to indicated that the charge would be $1029 of which the driver would receive $850 with the remainder of $179 going to the company. I arranged for the driver to pick up the car that Thursday. When I asked when he thought the car would arrive in Florida, the company rep told me probably 3 to 4 days after the pick-up date. I alerted my brother to expect the car Monday or Tuesday as I had been informed most drivers prefer not working on Sundays. That Friday morning, I received a voicemail from the driver, Vince, saying he would be arriving that evening inasmuch as he wanted to make it home to Miami that same evening. Fortunately, I was able to get in touch with my brother to let him know he needed to be home that evening and to pay the driver $850 upon arrival of the driver.
The early pick up went well but the story does not end here. A few days later I saw on my credit card a charge of $239 rather than the quoted $179 from this same firm. A call to the company indicated that I had been quoted the wrong amount and, the truck driver was only supposed to receive $850 and not $800. The agent’s supervisor told me that they had sent the correct amounts in an attachment but when I looked at the original email, in which I had signed my name accepting the deal, there was no attachment. When I asked him to check the email he sent me, he explained that once I had opened the attachment, it was no longer available on his end. Although I am not a computer maven, this sounded like pure balderdash. Before filing a dispute with the credit company, I contacted my brother who told me the truck driver only had asked for $800. Because my older brother and I had agreed to pay the shipping expenses, no money was lost as the total of $1029 remained the same. Consequently, I did not dispute the charge. My miscue was not insisting that they send a contract that apparently never had been attached to the email I received.
The next string of errors occurred when my wife and I were confirming plans with a hotel before starting our trip that was to begin right after the negotiations with the moving company. Our trip to Washington State included visiting a friend who lived in Everett, Washington and then proceeding to Port Ludlow where we had gone every summer for 20 years prior to the pandemic. When I called to confirm our stay, I was utterly surprised in discovering the hotel in which I had booked the reservation had no record of it. Insofar as it was a Hilton Hotel that we were to stay at, I thought it would facilitate matters by doing it through Hilton Honors. Luckily, we were able to keep our reservation because we had the email confirming it sent to us by Hilton Honors. Initially, one of the staff was going to charge us $250 more than the original reservation I had made for the same two days. But upon sending the confirmation of the reservation, the staff member connected us with the manager who acknowledged our reservation! We had made these reservations before inflation had imploded throughout the economy.
But, once more, it doesn’t end here. I had made a reservation with Hilton Honors that I had canceled before making the reservation in the lodging preferred by both my wife and I. But a few days before leaving we got an email from that hotel confirming our stay. Hilton Honors clearly were not acting honorably inasmuch as they had never canceled this reservation after stating they would. I immediately contacted the hotel and, fortunately, they did not charge me for canceling the reservation. A word of caution to all would be travelers: Beware.
Next, we arrived in Seattle and went to pick up the car I had contracted to rent for our 2 ½ week stay in Washington. All set to go, luggage in the car, I turned on the ignition and to my surprise (at this point, nothing should surprise me) there was barely one quarter of a tank of gasoline. When I reported this to the attendant, he said he would mark it down and all I needed do was return the car with a quarter full of gas. However, I explained to him that I had prepaid the company for a tank of gas rendering his offer worthless. The attendant scratched his head, said I was right (agreement at last) and told us to wait, 5 no more than 10 minutes, and he would fill the tank for me. No future contact for reservations in the immediate future, I took a deep breath, we got in the car ready to begin our vacation.
Par for the course these days appears the plethora of errors one faces as a customer. I suspect part of this has to do with the fast pace of society brought on by the internet. The lack of physical contact distances the customer from the server creating an impersonal sense of connection. The one personal touch I felt was when the attendant at the car rental willingly went to fill the car with gas. Rather than just being an internet contact, I actually had met him. The other errors committed were made by people with whom I had little or no contact with beside the phone. The frequent poor performance of people I have interacted with on the phone has reduced the level of trust I have had in their following through with the results promised.
Such experiences make it easier for me to identify with how and why many people have lost trust in our institutions as well as the business world. So, in actuality, this is less a comedy or errors than what seems to be a sad commentary on the state of customer service in today’s fast paced world.