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The Saga Continues…

Yesterday I got a call from Verizon. The customer service rep informs me we have (after settling the $560 dispute over the phone we did, in fact, return) $410 in roaming charges for while I was in Cancun.

First of all, I’m really confused about a couple of things. We’ve been told the roaming charges are in the amount of $204, $410, and other random amounts (depending on the rep we speak to!). Secondly, after going through the entire story again, she decides to talk to Tech Support and ask if the charges can be removed…

Customer service rep comes back on the phone and tells me that since I was making phone calls on my line, they can’t remove the charges. I’m sorry, what? 1) I use a local, Mexican Nextel with a call package for calls to the US so I can call George from Mexico; 2) I did not make a single call from my phone for two weeks. If you look at my call history, it displays “November 29th, 12:30pm, George Hatcher” when I called before take-off, and “December 13th, 5:10pm, George Hatcher” when I LANDED, with no calls in between! I told her it was preposterous and to check the call history. She did, and confirmed there were NO CALLS. She agreed to talk to her supervisor and see what can be done.

This morning, George and I are both in bed with the plague, aka, the flu, and his phone rings. It’s Verizon, saying we owe them $559, and would we like to make that payment now?

I kind of lost it there. George laughs and tells them, “I think you have your wires crossed.” When they finally have to admit they are wrong, they launch into the next round of charges. Oh, yeah, those roaming charges you need to pay for! They tell him that since I was making calls the whole time I was there, after I knew that I was roaming, that they have to charge me. I ended up taking the phone from him, clarifying the facts while trying not to scream at them for their incompetence. They insist that I was aware of the charges, trying to make it sound like we spoke to them on the 29th. Nice try.

I finally spoke to a customer service rep that slightly helpful, although he did ask if I was under the impression that these were global phones. That almost killed me. I know that George is the rocket scientist, not me, but I AM the nerd that always reads the manual for everything we purchase, I never sign any agreements or contracts without reading through them entirely, I know exactly how much data roaming costs, I know enough to have data roaming off, airplane mode on, and only wifi activated to use my phone as a wifi device instead of a 3G device, much the same way one would use a laptop or an iPad without a 3G contract.

What it has come down to, so far, is this: his supervisor has agreed to “reduce” our data roaming charges to 50% of $203.94, so $101.97. I know this is being done to try and appease us. And while some people might say, hey, that’s not bad, I disagree. This is why:

  • Verizon already admitted it was their error. Multiple times. We checked that I was on airplane mode and had data connectivity off in Mexico, and it showed up as roaming to them. They admitted this to George on the phone. They said something was wrong on their end. Come on.

  • They have contradicted themselves in a million different ways, grasping at straws to find excuses as to why we NEED to pay the roaming fees. “You made calls during this time… oh wait, no you didn’t!” and “You were aware of the roaming, you called, and kept using it… oh wait, you stopped using it as soon as we informed you.” And many, many more.

  • Loyal customers. We spend plenty of money on their devices, we had automated bill paying, three lines, and we always used to promote Verizon like crazy to people. We have never, ever, ever had a problem with roaming before (we dutifully make sure roaming is off and airplane mode is on the second we hop on an international flight). Not when we’ve traveled to multiple destinations in the Bahamas, multiple destinations in Mexico, and not when we went to Israel.

  • You are offering to reduce our charges to $100, right? Should I send you the bill for our late mortgage payment fee? How about the money spent on long distance calls from ME from Mexico on a Mexican line to clarify both of our problems to you? Where should I send those bills which are far in excess of the amount YOU would like to charge US?

  • The $559 interest free loan — I’m sorry, ACCIDENTAL CHARGE — you promised would be back in our account “within 3-5 days”… was promised TWO WEEKS AGO. Your rep today told me it would be “3-5 days from today”. What the heck is going ON? If a renter tells a landlord “the rent will be in in three to five days” over a period of nearly three weeks… the bum is getting evicted. Seriously, Verizon. Come ON.

  • Verizon, are YOU, a mega-corporation, really fighting us this badly for $100 freaking dollars (after your “50% buy-off option!)? Really? Is losing the respect (and probably future business) of loyal customers worth that little to you? Wouldn’t it make much more sense to just relax your sphincter and say, “Hey, they spend so much money with us a year that it’s worth it to let them have this one because why would they lie over these charges when they pay us so much in other aspects?” You will not plea bargain your way out of this one, sorry to say.

This will really be the make it or break it for me, Verizon. I’m already making oogly-googly eyes at Sprint.

December 16, 2010   5 Comments

In which a big company makes a little woman get enormously annoyed…

After the initial letter of complaint and reply, the Mexicana representative and I exchanged a couple more emails. I explained how my interest was not receiving the reimbursement at all, but the fact that I understood that was not their policy for a couple of different reasons and I was concerned that an employee would commit to something contrary to company policy. The response was a very short and slightly rude email requesting information about the employee (a name, where she dealt with us) in order to “handle” the situation.

Some time later, the representative finally got back to me. This was his response:

Dear Mrs. De la Vega:

Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to process your request. On behalf of Grupo Mexicana, please accept our sincerest apology for any inconveniences you may have endured due to the delay of your baggage.

We would like to inform you that according to Grupo Mexicana policies and procedures for delay baggage, in order to be liable for reimbursement of passenger’s emergency expenses it is necessary to meet the next requirements:

* The baggage delay must be longer than 24 hours.
* The final station in which the passenger files his initial report for the delay baggage must not be in his country of permanent residence.

After de corresponding evaluation of your documents, it has been confirmed that your permanent residence is in the country in which this report was filed; therefore, Grupo Mexicana must respectfully decline your request for compensation and/or reimbursement.

On the other hand, in regards to your complain expressing again your concerns about your recent travel experience, please be advised that after a thorough assessment of our internal records and statements, it has been determined that MEXICANA personnel acted upon Mexicana established policies and procedures.

Additionally, our findings also confirm that Mexicana flight attendants onboard provided you assistance at all time and we ensure you that the incident you comment to us is not characteristic of the high standard of service we strive to provide. All the remarks you have kindly sent to us, have also been forwarded to corresponding flight attendants Operational Chief Management in order for them to be reviewed and actions can be taken to prevent this kind of incidents.

This concludes my evaluation as an analyst and closes your case. I thank you for the opportunity to work on your behalf.

Grupo Mexicana holds its valued clients in the highest regard and we trust our efforts have ensured your satisfaction. We hope to maintain your trust and we are eager to welcome you onboard in the near future.

Cordially,
Sergio Gomar
Customer Relations Analyst
U.S.A. & Canada

Wow. Basically, no, you’re wrong, shut up, the end. “This concludes” it, not “if you have anything further to say”… And YOU KNOW ME! If you’re nasty, I’m not going to let you get away with it…

Dear Mr. Gomar,

Your email is completely appalling. Whatever happened to “the customer is always right”? Clearly, Mexicana Airlines doesn’t respect the age old adage, which is probably why, on conducting a Google search of just the name of the airline, the result is hundreds of articles regarding your poor service and poor customer service.

First of all, I never REQUESTED the $100 reimbursement. I simply informed you that this is what had been promised, contrary to your terms of service which I had already checked, and advised you to educate your employees as to not making promises they are unable to fulfill simply to soothe the ruffled feathers of upset customers.

Secondly, “our findings also confirm that Mexicana flight attendants onboard provided you assistance at all time”. How interesting! Did you have a hidden camera on board? Did you contact the passengers seated around me? Because they were just as appalled, with one gentleman even interceding on my behalf.

For future reference, when apologizing to a client (or anyone in general) you do not say, “I’m sorry, BUT…” The moment you include an excuse, it ceases to be an apology. And as for the “high standards” you claim characterize your company, well, this entire experience is proof that THAT is a bold-faced lie.

You most certainly have not maintained my trust, nor have you even managed a modicum of contrition. I will be sure to take this matter to other sources, as you are completely incapable of even apologizing for poor service and promising better in the future. How difficult would THAT have been?

Have a superb day!
Lorenia de la Vega

I was holding off on posting it ALL over travel sites before (only a couple) but now I’m just going to have at it. Annoyed!

March 19, 2010   7 Comments

Tsk, Tsk, Mexicana

I’m not big on writing complaint letters to Customer Service reps when I am mistreated or when service is just plain shoddy. I am pretty understanding about the fact that one employee of a company is not an accurate representation of all that the company actually stands for. However, after my experience this past weekend, I decided to not only write to Mexicana and all their listed customer service reps, but I also wish to post this here, on Twitter, and everywhere someone might stumble upon it. I may not be Kevin Smith, but I’ll be damned if I’m not going to warn people against poor service.

To whom it may concern,

My name is Lorenia de la Vega. I recently flew on your flights MX340 (Cancun – Mexico City) and MX317 (Mexico City – Orlando). I fly to and from Cancun/Orlando quite often, and decided, as a Mexican citizen, to try out the company despite the poor things I had heard. I figured if I was going to give my money to a company, I might as well do it to a national one. Big mistake!

I arrived at the airport at 5:00am on February 28th for my 7:00am flight from Cancun to Orlando, connecting in Mexico City. I assumed that the ticket counters would be open at 5:30am since it is stated on the Mexicana website that passengers should arrive 90 minutes in advance for international flights. Incorrect assumption: ticket counters were not open until nearly 6:00am. Once I proceeded to check in, I was detained at the counter for over half an hour: problems with the software did not allow the check-in clerk to check me in to my flight, because I had a passport and a green card number. Surely, I cannot be the only passenger in Mexicana history to have flown with a Mexican passport and a green card! Once I was checked in, I was asked to rush to the gate, as they were already boarding.

Not so!

I arrived at my gate, and my flight was delayed approximately 30 minutes. I was already a bit worried about my connection in Mexico City being only one hour, but figured if Mexicana sells “connecting” flights with one hour between arrival and departure, they know what they are doing and have accounted for small delays.

My flight landed in Mexico City with 20 minutes before my flight was scheduled to take off. On stepping off the flight from Cancun nearly ten minutes later, I was advised as to which gate to go to: gate 32, from gate 12. I inquired about my luggage, and was told not to worry, that it would be in Orlando waiting for me.

Now, here I will insert something I didn’t insert into the letter: an actual map of the Mexico City airport. They expected us to comfortably walk from one end to the other in ten minutes. Please check this out:

MCIA

Arrival gate, where the first set of stairs are. Departure? The very, very last gate of the airport. I’m not even kidding when I say I have blisters on both heels now!

Now, surely Mexicana personnel are aware of the size and distribution of the Mexico City airport. The passengers needing to make that connecting flight had ten minutes to walk from one side of the airport to the extreme opposite, with their carry-on luggage and, in the case of other passengers that were in the same situation as I was, with small children. We arrived at the gate as they were shutting the doors, flushed and out of breath. When I took my seat on the plane and requested a bottle or glass of water, I was denied one, since we were about to take off! I explained how we had been running, and how I was already dehydrated from the previous three hours of flying, and again, the flight attendant denied me a glass of water.

The service of the flight attendants was appalling. All of the men seated around me were promptly served meals and drinks with smiles, while my meal was tossed at me and I didn’t receive a drink until I rose and requested it.

Upon arriving to Orlando (at 2:25pm), my luggage never appeared on the carousel – not surprising, though, if we barely had time to get ourselves to the plane, I can imagine how it would have been impossible to put the luggage through extra security and then onto a plane that was about to take off. I was very upset, though, that I had been assured it would be in Orlando. I felt as if through my entire trip, responsibility had been passed from one person to another without ever receiving a straight answer from someone.

I reported my missing luggage to a Mexicana representative at the carousel. I was assured that my luggage would be delivered at the address I provided within 24 hours, and that before those 24 hours had passed, someone from Mexicana would contact me to tell me about the location of my luggage and what time to expect it delivered. I was also assured that upon its delivery, if more than 24 hours had passed, I would also receive $100 USD for my troubles, something done routinely to reimburse passengers for any expenses they may incur for delayed delivery of their luggage.

The next morning, March 1st, when it began to near noon, I became worried no one had contacted me. I dialed the numbers provided to me by the Mexicana representative at the carrousel, (407) 825-6002/6003, to no avail. No one ever answered and when the call was sent to voice mail, I was given a notification that the voice mail was full and no further messages could be recorded.

I then dialed 1-800-531-7921 (the 800 number provided me by Information). The party who took my call was belligerent and treated me as if I were mentally retarded for not giving him all of the “numbers” necessary to trace my luggage. The only two numbers on the document provided to me when I filed the report were my Flight Ticket Number and my Claim Check Number, which he deemed insufficient. He proceeded to give me two phone numbers, (407) 825-5047 for the Manager of Customer Support, and (407) 825-5022. The first number no longer exists in the Orlando airport when dialed, and the latter is a number for a Delta liaison, both clearly useless. I would like to make note that it may be in Mexicana’s best interest to update the first number in the information they tell Customer Support to give clients. It’s a bit troublesome that not even Mexicana knows what numbers are no longer useful.

As I was not able to contact anyone, I again called the 800 number and was transferred to the first person that was able to give me any information about my luggage. However, he clarified that the information I had previously received was not correct. You do not give $100 USD checks if the bags aren’t delivered within 24 hours (again, information Mexicana may want to tell their reps not to give) and they are still uncertain when my luggage will actually arrive. All of this after four hours of locating phone numbers, two hours of which were spent on hold.

I finally received the luggage that Mexicana representatives promised I would have within 24 hours “at the very latest” nearly at midnight on March 1st. Not the most pleasant time to receive something when you have to be up at 5:30am, and when the information that accompanied the luggage says that it landed nine hours earlier.

My husband and I both travel multiple times a month and I can guarantee you that after such a poor quality experience and such generally rude and incompetent service, neither of us have the slightest desire to ever fly with Mexicana again.

I am publishing this letter on my personal and professional Websites, Facebook groups, Twitter, and Trip Advisor (and any other pertinent travel Websites) as well as encouraging everyone I know not to use your services.

Thank you for your time,
Lorenia de la Vega

And to anyone who may have had the patience to read the letter the whole way through, I sincerely advise you never to fly with them. I have never had a more exasperating, uncomfortable, and unpleasant experience with an airline, and you all KNOW how much I fly! And it’s not even how long the luggage took to get back to me — as far as lost luggage goes, it took a relatively short time to make it home, it was the constant excuses and lying and the overall crappy service. Ugh.

March 2, 2010   8 Comments