Showing posts with label Luggage. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Luggage. Show all posts

December 31, 2014

A One Taxi Town Of HELL!

So coming back from vacation today was a tear.

We had an early flight--before dawn--and when we woke up, I called the town’s single cab company to confirm our early morning pickup (of which the reservation had been made the prior day by the front desk manager at the hotel). 

When we awoke the morning of the travel, I called the cab company to confirm they were on their way.

A man picks up the cab company’s phone and says curtly:

- "I am the dispatcher and also your driver this morning."

- "I have another person to drop off near your location and will be 15 minutes late."

Upon which he just hangs up, and we readjust our schedule slightly.

Then I receive a text message 20 minutes early that says the cab is downstairs. 

We rush downstairs, but there is no cab.

15 minutes later he arrives.

He says in a commanding voice:

- "Don’t you put the luggage in trunk, it can damage my computer [we don’t know what computer he was talking about]."

- "Shortest person sit behind me!"

We look at each other at how strange this cabbie is behaving, but again it’s the only “game in town.”

We get in the back seat, upon which he proceeds on the “dispatch computer” set up in the front seat to ignore us with mild apologetics and  works to handle calls, texts, and other people arrangements, while we are waiting in the back [already late because of his prior excuse] to get to the airport.

After what seemed like forever, he turns to me and says, “How are you going to pay?”

I ask, “Can you take a credit card?”

He says, “Yes, but the card reader may have interference at the airport [from this tiny airport, really?], and the ride will be 50 bucks!”

Realizing he was playing some sort of game with us to rip us off, since this was a meter cab, I try to explain that it seemed he was overcharging us saying “Well, we took a cab with you company from the airport just the other day and only paid around $40 and that was in a snowfall [today were clear skies and roads], so I’ll pay you the same $40.”

He turns angrily to me this time, and says threateningly, “You‘re trying to lowball me!  How about I just drive you around in circles and charge you by the meter even more?”

At this point, we could tell this guy was seriously off his rocker, and I try to deescalate this and ask, “Why are you giving us such a hard time with all of this?”

He seemed to calm down for a second as he was ostensibly trying to figure this out, and said okay, “We’ll do the meter [and you’ll pay]!”  

Now we were running late to the airport, this driver had our luggage hostage in the trunk, and he has threatened us to take us for an unwanted tour of the city instead of to the airport and overcharge us or potentially even make us miss our flight altogether.

I looked at my wife and daughter and they were clearly understanding the danger we were in of losing the flight, luggage, and so on; but as we discussed later, they were afraid of even worse physical danger from this person. 

He starts the car and with the dispatch computer screen still open [he angrily slammed open and closed the laptop multiple times], he drives on the highway while simultaneously, still working on dual duty as dispatch…we were terrified.

About halfway to the airport, he turns to me again, and says “Okay, I’ll turn the meter off [before] 40 bucks and you pay me 40!”

Afterward, my wife told me she thought he was going to pull over before 40 bucks and just drop us off somewhere in the middle of the highway.

I ask, continuing to try and calm this guy, “I don’t understand how can the meter be going higher than when we made the same trip in reverse in a storm just the prior week?”

Note, there wasn’t [barely] another car on the road and unlike in big cities, there was no signage with the driver’s picture, name, identification, etc.

He says, again in a threatening manner, “Oh I can also take the back roads to get you there cheaper, but you wouldn’t want me to do that, would you?”

Then he pauses, thinks again, and repeats, “Just pay me $40 cash {and he reaches to turn off the meter).

Soon after, we reach the airport terminal, and the taxi driver jumps out, dumps our [hostage] luggage on the side and holds out his hand. 

I gladly give him the $40 and thank G-d that we are at the airport and safe.

This was really an eye-opening lesson about what can happen when you are in the car with someone and they are in total control over whether you get where your supposed to go, make it in time, get your things, and get out safely.

In these small towns, it is no help that the cab company is a monopoly and probably the dispatcher/driver is probably also a part owner and maybe even has friends at the local airport, hotel, police, and the courts, etc.

I don’t think for a second that we were his first victims, and hope that people reading this will help make this his last! 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 18, 2012

Flying The Miserable Skies

So I had booked up on the airline to go to the Florida Keys.

You have to go to Miami first and switch flights—it’s a two-legged trip.

But I decided after the first flight to just to stay in Miami and not go on the second flight to the Keys.

Since the flight was overbooked—not only didn’t the airlines lose anything by me not going, they actually benefited by having my empty seat for another passenger—and making money twice off of the same seat.

Yet, the airline demanded that I pay them a change ticket fee.

This is the first time that I heard of being asked to pay extra for not using a product or service.

Common sense and basic business practice is that if you don’t use something, you get a credit or refund, but the airline was actually demanding I pay an extra fee for this so called “change.”

I explained politely that I didn’t change anything and that I just wanted to be able to get home.

They said even by not getting on another flight that is a change—and as the customer service representative (and I choke on even calling him that) then went on to say, “you will pay for that mistake!”

I reiterated that I didn’t make a mistake or any change, I simply decided not to use the second leg of the trip.

I asked to see a copy of the policy or guidelines where I had to pay for not using something, but the customer rep refused this.

He may as well have said, “Who needs right, when we have might?”

Basically, it came down to, “If you want to go home, you will have to pay.”

As if this wasn’t enough, when I arrived at the airport, another airline representative made me put my rolling carry-on into the sizing device to check that it would fit in the overhead.

Dar-gone-it—I bought it specifically for just that purpose, as it was advertised—why go through this?

In the airport, in front of everyone, they made me empty my things out and put some in another bag to skinny the first--“just a little.”

Then they said, uh ha, now you have an extra carry-on we can charge you for—but I didn’t, I only had two bags, total!

Later, in the airport, I overpaid for a stale sandwich and diet soda.

And for the first time, even after going through airport security and showing my boarding pass and picture identification once, I was then asked to do it all over again—while “walking the plank” to board the flight, with suitcase and sandwich in hand. 

Not long after I sat down, an airline attendant literally shoved my seat up straight, and then reminded me put up my seat before takeoff! Yet the seat was already up—the whole time.

Another comes up and asks me if I was the one who asked about the Internet—no, it wasn’t me, but there’s another customer somewhere onboard who did ask about it—they just forget who it was—oh well.

It used to be that the airlines were just overcrowded, the bagged peanuts were skimpy, and the recycled air was nauseating, but now the flying experience is at a whole new level of yuck!

This is no way to run an industry, treat customers, or generally do business.

On the airline, the stewardess gets on the mic and says “welcome to {Blank} airlines” and hope you enjoy the ride—unfortunately, they are riding all of us. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Kuster and Wildhaber Photography)

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