Cus­tomer dis­ser­vice

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - EDITORIAL -

Lost lug­gage. Two words that will elicit a vis­ceral re­sponse for any trav­eller. These days, it seems com­pa­nies that sup­pos­edly spe­cial­ize in travel view lost bag­gage not as a rare oc­cur­rence, but rather as an ex­pected haz­ard. When it comes to in­dus­tries that should be fo­cused on their clien­tele, it’s dis­heart­en­ing — al­though prob­a­bly not sur­pris­ing — to read sto­ries that sug­gest the almighty dol­lar is the real bot­tom line.

Tues­day and to­day, The Guardian re­ported Strat­ford res­i­dent Lynn Thiele’s frus­tra­tion over los­ing her lug­gage dur­ing a bus trip from the Hal­i­fax air­port to P.E.I. Thiele es­ti­mates she had close to $3,000 worth of clothes, jew­elry and other items in the two suit­cases, which some­how van­ished from the cargo hold some­where be­tween Bor­den-Car­leton and Char­lot­te­town.

While thoughts of theft or mis­han­dling are un­set­tling enough, even more galling for Thiele was the bus com­pany’s com­pen­sa­tion — Mar­itime Bus ini­tially of­fered her $100, plus a re­fund of the $60 fare.

To­day’s story says Mar­itime Bus has re­con­sid­ered that fig­ure, and is now pro­vid­ing Thiele with $3,500 in com­pen­sa­tion.

Good news for the cus­tomer, and a no­ble ges­ture from the com­pany.

It’s just a shame it had to be ac­com­plished through the in­ter­ven­tion of a news­pa­per, 17 days af­ter the lug­gage was first lost.

But again, we shouldn’t be too sur­prised — it’s not even the first time this year we’ve heard of a com­pany go­ing into dam­age con­trol.

Over the March break, Air Canada bumped a 10-year-old Is­land boy from a flight one day be­fore the fam­ily was sched­uled to leave for Costa Rica. The fam­ily drove to Monc­ton to catch a dif­fer­ent flight to meet the Costa Rica flight in Mon­treal, but that flight was can­celled and they were forced to drive to Hal­i­fax and stay overnight in a ho­tel.

When The Guardian broke the story and other me­dia fol­lowed suit, Air Canada quickly took ac­tion with an apol­ogy and com­pen­sa­tion of­fer. Even so, the fam­ily said the com­pen­sa­tion paled in com­par­i­son to their ac­tual costs, and felt the apol­ogy rang hol­low when it came only af­ter all the me­dia at­ten­tion.

We live in the golden age of scams, and it’s only nat­u­ral that com­pa­nies will be wary of those try­ing to make a quick buck.

With that be­ing said, it’s not fair for com­pa­nies to de­fault to this line of think­ing about the cus­tomers who keep them in busi­ness.

No mat­ter how large, the com­pa­nies must han­dle in­ci­dents like these on a per­sonal level with their cus­tomers. It avoids the ex­tra time and ef­fort it takes to save face af­ter pub­lic blun­ders, and leaves a bet­ter im­pres­sion with a cus­tomer who had an oth­er­wise un­for­tu­nate ex­pe­ri­ence. Han­dling it ef­fec­tively might even keep a loyal cus­tomer, while other po­ten­tial ones may be im­pressed with some pos­i­tive pub­lic­ity.

These busi­nesses, af­ter all, are in the ser­vice in­dus­try — em­pha­sis on “ser­vice.”

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