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.”