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Travel Horror Story: British Airways and Delta

Yesterday my wife was supposed to be travelling back to England. She had been planning the trip for over half a year and was looking forward to attending her friend's wedding as well as catching up with friends and family for a couple of weeks. The day started off early as her flight with Delta from Pittsburgh, PA to JFK, New York, NY left at 10:00am.

About an hour after she had left I got an automated call from Delta saying that her flight had been cancelled and they had booked her onto a flight at 6pm that evening! I knew that her British Airways from JFK to Manchester, UK was due to leave at 6:05pm. This was obviously a problem and so we started looking for alternatives to get her there on time.

I called a friend who offered to drive me to the airport to meet her and try to get this sorted out. Delta were less than helpful and claimed weather which apparently means they are not obligated to help. Checking the weather reports confirmed that storms were predicted that afternoon but offered no explanation why they were grounding flights that morning. After talking to them it seemed clear they were not going to get her there in time.

So we called British Airways. We have been loyal customers for years, taken more flights with them than I remember and had always been very happy with the service. We had never had cause to use their customer service but assumed it would be good as every other dealing we had with them was always positive.

After speaking with a customer service agent she assured us that there was nothing to worry about. She advised us to try and get to JFK today, but if we couldn't make it they could put Louise on the flight tomorrow for a fee of approximately $120. This made us feel much better and we thought worst case the journey was just going to be delayed by a day. We abandoned the plan of attempting to hire a car and drive to JFK which according to Google and MapQuest would have taken just shy of seven hours.

After confirming with Delta that there was little chance of them getting my wife to JFK in time for her flight we accepted the flight the next day on the proviso that Louise could get a refund if she found an earlier flight with a competitor. So we headed back home, scoured the travel sites and Louise called British Airways back to see about getting her flight switched to one tomorrow.

To her horror the second representative told her that this was not possible and no changes could be made to her ticket on the day of travel. She then proceeded to very unhelpfully quote that it was in the terms and conditions and that the previous agent was incorrect. We talked with the first person at about 8:20am when we might have had a shot at making it to JFK by car but being at home at around 10:30am we knew that we have no chance of making it.

I made the point that it was their previous agent that had given us incorrect information and that they should take some responsibility and work with us. My wife was obviously really upset by this and so I tried to talk with the woman who just kept repeating that it was in the terms and conditions and that if my wife didn't make it to JFK that day then her ticket would be forfeit and she would need to buy a new ticket.

I quite honestly couldn't believe it and after speaking with this woman it became clear that she thought she was in the right, I couldn't speak to anyone else about the matter and the previous agent was wrong. I was apparently free to make a complaint about this but beyond that she simply didn't care. When I asked her whether she thought it was fair that we pay for the poor training of the previous agent she went on to repeat that it was clear in the terms and conditions. I made the point that the previous agent didn't seem to know it but apparently I should know it myself.

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Orange UK - The Saga Continues

Well I got my bill on Thursday from Orange. They haven't refunded anything to my account and they have charged me again for the internet access products I never asked for! I am frankly amazed. I spent over 30 minutes on hold on Thursday night before hanging up and have been on hold for 33 minutes and counting as I write this post. The only redeeming thing is that the call doesn't cost me anything but I really don't have the time to sit around on hold like this. Surely I can't be the only person in the UK getting service like this?

I signed up for a 12 month contract at £30 a month and with these charges they decided to add on top it is costing just under £40 a month before you add any extra calls over my allowance. I think that would count as false advertising at the very least so I think I will also contact my local trading standards office. Not sure if I will actually get through to the call centre, and even if I do I am not sure if I will get to talk to anyone more effective than the poor excuse for a customer service agent I spoke to last month. On hold for 36 minutes now.

I really should be writing up my thesis but find it hard to do that with this terrible hold music in my ear and the "We are currently experiencing a very high number of calls..." message in my ear. Are they ever not currently receiving a very high number of calls? After 37 minutes I got through to a very nice lady who said nothing had been done on my account last month and no notes or anything had been made about my call.

She did however say that she would get the items removed, and that she would refund the amount the other lady said she would and even sent me a text confirming this in writing. Hopefully she has done what she said, she was a lot more polite, I could understand her (I think a slight Scottish tinge to her accent) and I can stop ranting on about how terrible Orange are being! Still 37 minutes on hold is pretty damn poor no matter how nice the staff are.

Back to writing my thesis.

Orange Really Is Terrible - I Want My Old Network Back!

Finally found some time to try to get through to Orange again. This time they answered their phone significantly faster although it was a lady with quite a strong accent who was difficult to understand at times. When I asked her about all the charges for Orange World Access she had the cheek to try and pass the buck to e2save and when I broke through the flaw in her logic she went quiet for more than a minute despite me repeatedly asking if there was anybody there!

Apparently e2save turned on these extra internet services and gave them to me for free for the first three months. After that they made Orange charge me for it. The rather large flaw I saw in this argument was that Orange gave them the facility to do that to my account, and then proceeded to bill me for it, and not e2save. I would say about 30% e2save's fault for quite dishonest business practices, and 70% Orange's fault but you tell me what your opinion is on that one.

Apparently she was being very generous offering to stop these charges immediately and rebate one month. Apparently the fact that I never asked for these services, never used them but still paid for them is quite beside the point. I let her know that they had obviously lost a customer with this terrible service but I really must find the time to get some addresses for the industry watchdog as this is very poor behaviour even if they are somehow staying within the law.

It really makes me despair to see service dropping to levels this low. With attitudes like, "Well you didn't notice very quickly so it is OK for us to charge you for things you didn't ask for"! May be all the providers are behaving this way now but I certainly never had any of this with T-Mobile, I just fancied a change and always thought Orange was supposed to be quite good. Now I am stuck with them until the end of my contract but my bills have been ?15 a month or so higher with Orange than T-Mobile and my useage remains pretty much unchanged...

Orange UK "Customer Service"

I am afraid it is time for another rant! This time it is Orange UK. I switched to them from T-Mobile as I thought the grass might be greener on the other side. How wrong I really was on that one. Whenever I need to phone I get the standard recorded message "We are currently receiving a very high number of calls...please hold..." and I have been on hold for more than 60 minutes now! I find that absolutely disgraceful and the reason I am hold is to talk to them about services they are charging me for that I never asked for.

I really am beside myself in disbelief. Once my contract period is up I will be moving as soon as I possibly can. My bills have been higher with them, my phone occasionally tells me I have an inactive SIM and won't make or receive calls (they are apparently working on that issue) and their phone lines take forever to get through to people. I am giving up now as I really don't have the time to wait on hold for an hour or more to speak to someone. I will have to give them a try tomorrow or something.

I know I will be moving my mobile account somewhere else once my contract is over with them. Is this typical of Orange? I always got the impression they were a little pricier but were really good otherwise - I am guessing this impression may have been wrong now. Looks like the time they take to answer my call is going to exceed the capacity of the battery in my mobile phone! Rant over for now.

Car Crime - Someone Just Broke Into My Car...

Had a bit of a slow start to the day. Louise left for work at 9ish and I stayed in bed for a while. Got a few things done this morning before getting showered and ready for a late start in the office... Got out to the car to find some little vandals had just broken through the small window in the front of the drivers side door right outside our house in broad daylight :-(

Most unhappy about this I phoned the police on their non-emergency number - the crime had happened already so I couldn't see how it was still an emergency. Woman answered the phone, I told her I wanted to report a car crime, she asked me what area and put me through. I then spent more than ten minutes on hold! Once I finally get through to someone he just took all my details and gave me my crime number.

I was quite shocked he even bothered to send someone round to our house, but a few hours later a police officer came to dust for prints (far better than a few years ago when something similar happened). He quickly came to the conclusion there weren't any useable prints and left. My day was pretty much wasted by this point and then I got to figure out how to get it fixed.

It cost us nearly a hundred pounds to get the window fixed. The thieves took got my favourite sunglasses, although I think they cost less than £10 and some parking change (both in the glove box which was closed). I really don't know why this is allowed to go on in this day and age. The police just advise you not to have anything in your car, we already spend about £80 on a big steering lock and other bits of security equipment.

We are sick and tired of this area. I think this has made me decide it is about time we looked at moving to a nicer area. All the garbage about regeneration is a waste of time, the council/police/authorities have no clue how to make this area any better. This has also prompted me to add a new category to my blog for rants, I had thought about adding it before. I think too often I and others are silent about things like this. I doubt it will do much good but I think these issues should be discussed.

I am going to veg out in front of the TV and try to cheer up about living in an area ruled by yobs...