Monday, February 4, 2013

The Business "Trip From Hell" Part I


I’m legendary for my business travel misadventures. Last week’s set a record for number of things that could have gone wrong in a three day trip – which turned into four days because of flight cancellations. I’m going to write about a several aspects of the trip to raise some questions about why American business does what it does in hopes of seeing things improve. 

Shipping my bag.

Because I knew it was likely that an ice storm would affect Chicago, where I was scheduled to change planes, I routed myself through Denver to avoid the storm on my way to State College, PA. 

And, because of the likelihood of airline problems, I shipped my bag with a very well known shipping company so it would arrive at the hotel the day before. I got to my hotel on schedule, my “routing around the storm” strategy worked great. Unfortunately, no bag.

I called the customer service number of the shipping company and reached El Salvador – their U.S. call center was closed on Sunday. I have no problem with calling El  Salvador but, among the three people I spoke with, none spoke English adequately. Here is what I was told Sunday evening (in order):
  • ·      They tried to deliver the bag but no one was home to accept delivery. The only problem with that was it was being delivered to a hotel which is open 24/7.
  • ·      Next, they said there was “weather” in State College on Friday. True enough. But, the bag wasn’t shipping from Wichita until Friday evening with the extra fees paid for overnight, Saturday delivery. I intentionally did not ship it earlier because I did not want it caught up in the weather mess.
  • ·      Then, they told me there was bad weather in State College on Saturday. Untrue.
With that, I gave up for the evening and headed for Wal-Mart to purchase underwear and toiletries.

  • ·      When we called the next day, the recording told us the bag had “made it to the station that delivers to Zip Code 16801” (State College) but they could not tell us the time of delivery. I needed to know because my batteries were running out on my iPhone and MacBook Air.
  • ·      After several calls we learned the bag was not in State College after all but was lost. The shipping company didn’t know where it was. After asking to speak with a supervisor, she told me a “tracer” should have been put on the bag with the very first call to customer service the night before and that I would hear back within two hours.
SSo, I headed over to Best Buy to purchase rechargers. They were very helpful.

  • ·      My phone rang about two hours later. They photograph their lost shipments and asked me to describe what was on top in my bag. When I answered “tan slacks” we had a winner. Somehow, all of the shipping company’s tags – which had been affixed by the shipping company when the bag was shipped at their store Friday evening – had come off. By this time, I told them to ship the suitcase back to Wichita because I expected to be home the next evening. I didn't make it. 
Here is my question: Why does a major national shipping company wish to sully its brand by telling its customers untruths?  Why not simply explain the situation with the first call? Do they think I will not notice that my suitcase was never delivered? The shipping company is hardly the first to do this – airlines arelegendary for telling untruths. I don’t understand why America’s business culture has deteriorated to where misleading customers has seemingly become the normal.

More about the “trip from hell” tomorrow. 

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