A Farm-Out Fiasco And A Service Failure

Jim Luff
Posted on July 24, 2013

ROUGH RIDE: Last month we had a travel agent contact us regarding the transportation of a husband and wife on two different dates of service from the city of Fairfield in Northern California to the San Francisco International Airport. It seemed like such a simple job — a basic hotel to airport sedan run that is performed thousands of times each day in our industry. It’s the type of run only an imbecile could screw up.
 
I need to preface the story with the fact that the travel agent was not just any old travel agent. She was a consultant for Frosch Classic Cruise and Travel. They represent the Four Seasons Hotel and St. Regis Hotel properties. Pam Milton is a no-nonsense, “everything-must-be-perfect” kind of agent. She is the kind of agent that calls four to five times over a basic reservation to make absolutely sure everything is set up the way she wants it. By the way, she knows I am writing this blog and using her name. Our relationship extends back to the days when I used to have hair. 
 
So, I didn’t have an affiliate in Fairfield.  My choices were an affiliate in Granite Bay, 65 miles away from Fairfield, or Antioch, 40 miles away. Of course I chose the closest one to the pickup location.

The husband traveled on Tuesday without any incident. The wife traveled on Wednesday and it was anything but a normal ride. She asked her driver (I called him a DRIVER because no chauffeur would ever behave this way) if he could make a brief stop to get her a diet soda. His reply, “Yeah, but I’m gonna charge you $20.” As if this wasn’t horrible enough, he admonished her that drinking sodas would “turn her into a diabetic.” Are you kidding me????? 
 
As if this wasn’t horrifying enough, the driver barreled down the highway at 80 miles an hour WHILE TEXTING! Talk about a Six Flags amusement park ride…. this ride added a serious element of danger.
 
Obviously, the first chauffeur was a consummate professional who did his job perfectly, spoke only when spoken to, and delivered flawless service. This shows how much difference a chauffeur can make in representing your company when out in the vehicle.
 
Speaking of representing the company, I called the offending sub-contractor to discuss the matter. I first identified myself as an affiliate and then asked to speak to a manager or owner. The man answering the phone asked, “What’s up?” I asked if he was an owner or manager. He said, “Yeah.” I relayed the information about the bad ride to him. 

Much to my shock, he sat on the other end of the phone silent. Finally, I asked, “What are you going to do to fix this situation?” He asked, “What do you want me to do?” I told him to start with he could fire the driver and then he could refund my money so I could refund my client. He said he would have the owner call me after she spoke to the driver.
 
A lady called me back later to tell me that she had spoken to the driver and every allegation made against him was admitted. I asked her if she fired him. She told me that was not my concern. I asked about a refund and she explained, “All the expense of the wages, the fuel, the wear and tear on the car — I can’t do that,” and stated, “We did get her to the airport.” Unbelievable!  Obviously, I no longer have this affiliate.

— Jim Luff, LCT contributing editor

Related Topics: customer service, Jim Luff

Jim Luff Contributing Editor
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