Customer Service Dilemma?

What would you do? You are a travel company that is taking a large group to the Far East. One night the leader of the group suggests that people might want to do something different for dinner than the travel company arranged. Only a subset of the group was invited to this new place, and it was a large subset. A few others, including myself, were left on their own.

Two things to keep in mind: 1) Food is expensive in Japan 2) the travelers had already paid for the meal arranged by the travel company ahead of time

If a traveler then asked for their meal, which they bought on their own, to be reimbursed, what would you do?

Here is what the travel company, Caldwell Travel in Nashville, had to say:

Mrs. Reynolds,
I told you that he (his father who owns the company and at the time said he would take care of it when we returned, and I thought that meant he would reimburse me–as I asked that question immediately when I heard that dinner was off) would handle the matter upon returning to the States. It is ultimately his decision, and I agree with his decision He has decided to deny your request for reimbursement, and I can completely understand that. (The trip leader) made the decision to cancel dinner knowing full well that it had been paid for in the package cost. (The other leader) was also aware of this. They also commandeered the bus to go that concert. No one showed any interest in going to the dinner, and frankly it would have been an insult to the restaurant. They cleared out space to accommodate all 53 of us, and I am sure they were upset we didn’t come. I understand that you feel like you got screwed, but the group takes precedent. Mr. X didn’t go to a lot of the activities/dinners because he wasn’t feeling well. He isn’t asking for money back because he knows it isn’t our responsibility. I was completely taken back at the suggestion that we would be responsible for your dinner. The responsibility does not fall clearly in our lap at all.

Sincerely, Fletcher

Well there you have it folks. Customer service at it’s finest. The trip leaders did go to a dinner which was paid for. They had guest tickets at another venue and I can’t fault them for that. Mr. X was ill and elected not to eat dinner with the group–his choice. On the other hand, I had to buy my own dinner or not eat. So I paid twice.

In my business I believe that a small value goes a long way to keeping a customer for a life time. Apparently Mr. Caldwell doesn’t share that value. I suggested to Mr. Caldwell that I like to write about customer service at it’s finest and worst (guess which I think this is), and he said, “Margaret: As long as you tell the truth we are fine with that. If you don’t it is libel.” So therefore, I present you the truth, which apparently Mr. Caldwell is fine with (and to ensure my honesty I re-produced their response in full directly from their email).

My question to you: What would you do if you were Mr. Caldwell? What would you do if you were me? Would love to hear your feedback!

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