How to get your policy to cover you — special circumstances and all

“I’m at a loss,” Bill Dunn wrote to me recently. “I’m looking for advice on how to appeal a decision against my travel insurance claim.”

The problem: Dunn had bought travel insurance for a recent trip to see his nephew get married. Six weeks before his departure, he lost his job. Read more “How to get your policy to cover you — special circumstances and all”

Should I shame, sue – or take it straight to the top?

Kuzma/Shutterstock
Kuzma/Shutterstock
Ever want to see how customers screw up? Then spend a few hours looking over the shoulder of a consumer advocate.

Watch the emails come in — and learn.

“Need help getting a refund on a non-refundable airline ticket,” the subject line reads on a message I received a few minutes ago.

I get a lot of travel complaints.

“Yesterday, I went to ER due to heart palpitation and chest pain,” the passenger explained. He phoned his airline to ask for a refund due to his medical condition — an understandable request, coming from someone who’s an infrequent flier.
Read more “Should I shame, sue – or take it straight to the top?”

The art of appeal: 5 tips that will turn a “no” into a “yes”

Qconcept/Shutterstock
Qconcept/Shutterstock
Teresa Ferris is mad.

She recently paid her airline a $100 “unaccompanied minor” fee when her son flew alone from Oakland to Los Angeles. It didn’t buy her much, she says.

“After he landed, there was no record on the computer of him flying as an unaccompanied minor,” Ferris remembers. “I couldn’t get the paperwork needed to pass security to meet him at the gate in time.”

Her son walked off the plane on his own and found his way to the baggage claim area alone. Ferris complained, and the airline refunded her $100 fee and offered her a $100 voucher toward a future flight.

“I’m disappointed, because I would have to spend money to get any additional compensation,” she says. “Am I stuck with it?”
Read more “The art of appeal: 5 tips that will turn a “no” into a “yes””

How to take your complaint to the next level

So no one in the customer-service department is listening to you. Now what?

If you said, “Let’s appeal to a higher authority” — you’re right.

The appeal is a time-honored, and often successful, way to get the service to which you’re entitled. Managers often have the time to consider requests that may have fallen through the cracks.

I’ve been handling customer complaints for years, and there’s a right way to appeal, and a wrong way.
Read more “How to take your complaint to the next level”

No refund for mom’s Priceline package and no appeal

Question: My mother-in-law had a very bad encounter with Priceline, and needs your help. She booked a package deal to San Diego that included round-trip airfare, rental car and a hotel stay. She found out literally right after she booked it that the hotel was in a bad part of town.

We called Priceline and went through several people to see if we could have the entire trip credited back and then we explained we planned on re-booking a more expensive package. Her sister had died recently, and after much arguing, a Priceline representative agreed to credit everything even though their policy was to only credit hotel and rental, as long as a death certificate was sent.

Priceline eventually credited back all but the airline tickets. The company refuses to honor a manager’s word. Is there anything we can do? — Paul Cantrell, Albuquerque, NM

Answer: If a Priceline representative promised your mother-in-law a full refund for her vacation, she should have received one.

But did the representative speak out of turn? Priceline’s vacation packages are highly restrictive. Read the terms and conditions on the site for yourself. Each component — air, car rental and hotel — has its own refund rules, so unless the manager researched each one while you were on the phone, he wouldn’t have been able to offer a blanket refund.
Read more “No refund for mom’s Priceline package and no appeal”