Your New Year’s travel resolution? Don’t be a jerk

Mmaxer/Shutterstock
Mmaxer/Shutterstock
Here’s a New Year’s resolution we can probably all agree on: Don’t be a jerk when you’re on the road.

There’s something about travel — whether you’re flying, driving or sailing — that brings out the jerk in all of us. Like the guy in seat 26B just in front of me right now on a flight from Honolulu to Los Angeles, who is probably a nice guy on the ground. But put him on a plane, and shortly after takeoff, he jams his seat into my knees without so much as an apology.

Jerk.
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New Year’s resolutions: 12 things the TSA shouldn’t do in 2012

I‘ve noticed that our friends at the TSA haven’t made any New Year’s resolutions yet, at least not publicly, so as I thought I’d help the federal agency charged with the challenging task of protecting our transportation systems.

You know, as a public service.
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The smarter consumer: How to fix a customer service problem now

The best way to fight bad service is right now, in real time.

Don’t wait until you get home. Businesses expect you to put it off, so by the time you’ve written a letter or figured out what to say by phone, you can bet the company has prepared an appropriate response. Or, in some instances, an inappropriate response.

Say something. Now.

Not always easy, I know. You have to take a deep breath and speak up and be prepared to stand your ground. But it’s by and large the fastest way to fix something.
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How to win the car rental claim game


Tim Carpenter thought he had done everything he could to avoid a frivolous damage claim on his rental minvan.

He took pictures of his vehicle before he picked it up and after he returned it. He noted every pre-existing scratch and dent in the paperwork.

But he thought wrong.

An Alamo representative at Orlando International Airport informed him that “none of that mattered” when he brought the minivan back and that his vehicle, which had a small scratch on the rear bumper, would be processed by the company’s claims department.
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My car rental rate doubled — should I split the difference with Hotwire?

When it comes to fixing travel problems, every happy ending isn’t necessarily a Hollywood ending. Consider the case of Samantha McCormick, a 23-year-old Hotwire customer whose car rental rate unexpectedly doubled.

McCormick turned to me to fix the problem, but now she’s at a crossroads and needs your help. I’ll get to the proposed resolution in a second. But first, a few words about compromises, and, of course, the details of her story.

As I mentioned at the start of this post, there are varying degrees of happy endings. A company will sometimes admit partial liability and offer to meet you halfway on compensation. These can be some of the hardest cases to wrap up, because no one likes a partial victory.

Often, travelers will walk away from a perfectly adequate settlement agreement on principle.

Is that what McCormick is about to do?
Read more “My car rental rate doubled — should I split the difference with Hotwire?”