Got a travel problem? Ask and you shall receive

Robert/Shutterstock
Robert/Shutterstock
After Linda Grimes accidentally cracked the windshield on her uninsured Enterprise rental car, she imagined a worst-case scenario unfolding, including months of back-and-forth between her and the company’s legendary claims department.

She says that the car was damaged under innocent circumstances. As she tried to adjust the seat and the rear view mirror, “I heard a crack,” recalls Grimes, an Air Force retiree who lives in Little Elm, Tex. “There was an arch-shaped crack around the rear-view mirror. I was stunned.”

Sure enough, even after a representative assured her that the damage was “no problem,” she received a repair bill from the car rental company that covered damage and then some, including $311 for a new windshield and a $50 administrative fee.

Like many travelers who think that they’re out of options, Grimes turned to me for help. My first question to her was obvious: Have you asked Enterprise to review your bill? She hadn’t.

In the heat of a customer-service dispute, it’s easy to forget the first rule of a resolution, which is simply to ask the company for help. Whether you’re complaining about a noisy hotel room or a slow refund, it’s human nature to either complain to someone who can’t fix the problem or to keep quiet and hope that the trouble resolves itself.

Grimes contacted the car rental company and reached a representative of its damage recovery unit. “To my surprise, they listened and determined that I was not at fault and are closing the case out,” she says. “They were very polite and said I might receive another letter asking for payment for damages, but to ignore it. I just had to get the right person to listen to my experience with the car.”

An Enterprise representative said drivers should contact the company immediately when they have any concerns about their bill. “Our objective is to do everything we can to quickly investigate and resolve claims,” spokeswoman Laura Bryant said. “The process obviously is not perfect, but it is very detailed and comprehensive, and we thoroughly review all documentation provided by customers. Every precaution is taken to ensure that customers are not inadvertently charged for damage that did not occur during their specific rental period.”

Reliable statistics on the number of travelers who fail to request a resolution are difficult to come by, but a recent Aberdeen Group survey found that on average, companies resolved a customer problem on the first call 65 percent of the time. This suggests that asking for help — as opposed to just venting — is the most effective first step toward a resolution.

It’s often easier said than done, though. Whom to ask? That’s the question Elaine Evosevic-Lozada had when she landed in Orlando recently with her family. Her brother-in-law had reserved a minivan through Hertz.

“When we went to pick it up, they didn’t have any more minivans,” she remembers. That resulted in something of a standoff, with an agent quizzing the family about how many passengers they needed to accommodate, and the family repeating its request for the minivan they’d ordered.

The solution? The Hertz agent pulled a few strings and upgraded the family to a luxury car that could accommodate eight passengers. “They gave it to us for the same price as the minivan,” says Evosevic-Lozada, who works for a nonprofit organization in Pittsburgh.

One thing is certain: Walking away disappointed wouldn’t have helped.

Just asking isn’t always enough. It’s how you make your request, as Teresa Wallis, who also recently vacationed in Orlando, recently discovered.

Her family’s flight from Branson, Mo., to Orlando was canceled, and her family had to wait a day and pay for new airline tickets to get to Disney World. She asked Disney whether she could start her vacation a day later. “They were super accommodating and updated the reservation and sent me a new confirmation e-mail,” she says of Disney.

But when she arrived at the Pop Century resort and tried to check in, a Disney cast member delivered some bad news: They had no reservation.

Worse, the resort was sold out. Wallis asked whether there was a room available at a different hotel.

“At this point, I was almost crying after the stress from the day before and having to go back home with our bags packed, going back to the airport the next day, paying a much higher price for the flight, and then getting there to have no room,” Wallis says.

Disney granted her second wish, too. After about 20 minutes of deliberation, it offered the family accommodations at the Grand Floridian, the resort’s upscale property.

Remembering to say something, but also framing your request in a polite way and being persistent, can dramatically reduce the number of mishaps on your next trip. And that applies to more than a rental car or a hotel problem. Airlines, cruise lines and vacation rental managers also usually respond favorably when a customer comes calling. Just don’t forget to ask.

Do travelers give companies enough of an opportunity to address their problems?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...
Share this story
Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Facebook

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Cavalry Travel Insurance

Cavalry takes the worry of out travel by providing 24/7 access to medical and security professionals combined with the best medical evacuation and security extraction services. Cavalry gets you home safely when you need it most. Learn more at Cavalrytravelinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at Sodexoinsights.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at Travelexinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Enterprise Holdings

A family-owned, world-class portfolio of brands. A global network that spans across more than 85 countries. Some 97,000 dedicated team members sharing common values. And more than 1.9 million vehicles taking our customers wherever they need to go.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.