How to Complain and Get Results
When you travel you have to do it with an open mind. Even though you may have a set itinerary, plans can change at any time for numerous reasons. Cruise itineraries often change due to weather conditions. Some things, while they may be a disappointment, you can’t fault the cruise line or tour company, especially when customer safety is the issue. For example, while on a cruise one of the scheduled ports was skipped due to the rough seas in that area. Of coarse this was the port we were looking forward to the most but it wasn’t the cruise line’s fault, it was mother natures. Cruise lines don’t like to skip ports but if it would put passengers in harms way, they have no choice. I would much rather have to skip a port then see someone get hurt.
However, there are something’s in which the travel provider is at fault and should offer some sort of compensation to the traveler. For example, while on a 11 day Hawaiian cruise on the second night at about 2am I awoke to the sound of running water. At first I thought maybe my son hadn’t turned the bathroom faucet off all the way, so I got up to turn it off when I stepped onto the carpet it was soggy. I turned the light on and saw water running out from underneath the bathroom door. When I opened the door there was suds and bubbles 3 feet high. Water and suds were coming up from the shower drain. Maintenance got the water stopped and put a bunch of towels down on the carpet. The next morning while we were in port and the crew cleaned up the carpet and put a heater in the cabin to dry the carpet.
Two nights later, again around 2am, it happened again only this time the next morning was a sea day so we were told they couldn’t use the heater and there were no other available cabins to move us into. So we had to walk around on soggy and musky smelling carpet for 3 days. And if that wasn’t bad enough at the end of the cruise my family, along with many other passengers, got food poisoning. I got severely sick and ended up in the emergency room. So I decided to write a complaint.
There is a right way and a wrong way to complain. Here are a few tips:
- Your complaint should be in writing.
- Make sure you put the date you write it on the letter.
- Keep a copy for yourself.
- Provide as much detailed information as possible, including your travel dates, all the passengers names, your reservation number, and details about what went wrong.
- Do not use cuss words.
- Do not appear to be angry and aggressive. While the issue may be a big deal to you, don’t over
react. You are more likely to get somewhere if you are polite and professional.
- Be specific about what you want, some sort of compensation. You can request specific compensation but I would only do so if the issue was severe. Often times its best to request compensation but leave it up to them to make an offer.
- Be specific about what you will do if they do not offer you expectable compensation. Remember, do be greedy or unreasonable about what you want. If you are reasonable, you are more likely to get what you want.
- Provide copies of any supporting documentation and pictures. If possible take pictures or video of the issue, a dirty room, something broken, etc…
- Include any frequent flyer or loyalty program numbers.
- Address your letter to the customer relations department.
In my situation with my Hawaiian cruise, in my letter I explained in detail what had happened, provided pictures of the subs as well as copies of the paperwork from the hospital along with a copy of the receipt for my co-pay. I also let them know besides the issues we did enjoy our cruise. I wanted them to know I wasn’t excepting a full refund, which wasn’t reasonable because we did, for the most part, have a great time, but I did feel some sort of compensation was called for.
I received a phone call from the cruise line, the woman basically let me know she wasn’t going to do anything for me. I remained calm and thanked her for her time. Then I wrote a second letter. This letter was basically a copy of the first letter except I added information about the phone call and added what I intended to do if they didn’t offer some sort of compensation.
Again you need to be polite, professional and non-aggressive. I kindly stated that I was going to write letters to all the large cruise magazines telling them my story. I also let them know I was a member of Cruise critic’s, a very large online cruise community and I would be posting a review about my cruise and my experience with customer relations. I also intended to write a letter of complaint to possible organizations that have anything to do with the cruise industry, I included a list of organizations and companies. I closed the letter with a 30 day deadline to be compensated before I started writing letter and reviews. I never used aggressive, angry or fowl language. I simply stated the facts and tried to come across as an educated, professional person.
Do not make crazy, outrageous, non-realistic threats. If your threats are too crazy they will know you have no ground to stand on.
Two weeks later I received a letter stating I had been given $2500,00 in cruise credit which was enough to completely cover a Caribbean cruise for my family of 3. I was very happy with my results.
- Tour operator / Travel Agent Problems:
US Department of Travel Agents – 703-739-2782 nor www.asta.org
US Tour Operators Association – 212-599-6599 or www.ustoa.com
Better Business Burial – in city travel provider is located
· Air Travel Complaints:
US Department of Transportation – http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/problems,htm
- Contact your States consumer office: Listing of State Consumer Protection Offices
- Travel Advisories
The Department of State – 202-647-5225 or www.travel.state.gov
- If your issue relates to HAWAIIand the Pride Of Aloha, Pride Of America or Pride Of Hawaiialso contact:
Hawaii Tourism Authority
Hawaii Office of the Governor
Hawaii Dept. of Commerce & Consumer Affairs
Cruise Critic News – e-mail:Carolyn Spencer Brown
Porthole Magazine – e-mail: Bill Panoff
Cruise Travel Magazine – e-mail: Editor
Condé Nast Traveler – Ombudsman, 4 Times Square, New York, New York 10036 – Letters Only
Travel + Leisure Magazine – e-mail: Editor.
USAToday Travel Troublshooter – e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert McGarvey, “The Ombudsman” Porthole Magazine– e-mail: email@example.com
CruiseDiva.com – e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tell Other Travelers VIA Message Boards:
CruiseMates.com Readers Reveiws
Travel Message Board
- Tell Consumer Sites:
Better Business Bureau / BBBOnLine– Locate your local office and submit your complaint.
The Squeaky Wheel – Interesting Service with a $5 Submission Fee
- Federal Maritime CommissionInformal Inquiries and Complaints
- Federal Trade Commission Complaint Database– The information contained in your complaint may be entered into Consumer Sentinel, a consumer complaint database maintained by the U. S. Federal Trade Commission. This database is shared with and made available to law enforcement agencies World Wide. If you purchased your ticket ONLINE Go Here – OFFLINE Go Here
· Sanitary Conditions: Reports of unsanitary conditions on a cruise ship can be made to: U.S. Public Health Service, Chief, Vessel Sanitation Program, National Center for Environmental Health, 1850 Eller Dr., Suite 101, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, 33316. Telephone: 954-356-6650.