OK, we all make mistakes. Have you ever made a stupid mistake that cost you money and then asked the company for a refund because of your own mistake? Then, when they didn’t refund you, even though it was your own stupidly and not their fault, you bitched and complained about their lousy service? Heck, you would never do that that, right?
Perhaps you have not done that. But I sure had the plan and what I thought was an opportunity to do it. It was BC Ferries. Heck, they are a big company. They can take the hit even though it was my fault. But the rotten guys—they didn’t give me the opportunity.
I needed to book a reservation for a ferry ride from Tsawwassen to Duke Point (Vancouver to Nanaimo) for Wednesday, July 11. We will be coming back from Calgary by plane arriving at YVR about 6:00 p.m. on July 11. We are in Vancouver right now and are leaving our car in Vancouver while we take a quick trip to Calgary four days for a wedding. When we get back to YVR on the 11 we need to take the ferry back to Nanaimo where I have to be for a meeting on the 12. Hence the need for the ferry ride!
Back in April, I went online to book a reservation for the 10:45 p.m. ferry. I knew our flight landed at about 6:00 p.m., and we hoped to make the 8:00 p.m. ferry, but were not positive we could. So I booked the a reservation on the 10:45 p.m. ferry and we planned to line up (if we could get there in time) and try to get on the 8:00 p.m. ferry knowing that, if we couldn’t, we had a reservation for 10:00 p.m. So, I booked it online. That far in advance, the reservation fee is typically $10. When I booked it, they charged me $21. I figured that peak season was the reason for the $21, or they had raised the reservation fee. No big deal I needed the reservation. My mistake was that I forgot to put in the July 11 date and the system defaults to day of booking. The day I was booking was April 13. So the $21 fee was for “last minute reservation”—they charge a premium! Still I didn’t notice until I printed out the reservation and saw that I had just booked for the 10:45 p.m. ferry that day—April 13, not July 11 as I wanted!
I cursed to myself how the system was flawed. It failed to alert me I had the wrong date (as though it was to read my mind and know what day I wanted to travel). I cursed further because I could not find a way to backtrack and cancel it. I was annoyed, and BC Ferries was a robber. They stole my money. Furthermore, I still didn’t have the reservation I needed for July 11. After I calmed down, I sent an email explaining my mistake, asking if they could transfer the fee to apply for a July 11 reservation. I got the automated “We are busy, but we will get back to you within five days.” I heard nothing back within the five days. So of course, I complained even further to myself about the crappy service. It was all their fault—and now they can’t even respond to my email. But I came to believe I had lost my $21 and set up a reminder to book the reservation in early June. By this time, I also had realized the fault lay with me, but I wasn’t willing to tell anyone that!
Low and behold, on April 22, I received the following email:
Thank you for your email, and sorry for the delayed response.
Please be aware that I have cancelled and refunded your reservation made in error (April 13, 2018), and the $21.00 will be appearing on your credit card statement within the next business week.
Please also be aware that I have booked you in our new reservations system for the correct sailing from Tsawwassen to Duke Point on July 11 at 10:45pm for a standard vehicle and 1 driver. Please know we have waived the reservation fee of $10.00 as a one-time customer service gesture due to the confusion and the time you have waited to hear back from us. I have also sent an itinerary reflecting this to your email address on file. If this reservation is incorrect in any way, please contact us at 1-888-223-3779 and press “0” to get through to an agent.
Customer Sales & Service Representative
I was floored! They did not have to do that. The fault lay with me. But they did. That is what great customer service is all about. And yes, I did send Melanie a thank you note. BC Ferries and other companies don’t get thanked when they make such gestures.
What is the learning here? No matter what it takes, take care of your customers—even when they are wrong. Don’t point out your sponsor’s mistake. Just fix the problem and thank them for their business. Enough said.
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