Polaris Traveler

On Saturday I called Polaris Traveler and spoke with someone regarding my difficulty in booking my flight from LHR to ACC. I called back at 1135 on Monday May 24th and spoke with a woman..(the name was unable to be understood, sounded like Elmira). I told them I was unable to book my ticket and was wondering if they were able to – she said she could not do it without the person physically present. I understood that – I simply wanted to know if it was possible to purchase a ticket because of the difficulties I’d been having and due to the fact I was once advised I couldn’t book the ticket through a travel agent because it didn’t originate in the US (having already purchased my Columbus to Heathrow ticket.) She proceeded to give me the same response. I then told her I understood she couldn’t book my ticket without me being present, nor did I expect her to. She said they just needed me to be present with a credit card.

I then asked, “What credit cards do you take?” She replied: all of them. I then went on to say OK, well, I’ll bring my *card* with me – here is when the breakdown occurred – then the agent said, well – whatever British Airways accepts – I explained they take Visa and Mastercard and explained my problems in the past. She AGAIN deferred back to her default response that she couldn’t do anything without the owner of the card present. Now, I can’t expect her to fully understand my situation – however, a key to quality customer service is being attentive, willing, patient, and kind to your consumer – at this point she was unwilling to listen, I said “I’m sorry, you’ve just lost my business” then she hung up on me. Fortunately, for me – there was another person in the room that I was in who witnessed the whole thing. I was reassured that I wasn’t rude – and decided to call back and speak with a different person.

When I called back, the same person answered. I immediately asked to speak with someone different – she refused and stated she was just speaking with the owner, Michelle, and continued on saying that she was the only person who could book the ticket. Again, I asked – “can I speak with her?” She proceeded talking – then asked if I wanted to still speak with her. I answered yes – when Michelle got on the phone I recapped the situation –  she told me I had spoken with her previously and I was refused business because it was just too difficult of a ticket. The claim on the website is that this organization is equipped for anything – it exudes customer service and the ability to cater to anyone. I, unfortunately, was drawn in by this and sorely disappointed. “We have a staff of highly seasoned travel professionals with an average of over 15 years experience in this industry per person. We have been there, and we know the answers to your questions.” If they’d truly been there, there would have been more of an effort made to truly understand and assist me with my situation.

With that mess under my belt – I just want to outwardly say – I FULLY understand people have bad days. Trust me, I know – I have bad days too – I only post this because it is part of my journey…and to warn – if you have another choice, don’t go there – Polaris Travel in Lewis Center.  And – so you can live this adventure with me!  I do feel better, though..and the BBB has been informed.

…..and, if you work in customer service – whether it be with your direct consumer or your peers…please – be kind to your webfooted friends…and humans too – we all just want to be loved and understood 😉

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6/12/2010 I’ve been thinking about this post since I posted it and whether or not I’d be ashamed if people judged me for it – so I wanted to clarify – when making international reservations – be careful who you go through, etc. and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this particular company from MY experience.  According to their website, they have thousands of pleased customers, I’m just a lemon 😉

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Tickets…(part3)

Ay yi yie. Well…if you know how to do a subtitle..I’d love to have in big letters “A is for Amanda….” then little letters…”and Africa”

So, we’re at the stage of my trip where I need to buy my ticket.  I’d been spending hours on the internet, so much that my husband was a little put out and jealous of the computer – whoopsie! Well, so I’d found the cheapest dates, plotted out my entire trip.  I call US Airways…”can you help me do a flight through British Airways?” Oh yes, they say – not a problem.  Well – after a confusing start to the phone call – should have been my red flag…we finally get my Columbus to London booked…she’s transferring me to the BA line…wait, I thought she was doing that…ok, whatever.  The wait time..35 minutes! Shoot, I can do it online.

WRONG! Did you know, aside from the little 3 digit code on the back of your MasterCard – there’s another secure code that some issuers use to prevent fraud? Me neither – now I do! Well, guess what!? Chase is just merely “pursuing” an agreement or something with MC – read the back of your card, it’s there. What’s this mean? They’re not part of the ever loving fraud preventing banks that use the Secure Code thing. SO – next day, I call BA…”We’re sorry, we can’t book your travel over the phone.  That ticket is a credit sensitive ticket. You’ll either need to go to a BA office or use a travel agent.”  Ok…I’m a member of AAA…I’ll go there tomorrow.

Few days pass…make it to AAA.  I wait..and wait – my name is called, I say “I need to book my ticket to Accra, Ghana please.” …”Ok, where are you departing” …uh oh..”London – Heathrow”…okay..lady says “Oh, we can’t do that ticket because it doesn’t originate in the United States…had we booked it from the beginning we could have because it would have started here – but with the new regulations, sorry – we can’t do it.”  Nice. Uh…now what?  I call US Airways the next day….she walks me through – fixes errors the first person made in my contact information..”I’m sorry, we can’t do British Airways…you’d have to go to an office…there’s one in Chicago, Phoenix….” I tune out for a moment..My Mommy lives in Phoenix!

So, my Grandma’s in AZ at this point…Mommy didn’t make it to the airport for me yet…she went to Chicago this week..guess what?  The BA office in Phoenix is open 1430 – 1830. Nice hours, huh!? So, hopefully she’s able to secure something by Friday on my behalf…then comes the application for the visa!

Meanwhile – I’m investigating the shots I need..who knew there were so many words in our language for that: shots, vaccines, inoculations, immunizations…My research tells me…Polio, Meningitis, Yellow Fever (A Ghana required one), Typhoid, Hepatitis B..or A..(I have one of them), Rabies was recommended but is $300 a pop, and I need Malaria pills.  When I needed my MMR booster I went to a health clinic out in AZ..it was like 10 bucks…I was figuring the same…um..nope. $590 without rabies (I was told I didn’t need it unless I was going to be playing with stray dogs more than 3 hours away from a hospital….considering I have an anxiety disorder..not really..but dogs make me nervous – not a worry!) So, I printed out a sheet of places that do vaccines in Columbus and have settled on LifeCare Alliance….that price doesn’t include the Malaria pills either, though…and when I called, they said I’d need to see a doc for a prescription…grr…i should have gone – planned to go cuz I haven’t gone yet – to a place with a doc on site..I guess I could, but the cost is substantially higher…

I must confess, at this point – what I thought was going to be an out of pocket..maybe 2K trip is surely adding up..I know it’ll be worth it..Every year I save my birthday money and Christmas money until I find/think of something I really REALLY want…fortunately, I hadn’t wanted anything for a while – so I was able to save that and all of the money I earn on the side – and I’m using that.  Aside from the ticket hiccup, everything’s been pretty smooth sailing.

In fact, I’d emailed the principal at Ohio School for the Deaf (OSD) to ask them if they’d like to make cards, write letters – whatever their little hearts desired – and I could take that to Ghana…well, after a week or so – I was contacted by Jean Parmir – she’d told me OSD did a fundraiser collecting school supplies after Jessica came to the school and did a presentation about HER month long trip that she recently took.  They were so inspired, they wanted to help the Deaf school in Accra – well, I may not make it to that one, but it’s still going to Ghana..oh, what’s still going there? I forgot that part…So, I was put in touch with someone named Melissa over at OSD – I picked up a box of school supplies yesterday – erasers, pencils, all sorts of stuff.  They still have 11 more paper boxes FULL of supplies that they can’t afford to ship over there at $800 per box. That’s a hefty price tag for anyone, not to mention a school that just had to make tons of cutbacks due to the recent money troubles of our nation.

Well, I’d not thought of it until I was visiting my friend to see her BEAUTIFUL new baby girl 😉 Her husband pointed out….I may want to check in to if I’ll have to pay something for bringing all of that stuff in….any thoughts out there?

I think we’re pretty caught up. I plan on making a photo album to take with me…and I’ll do all of that after schools out for the summer..June 9th is so far, yet so close! It can’t creep up on me too much because I still have some stuff to take care of that requires time…like that VISA..;-)

So..this is where I’m at in my journey…mosquito net…school supplies – the only somewhat definite things I’m taking 😉  Nighty night!