Thursday, July 17, 2008

I'm Switching to Priceline

Me: Hello, Hotels.com? I’m calling because I just confirmed a reservation on your website for two nights. One of the nights was supposed to be $114 and the other night was supposed to be $123. When I got the confirmation email, it listed $123 each night. I need to make sure the first night is only $114.

Out-sourced Worker: I see you have a reservation for two nights for $123. Is there anything else I can help you with?

Me (controlling the urge to swear at him in Spanish): Yes. When I chose that particular hotel, the website said that the rates changed during my stay. I requested more information by clicking on the handy red message and was told, via your website, that the first night would be $114 and the second night would be $123. I need to confirm with you that that is the case.

O-s W: It says here that it is $123.

Me: Okay, that’s what the confirmation says. That’s not what your website says, nor is it what I agreed to when I hit the “Confirm Reservation” button.

(Here ensues a 12 minute debate about what the website actually said. He said he couldn’t find that page, even after I almost-patiently walked him through the whole process, while doing the same on my own computer at home. I read to him the popup explanation and said, “That’s a quote, right from your own website. That’s the price I agreed to and that’s the price I want.” O-s W puts me on hold. For quite a long time. When he comes back he says…)

O-s W: We put only the highest possible amount on the confirmation email, that way you are not surprised when you are charged that amount.

Me, asking the apparently impossible: Okay, I need you to send me a confirmation email with both prices so that I can show the page to the hotel when I check in.

O-s W: I will explain it to you again. We put only the highest possible amount on the confirmation email so that you are not surprised when you are asked to pay that amount.

I’m going to pause here to explain that I understand there’s only a $9 difference. And I understand that the fee charged by hotels.com is only $5. However, there’s a larger picture at work here. It’s the picture of a Soulless Corporate Entity Acting with Impunity which, at best, can’t get its act together and at worst, bilks people like me $14 at a time. I can’t change most of the injustices in the world, but by gum, I’m going to fight on this one.

Me, speaking loudly: I heard you the first time. I need a paper that has the correct amount on it that I can show to the hotel. They won’t charge me less than the amount I’ve already agreed to pay, so I need a paper that shows that the first night is $114.

O-s W #2: Mama, mama, mama (okay, so he called me by my real name), I will tell you again…

Me, poking my finger in the air, which would have terrified him had he seen it: I don’t need you to tell me again! I’m not an idiot. I’m telling you…

O-s W #2: Mama, mama, mama…

(This continues for a good 3 minutes, finally I out yell him.)

Me: I want my reservation cancelled and I want my $5 fee returned! Now!

(We argue about this for a long, long time. He keeps saying my name, in triplicate, with a “Rational Man Trying to Sooth the Hysterical Female” voice. I’m guessing this was a training thing for them, and they should really rethink that whole approach. Finally, he says, and I am not making this up…)

O-s W #2: We can cancel your reservation but we cannot refund the $5. It is completely out of our hands.

Me: Are you kidding me? There’s not a company in the entire freakin’ (almost didn’t use that word) world that can take money off of a credit card and not return it. Give me my money back. I agreed to a contract and you changed the contract after I agreed, which makes you big fat liars. I want my money back or I’ll sue you!

O-s W #2: Please hold.

I hold and contemplate the likelihood that I will, in fact, sue. Sure, the labor is cheap, but it’s the principle of the thing, man.

O-s W #2: Mama, mama, mama, we will cancel your reservation and refund your money.

Me: Hallelujah!

I know they probably won’t. I know it was a trick to get Cave-Woman off the phone before she sent death rays to attack their shoddy operation. I’m having my lawyer draw up the papers now.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mouths of Babes

I thought the man had heat stroke. There he sat, on the sidewalk of a major road on the hottest day of the year so far, holding 2 gas cans. He looked pasty white, and as I rushed by him on my way to take the 5 year old to her class, I thought I ought to stop. But, we were running late, as usual, and so NMP (not my problem). It took me 5 blocks to turn around, 3 minutes to drive back, and another illegal u-turn (justifiable, I thought, if a police officer should pull me over) to get back to the 70-something year old guy.
He looked up as a I rolled down the window.
“Sir, are you okay?” I shouted, not willing to actually step out of my car into the 98 degree heat.
He laughed. “Yah, I’m alright.” (Did I detect a Southie accent?) “My wife has the car and I’ve been waiting here for half an hour. She should be back soon.”
“Maybe she stopped for ice cream,” I responded, brilliantly deflecting any angry feelings he may have had toward his wife.
We chatted for another 15 seconds, I waved goodbye, and sped off. We'd stopped for nothing and now the child would be 10 minutes late for class. How was I going to explain this to the middle child who, understandably, resents anything that takes away from the few things that are “just hers”.
“Honey, we’re late for your class. But, we stopped to see if a man needed help. It’s so hot, you know, and he was just sitting there looking sick.”
And I should have known. I should have understood that my 5 year old sees more clearly than I do.
“What’s better,” she asks, “helping someone or gymnastics? Helping someone!”
Well, duh.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Louse

You’re so jealous of me. I just had the chance to call all of the parents of all of the kids in our church building to tell them that one of the kids has lice. This wasn’t my idea, just so you know. I would have preferred to discreetly call the two or three parents of the kids who sat close to this child during the meeting, but, heck, I'm directed by a higher power who felt that every parent has the right to know. I’m thinkin’ ignorance is bliss, and why make waves, but whatever. Here are some of the responses so that you can be prepared for this if it ever happens to you:
Most common response: “Thanks for letting me know. We’ll monitor our kid. Have fun with the rest of your calls.” I love this response. The phone call ended in 30 seconds, I felt warm and secure knowing that they wouldn’t make a big deal about it and that the lice infested child would not become an object of ridicule.
Most challenging phone call: “My child was sitting next to little girl X and little boy Y. Is he more at risk? Should I be more concerned?” My response: “Um, still not gonna tell you who has lice, so if you’re concerned, figure out what to do about it.”
Most annoying response: “I just told my teenage daughter and she said…” My response: “You told your teenage daughter? The one with the big fat mouth who is sure to blab it all over the entire world? You just told her? What, are you stupid?” Okay, I didn’t say that, but I thought it really loudly. The mother actually said, “Oh, I would never tell my younger child.” Oh, well in that case, go ahead and tell your chatty teenager because she certainly can be trusted to keep it to herself. ARGH!!!
As a precaution, I’m going to shave my kids’ heads. I mean, not to make a big deal about it or anything…