Friday, July 03, 2009

I have a complaint

A few years ago I was not happy with Crystal Holidays, so I wrote to them.

Dear Sir

May I apologise for not sending you a handwritten letter? Unfortunately I have a fractured wrist and am dictating this to my wife.

I have been a great supporter of Crystal Holidays since I took my family skiing in the USA in 1997. Determined to repeat this pleasant holiday, we recently picked up your latest ski brochure. After hours poring over it and arranging for a second mortgage, we decided to spend (spend being a key word here) 11 days at Mont Tremblant in Canada.

Fortunately you have telephone booking lines open over the weekend so my wife, Colleen, phoned this morning about 10.30. However, after the phone had rung for a considerable time without it being answered, we had to go to church.

On our return, I decided to read the Sunday Times. I settled down into an armchair, sitting sideways with one armrest supporting my back and my legs slung comfortably over the other. Colleen said she didn't want to spend ages holding on to the phone so I offered to phone your booking line instead.

The phone rang and rang. After a while it was answered by one of these machines. It assured me that calls were being answered in strict rotation, a phrase I've never quite understood. Does it mean your customers go around in circles? Perhaps they are dizzy blondes? However, I was assured I was the first caller in the queue.

So I waited with my neck cricked around the phone. I quite enjoyed the Tchaikovsky muzak your system plays. And many other musical numbers. I pretty nearly worked my way through the paper, including the main News, Sport, three magazines, Business, Travel and Money sections which is really not bad considering that in order to keep a hold on the phone I was reading everything sideways. I suppose the people ahead of me must have been booking very complicated holidays for me to wait so long but memories of happy days in 1997 kept me waiting.

Who knows? Perhaps I was on the very verge of being answered by a human being when, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted something moving. It was Gary, my son's pet guinea-pig. The funny angle of my neck had, I expect, precariously altered my centre of gravity. The movement of my eyes did the rest and before I knew what was happening, I found myself toppling out of the seat. Gary was in danger of being squashed and I frantically contorted my body to avoid him, catching my right arm on the tea table and smashing it as I fell.

Unfortunately, at this point I dropped the phone, cutting off the call. I didn't really notice however since there was clearly something painfully wrong with my wrist, which the emergency room staff told me later was a complicated fracture.

A friend said I should sue Crystal, but I've never thought suing anyone is a lot of fun, especially as I so much enjoyed holidaying with your company last time. However, it would be nice if you paid my phone bill when it arrives. And get more people answering your phones. You clearly need them.

Yours sincerely


PS I am sure you will be relieved to know that Gary the guinea-pig is physically fit, having better reactions than I do. Mentally, I can give no reassurance, as he did leave a small smelly stain on the lounge carpet.

I did not hold out much hope of hearing back. However, eight days letter a parcel arrived. It contained the following letter from Andy Perrin, the Managing Director.

Dear Mr Haffey

Thank you for your letter of 20th September regarding your unfortunate fall whilst endeavouring to reach us by phone and please accept my apologies for the delay in replying to you, following a period of absence from the office.

It is an unfortunate fact of life in the ski business that occasionally injuries do occur in the pursuit of sport. I had always thought that the gentleman who sprained his ankle tripping down the aircraft steps on arrival at Salzburg airport in 1983 was the most unfortunate customer I have ever met.

Until now that is.

To sustain a ski-holiday-related injury before so much as placing a booking is surely a record which will never be equalled. Please accept the enclosed in recognition of this truly remarkable feat. (But please remain seated, with both feet firmly on the ground while drinking it!)

With best wishes from all of us here for a full and speedy recovery (please also pass on to Gary) and my own thanks for bringing this matter to my attention.

The serious points of your letter have not been overlooked. I have investigated the telephone waiting time on the Sunday in question and can confirm that we had sufficient staff on duty to handle normal Sunday calls. Unfortunately a combination of an Air Canada strike and the impending hurricane in the Caribbean sent call volumes soaring - hence the delay. We are reviewing emergency staff back-up procedures as a result, and I have arranged for someone to call you to assist with your ski booking, should you still wish to pursue this. Please let me know the call cost when you have it.

Yours sincerely

Andy Perrin

And enclosed with the letter was a lovely bottle of wine. And his PA did call me to help book the holiday. What a fine businessman Mr Perrin is!


Cathryn said...

I'm speechless. (After my laughter subsided.)

arcadian said...

This is an increadible story and you are great at telling it. I don't know what to say.
I wonder if i can use this text in my English class?

Sean Haffey said...

Hello Arcadian

Apologies - due to family and work pressures I've neglected my blog.

Of course you may use this if you wish.