I’ve been complaining
about customer service a lot lately. Regular readers of
my column will no doubt attest to my dissatisfaction with
the state of customer service today.
I recently had an interesting experience that’s left
me with a bit of a customer service conundrum, which I’ll
Last month I went on a seven-day Alaskan cruise with my
wife, son, sister and mother. We sailed on Royal Caribbean
International’s Vision of the Seas.
The ship was beautiful. It was spotlessly clean and much
more open than I anticipated. Our cabin was tastefully appointed
with sufficient storage for all of our belongings.
The food was excellent and, as I had been warned, was
available around the clock. The service in the dining room
and café was excellent. Our head waiter, waiter,
assistant waiter and all of the other food-service personnel
were friendly, knowledgeable and catered to our every whim.
The entertainment was top-notch. We enjoyed the evening
shows, the karaoke (no, I didn’t sing), the lectures,
the exhibits and even the bingo (no, I didn’t win).
The itinerary was also terrific. We marveled at the Hubbard
glacier, took a train ride through the mountains in Skagway,
flew over the spectacular Mendenhall glacier near Juneau
and visited the totem pole museum in Ketchikan.
Prior to booking our cruise, our travel agent informed
us that we would have to pay $629 plus taxes and other fees
for our 10-month-old son to accompany us. She told us that
the cruise line was required by the U.S. Coast Guard to
“have a bunk for every passenger on the ship.”
This meant we’d need a triple cabin.
Imagine our surprise when we opened our cabin door and
saw that our cabin had one double bed in it. A few minutes
after we arrived, our cabin attendant delivered a crib—our
“third bunk.” Unfortunately, when he tried to
set up the crib, he quickly discovered that it didn’t
fit in our cabin. Even if it had fit, it would have been
impossible to open the bathroom door or reach the door to
the cabin. In addition, the crib was old and unstable. He
apologized and removed the crib.
My wife called the purser’s office and explained
our situation. We had paid for a triple cabin and we expected
to be given one. “No problem, we’ll send up
a different crib,” she was told.
A few minutes later, a different cabin attendant arrived
with an identical crib. Of course, it didn’t fit either.
He, too, apologized and disappeared.
Again we called the purser’s office. This time we
were told that our cabin was actually a quadruple cabin
because, unbeknown to us, there were two bunk beds that
could be pulled down from the ceiling. Why didn’t
we just put our son on one of those? I replied that I didn’t
think it was a good idea to put a 10-month-old baby on a
bed that was five feet off the ground. She told me that
there was nothing that she could do and that I would have
to call customer service after the cruise to request a refund.
No apology was offered.
So my wife and son and I spent seven nights in a double
bed—not the end of the world, but frustrating when
you paid extra for the mysterious “third bunk.”
Here’s the conundrum: We had a wonderful vacation
with one lousy service experience. Did this one failure
to meet our “requirements” result in a poor-quality
vacation? Let me know what you think. E-mail your comments