Good Help Is Hard To Find

I enjoy meeting new people in casual environments. I don’t, however, enjoy meeting new people in a business setting when I am the customer. This is an area that I truly loath.

The rapport I have with the majority of my contacts is worth more than gold to me. I have written about the benefits of knowing my mechanic and jeweller before, and the same goes for knowing my barber, financial planner, and, until three years ago, my travel agent.

Three years ago my travel agent was transferred to a foreign branch. Since then I have struggled to find someone I can trust with my travel plans. The agent that was assigned my file promptly drew my wrath as she failed to book my requested tickets for 6 people. Her company lost out on about $8000 of business, and we were forced to pay a higher price at another company, as the early booking prices were no longer available.  

While my old travel agent understood my preferences and requirements for travelling, and always knocked off a few hundred bucks through “preferred customer” discounts, I can’t help but feel that I am merely dealing with commission based sales people now.

I met one the other day when I was trying to find out prices for July. I sat down prepared to give all information and then set her loose on the computer, but she starting tapping away as soon as I opened my mouth. “Well, at least I’ll hear several options,” I thought. Within one minute she piped up that she can book me on a flight, and the price is just shy of $2000.

That’s a ridiculously high price for such an advance ticket, and sure enough, it was Air Canada. I asked her to give me a quote for Korean Air flying through Inchon, which was apparently a very difficult question, as it took her 20 minute to search through the database, talk with her supervisor, and make a phone call.

Finally she gave me the quote I wanted to hear (about $1200), but said I couldn’t book the flight because it was too early. Hilarious.

With that kind of service, I’ll once again be searching for a new agent.

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3 responses to “Good Help Is Hard To Find

  1. I guess it is like this in many industries… but that is also what makes it profitable for some guys to earn a profit since some are willing to put more effort in than others to please the customer!

    I have heard that if you are willing to look for tickets on the day of and your departure date can be a bit flexible in case you can’t, then buying on the day of can be the cheapest option of all as you can take advantage of airlines trying to sell empty unsold seats. I don’t know for sure though since I’ve never tried it myself. What’s your take on that?

  2. Pingback: Weekend Reading: Earthquake Edition | Invest It Wisely

  3. It seems to be the cheapest, from what I’ve heard as well. I have never tried it, though, and doubt that I will.

    For one, since I am a teacher, the only time I can travel is during peak times (spring, winter, or summer vacation) so there are rarely any empty seats. Secondly, it certainly isn’t something I’d want to attempt with a baby, and third, I usually fly through Inchon, so if I get there and tried to buy a ticket and was out of luck, I’d have to flip the bill for a hotel until the next available flight.

    Now, trying this tactic from, say, Hamilton to Calgary on WestJet when you live in Hamilton is a different story, and something I’d consider if time allowed.

    So I guess my take on it is… it depends.

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