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.