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Getting to Bonaire: Maduro Travel Agent Problems
Bonaire Talk: Getting to Bonaire: Archives: Archives 1999-2005: Archives - 2002-01-01 to 2002-10-27: Maduro Travel Agent Problems
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Susan Feldman on Thursday, July 11, 2002 - 10:50 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

I don't usually like to complain about things in such a public forum, but this is just too much.

We are going through hell right now because of a screw-up with my husband's airline ticket, completely and unarguably a mistake made by Heidi at Maduro.

Heidi managed to get Geoffrey's name wrong only on the airline ticket. Every where else - the voucher with Captain Don's, the outside of the FedEx envelope (where it was only addressed to "Geoffrey", not "Geoffrey Feldman" - it was complete luck that we even GOT the first tickets), at least "Geoffrey."

On the airline tickets. "Gregory". I didn't even see it until I called to reconfirm with Air Jamaica. Maybe I should have noticed this, but the ONLY reason I see for going through a travel agent in the FIRST place is I expect to avoid all the mistakes and hassles.

I called Heidi. I asked her to reissue the ticket and FedEx it to use. Her words (I wrote them down, since I was so flabbergasted): "If I reenter this at my office, it will cost us"

Hello, I should care, why????

She then said she'd ask what to do and get back to me.

I wait. FedEx next day time constraints are there, I'm a little concerned.

I finally call back about 15 minutes later.

She answers the phone. (So much for working on our problem and getting back to us) and tells me I have to send our ticket back first, before she'll issue a new ticket. So I'm supposed to schlepp over to FedEx and send the only piece of evidence that we HAD a ticket back to her, in the hopes that tomorrow (we're to leave our house Saturday at 4:30AM) she'll manage to get another ticket to us, and if she addresses it in the same manner, our FedEx person is smart enough to add the last name on.

I asked to speak with her supervisor. She said no. I requested it again, again she said no. When I insisted she said, "they all have other things to do". Oh, great - dealing with a disgruntled customer is unimportant.

So now, Geoffrey gets on the line. He starts to raise his voice, and gets the information that the supervisor is in a meeting. He says "well pull her out of it!" No joy. Eventually she says something like "I'll have someone call you back" and hangs up on him.

So now Geoffrey's on a jihad. He calls Maduro and asks to speak to Heidi's supervisor. He gets the runaround for a while, and then is connected to Heidi. He hangs up.

He calls back again, and eventually reaches someone named Joe.

Joe at least tries to help. He listens to Geoffrey (who has now built up a pretty big head of steam) and eventually a compromise is reached: they'll FedEx our tickets out first, and when we've sent out the old ones we'll get back to them with the tracking number.

Geoffrey suggested that they owe us a bit for our time and trouble, and after some hemming and hawwing, Maduro grudgingly offers us 2 free breakfasts (we didn't have them included in our package).

What sports!

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jake Richter - NetTech on Thursday, July 11, 2002 - 11:03 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

Susan,

The manager of Maduro Dive FantaSeas is Richard Mitsoda. If you end up with any problems, you may want to contact him directly.

Jake

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Susan Feldman on Thursday, July 11, 2002 - 11:10 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

Thanks, Jake. If the ticket doesn't show up tomorrow, he'll be hearing from us I'm sure!

If this were before 9/11 it probably wouldn't have been as important, but to screw up on the airline ticket now is just unacceptable. And then to be told that her supervisor had better things to do than talk to me was the icing on the cake.

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Maduro Dive Fanta-Seas on Thursday, July 11, 2002 - 4:02 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Dear Susan,

We wish to express our apologies for the inconvenience caused as a result of Geoffrey's name having been misspelled on his airline ticket. A new ticket was processed this morning with the name correctly spelled and shipped via Fed-X Next Day Priority to arrive at your home address tomorrow morning. I spoke with Geoffrey this morning, and I will personally make sure to follow up with this customer service inquiry.

It was unfortunate that our supervisors were engaged when Geoffrey called this morning. Since air tickets are negotiable documents, it is normally the policy of the company to receive existing tickets before issuing new ones. This was what Heidi was trying to express. Since speaking with your husband, Iíve learned that in between the time that Geoffrey spoke with Heidi, and then Joe, a supervisor was made aware of the situation and authorized sending the new ticket while awaiting to receive the old one back from you. Heidi is an excellent dive/travel specialist who has been with Maduro for five years and many of our repeat clients love her. She is also a human being who is, even if only rarely, capable of making a mistake. Our agents are trained to help each other and Joe overheard our supervisor on this matter, and then spoke with Geoffrey and was able to assist in this case. I personally feel all of us involved were affected by the stress of the moment and proximity of the travel date.

I am not a supervisor here at Maduro, but I am Richard Mitsoda's assistant and help him with marketing and handle customer service. On a personal level, I feel compassion and approach situations with a sincere intent to help. At Maduro, clients are our first priority and your comments and concerns are important to us, and both Richard and Jack Chalk are aware of your situation. I invite you both to contact me upon your return home. In the meantime, our main concern is for you to receive the corrected ticket tomorrow morning and to have a safe and enjoyable vacation. Enjoy Bonaire.

Sincerely yours,
Milly Herrera
Customer Service
Maduro Dive Fanta-Seas
E-mail: milly@maduro.com

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Ida Christie on Thursday, July 11, 2002 - 4:33 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Susan,
I hope all goes well! I'm going home and double checking my tickets..
Ida

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Susan Feldman on Thursday, July 11, 2002 - 4:37 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Milly,

Thank you, and if the ticket arrives tomorrow it will certainly make us happy. That has not yet happened, but hopefully it will have been addressed correctly (and with a full name, and not just "Geoffrey") and all will be alright.

However, I do feel that Heidi could have done a better job. Stating to me that her supervisor was in a meeting immediately, rather than saying flatly "No" to my request to speak with the supervisor would certainly have improved the situation. It took many requests from me, and then my having to hand the phone over to Geoffrey who then insisted even more strongly that we wanted to speak with a supervisor, before that information was divulged.

In light of the fact that the mistake was on your end, not ours - as I said, the ONLY document which had the incorrect name on it was also the one document which it was really important to be accurate; and that we have been repeat customers of Maduro so we felt we had a reason to believe that we had proved ourselves as honorable clients; and also because of the time constraints, we felt we had a reasonable expectation to have the ticket reissued and on its way immediately.

I've always been under the impression that it was possible to void a ticket without having to have it in possession. Perhaps I'm mistaken in that assumption, but really - it's a moot point. The error was yours, we should not have had to run around like chickens with our heads cut off this morning trying to rectify this. We have better things to do, and dealing with this was not in MY itinerary.

The fact that it became necessary for us to make a HUGE stink before any one at Maduro would even budge really leaves a rotten taste in my mouth.

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jake Richter - NetTech on Thursday, July 11, 2002 - 4:45 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Susan,

I can't comment on the rest your experience, not having been involved first hand (and no, I don't think I would have enjoyed that either :-) ).

However, while an airline reservation can be voided, an issued paper ticket cannot with the paper ticket in hand. I remember from when Linda was a travel agent that ticket stock had to be kept in a safe because it was like cash (actually even more valuable). In order for a credit to be issued to an agent for a paper ticket issued by them, the agency needs to return the physical ticket to the ARC (the clearinghouse for ticket and fees), as I recall.

Jake

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Susan Feldman on Thursday, July 11, 2002 - 5:06 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Jake,
Thanks for clearing that up.

Although it makes me a bit angrier about this whole thing: the FedEx package with just Geoffrey's first name (and we live in a complex, so if she'd gotten the apartment number wrong too who knows where the tickets would have ended up) was also sent with the "Sign to authorize delivery without obtaining signature" section filled out.

So if we hadn't gotten them, and someone else had and had cashed them in, well... I guess I should be glad that didn't happen.

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Maduro Dive Fanta-Seas on Thursday, July 11, 2002 - 6:16 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Dear Susan,

We can only again express our apologies and tell you that all of us involved feel bad over what transpired. I also understand the stress that you are feeling prior to traveling because I endure the same thing each time I travel. You didn't need this additional mishap and, from our end, we have done everything possible to remedy the situation.

We trust Federal Express and I am certain that the new ticket will arrive tomorrow as scheduled. The Fed-X guy was just here a little while ago and your package is gone. Eddie is great... I can tell you, he's one of the best Fed-X guys who comes to our place. Your package is in good hands! If it will help ease your worries, I'm going to e-mail you a copy of the Fed-X airbill as a PDF file. If you are unable to open it, I will be more than happy to fax it to you tonight. I'll be here until 7:00 - 7:15 P.M. Below is my telephone number.

I will be calling you tomorrow as promised. We will have time to further address this customer service inquiry after your return home. Please do not allow this to burden you any further and try to look forward to a wonderful vacation time on Bonaire. I truly and sincerely wish you and Geoffrey a safe and pleasant trip. Please be sure to contact me when you return home.....

Kind regards,

Milly Herrera
Toll-free: (800) 327-6709, Ext. 227
E-mail: milly@maduro.com

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Susan Feldman on Thursday, July 11, 2002 - 6:21 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Milly,

Thank you, and when the tickets arrive tomorrow (I am keeping my fingers crossed! :) ) I will be sure to post here as well.

Susan

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By michael gaynor on Friday, July 12, 2002 - 7:09 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

Can a prepaid ticket, to be picked up at the airport still be issued? Just a question...don't want to get in the middle of the prolem, which I am happy to see was well handled by Milly.

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Susan Feldman on Friday, July 12, 2002 - 10:21 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

I don't know, but I also don't trust the efficacy of Maduro enough to assume that one will be waiting for us when we get there.

I have not mentioned every issue we've had in getting these travel arrangements made, only the most egregious ones. The more nit-picky ones I
was willing to overlook - after all I *was* making these arrangements relatively last-minute. But the wrong name on the airline ticket was the straw that broke the camel's back.

For instance, it took multiple calls and emails to find out if my fax had been recieved. We actually had to fax 3 times: the first time we realized that it had failed after the 3rd page, so we reinitiated the fax, and it worked correctly. This was all done by 3:30 on July 1st.

I immediately called to ask if she'd gotten it, and got her voice mail. I left messages and emailed multiple times to ask if she'd received it, but did not get an answer until 11:13 the next day, and apparently she'd only picked up the *first* attempt, so reported something missing. So, I faxed everything yet again.

Maybe Heidi went home before the fax came in the day before, but she never mentioned that that might be the case, so I was left with the impression that my queries were being ignored. However, she *did* finally respond, the package was sent July 3rd and arrived, and I figured I was done dealing with Maduro.

Perhaps that's where the aggravation really lies: a lack of communication. When I asked to speak with a supervisor, instead of saying "she's in a meeting right now, I'll have her call you back", or "she should be out of the meeting in an hour, her name is and her extension is , try her then", she said "No, I can't do that" and "I'm the only one you can talk to."

I might add, in Geoffrey's experience also, these issues with calls and emails not being returned and problems with faxes and things added on (like flight insurance) without asking that then needed to be corrected, all resulting in transactions taking days to complete, have been more the norm than the exception.

As for the ticket fiasco, as Geoffrey said to Milly yesterday, if the agents checked each other's paperwork perhaps errors that the originator can't see will be glaringly obvious to a different set of eyes. It's often the case in our line of work.

Whatever. One thing I will say, for anyone else doing business with any travel agent I recommend keeping a log of all correspondence. I have, and I'm very glad I did.

I do not consider this closed until I see the ticket. I have not yet done so. If we do not get it, I will expect one to be waiting at the gate for us, or someone at Maduro to be up 5:30 tomorrow morning and available by phone to an Air Jamaica counterperson.

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Susan Feldman on Friday, July 12, 2002 - 10:43 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

Well, we have a happy ending: the tickets arrived just arrived, the name is correct, the flights are correct, the dates are correct.

I do thank Milly and Joe for helping out in getting this all resolved; it's too bad it came to this.

Perhaps one thing it should highlight to Milly and to Heidi is that you can have bad days, and you can be lackadaisical about some things - people do forgive for the small stuff, and let small things ride. But make sure that you do not make mistakes where they really can't be made, because it magnifies the small ones to the point that they become significant as well.

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By DARLENE ELLIS on Friday, July 12, 2002 - 12:34 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

I am glad that you finally have correct tickets in hand for your trip to Paradise!!! Have an awesome time!!!!!

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Maduro Dive Fanta-Seas on Friday, July 12, 2002 - 1:23 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Dear Susan & Geoffrey,

I called and left a message at your home & cell phone numbers, and I'm sure your busy making last-minute rounds and getting ready for your trip. We are very happy to learn that you received the Fed-X package and that your new ticket is correct. This morning, we also received the old incorrect ticket back from you. Thank You. I guess Fed-X lived up to it's name!

Please remember to contact me after you return home; I'll look forward to hearing from you. Oh, when you see Jack Chalk, tell him said, "Smile."

P.S. I guess Fed-X would appreciate the free advertising they've received.

Rum Punch - Wow Bunch.....have a Great Time in BONAIRE and enjoy your stay and diving at Captain Don's Habitat, The Home of Diving Freedom!

Happy Diving,

Milly Herrera
Maduro Dive Fanta-Seas

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dan Goff on Monday, July 15, 2002 - 5:20 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

Those customer service problems sound just horrid!
My partner and I have had similar communication concerns with a cruise line. It helps to write down the full name of the person(s) and their extension. Sounds like you were being given a run around, but I don't know all the facts or the entire conversation. I'm glad you received a speedy resolution, but it sounds like a lot of last minute stress had to be endured. I hope you both have a wonderful vacation. I hope you do follow up with the company after your vacation as it might help future consumers. Thank you!

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By thomas brossard on Monday, July 15, 2002 - 6:39 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Perhaps this is isolated, perhaps not. We had a problem with Maduro's 'customer relations' a couple of years ago and the issue NEVER would have been resolved if not for the insertion and insistance of a third (yet involved) party. My point here isn't the old news that happened to me but rather, it was the same kind of "no, we can't do anything" attitude that caused the problem with us.

Perhaps Maduro needs another more efficient level of customer mantainance...And after all is said and done, our trip (and hopefully Susan's) will have turned out fine, but I haven't used them again (and that's a shame for them if it could have been avoided) and I'll bet Susan will have second thoughts next year, as well (and I doubt that two breakfast vouchers will change that)...Not to mention the negativity of this internet buzz...

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Leif S on Wednesday, July 17, 2002 - 10:19 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

Commiserations on Your Customer Service Escalation...

Susan:
In my experience, customer service people like Heidi can often make a simple transaction into a nightmare for the customer, as you have experienced. We often expect them to be responsive to our needs regardless of our countenance towards them. I also observe that when a problem arises - like a lack of communication on a short-notice reservation - the customer response is often perceived to be an "attack" on the merchant. Defense mechanisms kick in, and the communication gap only widens. It sounds like that is what caused the conflagration that you have shared with us here on BT.

I feel you and your husband were completely right to insist on escalating to the proper level and not accepting "no" for an answer.

There is ALWAYS some person who has the authority to make things right for you, whether at a smaller operation like Maduro or even at a mega-company like American Airlines.

I join in this thread because I too had a MAJOR foul-up with airline tickets, although not with Maduro. Mine were booked directly with AA. As my tickets were the result of a corporate promotional incentive and thus "unusual" in nature, I had taken great pains to understand the redemption and ticketing process that was required. I had even pre-provided passport numbers and double-confirmed all data.

During an unrelated trip about two weeks before departure I went to the DFW counter to get my actual tickets for "Leif" and "Michelle". I received, strangely enough, 2 tickets for "LEIF" for the same seat, but NO ticket for Michelle. I did not notice this until two days later. It took a half hour of patient waiting to get the problem fixed.

Even more stress-inducing was what happened when it was departure day, just an hour before flight time, as we presented our tickets at the gate to obtain our boarding passes. Again, two boarding passes for Leif, NONE for Michelle! And with the new security protocols, it was obvious that this was a real crisis; it could cause one of us to be denied boarding either at DFW or, worse yet, in SJU. It took an extra half hour to get the matter fixed. And, due to my wife and I insisting that it be promptly made right, it finally did get fixed...

BUT, in both cases, without contention or hostility. Each time, I took a deep breath, mentally forgave the clerk that may have caused the error, and presented my complaint with the guiding idea of "pulling" the clerk to my side instead of "pushing" for my way: I needed to very clearly and concisely define the problem AND the specific solution that needed to happen, without accusing anyone of being inadequate, stupid, careless or cruel ("the problem" being an abstract concept, not a personal failure of my audience; the difference is between saying "you guys really screwed this up!" or instead saying "here is a problem that needs to be solved, and hopefully you are the person that can do it!"). I entreated the clerk to perform whatever minor miracle needed to be done to make my world perfect again (and if she could not do it, to help me promptly get the right person involved). Fortunately this approach engendered a smile and a heroic effort by the clerk to provide true "service" to me as a distressed traveler, rather than the all-too-often encountered defensive attitude that leads to statements like "No, you can't talk to the manager...I'm the only one you can talk to..." In both cases, the initial clerk herself fetched a management person for help with the ticketing computer; I merely stood by quietly waiting for the solution I had spelled out to present itself. Fireworks on my part as the boarding time approached would have only distracted them - and stress often leads to mistakes, extra delays, and hostility. I had clearly stated what was needed: two correct sets of boarding documents in our hands by the time the flight began boarding. That is, finally, what we got, although it took three employees 20 minutes to figure out how to get that to happen.

True, there will be times when even carefully manicured civility will fail. When that happens, I try to remember that any open display of negative emotion (on the customer's part) is highly counterproductive. The more stoic and rational I can remain, the sooner the clerk will comprehend that no amount of blustering or doubletalk on his/her part will get me to explode, give up or surrender. From the clerk's perspective, any of those might appear easier than just fixing what went wrong, as each provides an excuse for the clerk's failure to establish the right solution for the customer. However, none of them are acceptable outcomes to me.

Back to your friction with Maduro, I am glad to see that their management was astute enough to (a) jump on the rapidly escalating crisis before it was too late to fix it, (b) get somebody different involved as your primary point of contact, (c) be humble, (d) attempt to concilliate with you, (e) stand up for their employee, while not defending or making excuses for any of her wrong behavior, and (f) not counterattack you for expressing your righteous indignation. I think those were all the right things to do under the circumstances. Good customer service is not an easy thing to master; it is when a problem arises that it is truly tested.

I hope to soon be reading your trip report, if only to temporarily assuage my chronic PBD!

-LS

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Geoffrey Feldman on Tuesday, August 6, 2002 - 10:35 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

Leif,
I would like to clear a few things up. First we were perfectly polite to Heidi until she steadfastly refused to remedy the problem, provide us with a different agent or a supervisor. She used the fact that the hours were ticking by toward a point where there would be no remedy. She made it clear that these cards were in her hands during her refusal.

Your airline experience is not a fair comparison since Maduro is supposed to provide a layer over the larger and less feeling entity of an airline. The precise benefit of a travel agent is to avoid the problems that can occur on a direct booking. If they don't do this (and according to Millie, they don't) then of what value are they? During all this Maduro held to their policy, greatly inconvenienced us and made it clear that THEY DO NOT CHECK THE ACCURACY OF TICKETS AS A MATTER OF POLICY. In the post 9/11 era, that is an outrageous lack of concern for the comfort of their customers. Another difference is that the object of our displeasure was the same individual who had screwed things up (and caused other headaches that we have chosen to keep out of this discussion). Unlike your instance, Maduro did have accurate information about us and got the names right on other elements of the order.

So, the issue comes down to this:
1) No QA to assure that all the components of the order match.

2) When the error is theirs alone, placing added demands on their customers while really not going to much trouble on their own.

In the end the issue is not emotional, it is founded on these facts. I might add that the very limited accomodations we got were yielded begrudgingly after the yelling started, provoked by a failure on Heidis part to return a phone call as she promissed. In fact, what was proposed by Heidi would have had the correct tickets delivered 5 hours after departure time. At this time, we have gotten nothing from Maduro about a policy change. For me, this makes them an unacceptable travel agent.

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Susan Feldman on Tuesday, August 6, 2002 - 3:07 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

One thing too: Your point about Maduro "stand(ing) up for their employee, while not defending or making excuses for any of her wrong behavior" is actually wrong - Millie offered the excuse of "after all, she's a woman, and more emotional than a man, so should be forgiven her screw up."

Geoffrey was so flabbergasted he had her repeat it.

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Leif S on Tuesday, August 6, 2002 - 5:14 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Rebuttal...

Geoffrey: I concur. A travel agent SHOULD be expected to have better customer service than an airline, at all three levels: clerks, managers, and policy. My comments were mostly about the managers' reaction; not the initial clerk or any policy (I did not sense any discussion of their "policy" in your initial reports). Perhaps our compared experiences are evidence that we are moving toward a time when going direct gets better results - the travel agent industry has been getting beaten up over the last several years as airlines and hotels have shifted to Internet marketing and direct sales.

Susan: Did I miss that in the earlier reports? Wow, that would be a poor response.

REALLY good customer service prevents conflagrations like yours from ever happening to begin with. That said, my positive comments about Maduro were not intended to be an endorsement or praise; just a recognition that it was not the worst-case scenario, and was relatively good (in the final outcome) compared to some I have witnessed.

On a MUCH lighter note, have you posted a trip report yet? I'll have to go look...

-LS

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Susan Feldman on Tuesday, August 6, 2002 - 6:04 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Actually, you didn't miss the mention about more emotional female - it just never got mentioned.

As for the trip report -not yet, and it'll probably be a web page. We have the photos (and they're digital, so no processing time), I just haven't gotten around to doing it. My only excuse: I started a brand-new job right after we came back.

A short synopsis: as we knew we would, we had a great time, we love the Habitat, and we love the dive masters there. We saw about 30-35 squid one day, a huge turtle the same day; I found my first seahorse; we watched (and photographed) some sharptail eel love, watched juvenile trunk fish slurp up what looked like tiny but long jellyfish strings high in the water column; and that's a few of the highlights. And yes, PBD set in almost immediately.

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Geoffrey Feldman on Saturday, August 10, 2002 - 9:17 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

Leif,
The move to internet sign up by the travel industry is one that I welcome. I would be delighted if the Habitat had an online form where I could sign up for a stay.

Heck, for those who don't stay at the Habitat, they could sign up in advance to use the dock entry (I just had to say that).

We did get a very perfunctory answer from Maduro that did not indicate any particular change or even acknowledgment of our point of view.

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By thomas brossard on Saturday, August 10, 2002 - 5:43 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

I too would be delighted in an internet booking ability by Habitat. We went to Habitat Curacao once (and loved it), but we had a problem with our second attempted visit and even though Habitat themselves solved the problem I haven't returned solely because the booking process takes me through Maduro.

Now, I'm not saying Maduro is crooked, shady or even bad...My circumstance could have been simply an aberration. But I never even received an apology from Maduro (they left it all to Habitat), so I have no personal desire to book through them again...

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Leif S on Wednesday, August 14, 2002 - 11:25 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

More data makes a difference...
Thomas's added comments suggests that Maduro may be pretty good at putting out customer service "fires" only because they may cause a lot of them in the first place by not being more active on the "front end" of the transactions they broker.

A truly good travel agency should proactively advise, inform and solve problems before they become problems for the traveller...

I am surprised that Habitat is not more up to date; even the small apartment operators (like my favorite, Casa Oleander) have good websites and direct booking ability via simple e-mails with real people directly involved in the operation. With operations like Habitat we are not talking about mega-resorts with thousands of rooms, so how hard could it be for them to find just one or two people to maintain a website and email address for bookings?

-LS

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jake Richter - NetTech on Wednesday, August 14, 2002 - 11:46 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

Bonaire's resorts have been traditionally marketed and sold exclusively through tour operators, which in turn has created a dependence of sorts by the resorts on the continued good will of key tour operators. The smaller lodging operations you mention never had that dependence so they have been free to take direct bookings. And, on the flip side, the super large resorts with thousands of rooms (of which Bonaire has none) are large enough to justify the expense and investment of getting into real-time on-line availability, linkage via TRS (Travel Reservations Systems), etc.

Some of Bonaire's resorts are slowly moving towards a more direct marketing/booking system, but they need to tread carefully.

Habitat's situation is even more unique in that only Maduro books them (I think there may be some deeper relationship between them too, but have never gotten any details on this), so Maduro is Habitat's life line, of sorts, for better or worse.

You're right that from a technical/logistical perspective - direct bookings are not difficult to handle, but you need to factor in the politics too.

Jake

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Marc @ CrystalVisions on Wednesday, August 14, 2002 - 12:02 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

As far as direct bookings go... I know from ski-resorts in Austria that there are local initiatives in place which spread the load and cost evenly over several resorts. Most hotels have joined some common booking site or other, sometimes it's a "village"-site, sometimes it even covers a whole valley of several villages. Wouldn't there be a market for such a site for the (smaller, independent) resorts on Bonaire?

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Glen Reem on Thursday, August 15, 2002 - 10:04 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

It seems to me that there have been a lot of words here about a single instance (which, while causing anxiety while during the wait for the final tickets, was resolved 'just in time') and some rather thin limbs have been walked out on with calumny about Maduro. Each of us has made mistakes, and had times when we have snapped at people, and we didn't deserve this many or as serious words, did we? (Yes, I have beeen through something similar)

Considering all the people who book Habitat through Maduro without any problems, hasn't this dead horse (or perhaps donkey for Bonaire) been beaten quite enough?

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Leif S on Thursday, August 15, 2002 - 11:16 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

Glen:

I think the discussion has widened from a single extreme example (which has since been amplified by at least a few "it happened to me, too's") into more of a policy discussion about reliance on travel agencies in general. (BTW, thanks, Jake, for the added background info)

Policy is a horse that never tires from repeated beatings.

I also like that Maduro's staff actually contributed to the upper half of this thread, and have since been letting it run its course without trying to quash the ongoing, increasingly general debate.

-LS

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Susan Feldman on Thursday, August 15, 2002 - 4:55 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Leif and Glen,

I actually believe, if our experiences (note the plural) with them in the past years is any indication, that most people dealing with Maduro do what we did every other time prior to this - grin and bear the annoyances with as good grace as we could muster, since the final result was a vacation in Bonaire.

That said, there was NEVER a flawless transaction; simply never such an egregiously flawed one as this. Every contact with them has involved multiple faxing and taken days to complete, even though our plans have been well defined - we knew what we wanted and when we wanted it. When the requests for acknowledgement were ignored, we simply pursued it and kept on calling and emailing. We did not complain here, although we certainly decried the Maduro-Habitat bond privately as we were experiencing the annoyances.

I refuse to believe that we are the only ones unlucky enough to have experienced the Maduro ennui when it comes to follow-through, customer satisfaction and order accuracy. We experienced it ourselves three times before, it just wasn't as bad as this time, so was accepted as a minor annoyance but not a big deal.

For what it's worth, we did write to the president of Maduro, and received what is essentially a form letter saying something to the effect of (I don't have it available to me right now): Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I'll look into it.

Yeah, right.

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Leif S on Friday, August 16, 2002 - 1:31 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Susan and Geoffrey:

For the future...
Might I suggest that your next trip to Bonaire be booked with a place like Casa Oleander or one of the other of the dozen or so "apartment" operators... Since there are no constraints on access to pretty much anything anywhere on the Island, I have never seen why one would need a "full service" hotel... unless room service and maid service matters that much to you.

You will ultimately save some money over the price of a full-service resort and will likely have less headache pre-trip and more personal attention during your stay.

Each time we visit Bonaire, my wife and I check out one or two possible alternative places to stay next time; so far we haven't found anything that beats our favorite place in Belnam with its full kitchen, oversized shower, private hammock, A/C, etc. etc. (and NOT having a TV or phone in our room is something we actually consider a plus...)

-LS

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Susan Feldman on Friday, August 16, 2002 - 2:33 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Well, actually - I don't go on vacation to do housework. :) Also, because of a problem Geoffrey has with his back, we don't do shore dives. We aren't looking for bargains, although it's nice to know when we get the best price for airfare available.

But that's beside the point.

We LOVE Captain Dons - Jack is great, the Habitat staff is great, the divemasters are great. We have NEVER claimed anything else. The one and ONLY problem is and has always been (as the title of this thread indicates) getting to Bonaire using Maduro.

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jan Klos on Friday, August 16, 2002 - 8:22 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Susan,
Why not just book direct with Captain Don's-- maybe they would give you a break on the room rates where the 2 of you are repeat customers. I find that sometimes dealing directly with the airlines - the rates can be just as good as if you were to go thru a travel agent.
Darlene sent me the photos-- and I've been out of town most of the week--so I haven't had a chance to call her. It looks good--

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Susan Feldman on Saturday, August 17, 2002 - 9:21 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

Jan,

That actually is what we'll be doing from now on. In the past when this subject was broached, we were always asked to go through Maduro. In fairness to Habitat, I don't believe they have the infrastructure in place to do all their bookings.

I agree - I have always been able to get the exact same fare through the airlines (either by phone or online) quoted to me by Maduro for airfare - on occasion, a few dollars better. I prefer to do all my air bookings online, and even before this happened it rubbed me the wrong way that we HAD to use Maduro.

About Darlene -- those photos don't do it justice, either!

 


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