Amoeba did much of his training for his PhD at the Friday Harbor Labs on San Juan Island. Since then, even before we moved here, he returned to the Island many, many times using many modes of transportation. Among the more economical ones was a combination of the Washington State Ferries and Bellair Charters Airporter Shuttle. That’s why we made reservations for both as we planned this trip to Massachusetts. The ferry was as reliable as it always is, but when we arrived at the Airporter Shuttle stop, the bus had already departed.
I phoned the Bellair Airporter service desk and Marlena answered the phone. I told her we were at the Airporter Shuttle pick up zone and asked if by chance the bus was late. She said the bus left the Anacortes Ferry Terminal as 4:55 p.m. as scheduled. I said, “But we had confirmed reservations on that Shuttle. He had to have pulled away from the stop as the ferry was docking!”
The wonderful, friendly, compassionate Marlena answered, “We don’t work for the Washington State Ferry system. We don’t know what their schedule is and furthermore we don’t care!”
I responded just as sweetly and told her we wanted our money refunded, and — since Bellair Charters had pretty much guaranteed we were going to miss our plane, we wanted compensation for that as well. She asked me for my reservation number and looked up our booking. She said, “I have found your booking. You made it yourself online at our website and you clearly indicated you wanted the Airporter Shuttle departing at 4:55 p.m. The fact that you missed the shuttle was entirely your own fault.”
I said, “We had reservations. We have done this many times and the shuttle has always waited. It wasn’t like he couldn’t see the ferry coming in.”
She said, “We have a schedule to keep.”
I snapped, “Your schedule is more important than your passengers?”
She was unequivocal, “You were not there on time.”
I got the message. The schedule is more important then the passengers. No problem. “Our refund?” I demanded.
She said, “That will cost you a $4.00 processing fee and you won’t get your money back for 7 to 10 days.”
“No problem,” I said.
Apparently as far as Bellair Shuttle is concerned, bus schedules and being “right” are more important then client relations. Marlena never even bothered to mention when the next shuttle would arrive or offer to transfer our reservations. She just kept pointing out who was at fault.
Since fault is so important to Marlena, we wanted to take this opportunity to make it clear why Bellair Shuttle has lost our business. From now on we will pay a little bit more and use our own car, or we will fly on and off the island, and we will encourage our friends and guests to do the same.
UPDATE: June 24th, 2010 (Four months after the fact)
We here at Airporter Shuttle, on a standard marketing search of the internet, recently came across your blog about our service (or lack thereof).
It is very clear that we did not meet your expectations and for this we would like to apologize. It is entirely possible that this could have, and should have, been handled in a more compassionate, kind and professional manner. We would have welcomed the opportunity to speak with you directly about this incident at the time it happened.
We are a small to medium sized local company based out of Ferndale, WA. We have 80 employees, all of whom do their jobs well 99.9% of the time. Our employees, along with the majority of our customers, are fellow local residents. We respect our position in the community and strive to provide a valuable contribution. According to a recent survey, we have a 98% customer satisfaction rate, and we continue to shoot for 100%.
We understand that one negative experience on the front lines of a business can be detrimental. Our company is founded on great customer service, and we always welcome feedback, both positive and negative. We find it unfortunate that you and your blog readers have judged us unworthy of your business because of this singular incident, and that we were never given the opportunity to discuss it with you.
I would welcome the opportunity to speak with you, even at this late date. I feel certain that, even if we do not earn back your trust, we could at least clear the air and come to an amiable understanding. Please feel free to contact me via email, or at my direct phone line, listed below.
We attempted to add a comment to your blog posting, https://quilldancer.com/2010/02/24/good-bye-bellair-charters-airporter-shuttle/ , but saw that the comment period for that posting is closed. Your blog posting continues (and will continue) to show up on internet searches, but we are left without an opportunity to respond and make things right. Again, it’s unfortunate we were never invited to be a part of the discussion. I’m sure you, as a business person, can understand. We, as a company, embrace the new social media movement and company transparency, but prefer it as a two-way dialogue.
I appreciate your time and look forward to hearing from you.
Human Resource Manager
Bellair Charters / Airporter Shuttle
1416 Whitehorn Street
Ferndale, WA 98248
Bellair Charters / Airporter Shuttle cost us a $250.00 dollar taxi ride to get to the airport (not including the tip). Then four months after the fact they discover my post and claim that we are treating them unfairly. My response:
The comments on my blog post were not closed to keep Airporter Shuttle from responding. The comments on all of my posts close automatically 2 weeks after publication. As a general rule all they gather at that point is spam. I added your letter of complaint, verbatum, to the bottom of my blog post. I removed your phone number and email address for security purposes, but I will post them if you wish. I will not take down the post. I did not write anything in it that isn’t factual. Marlena was appalling rude and hostile. Rather than blaming us for giving your company a poor reputation, perhaps you should look to your own customer service.