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How to Complain (Successfully!) When You Travel

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In the travel industry, good service isn’t just about delivering the best, all the time. It’s about how you recover when things go wrong.

And travelers, when things do go wrong, it’s OK for you to complain. However, there is a right and a wrong way to complain and the different will affect the outcome of your problem, big time!

The wrong way:

  • Don’t call customer service angry. If you just start yelling and demand your money back or other compensation, it will be harder to get your way.

The right way:

  • Try to solve the problem while you’re still at the airport/hotel/rental company. If you address, the problem head on, it offers the travel provider a chance of offering a solution. There is less they can do once you get home.
  • Be polite. Have a good attitude. Tell them, you’re willing to be a loyal customer, but there is a situation that is jeopardizing your business.
  • Social media is a helpful tool—more and more travel providers are monitoring their Facebook and Twitter pages. Address your concern in person or directly on the phone. Once that doesn’t work, you can speak out (politely) online.
  • Create a paper trail. Put everything in writing and keep track of all correspondence, names, titles, ID numbers, receipts and confirmation codes.
  • Pay with a credit card, always. The Fair Credit Billing Act means you can argue if you don’t get the service or product you paid for.
  • And never, ever take “no” as an answer from someone who isn’t empowered to say yes in the first place. That doesn’t mean going to the CEO. Figure out who is at the first level who has the authority to help you.

Watch Peter’s Travel Detective tip to learn how to complain successfully.

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