Maui: A Comedy of Errors

Last week turned into an accidental hiatus week for me, and I know I’m getting a late start this week. The only excuses I can offer is too much work, a faulty immune system, and a vacation to Maui. I know, life sounds hard over here in the Pacific, right?

I could talk about the websites we’re trying to launch for two of my clients and how it sucked up a large portion of my last two weeks, overtime and all. Or I could talk about the headcold that just won’t die, which sucked up the rest of my time last week. (Side bar: how do you get a head cold in 80 degree weather?) But neither of those are nearly as fun as talking about Maui!

First of all, I’m going to go ahead and warn you this is going to be a multi-post endeavor. Starting with Friday….

We booked our vacation through a flight & hotel type of deal on the airline’s site, but it went through a third party vendor. Seemingly unimportant when we booked, but this third party quickly became a discerning factor in our travel plans on Friday.

We booked on Wednesday, and by the time I got home on Friday we still hadn’t received confirmation from either the airline or the hotel. With the flight leaving at 10p, making sure we were actually on the plane was the first priority.

I’m sure everyone has at least one experience trying to talk to service personnel that went something like this:

Customer Service(CS): Thank you for calling XYZ. How can I help you?
Customer(C): Hi, I just want to confirm my reservation. I never received a confirmation email.
CS: Our website provides automated check-in service. All you need is your 6 digit confirmation code.
C: I never recieved a confirmation code. Can you look it up for me?
CS: Hold on one second, I’ll look you up. Please provide me with your confirmation code.
C: That’s why I’m calling, I never received a confirmation code.
CS: What’s your flight number? It will be on your confirmation email

-next 20 minutes ensue of trying to explain that you don’t have a confirmation email or code-

CS: OH! You want me to give you your confirmation code. First and last name please.
C: Angry Consumer
CS: Hmm… no, sorry I don’t see a reservation for Angry Consumer.
C: What do you mean you don’t see my reservation? My credit card has already been charged.
CS: No, I’m sorry it’s not here. I’ll look again though. What’s your middle name?
C: Livid. Angry Livid Consumer.
CS: Hmm… hold on while I look you up. Now you said you’re name was Angry Livid? Is that with an A. and an L.?
CS: Still looking….. hold on….. wait! Oh yes, I found it!
C: *bangs head into desk*

Now I wasn’t actually home when Dave called the airline, so I don’t know that the conversation went exactly like that, and it’s probably a bit of an exaggeration but it does more or less outline the direction the conversation went.

Next came the hotel. At least we knew the name of the airline. We didn’t know the name of the hotel. No confirmation email meant no number to call. We started by backtracking the reservation on the airlines site, only to find the package deal page was down. Next we tried researching the third party site, which was called “Neat Travel” or something. Their site was also down. We couldn’t even get a Google listing for a phone number or email for them.

By the time we left for the airline, we were still hoteless and Dave had been on hold with the airline site we had booked through for a good 20 minutes or so. At that point I think I quipped something about sleeping in our rental jeep on the beach. (One of these days I’ll write about learning to travel with my Mother and how it’s given me a sense of humor about all disasters travel related.) The humor was definitely one-sided by that point though. Then again, if I’d been the one on and off the phone with customer service reps all evening, my humor would have been gone as well.

Checking-in went smoothly, thankfully, though we did find out why the customer service rep couldn’t find Dave in the system. For some reason they filed his first name wit initials, instead of a full name.

The flight went smoothly.

The ride to the rental place went smoothly.

And then came the Jeep. Before you judge, it was 11p at night when we finally climbed into the Jeep, and we’d been up since 5. Actually we’re both up around 4:30-5a every morning, so staying up past 10p is an automatic recipe for grumpiness.

While Dave looked up directions to the hotel, which was another hour away, I had the bright idea to unclasp the hood and see how hard it would be to take it down. BIG mistake. Once unclasped we could not figure out how to get it re-clasped. Seriously, it was like astrophysics or something. No matter how hard we pushed the clasp, pulled the hood, or fiddled with it, we couldn’t get the damn thing to re-clasp.

After about 30 minutes of fiddling with it, we decided it must be a tension thing. Maybe the whole hood had to be taken off, then the front re-clasped first and then the back would provide tension or something. So we decided to take the whole roof off. At 11:30 at night, in a dark parking lot. Clearly this was a stroke of genius. Or another 30 minutes of disaster…

We couldn’t follow the manual directions. We couldn’t find the ties that hold the hood down. And we couldn’t figure out how to unzip the back window. Finally we gave up on that idea, and put it all back together. Except for the front hood clasps, of course, which we still couldn’t figure out. And now it was 12am. With the hotel still an hour drive away.

I gave up at that point. I found someone in the building, begged for help and they showed us a situation so simple I couldn’t believe it. The clasp was actually made of two free swinging hooks. A little one underneath that hooked in, then the big one (which was the one we had been pushing on), which provided the tension. We had thought they were one clasp, and it never occurred to us to try and separate them.

Finally ready to drive away! We climbed in, slammed the doors, looked at the directions and started to pull out. Which was when I realized the cabin lights were on. Clearly this meant a door was still open, so I got out and slammed all the doors. Twice. The lights remained on. It took another 20 minutes and some help from Google to realize the cabin lights were attached to the headlights switch on the steering wheel.

On our way, finally! Again.

We actually managed to pull all the way out of Hertz this time. Then the word “door” flashed on the car dashboard and the car started beeped at us. We knew a door wasn’t open. I had just slammed them all twice! We waited for a minute… and it beeped again.

12:30… only an hour to go before we got to the hotel… beeping car… yup, this was vacation…

So we did what any sane, tired, frustrated, grumpy couple would do. We blasted music and talked about how Saturday would be a beach day without any contact with the dumb car at all. Of course the music was country music, because this is Hawaii and your only real choices are country and Hawaiian. But by the end of the weekend, it was actually starting to grow on me! (As was the Jeep.)

Eventually the car did stop beeping. As long as we were at high enough speeds, I guess it registered the doors closed. And eventually we reached the hotel, which was actually a really nice resort. But we had one more facepalm moment left before bed.

The concierge welcomed us to the resort, gave us a welcome packet and then promptly asked for our itinerary.

“Uh… itinerary?”

Apparently the site we booked with was supposed to send an itinerary, which we were supposed to give to the hotel, which is how the hotel gets paid.

It was a string of really small things. But they all happened in this cascading fashion through out the night. But the one thing I know is that any travel is always a comedy of errors. So I very politely explained that we had already tried contacting the site and their server was down, but did he have a number we could call. No? He didn’t know the number of the service?

Really…? This is probably the weirdest part of the whole night. Clearly the third-party site had contacted the hotel with our reservation. And honestly, at the point where the third-party site fails to email us our itinerary, isn’t it kind of the hotel’s job to follow up at that point? Us being the pay customers and the hotel being a service provider? The advertiser in me was cringing at this. All the good advertising in the world won’t bring repeat customers, when you have bad customer service, especially at 1am. But that’s a rant for another time.

He gave us the keys and told us they needed it before we checked out. It became a problem for tomorrow. We grabbed the hotel key, high tailed it for the room… which I was allergic to… and fell asleep.

Oh how I wish I was joking about that last part!

In retrospect it’s all kind of funny, especially since we had an amazing time for the rest of the weekend. The good part of the vacation, with the pictures to accompany it, comes tomorrow.

In the mean time, what’s the most problem filled trip you’ve ever been on?

-Bridget

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