Luggage, Politicians and an Alien

Day Seven Of The Missing Bag:

Calls to Virgin Atlantic’s U.S. baggage claim department in 6 days: 14 

Promised Delivery Dates: 3

Delivery date promises not kept: 3

Promises to return phone calls after looking up my bag’s status: 11

Phone calls actually returned: 1

E-Mails to Virgin Atlantic: 4

Unanswered e-mails to Virgin Atlantic: 4

Bags returned: 0

A very nice friend in Scotland read the Blahg and offered to call Virgin Atlantic for me from the UK. I decided instead to ask Paul to call from here.  Even though I knew it was inevitable that he’d get hot with these people, at least I’d have a chance to discover if I’ve been missing anything critical during all my calls. And, I’d have a respite from folks who have no idea how to interact with a deafened person, even when clearly told how to help.  (Believe me, I would NOT be calling if there were any other possible method of contact, but no one answers Virgin’s e-mail.  On their web site, they do list some kind of Deaf access, but only if you are inside the UK.)

At first they refused to give Paul any information because he was not me, even though he had all the info, claim numbers, etc. (so I imagine it would have gone worse for my friend in Scotland). He spent several minutes explaining that I had asked him to call because I can’t hear.

Then we went through several tedious minutes of this: Virgin Atlantic lady asks Paul a question.  He repeats it to me, and hands me the phone.  I answer, and then hand the phone back to him.  Each time he got the phone back, the woman would already be talking a mile a minute, and it took several more minutes simply to convince her to wait for a half-second while I handed him the phone.  Finally, she concluded that I had, indeed, asked Paul to call.

They talked for a long time.  At one point, I walked into the kitchen and caught this: “So, you are telling me that, in seven days, not one person in your company has been able to contact any other person from your own office in the third largest city in the United States?”  Pause.  “Well, could you tell me this: as a citizen of the world, wouldn’t you say that is a crappy way to do business?”  (Sure enough, a short while later, they got into it, and one of them hung up on the other).

I laughed, but right then I knew: hearing or not hearing doesn’t matter.  They have no idea where the bag is, and I doubt that they have ever had any idea where it is. I’ll keep calling and e-mailing, but after this, unless something spectacularly strange occurs, I’ll quit writing about it. I‘ll let you know if the bag comes back.

I sincerely hope it does, at some point.  I’m saddest about a couple of gifts from folks in Lewis, and about things I’d been bringing for folks here.  (And of course, the whisky).

The thing that makes me the angriest is this: if Virgin Atlantic had admitted to being part of the Deathrow baggage chaos in the first place, yes, I’d still have been upset. But I’d also have accepted my lot much earlier in the week, and gone about replacing the items I need for my next trip much less stressfully than it will now be, at the last minute.  Instead, I wasted my time waiting for “assured” deliveries that were pure fiction. Obviously, the people I’ve been talking to are low level, taking orders from higher up; some of the incomprehensible noise, Paul tells me, is due to the fact that they are responding to questions by reading a script. I can only conclude that they were simply told to tell wronged customers anything, including fictitious delivery dates, to appease us momentarily.

The Bag Episode is a microcosmic example of so many things I’ve gone through recently, and the root of things we’re all constantly going through, globally.

Why, why, why do corporations and politicians (both governmental and academic), at the first sign of a problem, immediately turn to The Lie? 

Do they actually believe that what they’re trying to gloss over will never be revealed, that lies will not eventually be seen? 

Why is the honest admission of a mistake seen as revealing a weakness, as something to hide? 

Why is the “solution” inevitably something that makes a bad situation worse?  

These are things I have never and will never understand.  Which just goes to show you, I probably am an alien, and an old, still hopelessly naive one at that.  

 

 

Do NOT fly Virgin Atlantic, addendum

So, I post the last blog, then go out to dinner with a friend.  She tells me the horrendous Heathrow Terminal Five story, which I had not read while in Scotland…Deathrow has just sent several thousand missing bags from its new terminal 5 to Italy to be sorted.  We wonder why they didn’t just bring the Italian sorters to Deathrow.  I try to remember which terminal I flew into, but can’t.  I had only had three hours of sleep when I began the journey.  All I can remember is being jolted around in a crammed bus, deep in the underbelly of Deathrow, to get from one terminal to the next, intensely craving coffee.  Thankfully, my friend and I move on to many more subjects, most of them pleasanter.

My cell phone never rings all evening.

At 1am, Chicago time, I think, aha!  Maybe no one at Virgin Atlantic has returned my calls because of the time difference.  Maybe I’ve just been dealing with an incompetent night shift these past six days. Hope springs eternal. I call.  A man with the most incomprehensible accent yet answers.  I tell him I’m deaf and ask him to speak slower and he has to repeat what he’s said (he doesn’t slow down at all) five times before I catch a word.  The word is: Chicago.  

I ask, “Was the bag sent to Chicago?”  He unleashes a flood of sound, none of which I understand. I say, “As I said, I’m deaf.  Can you please just answer yes or no, was the bag sent to Chicago?” Another flood of sound.  “Stop!”  I say.  I say again, “I’m deaf and I can’t understand you. I need you to answer by simply saying Yes or No.” He spews forth yet another barrage of words, of noise.  “NO!  Stop!  Please…answer…with…one…word.  Was…the…bag…sent…to…Chicago, Yes..or…No?”  And he simply yammers on yet again.  

I give up.  For tonight.

Do NOT fly Virgin Atlantic!

Friday, May 30: 

I arrive very late afternoon, monumentally jet-lagged, at O’Hare.

Go through customs, wait at the baggage carousel.  And wait.  And wait.  And wait.

Finally I see some Virgin Airlines people taking the last of the bags off the carousel, with a roster.  Go over to them.  They have a printout, which lists my bag, and says it’s still in London.  I get taken to a restricted area, where someone takes my customs form and a Virgin Atlantic employee takes all the claim info on my bag, says he’s definitely located it at Heathrow, and that it will arrive tomorrow afternoon, and he will have it sent to my house.

 

Saturday, May 31:

The bag doesn’t arrive.  I discover that the rubber-stamped claim info the Virgin Atlantic guy gave me has been stamped onto the space for it on their glossy brochure and is now too smeared to read.  I find the Virgin Atlantic web site, and the phone number.  I figure it’s late, so I will give them a call in the morning.

 

Sunday, June 1st:

I call Virgin Atlantic, and get someone with a Carribean/ British accent (which is actually the easiest to understand of all subsequent phone calls).  I ask her to speak slowly, and she has to repeat several times before I get a few words. She tells me that the bag is in still in London at Heathrow, but has not been “identified”, so I have to re-file all the claim info with her, on the phone.  She tells me that she has put in an ‘urgent’ call to Heathrow, and that my bag will be sent ‘immediately’ to my house, that I can expect it tomorrow.

 

Monday, June 2: 

The bag doesn’t arrive.  I call Virgin Atlantic .  Woman with a heavy Pakistani/ Indian accent says she needs to locate bag, and will call me back.  In about 20 minutes she does. I ask her to speak slowly, and she has to repeat several times before I get a few words. She says bag is on its way to Chicago and will be delivered on June 4.  I explain that I need the bag and its contents immediately for another trip, can she please expedite this; she says she’ll try.

 

Tuesday, June 3. 

I call Virgin Atlantic to confirm that the bag will arrive tomorrow. Man with heavy incomprehensible accent cannot locate it, and I have to ask him to speak slowly and repeat several times before I get a few words. He says, yes, it will arrive, if I have been told that.

 

Wednesday, June 4: 

I call Virgin Atlantic to see what time bag will arrive.  Man with a heavy incomprehensible accent, who I have to ask to speak slowly and repeat several times before I get a few words, says he will look it up and call me back.  He does not.  Bag does not arrive in morning.  I call Virgin Atlantic.  Another man with another incomprehensible accent, who I have to ask to speak slowly and repeat several times before I get a few words, says he will look it up and call me back.  He does not.  The bag does not arrive.  I call Virgin Atlantic.  A man, who I think is the first one with a heavy incomprehensible accent, who I have to ask to speak slowly and repeat several times before I get a few words, says that he cannot get hold of the Chicago airport to confirm the bag’s arrival.  Says he will call me back.  He does not.  I find and file a complaint form on Virgin Atlantic’s web site.  I find an e-mail address for Virgin Atlantic “customer service.”  I e-mail them the entire situation, titling it, “I am deaf, please help!”  I call Virgin Atlantic again.  A man with an incomprehensible accent, who I have to ask to speak slowly and repeat several times before I get a few words, says he cannot get hold of the Chicago airport, and that he will call me back.  Guess what?  He does not.

 

Thursday, June 5:

 No response to e-mail or complaint form.  I call Virgin Atlantic. A man with an incomprehensible accent, who I have to ask to speak slowly and repeat several times before I get a few words, says he cannot get hold of the Chicago airport, and that he will call me back.  He does not.  I call again several hours later.  A woman with an incomprehensible accent, who I have to ask to speak slowly and repeat several times before I get a few words, says she will call me back within two hours.  Four hours later, I call again. A man with an incomprehensible accent, who I have to ask to speak slowly and repeat several times before I get a few words, says he cannot get hold of the Chicago airport, and that he will call me back.  I send another e-mail.

No one from Virgin Atlantic has called me back since the first woman called to lie to me four days ago.

 

Tomorrow, it’ll be a week. I may go down to the Virgin Atlantic ticket counter at O’Hare, and chain myself to it until they hand me my goddamned bag.

 

 

 

 

Amusing (& Not-So-Amusing)

I think the Gaelic translates to something like “Hurry Back” and is not, in fact, a comment on the quality of the food, but I thought it was funny enough to shoot, anyways.  Actually, this place has been in Inverness a long time; I remember being highly amused at seeing it there over fifteen years ago, and thinking that they could at least have called it MacDonald’s.

I am not so amused by the fact that my bag is now five days late.  I’ve been promised delivery twice now and it hasn’t appeared.  Considering that I need to wash all the clothes in it and leave again in four more days, I’m getting mightily pissed off at Virgin Atlantic.  I’ve been calling them daily even though I have largely no idea what they’re saying, but eventually they give me a delivery date that passes by while I wait, postponing lunch dates and other useful things, because I am supposed to be here to accept it.  Linda is right.  It’s not “Heathrow”, it’s “Death Row” for luggage.  Grrrrr.