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A royal travail

October 04, 2009|CATHARINE HAMM

Question: On July 31, we disembarked from the Crown Princess and tried to collect our four pieces of baggage at the cruise terminal in Southampton, England. One piece was missing. We searched for it, but no luck. We had bought a transfer from the cruise terminal to Heathrow, and a baggage handler urged us to get on the shuttle bus so we wouldn't delay the other passengers. He assured us he would put the bag on the next shuttle. At Heathrow, we waited 2 1/2 hours for our bag, which never arrived. Beginning Aug. 1, we began trying to get our bag back. On Aug. 20, it was found and put on the Queen Mary. On Sept. 2, it arrived -- COD. Do you think we should have to pay the $69 for shipping?

James Salyer

Diamond Bar

Answer: No. I started to write something stronger, but that seemed rude.

Not nearly as rude as Princess, however. Salyer's original letter detailed a series of miscues by Princess that would make a Zen master's blood boil. Princess reps made promise after promise that they would follow-up, but most of those promises apparently were broken.

In some ways it might have been better not to have heard from Princess at all, especially if being demonized for something you didn't do upsets you. Consider this response to my inquiry: When the Salyers "departed from the pier in Southampton," Princess wrote, "they admit they left for the airport without one of their bags."

They admit? Excuse me? Yes, they got on the bus without one of their bags, but they did as they were told.

Princess then went on to say, "We're sorry that they were given misinformation from one of the pier luggage handlers, who are not Princess employees and appear to have misrepresented the luggage procedures."

Zero for one.

Princess: "It further appears that the Princess representatives at the airport believed that the bag was en route to the airport. . . . This representative should have confirmed this with cruise terminal staff, but it appears this was not done."

Zero for two.

Princess a third time: "We did err by not following our policy of calling the passenger to let them know we found their luggage and provide them with shipping options."

Zero for three.

Princess a fourth time: "We agree that under the circumstances we should refund the shipping fee of $69, and this is currently being processed for the Salyers."

At last, something that's going the customer's way. But in a follow-up note from Salyer, he said Princess told him he would get his refund in -- unbelievably -- four to six weeks.

Zero for four.

If the check comes as promised, the saga of the suitcase will have lasted about 10 weeks and consumed countless hours of Salyer's time. But it's Princess that's stuck with the baggage of bad customer service.


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