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Letters: Hunting in the Mojave National Preserve

Hunting in the Mojave National Preserve; Yelp, TripAdvisor and other consumer review websites; praise for Delta.

January 13, 2012

I just read Mark Vanhoenacker’s article “A Rest for Restless Spirits” [Jan. 8] about the Mojave National Preserve and must object to the characterization that allowing hunting is “inferior.”

Hunting is not at all an inferior use of public land and has a long tradition in the U.S. and California. Long before MNP came into existence, hunters were, and still are, one of the larger user groups of the MNP.

The L.A. Times has a long antihunting bias, somewhat surprising considering the history of its publishers.

Jim Martin

Lake Forest

Online reviews

I was delighted to read “Do Yelp and Other Sites Help?” [by Josh Noel, Jan. 8] as I am an avid TripAdvisor user-contributor. I am discriminating when reading hotel reviews and use all the suggestions Noel offers to determine the authenticity of a review. To date, I have had only positive experiences with the TA-recommended hotels that I have booked.

A few additional ways I evaluate reviews: (1.) The date of the review. If it is negative, I look to see how many were written in the particular time frame. One hotel that I ended up booking had bad reviews in 2009 but had new ownership in 2010, and the reviews all became very positive. (2.) I also look to see what were specific complaints. Bugs/unclean linens are immediate rejections. However, one reviewer gave a scathing review of a tour that the hotel booked for the client. It had nothing to do with the quality of the hotel itself. (3.) I also look to see if, and how, management responds to negative criticism. (4.) I consider the geographic location of a reviewer and whether they have experiences/expectations similar to mine. TripAdvisor also offers an opportunity to see how traveled a contributor may or may not be. (5.) I also read reviews on other travel sites (Expedia, Hotels.com and Booking.com are just a few I use). More and more these sites attribute TA ratings in their own review sites.

Arlene Karpel

Tarzana

Here is another major factor for people to keep in mind when reading consumer reviews. The people writing the reviews are comparing against their past experiences, not against an absolute scale — as a Mobil or Michelin reviewer might.

If they have generally stayed at Holiday Inns, they are going to think everything about a Ritz Carlton is fabulous. If they’ve usually stayed at the Ritz, they are going to find most everything at the Hyatt lacking, etc. You have to keep the reviewer’s past experience in mind when evaluating what they say.

I always try to include some indication of how the place I’m reviewing is related to places I’ve been in the past.

Mike Cregan

Santa Barbara

Praising Delta

I have been a reader of Catharine Hamm’s “On the Spot” column for quite some time. More often than not she is trying to assist travelers who have had some problem with their travel experience. I was sitting reading the column this morning when I thought it might be a good idea to share a good experience I just had with Delta Airlines.

Two days ago I was on the phone with Delta to arrange a flight for my wife and me from LAX to Nice, France, next spring. I was inquiring about the price for both economy ($1,700) and discounted business class ($5,600).

After a few minutes on the phone it became apparent that the agent was relatively new as it was difficult for her to understand my travel preferences. After going back and forth for more than 30 minutes, she stated that she found a flight from LAX to Nice that connected through JFK. The price for the business class trip was $2,200. I was shocked, only $500 more for a business class ticket over economy? I said to her, are you sure this is for business class and not premium economy? She said yes. I repeated myself, and she said that it was indeed for business class. Still surprised, and knowing how the airlines change fares frequently, I booked the flight.

A few minutes after receiving the flight confirmation by email, I looked to confirm that it was indeed business class. Instead, it only said that the class was “W.” Not knowing what that meant, I went to the Delta website to check the itinerary and, sure enough, the ticket I had just purchased was for premium economy.

I immediately contacted Delta but asked to speak with a supervisor. I shared the situation and the fact that I repeatedly asked if the fare was business class. She was very nice and apologized, but said that it was an unfortunate mistake and that she could not honor the business class fare for $2,200. .

After several minutes on the phone the she asked if she could put me on hold. When she returned, she apologized and said that she had sent an email to the agent who booked my flight to confirm my facts. She said that the agent confirmed that I asked her several times if the flight we were about to book was business class and that she had admitted to making the mistake. She then said that she was going to honor the business class ticket for $2,200, which was $3,400 less per ticket. She said that it was the right thing to do.

Other airlines should learn from the character and integrity of the employees at Delta. Kudos to Delta, which now stands out in an industry getting so much bad press.

Joel Goldhirsh

Irvine

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