Postponed plans. Cancelled trips. Social distancing. Life has changed drastically since the start of the coronavirus crisis.
The NBC Connecticut Responds team has received more than double the complaints from consumers this year compared to last.
In many cases, we’ve heard from people frustrated by a company’s customer service.
Taylor Renaud of New Britain is one of those customers.
“It would have been my first time going out of the country,” said Renaud, who was looking forward to jet setting in June, a trip abroad to Norway to see a friend.
“I had gotten my passport, I obviously hadn’t seen her in a while, so I was very excited and pumped about it.”
Her flight was cancelled because of COVID-19.
“So, they had put out declaimer saying we’ll refund customers within 15 to 90 days. It will be refunded through the third-party app which was Hopper.”
Five months after she was supposed to take flight, she was still waiting for her refund.
“It was almost about $500, so that was something I didn’t want to just let go. So, I’m not just going to wait for this. There needs to be some sort of accountability on the business front.”
While sympathetic of the challenges of the pandemic, after three months passed she tried connecting with a customer service rep online and through social media.
She said she never got a response.
“I decided to escalate my efforts." Renaud decided to reach out to NBC CT Responds.
Earlier this month, NBC CT Responds emailed Hopper, less than two hours later we heard back. Renaud got her refund a day or two later.
“It was a pretty quick turnaround.”
In an email a Hopper spokesperson told us, ”Like many travel agencies and airlines, we are experiencing unprecedented volumes of customer support inquiries.”
The Customer Service Institute of America said Hopper isn’t alone.
They train customer service reps across the country.
The institute’s founder Christine Churchill said frustration getting through to someone during the demand for service is adding to what’s potentially an already precarious situation.
“A lot of these customer service team members are delivering customer service out of their home now, so they might not have the systems that are as fast. They might not have the answers at their fingertips. They also have a house full of dogs, cats, kids, probably a spouse that might not even be working. They might be getting paid less than they were prior to that,” said Churchill.
In an email Renaud received from Hopper this summer, the company’s CEO said the pandemic “exposed some fundamental issues with our support process” and, in part, the wait times customers experienced have been “unacceptable” and they’d be working on making some “major changes."
As we continue to navigate these unchartered waters of the pandemic, the deputy commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Consumer Protection asks those with wanderlust to pause before booking.
“Read the terms. I know it’s a pain because I don’t like to do it. But, when you make a purchase this large, read the terms of your contract because it really dictates your rights going forward,” said Deputy Commissioner Arunan Arulampalam.
As for Renaud, she’ll be saving the cash NBC Connecticut Responds helped her get back.
Until it’s safe to adventure again, she urges consumers to keep dreaming but don’t let up.
“Definitely persevere because, especially now, we all need every cent we can get. “
Have a consumer problem? Call theResponds hotline at 1-844-303-RESP
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