A few weeks back I was talking with a new friend and asked about going camping and rock climbing in Beijing the weekend of August 06. I made arrangements to get the time off work, and had the Monday/Tuesday off like normal.
Once the camping plans didn't pan out, I decided yesterday, to make an impulsive trip to Philippines on Aug 06 in the evening, spending Sunday, Monday and Tuesday in Manila and take a super early 5am flight back home to Tianjin, China in time for work in the evening. The idea was to make the trip similar to my trip around this time last year to Vancouver. On that trip, I arrived at 8am on a Wednesday spent a couple days doing my own thing, and left the Friday evening. Short trips like this are great for getting a change of scenery for a few days, and motivating you to prepare for what's next.
I wanted to head down to the Philippines, stay at a place which belongs to my aunt's family, see a friend from my hometown who moved there three years ago, and most importantly, spend some time in tropical water -- which I have never done before.
After a few minutes of research I organize the flights and book a night at a luxury hostel called Z Hostel, which was recommended by my friend for $17CAD/night. Shortly thereafter, I'm doing more research and find out there will be downpour the entire time I'm in country! I brush it off saying I'll find a way to make it work.
Later in the night, I'm talking to my best friend who recommended the trip be cancelled while still in the 24 hour period because it would be my first tropical location and I love the water. I should prepare a great time and not be restricted by the weather.
This morning I'm lounging around before getting my breakfast at 7Eleven consisting of a large fruit bowl and orange juice for $5. This is usually followed by sitting out in the heat and enjoying the weather. I contemplated if I should wait to cancel my flight until I return from my stroll or act now. The mentality of impulsive action kicked in and decided to call them now and be done with it.
The flight was booked with CheapOAir.com, the number to contact them was easily displayed at the top of the confirmation emails I received, and upon calling, the menu options were simple. I key in my booking code and almost instantly someone who spoke excellent English, was on the phone. Having reviewed the cancellation policy, I was anticipating some corporate push-back for my request.
Explaining the situation honestly, I said "I made an impulsive decision to get away for a few days to swim and see a friend, only to discover a short period later the entire part of South East Asia is experiencing a massive typhoon now and will be thunderstorms the entire few days I plan to travel"! The lady asked if I would consider changing the date, which I absolutely forgot about. I was thrilled at the alternative and started looking up other destinations about the same cost. The lady politely interjected and noted I only had 3 minutes left to cancel my flight! I was really blown away she reminded me of this, in appreciation for saving me money and just being a decent over-all human being. By her doing this she saved me hundreds of dollars, was polite, supportive and genuine. Considering I want to visit the Philippines ASAP for a few days, I will absolutely be booking again with CheapOAir.com! Had this lady not given me the notice, I would have paid the airline fee and cancelled albeit begrudgingly and the company would not make any money and leave a sour taste in my mouth (you'll recall Air Canada when I had to change my flight dates to Tianjin).
When I engage with a company, typically relating to customer service, if the rep does a great job I feel their performance should be acknowledged. CS field can be challenging and having spent a long time working in it, I can appreciate and align with what these reps go through. If someone who treats me well and goes above and beyond, the least I can do is tweet them a shout out! Twitter is my company performance review department for those who offer me services ie. TD Bank, iTunes, phone provider etc. Mentality is important, it helps influence your action.
Willow, at CheapOAir.com customer service on Aug 04, 2016 at 12 noon Beijing time was fantastic in her service! She saved me time, money and hassle while being polite, supportive and customer orientated. She took initiative to be proactive in creating a promoter from a customer who has never used the service and just cancelled (for beyond my control reasons) -- well done! Creating promoters and people who have just cancelled are not usually within the same sentence! The company will without doubt have my repeat business for the trip to the Philippines as soon as I can get down there, and be a ticket provider of high value going forward. Here is the catch CheapOAir.com -- the impeccable service must be consistent, do so and I'll keep coming back. The rest of this website should make it obvious the amount of business this could bring your way from a single person, plus such glowing reviews and word of mouth.
When interacting with customer service reps, there are a few ways to get what you are looking for. Firstly, have an explanation of why you're requesting the changes you're proposing. This humanizes the situation and you're likely to strike areas where the rep can align with you. People who can align will be more likely to go out of their way for you. This leads to the next point: knowing what you want! Believe it or not, many people don't know what they want, in many situations or in life. Having a clear understanding of what you want will give the rep something they can work with. Make these requests reasonable while keeping in mind there may be things beyond control of the rep, still feel free to be creative in your requests. Having a back up plan really helps too, if they cannot follow through with your initial request. It also useful to have a margin of loss you are willing to accept, particularly if the mistake was made by yourself, like the situation above.
I am grateful to have had Willow help me out today. Going forward I'll be more thorough in my research before booking anything.