Bowling – Black Oak Casino (a complaint)

I just sent the following to Black Oak Casino about whoever the security guard was on the entertainment level today (2009-06-10) at noon – or their policies, if they are in fact policies.

I find it truly offensive that I cannot bring four children with me to go bowling at noon on a weekday without being told that the bottled waters we brought with us are “not allowed” within the casino. All FOUR of the children with me (aged from 4 to 12) couldn’t help but spend the entire drive home commenting on the TWO older women that walked into the casino in front of us, one of them went to the entertainment floor RIGHT IN FRONT OF US. BOTH of these older women were carrying very large coffees that were very clearly not from the casino. And we were singled out because…just guessing, but it’s probably because I only intended to spend another $40 down at the bowling alley (like I did last week when, coincidentally, nobody told us to leave when we brought our bottled waters into the bowling alley).

Also coincidentally, nobody told us that we couldn’t have our bottled waters with us when we spent $70 at the Cafe last week, or when we took our bottled waters to The Mill a week and a half ago.

If it is truly your policy to forbid all “outside drinks” from your casino, restaurants and entertainment floor, then you’ve got dozens of guards and staff that don’t care a piddlers damn about your policies – and have rightly accepted the business they were offered even if that “enemy” that is the customer (me!) chose to be so downright disrespectful as to bring bottled water into your casino. I also find it interesting that nowhere does it say that outside food or drinks are forbidden.

Don’t worry, though, you won’t have to worry about us bringing our bottled waters – or our money – back to the casino again. Ever.

I’ve thought about this quite a bit anyway, since you seem to be at odds with anything and everything that was ever good at your restaurants, but frankly, I don’t really see it as a loss. Maybe if your food wasn’t changing every week specifically to eliminate anything remotely appetizing (mozzarella wedges, cheddar pintz, mozzarella sticks, sorbets and well over a dozen different types of sandwiches), or if your staff had an ounce of customer service training, we might reconsider. But frankly, the $2k/year I spend there on food and entertainment is probably better off spent…well gosh, just about anywhere else in Tuolumne county. I hope you eventually realize that in this economy you should not be so pedantic about things like this. Those businesses that will survive are going to be those that actually care for their visitors and encourage them to visit even if it’s only to spend a mere $40 bowling.

Tomorrow we’ll be going to Sonora Family Bowl.

Get Human

Part II: Unaccompanied Minors!

We ended up purchasing a ticket from American Airlines, instead of Continental as we had planned. While the rates were cheaper on Continental, they require a 21-day advance ticket purchase to obtain a great deal, as opposed to American Airlines 7-day advanced ticket requirement.

Even so, we aren’t certain my nephew will be allowed to actually fly out to California. Only time will tell. I’ll keep you posted.

The reason for this post is simple, I couldn’t wait to share a recently found website with you. If you remember from my last post, I was not very happy about trying to book a flight from a customer service representative located half-way around the world – in India and dealing with all those automated services.

In a recent e-mail I received a link to the "GetHuman" website. This is one link I can assure you I’ll be placing in my favorites. The GetHuman 500 Database provides telephone numbers and instructions on how to connect to a real live human being at many of the businesses people call everyday, such as; utility companies, banks, government, insurance companies and more. I can’t wait to try it out.

So next time you are forced into communicating with a machine, take heart, there may be an alternative, and it could save you time, frustration and money. Check it out.

Be sure to respond and let us know what kind of results you get.

Unaccompanied Minors

Domestic flight plans can lead to international fiasco

Flying Unaccompanied Minors!
Flying Unaccompanied Minors!

An article was posted to Reliable Answers website a few days ago called, "The Ethics of Outsourcing Customer Service," it didn’t really strike a nerve in me until last night.

Cross Country Move

My niece and her family live in Ohio. They plan to move to California early next year. We’ve been chatting back and forth on a daily basis, while she has been searching for the best and cheapest way to move a family of six over 2500 miles across the country.

During this process my ten-year-old and her nine-year-old have been getting reacquainted. The kids cooked up a scheme for her son to come stay with our family for the remaining six-months, until their move. I never expected my niece and her husband to agree, so I said, "Sure, it would be nice to spend time with him." Little did I know, his mother and father, thought it was a terrific idea.

Searching for a Deal

I’ve spent the past several days hunting down airline ticket deals. I never realized just how complicated it could be to get an "unaccompanied minor" on a flight. I immediately thought of Skybus, a new no-frills airline known for offering some of the best deals around; problem, they don’t allow un-accompanied minors at all. So, scratch that.

I searched all the major airlines. Most will not allow you to make reservations online, so a call to the company is warranted. No, big deal. Of course, I got a few of those annoying automated voice systems.

When will companies learn that some people just prefer to press buttons? I hate talking to artificial people. I find it demeaning and more than a little annoying – especially since they never understand what I am trying to say. I end up repeating myself over and over again. I’ve learned that if I either refuse to respond or if I press 0 several times, I can often bypass their system, but not always.

I used to fly regularly, prior to 9-11, since one rather nasty airport incident that occured in May 2002; I refuse to fly any more. In fact, if I can’t drive there, I’m not going. But that’s another story.

Checking Out the Airlines

I called American Airlines first. I needed details on how the whole unaccompanied minor program worked. An automated voice program answered my call. I asked to speak to a representative and after only three requests; the machine understood my request and connected me. After a short wait, on hold, a real person, who was polite, knowledgeable and who spoke perfect English, answered my call.

American Airlines has several restrictions, depending on the age of the minor, who is traveling alone, such as:

  • Children traveling as Unaccompanied Minors must be booked through our Reservations representatives.
  • American Airlines does not accept unaccompanied children when their itinerary includes a connection to/from another airline.
  • Children who will be traveling alone will be required to use the Unaccompanied Minor service at a cost of $75.00, in addition to the normal airfare.

Continental is the only airline I found that allows travelers to make arrangements online, after becoming a club member. They charge an unaccompanied minors fee of $95.00 with an additional restriction; unaccompanied children are not allowed to fly on the last flight of the day.

Delta Outsources Customer Service

Back when I flew frequently, I used Delta Air Lines quite often, so I gave them a call for good measure. As expected, the call was answered by an automated voice system, what I did not expect what the voice on the other end of the line, when I finally reached a real person. Who would have expected a major U.S. airline to farm out their customer service to India? Though I knew instantly that this call was not answered in the U.S., I flat out asked the person on the other end of the line.

My suspicions were confirmed, he was in India and it was obvious immediately. I was furious. I asked to speak with someone in the United States, and I was told that he would connect me as soon as we were finished. That never happened. I tried to explain what I wanted, several times. This customer service representative had a very poor grasp of the English language and was having trouble understanding plain English. I grew frustrated and ended the call, not after I had to repeat myself at least ten times, telling him that I was not interested in booking a flight at this time.

It was plain to me that contrary to Delta Airlines assurances that "my call is important to them," it was not. I vowed then and there that even if Delta gave me a free flight, I would never allow my nephew to fly on their planes. It’s bad enough that so many companies today are using voice automated answering systems but they add insult to injury when they subject us to non-English speaking customer service representatives.

Someone at Delta has a death wish for their business. There is no way experienced professionals who travel for business will ever put up with such shoddy service. I consider it a slap in the face. There are too many other companies who value my business and are happy to take my money, I don’t have to be subjected to this type of treatment and you shouldn’t either.

We’ve decided Continental will be getting our business. Their website is easy to use, with no need to sit on hold. since we can make our travel plans online. They offer terrific savings if you plan your trip at least 21-days in advance. I’ll let you know how things go with this trip. After all, we don’t trust our children to just anyone.