Apple Vacations / bad service
We have been Apple Vacations very satisfied customers three times in the past and had our hearts set on Puerto Vallarta in February. However things dont always work out the way we want. My wife, Gayle, has stage four lung cancer that she has been fighting since November of 2006. She has undergone radiation therapy and chemotherapy twice since being diagnosed. Puerto Vallarta was to be our time to enjoy something normal, something that did not involve cancer. This was to be a time for Gayle to regain some strength and energy and to feel normal.
Cancer however had other plans for us. The week before we were scheduled to leave, Gayle started having crushing headaches that caused her arms and legs to become weak and unstable. When the headaches struck her vision would blur and she would be forced to sit as quickly as possible or risk collapsing. Finally on Sunday, February 17th she admitted that things were bad enough that I took her to a local emergency room. She was examined, and given a CAT scan. The results of the CAT scan indicated that there were either cancerous lesions or an aneurism in her brain. She was immediately transported by ambulance to the Cleveland Clinic and admitted to the oncology floor. She remained in the Clinic from Sunday until Tuesday, February 19th. She was diagnosed with between 9 and 15 metastatic legions in her brain (brain tumors). Treatment was to be drastic and immediate. Gayle underwent fifteen session of whole head radiation starting the next day. These treatments ended on March 12th. It will be a month or more before we know the results of the treatment. At that time she may then need to undergo Gamma Knife Surgery a type of high energy radiation therapy used only on the brain.
On that first Sunday while we were in the emergency room, we knew that things were serious and that our vacation plans for the following week, in all likelihood, would not happen. After two more CAT scans, x-rays and ultrasounds at the Clinic, we received the diagnosis and the planned treatment. This formally ended our hope for Puerto Vallarta in February. I called my travel agent from the Cleveland Clinic immediately. She informed me that Apple Vacations policy on cancelation was no refunds but offered to contact them to see what was possible. She latter informed me that Apple Vacations did not accept medical excuses and that I could either forfeit my entire prepayment or I could pay an additional $500.00 fee to reschedule.
In order to salvage something of what may very well be our last vacation together, and with my wife lying in the hospital bed next to me, I was given literally minutes to accept the rescheduling fee, give my credit card information to pay in advance again, and to pick a new date for the trip. So, with Apple Vacations gun to my head I complied with Apples requirements and paid the fee and grabbed a date that seemed far enough in the future that Gayle would have completed whatever treatments were necessary and that she would have sufficient time to recover from the radiation and regain enough strength to make the trip.
When Gayle told her radiation oncologist about how we were treated by Apple, he was furious and without prompting felt compelled to write to Apple on Gayles behalf. I too cannot understand how Apple can expect a person admitted to the hospital on an emergency basis, and required to undergo extensive radiation on her brain in order to save her life can be thoughtlessly and callously penalized by Apple.
Gayle recovered slowly from the massive amounts of radiation shes received. She was just barley strong enough to make the trip to Puerto Vallarta in May. She had only one or two good hours per day when she could enjoy our resort. It was not our best trip.
I wrote Apple Vacations Customer Care Department regarding this experience in March, prior to our trip to Puerto Vallarta. Included with my letter was the letter my wifes oncologist. I recounted the events and noted that we had been charged a $500 re-booking fee; yet we had rescheduled not cancelled our trip. Five-hundred dollars is not an earth shattering sum of money, but its not inconsequential either. I asked them to reconsider the imposition of this fee. I felt that the current circumstances, our past experience with Apple Vacations and good business sense might engender some compassion on the part of Apple Vacations. I was sadly mistaken and in for some rude surprises. Apple Vacations proved to be not only inflexible and unfeeling but for lack of a better word just plain liars.
My letters were mailed on Monday. To my amazement and great satisfaction I was answered with a phone message from a customer care representative just three days after mailing the letters. However my amazement lasted less than 24 hours. The phone message from Tanisha stated that Apple Vacations did not charge me $500.00 but only an airline re-booking fee of $47.00 per ticket. I called Tanisha the next day and gave her the details of the various payments made to Apple Vacations that demonstrated the $500.00 additional fee. She said shed call me back.
When she called me back she said that Apple Vacations only charged me $100 per person rescheduling fee and the $47.00 per person airline re-booking fee. I again reviewed the payment history to Apple Vacations that totaled the additional $500.00. She said shed call me back.
When I received the next phone call it wasnt from Tanisha it was from my local travel agent (it pains me to use the phrase my travel agent since realistically she works for Apple Vacations not me). I was told that Apple Vacations policy is to not deal directly with the customer, that I would have to deal with the travel agent. I reviewed the entire history and previous conversations with the travel agent and was told: Shed call be back.
She called me back and informed me that the difference between the charges described above and the additional $500 payment was due to a $300.00 price increase by the airline. I had tracked the cost of my vacation on Apple Vacations web site continually from our original travel date in February to the current date in May and I told the travel agent that there didnt appear to be any significant changes in pricing from then to now. She said shed call me back.
When she called back I was now informed that the additional cost was because the original airline I was booked on was different than the air line on the web site. Again I had to correct the travel agent. The original booking was on American Airlines and the updated pricing I used as reference was also for American Airlines. To no ones surprise she said: Ill call you back.
The next call was from the owner of the travel agency. I explained my plight to him and told him that I was only looking for some compassion from Apple Vacations. He told me that â��Apple Vacations will not do anything, I asked him to repeat that so there was no misunderstanding and he did verbatim. I thanked him and hung up.
Apple Vacations should have handled this issue much better than they did. I understand that Apple Vacations serves an enormous customer base each year. I further understand the opportunity to abuse the system, but these policies are created by Apple and so can also be modified as needed. Instead Apples customer service and travel agents chose to act in an arbitrary, unfeeling and mean spirited way.
When a service corporation fails to properly serve its customers and meet the goals and mission of the parent corporation the leadership of that corporation is a guilty as the customer service staff that represents them. I deeply regret that I will no longer be able to use Apple Vacations. Our previous enthusiasm for their services has been completely erased by this experience.
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