Policies are Guidelines : How One Company Exceeded Expectations

by Kay Lynn

My mother passed away last month on the day my husband and I were to sail on a long-scheduled 15 night cruise to Hawaii.

We cancelled the cruise with a day’s notice which was well past all the cancellations periods for a partial refund let alone the full amount.   The situation is exactly why thousands of people buy travel insurance.  But we hadn’t.

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The Bad News

When my travel agent spoke with the cruise line representative to cancel the booking she wasn’t able to arrange any type of credit. We were about to lose both my mom and $3500 on the same day. I wasn’t mad at Carnival Cruise Lines, but at myself. Why would I risk losing so much money?

When delivering the news to me, the agent did encourage me to write a letter and so I did.

Asking for What You Want

I wrote an email explaining the situation (including a link to the obituary) and requested a credit.  My appeal included the fact that we were loyal cruisers and stockholders.

I also included the fact that I knew we should have arranged for travel insurance and had learned our lesson and thanked them for their kind consideration.

I was hoping for at least a 50% credit so we could take a vacation somewhere later this year. This letter was not sent via snail mail to the customer service address my agent gave me but emailed to the president of the cruise line.

Now, I had no expectation that he would read my email but trusted that it would be routed to the right resource and it worked.

The Result

Two days later I received an email from an email address labeled icare (guest administration). Not only did we get a credit, but it was for the full amount!

The credit did come with a few restrictions and one of them was that it couldn’t be used for Hawaii.  I requested that be waived since the cancelled cruise was to that destination and again Carnival came through.

We are now booked for a cruise to Hawaii in 2013 and Carnival now has two very happy and loyal customers.  Oh and yes, we did get travel insurance this time.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Sid @ RealEstateGrasshopper May 18, 2012 at 8:48 am

Sorry to hear about your mom!

It is surprising to learn that some companies out there still care about their customers. Not many companies would do what Carnival did for you. By them exceeding your expectations, they know that they will have you as a customer for life!

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Jai Catalano May 18, 2012 at 11:11 am

Soooooo so sorry about your mom. This is an awkward post for me to respond to. I send my condolences and congrats on getting refunded. Businesses sometimes could care less.

So sorry once again… but congrats.

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Kay Lynn May 18, 2012 at 12:22 pm

Jai, I didn’t want it to be awkward, but just show that large companies do still do the right thing. Thank you for your condolences.

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Jai Catalano May 21, 2012 at 5:30 am

Yeah I know you didn’t. It’s just how I felt. Don’t get me wrong I like conflicting feelings because it’s part of my personae but when it’s coming from someone I feel I know it bothers me because I can feel your pain.

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krantcents May 18, 2012 at 11:32 am

Nice ending to a terrible circumstance. It is nice to hear a large company has a heart. I am sorry for your loss.

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Kay Lynn May 18, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Krantcents, thank you so much. I was glad to see a corporation that does respond to individual situations and without a lot of hassle!

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Lance@MoneyLife&More May 18, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Sorry to hear about your Mom but Carnival did great! I recently booked a cruise with them and got to use their price protection feature with no problems. They seem like a great company, but I will know more after I go on my cruise 🙂

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Kay Lynn May 20, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Lance, if you’re like us you’ll find cruising an addicting vacation.

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maria@moneyprinciple May 19, 2012 at 3:30 am

I am very sorry to hear about your mum – this is a very hard thing to deal with under any circumstances and at any age (I am still not over it and my mum passed away three years ago). On the other hand, it is good news that at least the holiday was sorted out – one fewer things to concern yourself about.

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Kay Lynn May 20, 2012 at 7:48 pm

Maria, thank you for your kind words. I’ve heard from money people that you don’t get over it but rather learn to live with the loss.

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shanendoah@the dog ate my wallet May 21, 2012 at 9:51 am

So sorry for your loss.
This is a good reminder that even when an initial answer is no, it doesn’t hurt to ask a second time. Many companies have an appeal process, or, as in your case, a customer service account dedicated to helping people in situations such as yours. The worst that can happen is that they say “no” again, but generally, if a customer cares enough and is loyal enough (because you don’t appeal to companies you don’t have a relationship with) to ask a second time, good things can happen.

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Kay Lynn May 24, 2012 at 7:51 am

Good point that the average person wouldn’t pursue credits/refunds or some other compensation unless they wanted to continue doing business with a company.

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Marissa @ Thirtysixmonths May 24, 2012 at 1:16 am

I so sorry to hear about your mom. Your family is in my thoughts. I am however happy to see that people still have a heart even if they work for big companies.

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Kay Lynn May 24, 2012 at 7:52 am

Marissa, my thought always is that people are behind all the policies and actions behind a company. Therefore, there’s always hope they’ll be reasonable and caring.

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Julie M June 8, 2012 at 6:16 pm

I just went through the same thing with my father. We sent them the death certificate and a letter from hospice two weeks prior to our scheduled sailings. I got an email saying they could not do anything for us. This was to be our 6th Carnival Cruise. I am wondering who you spoke or wrote to.

Thanks,
Julie

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