SEND IT BACK TO SAN FRANCISCO?
On the first leg of the book tour, somewhere between Vancouver and San Francisco, Air Canada destroyed my Rimowa suitcase.
I left it with the baggage handler in grand shape and it came down the conveyer belt three hours later battered, bruised, missing a wheel and with a huge dent in it. It looked like it might have been run over by the plane.
I calmly (I follow a book called Gratitude and Trust) filed a report with a very nice man whose only job is to take reports of damaged and lost luggage.
He looked at mine and said “They will give you a new one. They have to.All I had to do was follow the protocol.”
He handed me his report and gave me a FedEx receipt. I was to take the bag to a FedEx store and send it to Dallas, to a repair shop. They were, according to the instructions, the only ones allowed to make a diagnosis and decide if the bag could be repaired or should be replaced.
When we left the gentleman said how nice I had been. I told him it wasn’t his fault, he didn’t break the bag. He said I’d be surprised how many people blame him and yell at him. Not me, not Miss Trusty. Paul even told me how well I handled it.
So, the bag stayed with me like a three-legged dog until I got back to New York a week later. It wasn’t the end of the world. I would be getting a new one to replace it.
I immediately filled out my paperwork and FedEx took it off to Dallas.
I waited ten days. Not a word. So I called the repair shop/luggage dealer in Dallas. Phillip runs it. We became fast friends. He told me the bag was useless and I needed a new one. If I wanted another Rimowa I could either have the top of the line, and thus pay some extra money, but also add about five pounds to what I drag around the world; Or there was a great new Tumi. I might also have to put in a little money, but he could have it to me by Friday.
We talked for a half hour. Rimowa versus Tumi. Polycarbonate versus aluminum. He has endless patience for luggage talk. We left it that I would go to the luggage store near my office check them both out and call him today.
Long story made a little shorter I picked the Tumi. I called him today. He told me Air Canada denied his request to replace the bag. They wanted to give me some money instead. Not sure how much but he was selling an 850 dollar bag to them for 400. Which means they wanted to give me like 300. Like maybe. Like maybe less
So tonight I called the number of the supposed luggage authorities.
Endless music. Thirty minutes wait time. When the suicide inducing music finally stopped an Indian voice answered. Now, I love India more than most, but I knew I was in trouble. This girl had no authority.
She kept saying, “Nothing I can do.”
I kept saying “Pass me on to someone higher. “
I told her I knew she was in Bangalore.
She said, “Pune.”
But that did not make her anymore helpful. She told me a supervisor would call me.
Wouldn’t you know when he did, I was in the other room and didn’t hear my phone. The number he left was the main one. Another forty minutes of the endless music. Thank God for speaker phones. I finally got a guy, explained my story in detail for the fourth time.
I’ve decided there are no supervisors, no higher ups, they merely hand the phone from one friend to another.
So this guy says, he has to call the guy who took the report.
I was floored. “You’re going to call the guy in San Francisco who simply filed the claim? What on earth would he know at this point?”
“He knows what is wrong with the bag.”
“ Read his report. He wrote it down. The paper says the only person who can decide the fate of the bag is in Dallas at the designated dealer. That would be Philip and he says I need a new bag.”
He said, “He (Philip) needs to send the bag back to the man who took the report.”
This is Indian bureaucracy at its worst. It’s when globalization totally breaks down a supposedly functioning system.
“He needs to send the broken bag back to San Francisco. FOR WHAT?”
“So he can see if it’s broken.”
“He already saw it’s broken. Read his report.”
“I have his report”
“Then read it properly. It says, “Bag destroyed. Only designated repair shop can deicide. Philip decided. What more do you want? Philip wants to send me a Tumi for an additional $276.78. I’m fine with that.”
“Not his decision. You must write or fax Air Canada.”
Fax? Fax? Really? We’ve gone back to faxing?
I said, “Give me a phone number.”
“There are no phone numbers only this one.”
Right – 1 – 800 – INEPT.
I told him writing would take forever. I leave on another trip on Monday. They promised me a new bag.
“We have no authority.”
I said, “That is what I’ve been telling you. Only Philip has authority.”
“www.AirCanada .com” he muttered. Then hung up.
So I called Phillip. He was shocked. He thought they would approve it. I told him I would work on it some more and call him tomorrow. He told me he wouldn’t be in tomorrow. He wasn’t feeling well.
“Oh God Philip, You’re in Dallas. Ebola.”
He hadn’t thought of that. He told me he would give me forty percent off two bags and twenty off of one.
Not sure if this is a racket. But he’s a nice guy. I’m hoping he hasn’t been exposed to Ebola.
Glenn says we will just buy a bag.
But I’m not giving up.
This is not the last they have heard from me.
Send it back to San Francisco…