Tuesday, November 24, 2015

About that Cruise

Our children bought us a cruise through Travelocity on Carnival for Michael's retirement. They were super-saver tickets. When insurance was offered it was made to sound like insurance for luggage etc and our son, knowing we could care less if we lose our luggage, declined it.

Our doctor informed us October 30th he did not think it wise for us to travel. He didn't want us driving down the highway, let alone to the Bahamas.  We contacted Travelocity and followed their instructions.

We heard nothing - until 12 Nov - 13 days later.  At that point they changed their instructions. We needed to CANCEL the reservation before Carnival would review it. AND now we were within the window where we would be penalized 75% if we cancelled the ticket. If I waited until the 13th we would be penalized 100%. Nifty how they managed to contact me on the very last day to get any refund?

I realize some have had GREAT experiences with Travelocity. This is not the first time I've had trouble with them. While in Japan I was scheduled to fly when a typhoon hit. I couldn't fly. Travelocity wouldn't refund.

Nonetheless, I called Travelocity and attempted to beg for a bit of compassion.

They would not let me travel with another person.

They would not let me give the tickets to two other people.

My choices were 1. lose 75% ("and tomorrow it will be 100%") or 2. take the cruise alone.  I was NOT talking to the call center by the time I was done. I had "escalated" the call 3 levels.... "You have reached the escalation center."  OK - "WHO IS ABOVE YOU?" Finally, the cream of their crop was talking to me and gave me these two options.

I reminded her the doctor didn't want Michael to travel as he was on a new drug which may have complications. I asked her what in the world I would do if I were in the Bahamas and he had a heart attack or such. Her response - from the top level supervisor of Travelocity -  "That sounds like a family issue to me." OY vey! I was DONE! She began to read her script again about how they can't help us, how this was a super-saver ticket and insurance wasn't purchased... and I actually interrupted and told her not to read the script again. I understood what she was saying. Policy did say we should lose 75% of the tickets, and I couldn't change the names. I had just hoped for a bit of compassion.  I told her to cancel the cruise. They kept 75% of the price and refunded the rest to Josiah.

I decided to write to Carnival again now that the cruise was cancelled. On 12 Nov I re-sent all the email traffic between their company and me and the doctor's letter.  I explained what Travelocity had concluded and I asked if they would show a bit more compassion and consider the situation. I NEVER asked anyone for a refund - I just asked to be able to reschedule or to change the names on the tickets.

We waited. We prayed.  Josiah is a rock! We all felt terrible about this.

We received an email from Carnival. " You’ll be pleased to know that we’ve made a one-time exception to our policy.  Given the circumstances, we’d like to extend a  $$$$ discount towards a future Carnival cruise." The discount and the $300 and change Travelocity refunded totals the cost of the cruise. We have two years to book the cruise and they will apply the discount. We will not book through Travelocity. I understand that the amount they refunded was probably their "cut" from the tickets and Carnival had been given the 75%.....however, their LEADERSHIP'S flippant lack of compassion "Sounds like a family issue...." well that's what lost them my business forever.  

So, we are going to go on the cruise - just not now.  We are not doing business with Travelocity ever again - no "super saver" deal can make up for this total lack of compassion or customer care.  We are humbled by Carnival's willingness to extend grace in our time of need.

Trip to Sacramento (Neurologists)

Michael and I took off yesterday for a little trip to Sacramento. Nah, it wasn't a couple's getaway - it was a trip to see two fantastic neurologists at UC Davis.  They talked with us, asked questions, and ran Michael through a gamut of performance tests again.  They noted the progression of his symptoms and the effect being off the meds for Essential Tremors had made (none).

photo via google images
The upshot of the trip is they both confirmed they are "confident in the Parkinson's diagnosis," and Michael is starting meds. There may a bit of a hold up as the base doesn't carry the med the neurologist prescribed. The base pharmacy is trying to talk our neurologists into another med, and said it would take a bit of time to get this one if they insist. We suspect they'll insist, and he'll have the meds by next week.

The timing of this diagnosis - right at retirement - makes it a bit of a challenge. Most still have work to occupy their time and mind while they settle into the diagnosis.  Not much changes in real life, as they adjust to living with a new condition. For us, it affected our immediate work/ministry plans....and now our driving plans....We talked about ways to continue to "think ahead" and not make retirement all about Parkinson's.  We were a bit discouraged to be reminded this is the "beginning" and things are going to get worse, but that's all the more reason to get busy doing the things we feel God is calling us to do.

We also discovered: my stubbornness and sense of humor are gifts Michael should appreciate, we love both our neurologists, Michael can't eat aged meats and cheeses any longer (going to have to research), and he has gained an amount of retirement weight, too. Michael doesn't gain weight.  We have some assignments to focus on between now and our next visit.

The plan is still to stay in the area until the next appointment. At that point, if all is well, we'll hit the road again and come back for appointments every 3 - 6 months.

Prayers are appreciated that this med will give Michael relief from some of the more troublesome symptoms with very little side effects.....AND that we have grace to deal with the ones he does experience.