You can find more stories like this in our Travel Section.
You asked for a non-smoking room and the hotel said no problem, but when you checked in, the room reeked of tobacco smoke. You put a lock on your luggage, but when the airline returned your bag, the lock was broken. The sporty roadster you requested from the car rental agency turned out to be a gas-guzzling SUV.
You complain. But you don’t complain just to let off steam; that’s venting. Venting and its first cousin, ranting, may make you feel better, but they don’t get you anywhere.
You want recompense – maybe money for a new bag, definitely a new, smoke-free hotel room - and you want to do your bit to shape-up the company. You understand that if the company management doesn’t hear from you, they won’t know they have a problem and will be thus unable to fix it.
But, there are rules for how to complain and get results.
Don’t lose your temper. You don’t want this moment to devolve into a quarrel. Keep your cool, stick to the facts, keep it short and be polite.Be specific. Joe Brancatelli, who runs the business-travel Web site Joesentme.com, suggests taking notes to bolster your memory and emphasizing only the major issues (not the little things that only add insult to injury).
Build a paper trail. That’s part of being specific, and it shows you know what you’re talking about. Keep credit card receipts, airline e-tickets, boarding passes and hotel documents. Send only copies, never originals, when you produce documentation to the offending company.
Understand that timing is important. In some cases – as with the hotel room that was supposed to be non-smoking, but wasn’t – you must complain in real-time. You want to transfer to another room and you need to do that now. Work with the front desk – softly, softly - to get that new room.