The Grey Chronicles

2009.December.22

The Frustrations of Travel, Part III



The Terminal is not really a place to sleep comfortably, especially for a three-year old! As soon as the gates were closed to passengers, the lights and the airconditioning were switched off. Then the mosquitoes bombarded those stranded in there. My son was tossing and turning because of the heat and the mosquitoes. Tomorrow, I vowed to itemize the effects of Trans-Asia Shipping’s incompetence to the manager and demand that they should be rectified. I also mentally drafted this post and vowed to publish it as soon as I was connected to the Internet.

I only slept in a sitting position for a total of one-hour or less the whole night. I made sure that my son was comfortable in that uncomfortable place. He slept in a makeshift bed composed of a row of cold metallic Terminal chairs with a mesh for a seat that although mosquitoes were never on his face, I soon discovered that they were attacking my son’s nape. At one time, he was crying because of the heat. Defying the admonition of the posted night security guard, one stranded passenger bravely turned on the Terminal airconditioning units, and we were only left with warding off the horde of hungry mosquitoes.

At 06:00H, some passengers were already coming in. Some of the stores in the Terminal were already opened. One was kind enough to spare us some hot water for my nursing son. We went out of the Terminal to have breakfast but there was no available place to eat that we found.

At 07:30H, I went back to Trans-Asia’s field office and demanded for the immediate resolution of our predicament. At that time, the manager had yet to come in, or so the ticket staff personnel claimed. I have lost my appetite for breakfast, and was thankful that my son already had his morning milk and also ate some freshly baked cookies from the nearby coffee shop.

It was past 09:00H when the Trans-Asia manager came to us. She discussed the alternatives: either to embark on a Cebu-Ormoc fastcraft, or wait for the next day’s available boat for Masbate and assured us a reserved place for that. Her yesterday’s suggestion of a plane ride from Cebu to Legazpi City was now out of question; the next available flight was after Christmas.

I enumerated what we, my son and I, were made to suffer because of Trans-Asia’s incompetence: incorrectly specifying the departure time as 20:00H for Cebu-Masbate boat while the actual time was at 18:00H. We were billeted in the Terminal without dinner or breakfast, uncomfortably slept in a makeshift bed compared to our paid Tourist boat accomodation and lost the opportunity of soon resting at home in Legazpi City.

I pointed out that had this happened with an airline, the latter would have been more apologetic than Trans-Asia! Based on past experience—a delayed or cancelled flight or an inadvertent error of an airline staff, i.e., beyond the customers control—the airlines would have offered us free hotel accomodation with meals plus they would have gone out of their way to book us on the next available or alternate flight to reach our destination with as much as little inconvenience to us. But for Trans-Asia, no apologies was forthcoming! It was enough for them to just refund the boat fares and let the customer fend for themselves and forget about them entirely.

I demanded to talk to whoever was really the manager who could try to resolve what was denied of us. The field manager belatedly apologized and offered to facilitate our passage to a destination much nearer to our original destination. She offered also to pay for our passage for Cebu-Ormoc in addition to our refunded tickets for Cebu-Masbate; plus an additional ₱800 as our per diem. I countered to file a formal complaint in writing and she welcomed the idea. I hastily wrote in a TransAsia stationery that such customer inconvenience should not have happened if it were not for their gross incompetence and pleaded that similar incidents be addressed appropriately aside from NOT letting it happen again. I also promised to blog about this incident.

Thus, it came to pass . . . At 10:00H, my son and I embarked on a Cebu-Ormoc ferry boat ride. The manager itemized our travel plan how to get to Legazpi City. Ormoc to Tacloban by van, Tacloban to Legazpi by bus! We reached Ormoc past 12 noon, transferred to a van for Tacloban and to the bus terminal by 18:00H.

The Tacloban-Manila bus was scheduled to arrive in Tacloban at 20:00H, but only did at 21:00H. The bus was full and many solitary passengers would not budge from their seats because of their personal belongings, thus we sat in the rear part so that my son could lie down. Fortunately, my son slept all throughout the bus ride. We reached Allen, Samar at 02:00H and waited for the first light to board the ferry to Matnog, Sorsogon.

The ferry boat ride was bumpy because of heavy waves. My son nauseated by the rolling and tumbling of the boat that he vomitted along the way. We reached Sorsogon City at 07:00H and Daraga, Albay at 12:00H. Before 13:00H, we arrived at my parents’ home much to the joy of my other two sons and nephews, my siblings and my parents.

In retrospect, the inconvenience my son and I experienced with TransAsia was not alleviated by the Cebu-Masbate Tourist tickets refund, the Cebu-Ormoc fare and the ₱800 per diem. All these were only palliative: it did not correct the wrong. The incompetence of the ticket issuer was first to blame, as well as the wrong decision of Cebu Terminal Trans-Asia manager permitting the Cebu-Masbate boat to depart eventhough she already knew of our late arrival by mere minutes of the 18:30H deadline; then billeting us in the Terminal without dinner, full of mosquitoes and too hot for a three-year old! Business is really uncaring to customers. Money talks!

Lesson learned: Next time, stick with a plane ride!


Notes:

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 LicenseDisclaimer: The posts herein do not necessarily represent any organization’s positions, strategies or opinions. Read the full version of self-imposed rules for this blog: A New Year; New Rules. Unless otherwise expressly stated, the posts are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.
Comments are moderated to keep the discussion relevant and civil. Readers are responsible for their own statements.

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