By Pat Gulley
All good things are Green these days. If you want to feel good about yourself do something Green. Just let something be advertised as Green, and you feel very good about buying it or using it. People seem to want to do the right thing and ‘Save The Earth’ (ah yeah, but I don’t think the earth needs saving from us-BUT that’s another story) do the Green thing and eliminating something from your lives. Seeing this, a lot of companies have decided to help you out with that, and ‘eliminate’ something they provide to you. Unfortunately, all too often it is service. But it is couched in something else that sounds good upon first hearing it. The paper elimination thing is one of the biggies when it comes to this kind of legerdemain.
My recent experience.
At the end of September, I’m heading out to do a thirteen-day cruise with a friend that will take us from Quebec City to New York. We had to get permission to get off in New York—the cruise line wanted us to stay on until Fort Lauderdale. No difference in cost, no help getting off in New York, and no refund for the unused two days. Okay, we agreed. A week ago we started wondering where our documents were. (The cruise tickets, which should include vouchers for a hotel package in Quebec City—airport to hotel transfers, hotel accommodations, transfers from the hotel to ship—a voucher for each of the shore excursions we prebooked and paid for, baggage tags and buttons to wear for ID during the cruise. Previously, these items were nicely enclosed in a leather looking plastic envelop and had a detailed cruise itinerary and the booking contract included. Our travel agent would add several other items of interest, like a brochure for the hotel we booked, and/or a brochure about a few of the ports we were stopping in.
So shock of shocks when we got an email (no, not a personal phone call—heck I used to be a TA, I knew exactly what my first reaction would be) telling us that our cruise was the first for the line to go paperless!
Uh-huh. Okay, the paperless part didn’t hit me first, it was that we were the first to try the ‘great greening’ of the cruise line. I mean, I personally can’t wait for tours to start to the Moon or Mars, but I’m here to tell you, I’m not going to be on the first boat out!!! Someone else can check for glitches. But here we are, going to be the glitch checkers.
So, on line we go to print our own documents. First out was a cruise ticket dated the day we boarded the ship with nothing for date of arrival and the hotel stay. Long waits finally informed us that we were manifested for the airport to hotel and hotel stay. Manifested with whom, we asked. A few days later we learned that the cruise line still wasn’t sure who would pick us up at the airport—themselves or the hotel—but one of them for sure and the hotel had us ‘manifested’. Can you guess the next question? Absolutely! What if no one is there to pick us up?
Answer: Call the hotel.
NOT!!!!! This is when a long talk with our TA resulted in our reminding her that we were both retired travel agents, and just who did they think they were trying to play slight of hand with? I can’t image her forgetting, she once worked with me and I was a real------well never mind that part.
So, okay, we got things straightened out, the cruise line WILL have a host at the airport until midnight and we printed out another itinerary from the cruise line with the hotel night showing and it had our booking number referenced. However if our airline is late, we’re on our own. And it means that I have to travel with what looks like two chapters of a novel in paper recording everything sent by email verifying all this besides the original and minimal documents in case something goes wrong. Turned out the shore excursions were a separate printout, showing an additional booking number with a request that we print it out and carry with us.
Oh sure, they’ve gone paperless, but we had better start watching for sales at Staples for cases of paper. And while I’m b----ing, who needs the extra weight of this paper on planes what with the airlines charging for checked luggage and dropping the poundage from 65 to 50? Well Air Canada did anyway, and they aren’t charging for one checked bag, but United may not have but they do have a checked bag charge. And who do you think has to look all this up and print it out to remember?
Gosh, I don’t have a question for you about writing. Well, stay tooned (yes, I know it is spelled ‘tuned’, but after reading the above doesn’t the other spelling seem appropriate) and hopefully my next blog will speak wonders of the trip.
Oh, hey, a question. Have you been involved in any other kind of corporate legerdemain worth mentioning?