There comes the point when tasks pile up, and I get a bit frustrated. This happened in the past several days when the potential of losing our final payment for the Azamara cruises we had to cancel due to visa issues. Knowing we’d have to spend hours on hold with Costco Travel only added to the frustration,
Due to staffing issues and Covid-19, Costco Travel doesn’t have enough customer service support staff and hold times are outrageous. In every case, when we call, we have to hold for them to come online but also for an additional hour or move for them to get the cruise line on the phone. This is ridiculous.
Although we like getting gift cards for using Costco Travel, we are seriously considering going back to Vacations-To-Go for much better and faster customer service. The pricing on cruises for both companies can vary but on many occasions, they are identical. So, the question becomes, are we willing to deal with these long hold times?
The answer is simple. We’ll deal with the long hold times if we save a lot of money on a particular cruise. But if the difference is insignificant, we’ll use Vacations-To-Go.
When we recently canceled the cruise with the visa issues, we received a document by email on Friday stating we had to use the almost US $5000, ZAR 8312780 for a cruise sailing no later than June 30, 2023, making the future cruise credit not valid for an entire year. We couldn’t use the future cruise credit for our next cruise on August 1, 2023. This was also ridiculous.
The only thing we could do was to book and sail on another cruise with Azamara between now and June 30, 2023. We couldn’t find an Azamara cruise that made sense to us during this period.
We couldn’t call over the weekend when Azamara’s offices were closed until Monday, nor did they want us to contact them directly. Thus we had to go through the weekend, worrying all the while, waiting to call Costco Travel, only to stay on hold for hours. Tom started dialing immediately at their opening time and, by luck, got through to a representative at Costco.
He explained the situation, asking the rep to either move the amount to the balance owing for the cruise next August or give us a refund in full. Here again, we spent 90 minutes on the phone while the Costco rep tried to get through. I won’t go into the details of the obstacles she encountered trying to get the credit applied.
But, finally, Azamara agreed to let us use the credit. We were ecstatic to say the least. When we finally hung up after spewing countless “thank yous” we put our dinner together, unable to wipe the smiles off our faces, grateful, relieved and reminded of “safari luck.”
Yesterday, as planned, I got all the numbers together for our accountant and was excited to email everything to him, reminding him that we’d sent him our documents last March, according to the records from our mailing service. In the middle of the night, when I awoke, unable to go back to sleep, I received an email from our accountant (it was daytime hours in Nevada) stating he had never received the documents by snail mail.
I couldn’t help but do the research during the night, trying to figure out what happened. We can only assume that it was lost in the mail. I dreaded getting duplicate tax statements from Railroad Retirement and Social Security. Neither of these US government offices has an easy-to-use online service. After thinking about this long enough, I finally went back to sleep, knowing I’d bolt off our bed in the morning as early as possible.
First thing this morning, we both got to work on getting the same tax forms. It wasn’t easy. Even logging in was tricky. Finally, by 11:00 am, we’d completed the online forms to request duplicate copies to be sent to our accountant. They should arrive at our mailing service within ten days, and we’ll have them sent to the accountant via FedEx, not snail mail.
Snail mail is a fast-dying process in many countries, and reliability has waned over the past several years.
What a relief to have these annoying obstacles handled. Overall, we can go back to enjoying our lives and putting these stressful situations behind us. Now, we’re waiting for the delivery of our package of supplies from the US which was shipped UPS 10 days ago, via 3-day expedited international shipping. We’ll see how that goes.
I hope you are having a pleasant day. Be well.
Photo from one year ago today, August 9, 2021: