Customer Service Fail: Man Charged $853 When Wife Dies Before Prepaid Cruise


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Sometimes when businesses fail at customer service, the lessons are so painful that it makes media headlines.

This is the unfortunate case of Viking River Cruises that reportedly charged a Colorado man a $853 “rebooking fee” after his wife died before their prepaid cruise.

Widow Tom Ast had planned a once-in-a-lifetime cruise with his wife, Marylin, so when her health started to ail she made him promise that he would still go on the trip. True to his word, he mustered up the strength to go after her passing, calling Viking River Cruises and informing them of her death. Ast made it clear that he would keep the same room and excursions, and that nothing about his reservation would change.

BAM. That’s when a bomb was dropped.

Ast was told that would be charged a $853 “rebooking fee” simply because his wife was not attending, and to add insult to injury, they told him that if he did not pay the bill immediately, he would lose the money he already spent on the cruise, nearly $11,000.

“It’s like kicking somebody when they’re down on the ground. It’s the lowest point in your life and they’re trying to take advantage of you,” he tells a local Fox News station.

The kicker is that it wasn’t the precious time Ast spent talking with customer service that made Viking River Cruises reverse their decision, but the fact that he went straight to his local news station to tell his story.

Surprise, surprise. The next day after Ast contacted FOX31 Denver Problem Solvers he received a call from the cruise company saying that he would be refunded the $853.60.

Lesson learned? Don’t let negative press be the reason why your business acts in a humane, reasonable and compassionate manner. Providing stellar customer service should never be forced.

And if you need further incentive to act with kindness, know that it pays to be nice, quite literally. Research shows that companies with satisfied customers have better performing stocks than those with less happy ones.


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