Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My letter to Priceline

Dear Senior Vice President:

I recently had an incredibly frustrating experience with Priceline. I reserved a rental car for my wife so she could pick it up in Salt Lake City on her way home from Sacramento, where I had to stay with our car for work. Upon arrival, she found that she could not pick up the rental car because I had reserved it with my credit card, and she has no credit card. The rental agency would not allow me to pay for her rental. Fortunately, my parents drove her home, and her parents loaned her their car for a week.

The frustration began when I called Priceline for a refund of the $66.00 charge I had received for insurance on the rental car. I spoke with two representatives who religiously repeated the same mantra, “I’m very sorry for the inconvenience, Mr. Fairbourn, but we cannot issue a refund.”

In summary, I paid $66.00 for insurance on a rental car that we were not able to pick up, and Priceline will not issue a refund or even a $66.00 credit toward a future Priceline reservation!

I know you understand the value of word-of-mouth marketing, especially in today’s world of online social networks. I frequently receive emails and Facebook messages from friends seeking travel advice. I am 27 years old, I have traveled to fifteen countries in the last four years for education and leisure, and I am very good at traveling on a budget. I also travel at least once per month for work. I have often used and recommended your website for comparing rates and fares, but now I will actively warn against it.

For example, after my frustrating experience, I posted my story in response to the Facebook question, “Have people had bad experiences with Priceline?” Also, I have begun posting status updates and links to warn my 857 friends about the risk of booking through Priceline (namely, if something goes wrong, you will not get a refund). I would love to follow up my warnings with a happy story about how Priceline recognized the problem and made it up to me, but in the meantime, I will continue to warn my friends that Priceline is “very sorry for the inconvenience” of having charged me $66.00 for nothing.

In closing, here are my suggestions:

  1. Refund my insurance payment.
  2. Revise your rental car reservation procedure. When someone books a rental car, and the name of the driver does not match the payment information, display a dialog box warning about payment on pickup. Of course, include a link to the fine print about acceptable forms of payment.
  3. Make this up to me. I would recommend a credit toward a future reservation (in addition to the refund), because that is the only way I will use or recommend Priceline again.


Brett Fairbourn

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Wedding, etc.

Yeah, with a title like that, you know this is going to be a long post... deep breath...
I'm sitting in the Howard Johnson hotel in Rocklin. I went to church, and I caught up on Survivor... which might be my second choice for a religion. Ah crap, we learned about idol worship today. Church was really good, and I needed it because I was so sad to see Heidi leave today. She's back in Utah by now... or soon. Driving with my parents. Anyway... let's go back a couple weeks...

The week of the wedding was STRESSFUL of course. Heidi and I had a couple of rough days, and then one of the most comforting conversations I've ever experienced. (Now I'm hesitating... maybe I should be writing in my journal instead of the blog... well I've got a week here alone, so I'll copy this into my journal and fill in details later). Ahem... so, we had a great conversation where we worked things out. I love her so much.

The day before the wedding, I went to Melissa's house for a delicious breakfast that I'm afraid I didn't get to enjoy as much as I would have liked! Lindsay organized the event, and it was great to see a lot of my family. Plus I needed them... there was a lot to get done and I knew they would help. Thank you, siblings and parents. Melissa submitted a picture order to Costco, Julie picked up the prints, Lindsay picked up the frames... if I try to list what people did, I'll forget something. I just had a lot of help. Thank you.

Haha... one detail I might forget one day if I don't write it down is that Heidi had moved her bed into our (now "our") house, and she slept for two (?) nights on couch cushions pinned in the corner of her room by a laundry basket. Thank goodness Scott Bell came over with his Blazer and helped me move a mattress to her house. I ended up moving it back by myself... it fits in the civic! But it was more fun to have Scott's help, and Heidi and I got to talk to him for a while, too.

The night before the wedding, Heidi was over until very late/early moving stuff in, packing for the honeymoon, etc. The next morning, I found a card she had left for me. It was the greatest start to the day. Well actually, the START to the day was my phone alarm... and 30 seconds later JD knocking on my bedroom door saying "Natasha made breakfast if you want some!" Oh wow... 60 seconds earlier and it would not have been as cool. But that timing was PERFECT, and breakfast was my favorite - French toast. For those who don't know, JD and Natasha are our friends and landlords that live upstairs. We rent their basement. What a great start to the day. And THEN I found the card, which included a list of 27 (plus more in the margins) reasons why Heidi loves me... written two weeks after the first time we spent any time together. She had saved it, and gave it to me the morning of our wedding. It was wonderful.

I got ready to go, and then had to bring Heidi her dress at Quinn and Kristy's. So I saw her, hugged her, and said, "Well aren't we just breaking all the rules?" We also broke the rule about not seeing her in her wedding dress when we took bridals/groomals. So we're rebels, what can I say? Then we drove down to American Fork. I was in my car by myself, and the Bates (Quinn and Kristy) had a carfull right behind me, including my Heidi, who was singing "Don't Stop Believing" at the top of her lungs, I hear. :)

We arrived at the temple a bit early... perfect. We waited by the recommend desk for a while, and I saw Bishop and Sister Ferrin arrive. I love them. A few other people arrived, and then we got escorted back to a little office where they made sure they had our information correct, checked our marriage license, etc. Before long we were all dressed in our temple clothes, waiting in the celestial room. As it turned out, we got to sit together in the celestial room for almost an hour because Heidi's grandparents were running late. It was really nice to have all that peaceful, yet anxious time together in the celestial room before our sealing.

Finally it was time to go in. We stopped in the hallway outside the sealing room to meet our sealer - George D. Durrant. I recognized the name, but didn't realize it was actually the same man that my dad and I had listened to during road trips. We hadn't requested anybody, so we were just meeting whichever sealer had been assigned to us. What did he say to us out in the hall? Oh yeah... I remember some... he told us the basic agenda. We sit in the little bench, he talks for a while, then when we actually do the sealing ordinance, he told us we could look at him or at each other, it didn't matter. He said it might be nice to look at each other when we say "Yes," but again, it didn't matter. He was so nice. When we walked into the sealing room, he shook mom's hand, and mom's reaction confirmed that his name wasn't just familiar - he was the guy with the talk tapes. :)

He said so many great things during the sealing, and he was definitely inspired. He mentioned some things that were so personal to Heidi and I (journal this part), and he talked about opportunities and scenarios we'd face in our future together. I felt like he talked about me a lot, and he said some very complimentary things, but I kind of felt like Heidi was getting left out. I talked to my dad about that afterward, and he pointed out that Brother Durrant had focused on me because of the blessing and opportunity and responsibility I had to be married to Heidi. That's true. I was definitely the luckiest and most honored person in that room! Anyway, a lot of it was personal and sacred, so I'll save it for the journal. Those of you who were there, please send me an email with what you remember from the sealing. We want to remember as much of it as we can. It was a wonderful, beautiful sealing. Most people reading this already know that in temple marriages, we don't say "I do." We just say, "Yes." Well, when I proposed to Heidi, her response was three distinct nods and a whispered, "Yes" with a huge smile on her face. She did the same thing in the temple, and it was our own secret memory right in the middle of our sealing. I love her for thinking of things like that! I loved knowing that this was it... this was making it official. We were getting married... not in a futuristic "we're going to get married" sense, but we were actually in the ceremony and ordinance, getting married.

After the ceremony, we got to greet and hug everyone as they left the room. Heidi's dad hugged me and said, "Now it starts. Now it's your job to take care of her." I said, "I will work very, very hard." Bishop Henrie may have looked happier than anybody... although he usually does. :) He is such a great man. It was so great to hug each of my siblings. When Julie and Chester were preparing for their sealing a few years ago... wow, more than a few, Julie told me about it by "inviting herself to my wedding." She called me in the middle of a crappy day of pest control sales, and told me she'd be at my wedding because she and Chester were going to the temple. I've lived in Julie's basement, and she has really helped me a lot during the hardest times of my life, so it felt like a team victory when I got to hug her in the temple. We both knew that we both made it... and now I'm thinking about how much I'll miss my family when we're in Hawaii... but I'm sure that thought is harder to bear right now because I'm also away from Heidi. Anyway, back to the happiness! The sealing was wonderful. After we hugged everybody, we went out into the hall to figure out where we were going next. The lady that was helping Heidi was one of the first to greet us, and I said, "Sister [forgot her name], I'd like to introduce you to my wife, Heidi." :) She guided us to an elevator, and then to the dressing rooms.

After I put on my tux and checked the mirror, the man that was helping me showed me a seat where I'd wait til Heidi was ready. It wasn't long, and one of the temple workers said, "Well, I'll say you did better than the last guy. He was waiting forever!" Hahaha... I thought that was pretty funny.

I went out to meet Heidi, and of course she looked amazing in her wedding dress. We walked out past the recommend desk and into the foyer, but before we went outside we practiced a dip... AW now everyone knows we planned that. :) But hey, that's not a moment you want to mess up! We walked out the doors, people cheered (which they're not supposed to do at the temple... shame shame), we hugged, kissed, dipped, kissed, got our pictures taken, kissed, etc. I love the picture Melissa posted of Heidi and I hugging Veronica and Austin.

Holy crap uploading pictures on this blog makes me want to smash things. I'll post all the pictures at the end, and they'll probably all end up at the top.

...regaining composure........

So... we had a bunch of pictures taken, and Andy started videoing stuff. We still haven't watched the result, but I'm really looking forward to it. During the week leading up to the wedding, Heidi faced a lot of unnecessary stress imposed by people who... were trying to be helpful? And aside from that, my only sadness was that Andy had moved out. I hardly saw him during the pre-wedding days, and it was weird to know he wasn't my roommate anymore, and never would be. The happiest times of my life have been when I lived with Andy... until now, of course. But even saying that makes me a little sad. But it's not that big of a deal, really. Of course we'll always be good friends and have plenty of opportunities to do stupid, funny, adventurous, and/or lazy things. The end of an era, the beginning of a better one.

Anyway, after the pictures we went to the luncheon. I had forgotten to look up that address, but fortunately when we pulled over to text/call/look at the map, Heidi's parents passed us, and we followed them to the luncheon.

Holy moley... that might have to be all for now. I've been typing my fingers off, and we just got to the luncheon! More later tonight, or possibly tomorrow.