Ever wonder why some people end up with upgrades and refunds whenever they encounter less than adequate wheelchair-access, while others walk away with zero compensation? Truth be told, it’s all in the attitude. Knowing when to complain, how to complain and who to complain to are the keys to not only resolving the issue at hand, but also to receiving adequate compensation for your inconvenience. So the next time you encounter an access problem on the road, follow this roadmap for prompt resolution and adequate compensation.
Saving Your Trip
First and foremost, whenever disaster strikes your immediate goal should be to solve the problem at hand. Next, you should try to prevent further damage. In other words, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. For example, if you miss a connection because the airline didn’t have a wheelchair waiting at the gate for you, don’t just throw in the towel. Work with the airline to get on the next available flight, so you can salvage part of your vacation.
And don’t be afraid to mention your financial loss while you are trying to mitigate damages. If the next available flight isn’t until late at night, point out that you are missing a whole day of vacation. And then ask if perhaps an upgrade is available. It’s also a good idea to jot down a few notes about the incident while it’s fresh in your mind.
When You Get Home
The time to file an official complaint with a service provider is after you return from your trip. And although every situation is different, here are some tips to help you approach the official complaint process.
- Although it’s easy to pick up the phone, your complaint will receive more attention if you put it in writing.
- Address the appropriate person. Don’t start with the President or CEO, but instead begin at the bottom and work your way up. You want to be able to show that you followed the company’s complaint procedure in an effort to resolve your accessibility issue.
- Keep your complaint letter short and sweet It should be no longer than one page. Avoid superfluous details and get to the point quickly.
- Keep it polite, professional and G-rated. Abstain from vulgarities and name-calling.
- Have someone who isn’t emotionally invested in the incident proofread your letter for clarity.
- Never threaten to sue or to file an Americans with Disabilities Act in your initial complaint. It may be an option later, but at this time it just creates an adversarial situation and makes the matter harder to resolve.
- If you are going to quote the law, make sure you know the law.
- Make sure and enclose all documentation, including receipts and photos.
Finally, be sure and ask for some type of resolution. Don’t be afraid to ask for specific compensation, but be realistic. If you’re reasonable with your request, most companies will be generous in their response.