Thursday, September 15, 2011

Updates on dispute resolution with Far East Travels

17 January 2012
Checked their Facebook for updates, and it turned out that they had it disabled. Have they finally known shame?

Just a few days earlier, from updates from the other victims, it appeared that the rogue agency Far East Travels had also owed months of payment to various hotels, forcing the operators not to acknowledge anymore of such "FET vouchers". Disgraceful or not, judge for yourselves.

This is the screenshot of the copied reply from a Batam hotel.

Bali and Phuket travellers too! People have paid for the tour packages and look what Far East Travels had done. Dishonorable. This was taken from the "fan page"

18 December 2011
One of the staff accused him of "playing the game of tennis and throwing words onto each other". Well, all he did was ask some questions to verify some facts, which did not get any answers. Their template answer nowadays was to get down to the agency in person.

1. Who to look for? This is important, because when they passes the ball around the other time, it was either "not in the loop" or "no executive powers".

2. What information do they lack, such that he needs to be there in person? The required details have been sent through email, and if nobody had bothered to process, coupled with point #1, wouldn't he be set for a wasted trip?

It does seem like the dedicated CRM recently set-up is not having much effect, whether intended or not. As for Joyce, wondering if she's busy with her other jobs, or if she's just turned a blind eye. She's a senior litigator after all, huh.

13 December 2011
It would seem like Joyce had totally gone into ignore mode. So has the staff of the travel agency. Since they were not replying to the emails, he decided that he would join in the other complainants on their Facebook "Recommendations" column. What irony.

To which they finally replied:
We do not have any intentions of ignoring you. We have however refunded your ferry tickets accordingly. As for the compensations you are looking at, i suggest you take it up formally in your forum and we will respond accordingly. You do realize that we have given you the option to choose the extra perks on the additional massage which you have turned down and it is unfortunate.
Yeah, right! No intention of ignoring, when there were zero replies despite weekly emails over 3 months. Joyce promised to look into the matter, but has gone missing in action. A customer relationship team was set up, but it was like sending emails to nowhere.

Additional perks? They must be kidding. Imagine paying for something that turned out different from agreed.

Far East Travel & Lifestyle Pte Ltd, are you trying to stretch his patience, so that he may eventually drop the case against you? Rogue tactics of delay and ignore, how "professional".

10 November 2011
Sent Joyce an email with regards to the phone charges incurred. He incurred around $4 while his friend chalked up $14. A check on their facebook wall showed that everything had been cleaned out, but hey, other disgruntled customers started posting on the "recommendations" section. It looked like more people are complaining about calls not being picked up and mail not being replied to.

12 October 2011
Received the cheque with 3 signatures. Attached was a note, saying that it had been mistakenly signed by the wrong person, and that had been counter signed by the signatory. It also said to call if there's a problem with the cheque. Murphy, O Murphy, must things always go so "smoothly"? Never mind, he'll just bank it in and see if it goes through.

08 October 2011
Got a call from 674322** at 10.33pm, and they were wondering who'd call at that hour. The caller sounded a little flustered, sounded like Joyce but without the usual poise. She mentioned that she needed to verify his name and address again, even though it had been requested for the other time. Apparently, the caller was issuing it only at that moment. It would appear that the cheque had missed 2 promised deadlines.

He was told to settle for the refund of the ferry tickets first, compensation for miscellaneous items will have to wait. Oh well... let's pray that the cheque with the correct recipient and amount stated gets sent to the correct address.

07 October 2011
Called for the past few days but nobody picked up the telephone. Logged into Facebook to check out their wall, and guess what, loads of freshly victimized people.

Far East Travel wall post


28 September 2011
Called again today but Joyce was not in the office. Valerie did not have information on the status, but promised to leave Joyce a message. Joyce called back around 8pm, and said that she hasn't issued the cheque for the refund of ferry tickets yet. She requested for more time, either end of this week or next week (this was the promised week). Supporting statement was that she works elsewhere and is not always in the travel agency. Requested that first cut would be the refund, and some more time for the other issues. As always, Joyce was very polite and he agreed. Poor Joyce, having to pick up the pieces for her staff.

19 September 2011

Called Joyce today to get status of the inquiry, to check out what was lacking and also to see if a time-frame had been define for resolution. Before he rants on, he wants to highlight that Joyce had been polite throughout the conversation.

Joyce assured him that she'll be able to issue a cheque to reimburse his ferry tickets by next week. Weird thing was, they didn't call him up to ask for details, but waited for his call instead. So infuriating. As of now, no replies to any emails yet. No apologies either.

Additionally, it seemed like Joyce did not give much thought to compensation for the events her agency had caused him to miss. When queried, she said that it was difficult for her to come up with something, since there was no clear-cut value tied to the events (massage and seafood) missed out. He implied that it was a problem that they should be resolving and pressed for a cut-off date for resolution. To which, she suggested that he call her after receipt of the cheque. Had to contain his rage when it sounded like she wanted to push the responsibility of solving the problem. Took a few deep breaths before asking if he was supposed to be working for it, when it should be their responsibility to be updating him. She then agreed that she would call him after "crystallizing" some ideas.

So disappointed.

15 September 2011

Gotta document this down, paid for the trip, got issued with the confirmation slips, but did not get all the services promised. Apologies that this deviates from the usual foodie stuff.

The Boss
Someone known as VR Sooria replied to the emails sent on 10 Sep 2011, asking Far East Travels staff to take responsibility for the mess. After googling that name, it seemed that VR Sooria was the boss, and Far East Travels was only one of his many companies. He felt reassured that such an organization would not let its reputation dredge in mud.

Showing the proof
On 12 September 2011, Monday, he wrote a summary of the inconveniences that occurred, and sent it together with a scan of the ferry tickets and receipt to Far East Travels. Following a conversation on the telephone with Valerie in the afternoon, she requested for the reservation number, with which she confirmed that his details were not captured in the system. Valerie then proceeded to speculate that perhaps he did not provide his details.

Very well, forwarded her the past email exchanges for passengers details and the confirmation vouchers issued by Natasha as proof. It was then that Valerie acknowledged that it was no fault of his and said she would check with the IT department.

However, in the emails was a conversation with another staff named Hyder, who said that he had to do a manual re-submission as the automated system did not capture any passenger details (they did receive payment, though). The requested details were duly submitted and Hyder acknowledged receipt. What stumped him was how confirmation receipt could be issued when a transaction was incomplete? Was something wrong with the process?

On 13 September 2011, Tuesday, he called up Far East Travels to check on progress. Valerie said she needed to search for his file and promised to call him back. When she didn't, he called back instead. He tried to be cordial despite her nonchalant attitude, but when she started to raise her voice, he exploded. The questions she asked made him feel that she did not even bother to read his emails at all. No replies to any of the emails sent (except from VR Sooria to his staff), maybe the relevant staff did not read it, that's why! So insulting.

OK, perhaps she was the sales staff, and not part of after-sales support.

Upon returning home, he plopped down on his computer chair and started writing another email to Far East Travels. Pointed out the unfortunate chain of events and re-emphasized that everything happened because Far East Travels collected his money, issued him the receipt and confirmation slips for the ferry and lodging, when the ferry was not actually booked! Requested for someone proper to be assigned to look into the matter, and that that someone should give due respect in reading the carefully detailed email.

Had to fork out an additional $96 for the ferry service, incur mobile roaming charges, miss out on seafood and massage that came with the package, how not to feel aggrieved? Unapologetic, no interest to resolve the issue, no reassurance. This was booked 1 month ahead too!

After a day of hiatus
On 15 September, Thursday, he got a call from Joyce after VR Sooria designated her to look into the issue in his email. She reassured him that they were looking into the matter. He missed out on asking her about the current status and time-frame as he was in the midst of something.

Far East Travels, 14 people on his end are looking at how you're going to resolve this issue. There could be more out there. A search on Google brought up some cached Facebook pages.

Keywords: vr sooria hyder

And here's the compiled screenshot. In the current page, all comments have been removed.

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