Thursday, May 12, 2016

"Everybody complains about their travel problems...

...but nobody does anything about them."

That paraphrase of a quote from Charles Dudley Warner (who was never known to complain that Mark Twain got the credit for the witticism) summarizes a finding Mashable talked about yesterday.
If a vacation doesn't go as planned, consumers have a few options for getting some satisfaction, from avoiding a service provider in the future to demanding a refund.

According to a recent survey, however, travelers' favorite option is to complain. Not to the company that didn't meet their expectations, but to the world.
While I seldom write reviews of products or services online, I have been known to lodge questions or complaints on vendors' Twitter pages from time to time. I do this only after attempts to talk to human beings at the companies have come up empty. I've done this several times for myself and another person with AT & T. Their @attcares folks usually respond right away, sometimes with very good results.

But the Mashable article indicates that for many consumers, complaining (ineffectually) on the Internet is their first response to bad travel experiences:
MarkMonitor surveyed 3,257 consumers in eight countries — including the U.S., UK, Germany, France, Italy, Denmark, Spain and the Netherlands — about booking travel online.

About 42% of respondents said that when a vacation didn't turn out as promised, their very first response is to post a negative review. Another 35% said their first response is to complain to a licensing body, like the U.S. Department of Transportation or the European Union.

Meanwhile, 40% of respondents said they would try to get a refund first.
In other words, people complain but nothing good comes of it.

Well, except for this:
Complaining online about a recent booking experience is unlikely to get a traveler much more than (possible) catharsis, but it will likely help other travelers: 47% of respondents said they check online reviews before booking travel, according to Tnooz.
Bellyaching seems to be a favorite pastime for some people. They prefer bellyaching--about lots of things in their lives--rather than trying proactively to address what it is that bothers them.

They do that for one big reason, I think. There's a gratification they get from having "complaining rights."

If they addressed the right people with their concerns, the problems might get solved. What would happen to their righteous indignation, their self-justification?

People like that remind me of the lyrics from an old Carly Simon song: "Suffering was the only thing that made me feel I was alive..."

Of course, I'm not suggesting that everyone who goes the Internet bellyaching route right away is psychologically warped.

But I do think that people who forgo efforts to resolve conflicts they have (even with big corporations) are probably shrouded in a sense of impotence and insignificance. That's sad to me. (See the post that precedes this one regarding human dignity.)

Oh, and here's that Carly Simon song.

[Blogger Mark Daniels is the pastor of Living Water Lutheran Church, Centerville, Ohio.]

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