Tribune Media Services
updated 11/16/2006 10:58:21 AM ET 2006-11-16T15:58:21
THE TRAVEL TROUBLESHOOTER

Q: I recently made a reservation for a van ride from New York to Newark airport through SuperShuttle. I called hours in advance of my scheduled pick-up and was given a confirmation number by phone.

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My van was supposed to arrive by 11 p.m. I waited 45 minutes and no one showed up. I called the dispatcher and was told that someone had tried to call my cell phone to tell me about the delay. But I hadn’t received a call.

A SuperShuttle dispatcher said the earliest they could send someone over was three hours later. I reluctantly agreed to wait. But at 3 a.m., there was still no one.

I called the company and spoke with the same dispatcher. He said there was no van available to pick me up. Then he told me to take a cab and to contact SuperShuttle’s customer service department to receive compensation for the $70 fare.

I filed a claim more than a month ago, but so far — you guessed it — I haven’t heard a thing from SuperShuttle. Can you help me?
— Lana Carlson, Minneapolis

A: SuperShuttle should have picked you up when it promised it would. And when it didn’t, it should have immediately advised you to take a cab, for which you should have been promptly reimbursed.

Instead, you waited four hours for a van that never showed up. Then you waited weeks for a refund.

That doesn’t seem so super.

What’s the company’s policy on no-shows? Who knows. Although SuperShuttle has a no-show rule for customers — according to its Web site, if you cancel a reservation four hours before a scheduled pickup, you get a full refund — it doesn’t seem to have one for itself (and if it does, it’s not clearly disclosed on its site).

You were much too generous when you agreed to wait four hours for a shuttle. I would have called SuperShuttle and asked to speak with a manager. You wouldn’t have been out of line to politely request either an earlier pickup or for the company to cover your transportation expenses to the airport.

I contacted SuperShuttle on your behalf and asked about your delayed reimbursement. Although a company representative promised to look into the matter right away, you didn’t hear back from anyone until two weeks later, when I checked with SuperShuttle about the status of your case.

A representative then contacted you directly, apologized for the delays, and processed your refund for $70.

Christopher Elliot is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine. E-mail him at chris@elliott.org, or troubleshoot your trip through his Web site, http://www.csr.elliott.org

© 2006 Christopher Elliott ... Distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc.

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