Any travellers nightmare, turned reality on my summer trip to Europe. Whether it be an airline misplacement, a courier gone wrong (like me!) or a stolen bag, your luggage is something you never want to let lose. So what do you do when it becomes a reality? How do you stay calm? Let me fill you in…
After spending over two months backpacking, it was time to settle into my new life in Dusseldorf, Germany. Awaiting my luggage, forwarded by courier in France, I had very few clothes, no laptop and started running low on underwear. The courier, who shall remain unnamed, decided it would be best to send my suitcase full of luggage to the wrong address, then around Europe several times before getting to my door. I must admit, it was very stressful and a big learning curve, especially when buying new clothes is not an option (due to lack of financials!).
The most important thing to do is remain calm (well maybe freak out first, then calm down before contacting anyone!). Just remember, EVERYTHING is replaceable and you will be okay! Next, contact the people responsible IMMEDIATELY. Do not hesitate. The sooner you get onto the trail, the better. People in the dispatch business have VERY short memories, so if you can get the managers ringing around that day for your bags, the likelihood the staff will remember which one it is becomes much higher!
Biggest hint: DOCUMENT EVERYTHING. Emails are the best way to document the process, but if you need to make a call, ensure you have the person’s name and ID number written down and get them to send you a reconfirmation email about anything you discussed.
Prepare yourself. Document everything you can remember about your bag, what it looks like, branding, year of purchase, the best thing to do is have a photo, you will be surprised when you look through your travel pics how often luggage may be in the background, so try and get a clear image for the company to help the process.
Speak professionally. You do not need to carry on like a four year old. You must be firm, so they know you are serious about the situation but ensure swear words and other foul language do not come into play, or you simply will not get your way. I always try and speak in a manner that makes sure they know it is your legal right to receive your luggage back, or full reimbursement. If you put this into the picture straight off the bat, they will see that you will be fighting for your consumer rights and are not playing around.
Do not fall for apologies and giving up. So many people just give up and call it a day, but you can usually gain at least partial reimbursement if luggage is not found (assuming it is not YOUR fault of course!).
Get on a first name basis with the companies manager. Make the customer support staff your frenemies. Love to hate them, but know that they are trying their best, so make sure you thank them, and even add a line such as “Thank you so much Peter, you’re the best!” people love positive reinforcement!
Give it time. Weekends and public holidays are, unfortunately, a reality and you may have to wait for answers, but stay on top of things. I contacted the courier every 48 hours to see what the progress was, and by doing this, received my luggage back safe and sound within the week (with full refund of courier costs!).
Language may be a barrier, so always request a native speaker to handle your case. Be careful as certain terms (for example, ‘Bloody Hell!’ in Australia is common slang, but to many Muslim and Asian countries, this is incredibly offensive.) can cause damage to your rapport with customer service personnel.
If your bags are gone forever, make sure you are fighting for that reimbursement, have everything in writing and claim direct from your travel insurance, they will need proof that you were in contact with the airline, so save every email!
Best of Luck xxx