“Good Luck Mr. Ellison”

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Nice Little Boat
Last week, Larry Ellison, #5 on Forbes richest people in the world list just bought the local airline, Island Air. A few months ago he bought the island of Lanai. During those negotiations his yacht was docked at Aloha Tower in Honolulu. Rumor has it that he actually owns two of these. Money will buy a lot of things, but it won’t buy customer loyalty.

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“They Could Have (at least) Called Me!!!”
I arrived at the Island Air terminal at the Honolulu Airport at 2 PM; giving me plenty of time to go through security and board my 2:45 PM flight to Kapalua, West Maui. I had already checked in on line and had my boarding Pass. I just needed to verify the gate number.

The counter agents were clowning around with each other, and exchanging candy bars as I stood waiting, unable to get so much as eye contact with one of them. When finally called over by the agent, she looked at my boarding pass and in a very matter of fact tone said, “We are putting you on a Hawaiian Air flight to Kahului.” That’s on the opposite side of the island! She handed me two documents as she said, “Give this one to the Hawaiian Air ticket agent, and this one is a taxi voucher to get you where you are going.” I asked her to explain this to me and she coldly said, “Aircraft Maintainance.” I said, “No, that won’t work for me, just put me on a later flight.” She said, “They have all been cancelled.”

As much as I felt like complaining, I knew it wouldn’t do any good, so I picked up my bags and began walking to the other terminal thinking, “That’s it for these guys. As convenient as flying into Kapalua is, I can fly Hawaiian the morning of my meeting and spare the expense of a night at The Westin and dinner at Roy’s. I can also count on the plane to leave when scheduled.” This is the second time in three weeks that “airplane maintenance” has delayed my flight.

Unless the attitudes and recent behavior patterns I  have observed at Island Air are improved, Mr. Ellison will be in for a rude awakening. I  am certain he won’t even know he missed my business, however I understand that Hawaiian Air is already gearing up to fly into Kapalua.

In the 31 years that I have lived in Hawaii I have seen several airlines go bust, including the long time #2 carrier, Aloha Airlines which was driven out by recent rival Go Airlines, who shares the terminal with Island Air.

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“Mahalo”
Upon arriving at Hawaiian Air I was able to convince the agent to get me on an earlier flight with a First Class upgrade for $50. I spent the flight roughing out this rant on my iPad. When we landed in Kahului I told the taxi driver that I was going to Kapalua and he flashed a big grin and couldn’t hold back a little, “Yeah!” I waited until we were well on the way before telling him that I have a voucher from Island Air. He was far from thrilled to find that out, and he asked to see it. He called his boss to get approval and then went into a funk.  My guess is that inconvenienced, sometimes even angry people aren’t the best of tippers, especially when they aren’t paying for the ride. I asked the driver if the voucher includes a tip, and he laughed. I took that as a, “No Way!”

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The Ride
The fare to Kapalua was $91, and he wasn’t expecting anything but I gave him a $20 tip. He was thrilled. Island Air’s poor performance wasn’t his fault. Riding around the Pali and watching whales frolic offshore calmed me down. It’s rare that I have the luxury of taking in the scenery as a passenger. There’s always a bright side to every little inconvenience.

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Room with a View
To complete the mellowing out experience I checked into my ocean front suite at the Westin Maui…

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And strolled over to Roy’s for a huge slab of seared tofu.
Life is Good

4 Responses to ““Good Luck Mr. Ellison””

  1. vidsolve Says:

    Sad to say that sounds on par for a lot of hawaii businesses. They do not have the sensitivity or care IMHO. They do not really understand customer care. they understand how to say have a nice day or no worries, but they dont often have a clue as to taking care of those creature comforts properly. they dont get that people dont like hearing a long compllcated excuse speech, they just want to get to where they are going or recieve what they need without a lot of drama. Its called having a little class and empathy and understanding. On a trip i took to newport beach, those people ALL know what customer care is at the deepest, most sensitive levels. Try go there and you will see what i mean, these people get it, they actually care about people, they know what people want, they dont go into a long stupid complicated excuse speech ever, they get it done, and their boss makes sure they have the proper resources and attitude, whether they are taking my order for a $8 burrito or selling me a 350,000 dollar ferrari, they get it!

  2. Abdul Moghrabi Says:

    Life can always be good if one learns from previous situations and suspend those Wiley emotions. Keeping an open mind is key. Being irrepressibly optimistic helps. Keeping it real is critical.

  3. Marianne Schultz Says:

    Well Ron, what a story. I am glad you were able to enjoy yourself at the end of this. Customer service is certainly going to hell in a hand basket in many areas. That people have a job at all should be a blessing and it is sad they take out that blessing so negatively to those they serve. I do think that he’ll be in for a rude awakening when he hears more problems like this. If he listens at all. Hooray that Hawaiian is planning to fly to Kapalua. I’ve yet to have the situation with maintenance like you did but I’m sure it’s not avoidable. Thanks for the rant, you made interesting reading today! A hui hou - MEWS

  4. Abdul Moghrabi Says:

    The beauty of sales is when one fails to succeed, one must think and think again about the next customer. It’s this thinking of how to do it better the next time that promulgates getting rid of bad habits, being better prepared, differently alert, etc. sales is like professional sports whee one can score on the next try- whether it’s serving an ace, scoring a touchdown, etc. failure in sales is a wake up call to reassess every step of the 9 steps Pro Active- No Pressure Approach. Excuses are out because the new- or even returning customers- comes in for their own agenda, and it has nothing to do with the salesperson, but the systems that support the salesperson… I just had to remind myself with all of this on the hope that I learn to think differently all day long.

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