Archive for the 'Transportation' Category

Expedia Sucks

This could end up being very long, and if you don’t really want to hear about it, please feel free to not read ahead.  Please don’t read to the end and then leave a comment telling me what I should have done.  It’s clearly too late for that.   I am pretty much throwing this out there as a last ditch effort, as I have been told by several people that throwing a hissy fit on some social media is a really good way of getting the attention of a company that doesn’t want to pay attention to you, or is trying to avoid your issue as hard as they fucking can.  At this point, that’s where I stand with Expedia.

So, as you may know, if you read this blog regularly or follow me on twitter or instagram, I broke my leg in March.   It was a massively unfortunate accident, and it derailed several plans about how I was hoping to spend my summer.   Initially I had hoped to spend two weeks or so in Portugal over the summer.  I have never been to Portugal, and it would have been my second ever trip to “The Continent”, the first being in Paris over New Years.  One of the things I was looking forward to doing in Portugal was spending time at the sea, and of course, surfing.  When I broke my leg, I knew that a big summer trip was out, and that if I did go anywhere, it would be nowhere near any ocean, so that I would not have to sit and look at it, knowing I couldn’t enjoy it.  I did that once before in Kauai.  It sucked.

But I did want something to look forward to over the summer, for “after” the injury, when I could walk again.  Not something overly taxing, and I didn’t want to be away from home for too long.  I decided to look for some place that I had never been, in the United States, where I could I stay in a really nice place, and just kind of be away.   In April, I hopped on Expedia, and looked at several cities that I had been curious about, and found a lovely hotel that I was really excited to visit, and so I booked my airfare and hotel for a long weekend in June in Nashville.    And at that time, I opted for Expedia’s trip insurance, just in case my leg wasn’t good enough to go.

As the time drew near, I realized that I would be able to make the trip, and I was looking forward to it.  I knew it would be a little bit difficult with my leg, but I thought it would a great idea to sit in a beautiful hotel, with my leg up, writing and reading, and whatnot.  I bought a ticket to the Grand Ole Opry, just because “when in Rome.”

The only downside of the trip that I booked was that a non-stop wasn’t available, and so in order to make the timing work the way I wanted it to, I booked a red-eye out of San Francisco.

Fast forward to the day of my departure in June.  I was mostly packed, just throwing the last of my stuff in my bag, and about to head out the door around 8:30 or so for an 11:30 flight.  I was going to get a ride to the train station, and take the BART into the airport, which takes awhile.  Just as I was throwing my toothbrush into my bag, double checking my packing list, and putting on my shoes, I got an alert that my flight was cancelled.    Thankfully, I hadn’t already left.

I got on the phone, and called the airline.  I sat on hold with them for over an hour.  At that point, it was getting really late, and I was tired.   As I was sitting on hold, I got an email from Expedia saying that I had been rebooked on a flight in the morning, and to call immediately to confirm.  I hung up on the airline, and called the number in the email.

When I spoke to the representative over the phone, she said that the airline had booked me already for the 6:00 am flight, which would connect through Dallas, and I wouldn’t get to Nashville until about 6:30 that evening.  This meant I would lose a day of my long weekend, I would miss the show at the Grand Ole Opry, and oh yeah, I had no way of getting to the airport by six in the morning, since the BART doesn’t run that early, and it was too late to call for a shuttle to pick me up.  I was already exhausted, so I asked about the trip insurance.   The representative told me that since it was before the time i had booked the flight to leave, and since the cancellation would be due to the airline (American Airlines, for the record) that I would qualify for a full refund of the hotel and the airfare.  I told her that I would like to cancel.

She explained that I would have to wait on the line, because she would have to contact the airline with me on the call to cancel since they had already booked me on the 6 o’clock flight.  She put me on hold, and I continued to hold for over an hour, again.

And then I was disconnected.

I called back, and explained my whole situation again, and the person I spoke to said that they would continue to try to get in touch with the airline, and that someone from Expedia would call me back once the airline was on the phone, so that we could complete my cancellation, and get my refund.  Meanwhile, they had already processed the hotel cancellation, and I should expect that refund in a few days.

It was close to midnight when I got off the phone.  I tried to stay up for a little while, expecting someone from Expedia to call me   back.  At some point, I fell asleep.   They never called me back.

The next morning, I called again. I was placed on hold again.  I was disconnected after a long period on hold again.   I called back.  I was told again that someone would try to get through to the airline, and then call me back, and that I didn’t have to wait on the line, as long as I would be available to take their call.   I hung around my apartment all day, waiting for them to call me back.  My vacation turned into a staycation, and then it turned into being stuck in my apartment, waiting for a call back.  Yes, I could have taken my phone and left the house, but I didn’t want to risk missing the call, so I thought it was best to stay home where I knew I would hear it ring.   They never called.

Over the next several days, this cycle repeated.  I would call Expedia whenever I knew I had a couple of hours to spare, be put on hold, put the phone on speaker, try to relax and enjoy my time off, eventually get dropped from hold without resolution.  I was told almost every day that if I got dropped off the call, they would call me back as soon as they got American Airlines on the phone.  That never happened.   Finally, a day or two before I had to go back to work, I was told by a supervisor at the call center not to worry about the refund, they would take care of it, I didn’t have to call anymore, I would just get an email in a couple of days to confirm my cancellation and refund.

I waited five business days, and I didn’t hear anything back from Expedia.  No phone call.  No email.  No refund.    I called them again from work.

This time I was told something completely different.  I was told I would have file a claim with the travel insurance company.  This is the first I had heard of another company being responsible.   The person I spoke to from Expedia transferred me to the  insurance company – Aon Affinity/Berkely Travel.

The representative from the insurance company, after I explained the whole situation, told me that I would not qualify for a refund, based on the policy I had purchased, and that all I could get was a credit from the airline.  I was so angry and flustered, and I explained that I had been told exactly the opposite by Expedia.  He said I would have to file a claim, and that I would find out what I was eligible for.

I thought that the phone call was what was needed to process the claim.   I got an email from the insurance company a few days later, and because I was irritated, I didn’t read it closely.  A few weeks later (admittedly, I’m not sure exactly how many weeks), I double-checked the email, and realized that I had been mistaken.  I still had to file paperwork in order to get a refund or credit.   If someone had said that first night that I had to fill out paperwork, I would have done it then, but at this point, I was tired of dealing with it, and for some reason, kind of embarrassed that it hadn’t been resolved.  I shouldn’t have been embarrassed, though.  None of this was my fault.  I did the responsible thing by purchasing the insurance.

So, it took me awhile to get over all that and fill it out, but I finally did, and I submitted it.

Last week I got a letter from them.  According to the letter, the type of  travel insurance that I purchased from Expedia at the time that I booked my trip was not provided by their company.  The policy I had purchased was Expedia’s own, and they were the responsible party for dealing with my cancellation and refund, and that I should contact Expedia.

I have not tried to contact Expedia.   I dread dealing with Expedia.  I don’t ever want to deal with them again.  Their customer service is a nightmare.

I know now that I should have been taking better notes, getting the names and IDs of all the people I spoke to, and logging the dates and times.  I should have stayed more on top of it, instead of putting off dealing with it.   I should emailed them, and called them more.

But I already missed my trip.  And spent hours of my time dealing with this.  I didn’t want to give them any more of my time.    I missed my trip, but I thought it would be alright, because at least I could spend the money on something nice for myself.

So, Expedia sucks.  American Airlines probably sucks, too.  If I could have gotten in touch with them in the first place, I might not have had to cancel my trip at all.  I wouldn’t have had to call Expedia at all.

But I’d rather know that Expedia sucks.

Aon Affinity / Berkely Travel isn’t all that great, either, since they could have told me at the beginning that they weren’t the ones who I had purchased the insurance from.  How hard could it have been to look that up?

Has anyone else out there had a horrible experience dealing with Expedia and trip cancellations?   Or any bad experience with them at all?   Let me know about it down in the comments.  Let’s vent.

 

Oh, and for my trip to New Zealand in a few months, I’m booking the hotels and stuff myself.  No more Expedia.

Ride Peggy, Ride

About four and a half years ago, I bought myself a bicycle.  It didn’t take very long for me to fall in love with it, and with cycling in general.  I loved how I could hop on and glide through the streets of Oakland, getting almost anywhere I needed to go, without much concern for traffic or parking.  I didn’t have to worry about being harassed as I waited for the bus.   I loved that I could go, go, go without having to worry about refueling.   Flying down the bike lane was exciting, and I also felt like I was a part of a special club.   In short, it helped me feel independent and free.

And of course, I’m not alone in my sense of freedom upon a bicycle.  The bicycle is often held up as a key component of the changing culture in the 1890s.  Women took to bicycles as they were experiencing greater access to public life, and riding changed fashions of the days, as women began to dress to accomodate riding.   They were also affordable for many people, and “in 1897 alone, more than two million bicycles were sold in the United States , about one for every 30 inhabitants.”  I agree, that “cycling is inherently feminist.”  I’m proud to be a part of this tradition, just as I am proud when vote or support women owned business.

Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel.” ~ Susan B. Anthony, 1896

Suffragettes On Bicycles

Cycling has also been shown to be a great vehicle for improving physical and mental health.  (Pardon the pun)    I have always felt that cycling has been great for my personal health and wellbeing, even though at times it can be a harrowing experience.    It’s exhilarating, it’s fresh air, and it’s movement.  All good things for body and soul.

My bicycle has become very important to me.  It does feel like an extension of myself.

So, I was absolutely heartbroken when I found that my bike had been stolen on Monday night.     This is all that’s left of her.  I’m crushed.

Lock

So much so, that I went out and got myself a brand new bike right away.  I don’t want to live a bicycle-less life ever again.

photo (5)

I think she’s so beautiful.

 

 

Oh Deer.

 

I’ve known that there are suicidal deer in the world.  I’ve seen the bodies on the side of the road.  I’ve had a few near misses.  I’ve seen it happen to other cars.  But until last night, I never knew what it was like to be in a car that hit a deer.

It all happened in slow motion, but at the same time it was so fast.   I was getting a ride home with some friends, and was in the backseat, so I didn’t really have the best vantage to see what happened.  We were on the freeway after one in the morning.  I heard my friend in the passenger seat say, “oh shit; be careful,” to his girlfriend who was driving, and I looked up.  There might have been more than one of them, but there was definitely a deer in the road ahead of us.  She was sort of splitting the lanes.  My friends slowed down and pulled to the right to go around her, and just when I thought we were in the clear, the damned deer turned and jumped right in front of the car.

There was nothing my friend could have done.  We were going the limit on an empty road.   She couldn’t have stopped completely.  And there wasn’t any way she could have known that the deer would turn around like that.

The good news is that none of us in the car were hurt.  The car was, though.   Her front end was pretty well beat up, and the radiator was fucked.  Luckily for us, our friends were quite a bit behind us with their tour bus headed home too, so once we got off the road, they were able to pick us up, and also to provide a few well timed hugs.   I feel really bad for the cost and inconvenience it’s going to cost my friend to get her car fixed, but mostly I’m just really glad that we are all physically okay.

But here I sit twenty-four hours later, and I’m not sure I’m emotionally okay, yet.  I’m still kind of feeling jittery, for lack of a better word.  This afternoon I walked down to a friends shop, and we went to lunch.  She pointed out that I was shaking, that I kept dropping my chopsticks, and that I was all kinds of agitated.  After the accident, I started shivering all over, and my heart was racing.  Even after getting home so late, I still couldn’t get to sleep right away.  I thought that was probably to be expected.  After lunch, I decided to hit the gym, to try to burn off the residual adrenalin.  Four and a half miles later, physically exhausted, I feel better than I did at lunch, but I still don’t feel like I can breathe.  I keep taking these deep breaths, but it doesn’t feel like enough.  I have a wicked headache.  And I just feel off.

The hangover of a life threatening moment, a split second when an animal made a wrong turn.

 

This Is What I Get

Remember that self-indulgent whine from the other day?  You know, the “wah-I don’t feel like I belong” navel gazing, pretentious emo tripe?

Well, the universe reminded me why you should never give in to the urge to mope so unabashedly.     Nothing good can come of it.

There I was, Wednesday morning, trolling along, minding my own business, and on my way to the shop with my car for regular maintenance type crap.   Halfway up a hill,  momentum suddenly stopped.   My foot was still on the gas.   The engine was still spinning.   The car was slowing down.

The transmission on my car blew out around the corner from the shop I was taking it to for an oil change and a tire rotation.    Beautiful.

Do you have any idea how much a new transmission costs?   Well, decidedly less than a whole new car, so I’m going to have to figure out a way to pay for it.    And the extra fun is that I have to wait for it to get here.   I shouldn’t get my car back for another week.

Balls!

Just sayin’

Unseasonably Warm

So, last night, I was talking on the phone with Mama Bear, and I got on the topic of bicycling and how much I’m now in love with pedaling all over Oakland. I was telling her some of my better anecdotes, like the moment I realized that I made the right decision to give up my motorcycle as I nearly ran into a parked car after looking down at the gear selector for a brief moment, thinking to myself, I really should never go any faster through open air and space than I can propel myself.

Anyway, I also mentioned how it’s difficult to determine the right balance of clothing for riding in these winter months. You see, when I set out to go to work in the morning, I’m usually dressed in some suitable winter fashion, like a sweater. The thing is, though, the physical exertion of riding warms me up pretty quickly. So, even on the coolest mornings, I usually arrive to work at least a bit sweaty. I struggle to find just enough clothes to be warm enough when I first leave the house, but not so much that I’m miserable by the time I get to work. I was saying how I couldn’t wait until summer, when I could just ride in a tee or tank top.

Apparently I don’t have to wait until summer, though. The Global Warming Crazy Weather Gods have smiled on Oakland.

When I was strapping into my helmet and my back pack this morning, I was wearing a sweater over a sun dress with jeans. And I realized I was hot. I hadn’t even started riding yet. So, I put the sweater in my backpack.

I really, really liked being able to bike in to work without being completely bundled up. And it’s nice, too to get to work not a sweaty mess.

And I think I probably looked good, too. I like being able to show off my tattoo.

But as much as I hate to admit it . . . . we need rain. So, I’m going to enjoy this random heat wave, but hopefully it’ll start raining again soon. Droughts suck.

Just sayin’.

Crazy Single Girl Life – 2 Wheels Edition

Last week, I mentioned in passing that I had joined a bike gang, which is a bit of an exaggeration.     I mean, can two people be considered a ‘gang’.  We’re more like a dynamic duo on wheels – two each.

It all started early in November when Kayphore was having car trouble.   She went out to get in her car, and it just wouldn’t start.  While it was in the shop, she decided that she needed an alternative form of transportation.     She mentioned to me that she would like to get a particular brand of bike that is sold through a shop nearer to my place than to hers.   Since I had also been thinking of acquiring a bike of my own,  I accompanied her to the shop.   I stood by and eavesdropped as she went through all the details of what she wanted on the bike, and how she was going to use the bike.   Her main objective was to have something that would make her seven mile commute and that she could attach everything she would need to it.   I watched as she selected the bike, lights, rack, locks, helmet, etc.   It really inspired me, and I wanted to get a bike of my very own, too.

But I had just dropped a grand on having every belt in my car replaced.  It was one of those things where it was just time.   I knew that I couldn’t drop any money on a bike then and there.   However, I knew I was going to have to come up with some cash.  I was so jealous watching Kayphore get fitted out.

Then, that week, my life got picked up and dropped on it’s head.    I  found myself confused and adrift and in need of . . . something.

So Kayphore hauled me to the bike shop, and I bit the bullet.  I got paid that week, too, so that helped.

HELLO Beautiful!

bike

So, I’ve been riding to and from work every day,  about three miles each way.  And every chance we get, Kayphore make mundane trips to the pizza parlor or piano bar into excursions.     All of life has become an excuse to ride.   And while I do enjoy doing it alone, it’s even better with a friend.

Also, who knew being sore day in and day out could feel so wonderful.   Plus, if you could see my butt!!!!

It’s kind of funny how you can find something, quite by chance, that can make you so freaking happy.  Like, giggling your ass off and bellowing out “Jessie’s Girl” by Rick Springfield kind of happy.

Exactly how does this qualify as a “Crazy Single Girl” story?  Because I wouldn’t have done it a year ago, and because it’s something I’m doing for myself and with my friend.  Also, it reminds me just how free and independent I am, and why I love that more than anything in all the world now.

Just sayin’.

Letting Go

This was my motorcycle:

This motorcycle was given to me by my then boyfriend for Christmas. He was going to pay for the insurance, and he paid for me to take lessons. I failed the lessons the first time around; I fell and I couldn’t keep up with the pace they were teaching. I was going to go back and retake the class once I had more time, but with work and with Cinderella, it wasn’t looking like I was going to get a shot. I had wanted to learn how to ride first, and then get a bike later. I wanted to make sure I actually liked riding before I put any money into it. I had even specifically told him not to get me a bike. He put the horse before the cart, so I had a motorcycle that I didn’t have the slightest clue how to ride for about three months. Then he broke up with me last month.

I’ve spent the last month trying to decide what to do with the bike. I wanted to keep it. It’s pretty. Then he said something about always being available to help me with the bike, and that freaked me out. I didn’t want it if it was going to tie me to him. I want the clean break. I want the space and time, at least for the time being. I waffled back and forth about whether I could keep the bike, and cut the strings attached, too.

But then I also thought that it would be cool to learn how to do it all by myself. I thought it would be easier to learn how to ride it without all the pressure I felt from him. He’d told just about everyone about it, so I felt like they were all staring at me. It made me want to talk to the bean dip. I seriously felt like all of his friends were judging me. Not to mention all the snide remarks. “I know you want a scooter, but this is so much better, so GET OVER IT!” etc. It seemed like his whole ego was wrapped up in me riding that motorcycle, and it didn’t really have anything to do with me. Anyway, I thought I could learn to ride it, go back and take the class. Then I imagined myself pulling up in front of my local coffee shop, and turning heads with that paint job. I also imagined showing up at a bar where his friends were hanging out, just to show them that regardless of what they think, I’m never going to be a speed demon.

Finally, a month after the break up, I can think about that motorcycle, and detach it from the feelings of rejection and insecurity surrounding my ex.

To insure the bike myself, it would cost about $550/year. That’s not much, by insurance standards. However, I had to look at it as what would be the personal cost to me. What would I have to give up in order to pay for the insurance? What else could I spend $550 on this year?

The band I’m talking with could cost me $550 this year, easily. I have my sax, but it needs some work done, and I have no idea what that will cost me. It would cover at least five and a half months of lessons. There’s also the cost of transportation and rehearsal space and what not.

My mounting medical costs could also easily total $550. Actually, it’ll probably be even more. I’ve already spent $160, and I haven’t gotten the bill for the ultrasound, yet. I’m also having another test done this week, and I have no idea what that will run. This is all just for tests. Who knows what treatment could cost?

That money would cover half of the new MacBook that I want, or the full cost of a MiniMac. My computer is falling apart. The CD burner doesn’t even work anymore. Plus, it’s just really old and slow. One of my favorite hobbies is this blog. So, it would take me twice as long to have a new computer.

So in exchange for giving up music lessons, being able to pay my medical bills, or a computer (keep in mind, that’s just the insurance), I would get a motorcycle. So what would I do with a motorcycle, assuming I could complete the lessons or pass a test at the DMV to get my license? I don’t like the idea of riding in traffic. I never liked doing it on the back of the ex’s bike, so I know I wouldn’t use it to commute. I couldn’t get the sax on it, so I couldn’t ride it to and from band practice and gigs.

So, I’d basically just be using it for pleasure trips, like when I go out in the evenings or weekends, but then I couldn’t dress nice and my hair would be a mess. So that usually wouldn’t work, either. When I really thought about it, I mostly saw myself tootling around town on the bike, and only on very nice sunny days.
Really, I could get myself a bicycle for that, and i wouldn’t have to pay for insurance or gas.

I see now that it was really much more about holding on to that man and that life, and I don’t have to do that any more. The motorcycle doesn’t fit my budget and it doesn’t fit my lifestyle. I just wanted to look cool on it, anyway.

So, I emailed the ex earlier this week, and I told him that he should keep the bike, as he would get more out of it than I would. He never should have given it to me in the first place, and he should have known better. I’ve been accused of “rewarding bad behavior” by giving him the bike, but really, it just means that I get to let go of the last piece of emotional baggage.

Besides, it’s twice as pretty to look at in the picture than it would be six months from now when I had never washed it, and I’ll look three times cooler wailing on my sax with healthy girly guts than I ever would with helmet hair.


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