Planning: how not to do business

Okay… we have to fly from Johannesburg to Maun in Botswana on June 8th. There are two flights on Air Botswana a day, we chose the later one (to be able to at least have breakfast with Evan, Gina and Gina’s cousin Dana before we leave), and Grant provisionally booked it for us locally and sent me the record locator number. Then it came time to pay for the tickets. Oh yeah. This is fun…

First, I called Air Botswana’s US office over the weekend and got a recording saying to leave my name and number and they’d call back. I did. When I hadn’t heard from them several hours later, I called again and got a nice young man who said the office was closed over the weekend but someone would call me Monday.

I waited until about 2 p.m. on Monday and then called the Air Botswana office again. They said their reservations people would call back in 10 minutes. When I still hadn’t received a call back three hours later, I called again and was finally put through to reservations. A lovely young woman named Jen said she couldn’t issue tickets on the locator number Grant had sent, and would have to do a whole new reservation. I said fine. She started the reservation, got it through almost to the end and her computer crashed.

She started the reservation again, got it through to the end and it said we had to cancel the provisional reservation Grant made for us, and we’d have to do that first or pay a cancellation fee. I said fine, as long as we are guaranteed that flight. She said yes, and put me on hold.

When she came back online, she said they didn’t need to cancel the first reservation at all, didn’t need to make a new reservation and could ticket on this locator number. I said fine. She asked me how I wanted to pay for the tickets and I said I wanted to pay by credit card.

She said they didn’t take credit cards over the phone. They have to email you an authorization form, you have to fax it back with a copy of both sides of the credit card PLUS a copy of a photo ID. She said the email would come through in 5-10 minutes.

Forty-five minutes after I hung up the phone, and after checking email several times… no email. I waited a while longer, called back, and again was promised: “You’ll get the email within 5-10 minutes.” Half an hour later, I gave up and went home.

This afternoon, I got an email asking for our names on our passports. When I replied to that, I finally got the authorization form by email. (By the way, this was also the first time I got an actual price on the tickets…) I immediately filled it out, copied all the necessary documents and faxed them to some fax number in New York.

Some time after that, I got an email with what I hope will be an effective e-ticket.

Sigh… I have never had so hard a time actually paying for something before…

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