Sunday Times Travel section reported an unfortunate
accident. A Mr Graham Davies booked a multi-flight trip from the UK
to The Philippines. He used a travel agency called CheapOair; I
think that was his first mistake. I mean, would you? It’s like
enthusiastically calling Rubbish Plumbers Ltd to fix a leak, or
Lackadaisical Accountants LLP to look after your tax affairs?
Anyway, in the purchasing process Mr Davies’ name was spelled
wrongly, and when the tickets arrived they were for a Mr Davis. So
he called CheapOair and asked them to make the correction, and they
told him that was not possible, and he would have to buy new
tickets with his name correctly spelled at a cost of £806. And they
were adamant there was nothing they, or the airline, would do about
it, even when the Sunday Times consumer affairs journalist who
tried to negotiate a better outcome got involved.
Mr Davies’ story reminded of the joke about the man who receives
an email at work “Dear Alan, This is Bob, your next door neighbour.
I feel that I must come clean about something that has been
worrying me for a time now. I should really speak to you in person,
but I am too wracked by guilt. Truth is, I have been sharing your
wife for about 6 months now, particularly taking advantage whilst
you are at work. Please accept my apologies”.
The man is incensed. He goes straight home and has a blazing row
with his wife. They both get noisy, and then aggressive, and then
there is a physical altercation, and she lies lifeless on the
He is distraught. In the stillness of the room, his mobile
phone pings with a new email. It says “ Alan, this is Bob again.
I’m sure you spotted the typing mistake – of course I didn’t mean
your wife, I meant your wifi. What a laugh!”.
It is superfluous for me to suggest the lesson that might come
out of these stories - every seasoned negotiator has been in
a situation where a simple typo (or even worse failure to recognise
that predictive text has changed the gist) can significantly change
a deal. SO MAKE SURE YOU CHECK!