Amoeba did much of his training for his PhD at the Friday Harbor Labs on San Juan Island.  Since then, even before we moved here, he returned to the Island many, many times using many modes of transportation. Among the more economical ones was a combination of the Washington State Ferries and Bellair Charters Airporter Shuttle.  That’s why we made reservations for both as we planned this trip to Massachusetts.  The ferry was as reliable as it always is, but when we arrived at the Airporter Shuttle stop, the bus had already departed.

I phoned the Bellair Airporter service desk and Marlena answered the phone.  I told her we were at the Airporter Shuttle pick up zone and asked if by chance the bus was late.  She said the bus left the Anacortes Ferry Terminal as 4:55 p.m. as scheduled.  I said, “But we had confirmed reservations on that Shuttle.  He had to have pulled away from the stop as the ferry was docking!”

The wonderful, friendly, compassionate Marlena answered, “We don’t work for the Washington State Ferry system.  We don’t know what their schedule is and furthermore we don’t care!”

I responded just as sweetly and told her we wanted our money refunded, and — since Bellair Charters had pretty much guaranteed we were going to miss our plane, we wanted compensation for that as well. She asked me for my reservation number and looked up our booking.  She said, “I have found your booking.  You made it yourself online at our website and you clearly indicated you wanted the Airporter Shuttle departing at 4:55 p.m.  The fact that you missed the shuttle was entirely your own fault.”

I said, “We had reservations.  We have done this many times and the shuttle has always waited.  It wasn’t like he couldn’t see the ferry coming in.”

She said, “We have a schedule to keep.”

I snapped, “Your schedule is more important than your passengers?”

She was unequivocal, “You were not there on time.”

I got the message.  The schedule is more important then the passengers. No problem.  “Our refund?”  I demanded.

She said, “That will cost you a $4.00 processing fee and you won’t get your money back for 7 to 10 days.”

“No problem,” I said.

Apparently as far as Bellair Shuttle is concerned, bus schedules and being “right” are more important then client relations. Marlena never even bothered to mention when the next shuttle would arrive or offer to transfer our reservations.  She just kept pointing out who was at fault.

Since fault is so important to Marlena, we wanted to take this opportunity to make it clear why Bellair Shuttle has lost our business.  From now on we will pay a little bit more and use our own car, or we will fly on and off the island, and we will encourage our friends and guests to do the same.

UPDATE: June 24th, 2010  (Four months after the fact)

Dear Quilly,

We here at Airporter Shuttle, on a standard marketing search of the internet, recently came across your blog about our service (or lack thereof).

It is very clear that we did not meet your expectations and for this we would like to apologize. It is entirely possible that this could have, and should have, been handled in a more compassionate, kind and professional manner. We would have welcomed the opportunity to speak with you directly about this incident at the time it happened.

We are a small to medium sized local company based out of Ferndale, WA.  We have 80 employees, all of whom do their jobs well 99.9% of the time. Our employees, along with the majority of our customers, are fellow local residents. We respect our position in the community and strive to provide a valuable contribution. According to a recent survey, we have a 98% customer satisfaction rate, and we continue to shoot for 100%.

We understand that one negative experience on the front lines of a business can be detrimental. Our company is founded on great customer service, and we always welcome feedback, both positive and negative. We find it unfortunate that you and your blog readers have judged us unworthy of your business because of this singular incident, and that we were never given the opportunity to discuss it with you.

I would welcome the opportunity to speak with you, even at this late date. I feel certain that, even if we do not earn back your trust, we could at least clear the air and come to an amiable understanding. Please feel free to contact me via email, or at my direct phone line, listed below.

We attempted to add a comment to your blog posting, , but saw that the comment period for that posting is closed. Your blog posting continues (and will continue) to show up on internet searches, but we are left without an opportunity to respond and make things right. Again, it’s unfortunate we were never invited to be a part of the discussion. I’m sure you, as a business person, can understand. We, as a company, embrace the new social media movement and company transparency, but prefer it as a two-way dialogue.

I appreciate your time and look forward to hearing from you.

Amy Klander
Human Resource Manager
Bellair Charters / Airporter Shuttle
1416 Whitehorn Street
Ferndale, WA  98248


Bellair Charters / Airporter Shuttle cost us a $250.00 dollar taxi ride to get to the airport (not including the tip). Then four months after the fact they discover my post and claim that we are treating them unfairly. My response:

Ms. Klander,

The comments on my blog post were not closed to keep Airporter Shuttle from responding.  The comments on all of my posts close automatically 2 weeks after publication. As a general rule all they gather at that point is spam. I added your letter of complaint, verbatum, to the bottom of my blog post.  I removed your phone number and email address for security purposes, but I will post them if you wish.  I will not take down the post.  I did not write anything in it that isn’t factual.  Marlena was appalling rude and hostile. Rather than blaming us for giving your company a poor reputation, perhaps you should look to your own customer service.


Quilly is the pseudonym of Charlene L. Amsden, who lives in the Pacific Northwest. When she is not doing book reviews or creating curriculum literature units, she is working on writing the next great American novel. You may visit her writing blog at Quilly is the pseudonym of Charlene L. Amsden, who lives in the Pacific Northwest. When she is not doing book reviews or creating curriculum literature units, she is working on writing the next great American novel. You may visit her writing blog at

About the author

Quilly is the pseudonym of Charlene L. Amsden, who lives in the Pacific Northwest. When she is not doing book reviews or creating curriculum literature units, she is working on writing the next great American novel. You may visit her writing blog at


  • ThomNo Gravatar says:

    Ain’t customer service grand now days? I’d like to go and bitch slap Marlena myself! Oh wait: Consider it done from clear across the pacific. That wench.

  • BettyNo Gravatar says:

    Oh, the joys of traveling! 🙂 Sorry you had this hassle! It´s too bad some people just NEED to be right and don´t give a hoot about customer service! Did you send this to the “big guys” at BellairCharter?

    • AmoebaNo Gravatar says:

      Sorry, Betty, but I for one am done with complaining to the companies. I’m no longer into being grist for corporate PR machines, knowing full well that the only people who actually get heard are the shareholders and other big-money types. Consumers have one option left – withholding our business. Well, actually there are two, but we should try the first before making good on the nuclear threat (see Revolution, French, 1789).

  • NessaNo Gravatar says:

    Lovely company.

    WW – Toil and Trouble
    .-= Nessa´s last blog ..Double Double =-.

    • AmoebaNo Gravatar says:

      There are companies that offer good and friendly service that are going under in these trying times. There seems no reason to tolerate the continued existence of companies that permit operations that are otherwise.

  • Hopefully you send this off to the company. Complaint letters can do a world of good. 🙂
    .-= SilverNeurotic´s last blog ..From point A to… =-.

  • gigi-hawaiiNo Gravatar says:

    I guess that is why Hawaiian Airlines is the #1 on time airlines in the country. Maybe they are just as ruthless…
    .-= gigi-hawaii´s last blog ..Going to Hong Kong and Macau =-.

  • polonaNo Gravatar says:

    where are the times when customer was king!
    but as long as you have other options…
    .-= polona´s last blog ..more of the same =-.

    • AmoebaNo Gravatar says:

      Polona, the customer still is king. But the monarch’s standards have gone way down; he will accept any outrage so long as he perceives that the price is a bargain. A moment of sympathy for the devil. The customer cannot simultaneously demand constant rock-bottom prices and consistent high-quality service, unless the company is able to use slave labor. Similarly, the company cannot simultaneously satisfy stockholder demands for escalating dividends and employee demands for escalating salaries and benefits, unless the company is able to access slave customers. I was recently told that King Customer sees no further than his nose, refuses to try to look further, and shouldn’t have to. I assert, instead, that everybody had better start looking beyond their own noses, or they won’t see the cliff edge until after they’ve fallen over.

  • kcinnovaNo Gravatar says:

    Except it is…
    .-= kcinnova´s last blog ..Random Dozen: final February edition =-.

  • MelliNo Gravatar says:

    Oh my! WOW! Well, I see Amoeba doesn’t care to complain to her bosses… but I certainly would! I would withhold my business as well — but I’d SUUUUUUUUUUUURE let ’em KNOW I was doing it!
    .-= Melli´s last blog ..Random Dozen #25 =-.

  • Church LadyNo Gravatar says:

    At least you do have other options for traveling back and forth. You will fix them by not using their services any more!! Well, at least YOU will feel better by not using their services and perhaps they will eventually feel it in their pocket book!
    .-= Church Lady´s last blog ..A Conversation With A 13 Year Old =-.

    • AmoebaNo Gravatar says:

      I dunno, milady. We learned in Hawaii that, when We the People of these Untied States suffer a deprivation, Our response is not to work to restore the service but to ensure that our neighbors are similarly deprived, or else. Thus do ordinary people do the work of the very wealthy for them.

  • Please understand I am attempting here to speak the truth in love . . . I have found that people like Marlena are often more in need of compassion and prayer than anything else. While it is certainly appropriate to withhold your custom from this travel service, it may be appropriate to put on some God glasses before deciding the next step of how or whether to address it.

    This reply is TOTALLY rooted in my current struggle and readings on Taming the Tongue and is not meant to be judgmental or condemning — I think we all deal with lack-of-customer service issues regularly and they are exacerbated when traveling stress is added. Thus, I’m praying about where I’ve been offended by customer service reps recently and how God would have me handle it.

    Hope you are both still ‘e-speaking’ to me. Blessings, K
    .-= southlakesmom´s last blog ..Speaking Ill of the Accomplished =-.

    • QuillyNo Gravatar says:


      Of course we’re still speaking. We aren’t upset about missing the shuttle. That was our fault for cutting things too close. We are upset because this woman, who represents a company we trusted, had absolutely no compassion for us what-so-ever. Her only concern was making certain we knew that we were at fault. This is a growing trend in customer service. We are no longer supporting that trend with our money.

      We are not just arbitrarily being mean to Marlena. We are taking a stand. I don’t think holding one’s tongue for God means allowing oneself to be mistreated. We posted this as a wake up call. We are not demanding other people stand with us, but the abuse will only continue to spread until everyone decides to take a stand, and withholding business is the least violent way of making our point.

      Finally, let’s go back to the commandment Jesus gave us — “treat others as you would like to be treated”. If I treated someone the way Marlena treated us, I would deserve to be shunned and ignored. I wouldn’t expect them to take it happily and come back and wait for me to abuse them again. I also wouldn’t expect them to be quiet and allow other people to suffer the same fate without warning.

      Choosing not to support Airporter Shuttle will cost us more money and some inconvenience. Unlike too many other people, we aren’t willing to say, Oh well, it is the least expensive service so they don’t need to be courteous. We believe everyone needs to be courteous.

      As for forgiving, Marlena is forgiven, but since we know the values of the business aren’t people oriented, we no longer chose to support them, That may change in future if their policies change. Right now, we choose not to let them take another bite out of us. Forgiving someone and allowing them to abuse you (or someone else) again are two very different things.

    • AmoebaNo Gravatar says:

      Kelley, I (obviously) concur with Quilly on this. The Christian God is Love, but he also condemned Ananias and Sapphira to an early exit at the hands of Peter for deceitful practices (Acts 4-5), and visited an entire nation of “his” people with collapse and exile for (in part) its failures of customer service (Jeremiah 7).

      I find it useful to contrast “consequences” with “vindictiveness”. The former is a considered reaction to an event, while the latter is an emotional lashing out at a person. I was guilty of the latter, but I was not on the phone at the time. Quilly was, and acted in a manner that addressed the issue without attacking the person. Quilly’s ability to do, and teach, this, is one of the many things that makes her a very special person in my eyes.

  • I love that last comment from Amoeba (just saying, love that last line!)

    When I worked in the libraries, I used to take such joy from public service — and the angrier the customer was, the bigger my triumph on finding a solution or at least drawing out a smile while we found common ground between Policy and customer satisfaction. But most people in customer service today just don’t seem to care.

    I’m glad you got your refund, anyhow. Travel just gets more and more difficult it seems.
    .-= Susan at Stony River´s last blog ..Friday Flash 55, Oh Well. =-.

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