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Customer service 101: Segway turns a sour situation into a sweet solution

Posted by Mitch Lipka  September 24, 2012 11:00 AM

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Q. When we arrived in Washington, D.C., we decided we wanted to do a Segway tour of the Smithsonian. We booked two Segway/Smithsonian tours over the phone for the following day for 9 a.m. and left our hotel at 7 a.m. When we left the garage where we parked, we were lost. It was so hot and humid I fell ill, so we walked back to our car. I called Segway and told the person who answered the phone that we weren't going to make the 9 a.m. tour and he offered to book us on a later tour, but we were leaving right after that. I asked him for a refund and he refused, saying there is a 48 hour cancellation policy. Can you do anything to help me?
Julie Cadorette, Maynard

A. Despite your rough set of circumstances, while Segway could have made an exception, you weren’t entitled to a refund because of their cancellation policy, which should have been explained at booking. But there was no harm in asking for your money back.

Rather than be dismissive, Segway’s sales manager Gerri Moriarty quickly responded with an explanation and an offer to either let you re-book the next time you’re in D.C. or to take a spin around Patriot Place in Foxboro. Happily, the second offer was an acceptable solution to this unfortunate situation.

“Our corporate refund policy is very similar to that of other tour operators in the Washington, D.C. area,” Moriarty said. “Our tours have a limited capacity due to the number of Segway Personal Transporters we have available. Therefore, as is the case with an airline reservation, if you book a seat, but don’t make the flight, a refund can not be given because there is literally no opportunity to sell that seat to another customer.”

Moriarty added that an earlier cancellation could have allowed the slot to be resold, which would have resulted in a credit being issued.

It’s important before paying for any service to know the terms you’re agreeing to. And it is always worth politely asking to see if an exception can be made. In this case, Segway earns points for coming up with an acceptable compromise – demonstrating that it doesn’t take a lot of effort to turn an unhappy consumer’s frown upside down.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
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About the author

Mitch Lipka is one of America's leading consumer journalists and advocates. He is an expert in product safety, recalls, scams, and helping consumers get out of jams. He is a nationally known consumer columnist and runs He lives in Worcester. You can find him on Facebook or reach him at


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