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Water, Water everywhere, nor any drop to drink

Hurricane Harvey hits Roam

Hurricane Harvey put a literal damper on our travel plans for September. The Labor weekend bizcation to the Bay Area was cancelled as we couldn’t get out even if we wanted to. Hobby airport was closed.

The flights were automatically refunded by Southwest and hotels were well within the cancellation window. The one item that left us about $500 out of pocket was for one family trip around San Francisco that Mrs C had booked with her debit card. Even though we had notified them of our situation they said they were non-refundable in any circumstance but they would talk to the manager. We did not get a return call after this and since we had other things to worry about, we kind of forgot about it. Probably if we had used the appropriate credit card, it could have invoked travel insurance.

The flood also totaled both of our cars. I had seen the streets outside our houses start to flood so I moved them to higher ground but ‘higher’ was only relatively higher. My insurance company Progressive, took at least two weeks to get back for me after I filed a claim. One friend who had USAA got his check in 3 days. While I appreciate Progressive were busy they could at least have sent a periodic email that I was in the queue and not forgotten. People in customer service could not give any insight into when the inspector would come. In the end, they didn’t. I just had to submit photographic evidence with the Progressive App so not sure why they couldn’t tell me that earlier.

Getting a car rental was interesting. When I first checked for any rental cars, there was none available in the area. I thought it strange that AVIS were not showing up and when I checked, it didn’t show the local depot as being open on any day. I tried again a few days later and wow, not only was it open but it had a selection of cars. I went for simple regular car and put in a noon pick up time.  When I got the store, it had lines going out the door. I was dismayed to find out that it was a 2 hour queue just to get the paperwork counter and then 1 hour wait to retrieve the car. Avis Preferred counted for nothing as they had manual sign in system. When I eventually get called the front, I hand over my licence and credit card and hear the rep saying my class of car is not available. Since I’d also heard them tell someone over the phone that they were all out of cars, I piped up with “Give me anything with four wheels” as I just needed transport. This flexibility and the fact that I had been friendly to them earlier during the sign off, got me a serious upgrade. “Would a RAM 1500 be ok?”

A pick up truck was the best thing they could have said since the area was still flooded ! Not only that but it was ready outside the office so I avoided another line. Moral of this is to be yourself (unless you are naturally a dick) and be flexible in situations like this. Having a hissy fit about a wait that is clearly beyond the control of the local staff or bitching about their particular car type that they normally get, was not helping people. I had the truck for a month and was pleased to find out I was only billed the rate of a cheaper model even after I had extended the time of return twice. I got it for about 1/3rd of the price of if I had explicitly booked that vehicle class.

One thing I didn’t check was the CDW insurance. Amex covers it when I book with my card however, it excludes certain types of cars – full size SUVs, trucks and luxury cars. I wonder if it would have been covered since I did not request that type of car and AVIS gave me that truck. Anyhow, I was pleased to find out I never needed to find out that answer.

What else? The car buying experience but that is for a future post.

The Summer of our discount tent

This about sums up our summer

This summer ended up being as Caligula would put it, ‘a complete horrible anus’. It stated going south in June when Mrs Caesar had jewelry and her laptop pilfered after Delta forced her to check it in her hand luggage at the gate at Milwaukee airport. Mrs C was travelling First Class with her dog (which she had paid quite a bit extra for) and had done the MKE to IAH route with the pampered pooch many times. This time however, the gate agent insisted that the dog in its carry bag counted as one piece of hand luggage and with her purse, she had used up her allowance. Even though the dog obviously wasn’t going to go in the overhead, it still didn’t matter. Her backpack needed to be checked in despite vigorous protestations about it containing valuables. “Don’t worry. It will be safe” the agent said.

But it wasn’t. The flight was a connecting flight and with weather delays, the luggage sat for a very long time in Atlanta. At the IAH carousel, it was obvious all  her luggage including those checked, had be disturbed. While lost luggage clerk was somewhat sympathic with a now visibly upset Mrs Caesar, the later Delta customer service agents that she delta with were far from it. After many hours dealing with Delta’s online reporting system which would go down mid-entry, the claim as I expected, was denied. “We do not cover jewelry or electronics” in checked luggage even if we forced you to check then in.  But still Mrs C flies with them despite my advice to ‘F’em: fly Southwest’. For this,  I will give Delta a “Feed them to the Lions” classification due to their lack of concern about baggage theft in their operation in their main hub of Atlanta airport. They don’t care. I very much doubt it was MKE or IAH end as there bags were mainly on the plane.

The other big event of the summer, impacted all of Southwest Texas : Hurricane Harvey. In late July we moved house. In late August, we were flooded with  18 inches of water and lost both cars. We are temporarily displaced and staying in Mrs Caesar’s sister’s villa. The Palace is being repaired but Roam lost our main computers which held my software, passwords and information. Our backup drive also got flooded.

Some things in life are bad, they can really make you sad. Other things just make you swear and curse. When you’re chewing on life’s gristle, don’t grumble, give a whistle. And this’ll help things turn out for the best…and..

Augustus.