This year, as in previous years, consumers have run into numerous holiday humbugs, with rental cars, airlines and such niceties as flower deliveries topping the list.
Weather delays were common this year, as freakishly warm weather blanketed much of the country, leading to thunderstorms, tornadoes, and heavy fog in many areas.
"I am currently sleeping in CLT (Charlotte) because my flight was cancelled due to "weather" issues. This is the third time this year. My flight is from CLT to PGV (Pitt-Greenville, NC)," said Stefan, a disgruntled American Airlines traveler. "American airlines has no sympathy for this. Every single time they use this excuse as 'since it is due to weather issues, we will take no responsibility for your missed flight.' ... They look at you with their cold, dead eyes in the face and say 'tough luck.'"
Jennifer of Norwalk, Ill., found little holiday spirit about Spirit Airlines: "I do not know any other industry that can operate like this one -- You buy a ticket for travel. They cancel the flight for "crew delays" and offer only one option: flight tomorrow a.m."
Things weren't much better for Spirit passenger Shikaha of Canton, Mich.: "My flight was scheduled on Dec. 24 at 9.15 p.m. to Dallas, and we formed a line to board. Then we were told that our flight was delayed and the same flight was boarded with LA passengers! We are still at the airport today, Dec 25th, 2015."
El Kheir of Burke, Va., claims an even worse holiday with Delta: "Christmas 2015, 150 passengers treated like other than human beings. ... The flight was delayed 10 times, people sent to a miserable hotel. ... Before leaving we asked if sure the flight will be at 8:15 a.m., they said yes, but again they delayed it and same story: the pilot did not show up. Please use any donkey, camel, bus ... but not Delta airlines."
An Avis car rental went awry and threw a curve into the travel plans of Rahul, of Miramar, Fla.
"I did my car reservation with AVIS on 11/16/2015 for 12/25/2015 for San Juan, Puerto Rico. Since this is the Christmas week and San Juan is fully packed with tourists so AVIS sold out all reserved cars to other customer on higher rates who just walked in and never had any reservations," Rahul said. "When I went to the car pick-up location the sales person told me that they are sold out and she can't give me the car even her system was showing that I have reservation. And they never sent any kind of notification to us that they don't have cars and our reservation is cancelled."
Rahul said Avis would not even give him a ride to his hotel or help him find a cab, forcing him and the rest of his party to walk more than two miles with their luggage.
"I have spent almost $7-$8K on this trip and we can't go anywhere because we don't have our car which we had reserved 40 days ago," Rahul said.
Things were no better over at Alamo, according to Ingrid of San Francisco.
"We rented a SUV three months ago to drive our 5 kids from SF to Park City, Utah. When we arrived to pick up the car, they said it was no more available because the car was broken (but they forgot to tell us about it)," Ingrid said. "As it is Christmas Day, they told 4 cars were available for us at the airport. We changed our reservation. When we arrived at the Alamo desk at the airport ($80 of taxi round trip), there was still no car for us and no other car available at the other rental companies. How can it be worse?"
"I ordered the white magnolia center piece as a Christmas gift for my parents," said Susan of Dansville, Mich., in a review of FromYouFlowers.com. "When we arrived Christmas Day I was very disappointed. There were no magnolia leaves or roses in the arrangement. They had been replaced with cheaper fill, pine and daisies. The candles were so short we had to blow them out before we were done with dinner."
Steve of Bloomington, Ill., also chimed in about FromYouFlowers.
"I ordered a Snowman Surprises Holiday Campanula Plant $54.99 with a delivery charge of $19.99. I had to select a date for delivery from a calendar that would only allow certain dates to be chosen," Steve said. "I selected 12/24/15 for a delivery date. It was confirmed and I paid. Called today to see how my Mother enjoyed the flowers and she said NOTHING WAS DELIVERED!"
JustFlowers.com made the Grinch list for Marie-Claire of Bruceton Mills, W.Va.
"I ordered a gold/silver/white arrangement for my daughter's wedding anniversary, because I knew these colors were her theme this year. A RED and white one was delivered. My complaint to JustFlowers.com so far has only yielded a canned reference to their website indicating that substitutions were permitted," Marie-Claire said. "So far Customer Service is totally unresponsive. I will call a local florist in the future and order directly from a local business."
All that glitters ...
Ordering jewelry online works well sometimes. Other times ... well, not so much.
"I ordered two identical necklaces and was told they would be shipped by 12/21 after the purchase," said Susan of Elkton, Md., in a review of The Bradford Exchange. "I called and called about the tracking information ... I was told they "will get there." On 12/23 we received one of the two and not the other. I called again and was told it was on its way. Today I looked up the order number and it says will be shipped by 2/06, 2016!"
All of these mishaps are fairly typical of the holidays, as are the sudden and unexpected failure of kitchen appliances that can lead to dinner disasters. And then there's the perennial problem of the disintgrating baking dish.
Sherry of Middleboro, Mass., was one of many consumers who discovered the phenomenon.
"Today, I began slow roasting a pork shoulder in the oven. The temperature was at 300 and the dish had been in the oven for about 25 minutes," Sherry said. "I opened the oven door to see if I should add any liquid and the large baking dish shattered with such force that glass shards were stuck in my sweater and flew in all directions throughout the kitchen. There was no warning of the dish beginning to fail, just a loud shattering sound that was similar to someone throwing a glass onto the floor."