Bad Companies

If you've read any of my essays touching on business practices, you probably know that I expect good, ethical, and professional conduct and business practices from those companies I do business with. I am generally very pleased with the companies I deal with, but every now and then one pops up that does something that I can't abide. This page talks about those companies and the practices that have irked me.

Virgin Atlantic

In June 2005, I booked a pair of seats from San Francisco to London, one for me to give a keynote at a workshop at ECOOP 2005 in Glasgow, and one for my domestic partner for a holiday. We had to book them separately because my employer (Sun) was paying for my trip and we were paying for hers. We had confirmed her reservation several times using the record locator they provided. Two days before the flight, we learned that Virgin had canceled her reservation without notice. In the meantime, we had made reservations on other airlines and at hotels, etc, whose fares or deposits were not refundable. When we called Virgin, they tried to place her on the original flights, but in the end, all they did was apologize, even though a there was an available coach seat going and an available first-class seat coming back—which they offered to us for about $6, 400. That is, they offered neither compensation nor help finding other travel arrangements. Because of the complications, my partner did not go and I did. We forfeited about $1,000 of nonrefundable fares and deposits.

I would urge you to reconsider doing business with them.

Summit Chevron, Tehachapi, California

This is an odd story. I don't know whether it's this local Chevron station that is to blame or the larger company. The station in question is:

Summit Chevron
400 Steuber Road
Tehachapi, CA 93561

It is located just off of route 58. I drive past there every year to and from ChiliPLoP. In May 2004, I was returning from ChiliPLoP and needed to stop at this station for gas. Typically, I use a credit card for gas purchases to keep track of my expenses. At this station, the only way to use a credit card is to go into the office and tell them how much money to charge to your card. Then the pump is set to dispense at most exactly that amount. If you guess under (the dollar amount you specified does not fill up the tank), then you get only that amount of gas; but, if you guess over (the tank fills up before the money runs out), you forfeit the difference. So, if you guess that $30 will fill up your tank, and it takes only $20 of gas to do it, you still pay $30.

The best part is that the owner doesn't tell you this until you try to get a refund for the difference.

The owner at the time was Hunter Johnson. He was quite aggressive about it, as well.