The Cebu Pacific ticket office located at the old MaryMart Building in Iloilo was the scene of a crime a couple of weeks ago in which I was the victim of a robbery. Needed to change the itinerary on my ticket from Cebu to Manila. Had originally intended to fly to Cebu to visit the local immigration office and apply for my 13 (a) Permanent Visa to live in the Philippines. However, after determining the amount of trips it might take to Cebu and the subsequent cost, my asawa and I decided to return to the Bureau of Immigration Office in Intramuros, Manila, where we went last last year to obtain my probationary (13) Visa. My wife has numerous relatives in the Metro Manila area where we can stay for an extended period of time if necessary.
Purchased my ticket from the Western Union office in San Miguel, Guimaras, and walked in a couple of Saturday's ago with my itinerary and receipt for the tickets which I had purchased for my asawa and myself back in February. The puzzled clerk did not seem to understand what I wanted to do. Just wanted to change the date and destination. Had done it before a couple of times when in Manila without any hassle. The befuddled Western Union worker went to the back room and got on the phone. He returned and said he could not "process my request", and I would have to go the main Cebu Pacific office located at the old MaryMart Building in Iloilo (McDonald's has an outlet there, so I knew exactly where it was.)
Not too happy about having to take the trip to Iloilo to care for the matter, I advised the Western Union associate that I would certainly not be returning to this office to purchase any tickets in the future. He could've cared less. Was just happy to be rid of me and have one less problem to deal with.
Decided to make the solo trip to Iloilo the following Monday and take care of the ticket change. Checked with the armed security guard at the old MaryMart entrance for the location of the Cebu Pacific office. Got there ten minutes before the nine am opening and was going to be first in line. Shouldn't take too long to care for this, I thought to myself. Nine am came and went, and the ticket outlet still was not opening their doors. I checked with the security guard posted inside, an older geezer like myself, in his 50's, and half my size. His watch showed five minutes earlier than mine. Waited some more. Minutes passed by. Finally at 9:10 I was allowed to enter along with a young Filipina behind me. I took my "Number 1" ticket and waited. And waited some more.
Cebu Pacific staffers were walking in and going to the back office as one lone ticket clerk continued to log on to her computer. At 9:20 she finally called my number, 20 minutes past the opening time of nine am. I'm used to Filipino Time, however, even with businesses that you think would operate in a more timely fashion.
I held out my itinerary to the young lady and explained I would like to change my destination to Manila instead of Cebu. She pulled up my ticket information and said, "I cannot do that, sir. This ticket is a promo sale." Here's a photo of the clerk I took with my camera phone as I explained to her that I was going to put this story on the Internet.
I advised her that I have changed my ticket destination and dates before in Manila without any difficulty, just paid an extra fee for the booking change. My flight was not scheduled to leave until May 3.
- Why can't it be changed? I inquired.
- She just repeated the "this ticket is a promo sale" mantra.
- "Where does it say on my ticket that it is a promo sale? I asked.
- "It doesn't say it on the ticket, sir, the place where you bought the ticket should have told you that" was her reply.
- "Well, if you don't want to change my destination than just give me a refund." I told her with growing irritation in my voice.
- " I can't do that, sir. It is a promo ticket." she said as she pointed to a line on the itinerary that read : "Promo fares are non-reroutable and may not be stored in a Travel Fund.."
- "So you're going to rob me and take 2,350 pesos (the cost of the ticket) from me?" I said indignantly with my voice raised considerably by now. It looks like this was going to escalate into another case of "The Ugly American."
- "I'm not robbing you, sir!" the Cebu Pacific clerk answered and getting angry herself.
- "Then let me talk to your supervisor"
- "She's not here yet, sir!
- "When will she get here!
- "I don't know, sir!?
- "I will wait!"
Soon two burly armed guards enter the Cebu Pacific office. Looks like the situation has escalated. Please check in tomorrow for the surprising conclusion to this story. (Yeah, it's another one of my two-part cliffhangers.)