Exploding Hair Dryer

The day after I was released from quarantine – and the first day I would have been able to enjoy a shore excursion at a port- I was in our cabin using the ship supplied hair dryer.  It exploded in my hand.  When it exploded I was hit by flying bits from the hair dryer, some of which were burning and most of which were extremely hot.  Luckily I had just lowered the hair dryer from my face to my chest in preparing to turn it off.  Unfortunately my chest was hit by the burning material.  There was also still burning embers in the carpet.

My wife first checked to see if I was okay as I was making sure I was not on fire, then as I stomped out the embers in the carpet she called the front desk to report the emergency.  She informed them that the ship hair dryer had exploded, I was burned, we had a possible fire danger, and we needed medical attention.

The ship responded by having someone up to our room within a few minutes – with a new hair dryer.  The individual could barely speak English so my wife again called to the front desk, repeated her earlier statements and telling them that this was a MEDICAL emergency and a FIRE hazard.  The response from the person at the desk was that there wasn’t a doctor on duty yet but if I could wait about an hour and a half, they could send someone to the room.  Alternately I could just go down to the infirmary that was scheduled to open in about 40 minutes.  They did offer to send someone to the room to check out the fire danger.  This person, a lower ranked officer.  checked the room out but by that time we had smothered all the burning embers.

This does beg the question.  What does it take on Holland America to get medical personnel up to a cabin?  Obviously the words “MEDICAL EMERGENCY” did not do it, so I wonder, what would it have taken?  It also begs the question of what does it take to have emergency personnel come up to a cabin.  Does the fire already have to be engulfing the room, or is there some lesser degree that they will respond to?  Being told that there are burning embers in the carpet does not get any attention.

Since I did not feel like waiting an hour for medical attention, I made my way down to the infirmary to have them check on the burns.  That was as worthless as the earlier medical attention I had gotten.  For starters, the nurse informed me that they had nothing for burns.  No disinfectant, no aloe, nothing that the average person would have in a basic first aid kit.  When pressed further, she did mention that she could have the doctor prescribe some  codeine pain killers.  I politely declined knowing that I had better and more appropriate supplies in my cabin.

Later that day, my wife and I went down to the main desk to lodge a complaint.  We got plenty of platitudes but no substantial statement of what they were going to do about our complaints.  We asked to see someone in authority and ended up getting a ship’s officer who gave us more of the same – lots of apologies but nothing of substance.

The next day was our last day on ship.  That time of being in such close proximity to me finally gave her a bit of my sickness.  This time, however, we did not report it to the ship.  Our decision was based on the lackluster way they handled my illness.  We figured we could do everything they had done simply by isolating ourselves in our room.  The next morning we quickly left the ship and came back home.

Then I started writing Holland America.  It seems that the method of resolving problems, apologizing and doing nothing, is a corporate culture at Holland America.  The first letter was answered by an apology. As you can see, the apology is as very apologetic, very sincere, and totally worthless.  There is no mention of any offer of compensation.

I responded with a second letter stating that most of my vacation was ruined, their defective hair dryer had given me several second-degree burns, and what were they going to do to make it right for us.

Their answer was another apology letter and an offer of $100 each off our NEXT cruise.  Their offer was good for a year.  Another letter, this time stating that their offer was an insult, I could get that much off a cruise by just looking for an average sale price.  They then again apologized and increased their offer to $250.  They also stated that I had a year to use the credit.

I have since done some investigating and other cruise lines are far more generous when passengers get Noro.  The most common action is for the cruise line to refund all of a person’s fare for the days that they are in confinement.  If Holland America had been willing to do something like that at the conclusion of our cruise, I would have been more than happy.

How good is Holland America’s offer?  Very poor in my estimation.  They were not willing to give me a credit for my disastrous cruise but were trying to offer me something off another cruise on the line.  To put things in perspective, that is significantly less than what they offer in interline fares to people in the travel industry.  It is less than what is offered on a good discount on an average day.  It in no way provides sufficient compensation for the loss of the majority of our cruise.

I told them that their offer was insufficient based on the amount I had lost on the cruise.  They basically told me to take it or leave it.  I left it.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. cruiseready
    Jun 05, 2012 @ 14:18:21

    It does make one want to think twice about considering sailing with HAL, especially coming from someone who is an avid cruiser.


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