The following story is a personal story. The views are not the views of Caribbean Media Network USA.
Why Not Fly Seaborne Airlines this Winter?
Traveling can be complicated enough, especially if you are traveling from the mainland to the Caribbean and other international destinations. A major problem that arises, is the lack of options to travel to exotic locations. This becomes more evident in the lack of customer service in the region.
In a recent interaction with the Seaborne Airlines customer service department, Puerto Rico headquarters, I was personally insulted and abruptly put on hold during my interaction with a rude, disrespectful, arrogant Customer Service Manager by the name of Jaimie Juarbe. Our conversation was the second time talking to each other, and the third time someone brought my concern to his attention. In due diligence, I contacted the corporate office, left messages, sent multiple follow-up emails, and contacted Silver Airways a partner/parent company for Seaborne airlines to resolve my issue. However, Mr. Juarbe’s unprofessional behavior was so overwhelming that I could not even come to an understanding with him, more over-explain clearly what the particular issue that needed to be resolved.
Mr. Juarbe’s tenure at Seaborne Airlines supersedes Mr. Jesus Medina, Chief Operations Officer, thus his response to my inquiry and comments about poor customer service, and the possible ripple effect on corporate partnerships was simply “WHAT ARE YOU GOING DO ABOUT IT”. Although I shared with Mr. Juarbe, that I was recording my calls, his response was simply to become irate and put me on hold again. MY recording could be a major concern for him as he is INFAMOUS for customer’s complaints, and known within the company, as the rude man from Puerto Rico, that keeps damaging the Seaborne brand name.
SEE OTHER CUSTOMER COMPLAINTS
LINK TO TRIP ADVISOR: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Airline_Review-d10533125-Reviews-Seaborne-Airlines
THE LOAN, AND NEW HEADQUARTERS
Seaborne Airline’s decision to move it’s headquarters to Puerto Rico in 2013, while renegotiating unpaid loans in the millions to U.S.V.I. Government Employee Retirement System loans didn’t sit well with many people in the US territory.
In 2009, the USVI General retirement System loaned Seaborne Airlines $3.3 million, with a five-year term, under the GERS Alternative Investment Program. At the time, no payments where missed, GERS negotiated new terms with Seaborne and lent it another $1.5 million in late 2012. At the end of the process, Seaborne held two loans: one for $2.3 million at 6.25 percent interest and one for $1 million at 8.25 percent, and two seats on Seaborne’s newly constituted five-member board of directors. However, payments ceased, Seaborne changed management, Seaborne and GERS began renegotiating the loans again, and then Seaborne suddenly announced it was moving it’s headquarters to Puerto Rico.
“Based on our agreements, they are supposed to have the consent of the board to move to Puerto Rico and they have not done so,” -Austin Nibbs stated in 2013. (Source: St John Source)
This mention of a loan and money owed plays an integral part in the lack of customer service by Mr. Juarbe. In his comments, which reek of disdain and coupled with a comment that he is located in Puerto Rico, and I am not. This leads me to feel that had my encounter been with the territory of my booking, (USVI), this matter would have been resolved promptly.
My multiple attempts to reach customer service via email and speak with executive management was unresponsive, at the time of this article. I have been at this task for 20 days and counting.
MY RECOMMENDATION: Much like the multiple complains online from fellow travelers looking to seek affordable air travel between islands, I am too dishearten and upset. As a person, who grew up in the USVI, I am so ashamed to see what the “SEAPLANE” aka Seaborne airlines have come to in this new era of aviation
Dear Corporate and Individual Travelers: There are two other options Cape Air and the St.Croix Ferry within the U.S.V.I. I would recommend traveling on another airline. If you’re traveling on Jet Blue or Southwest Airlines, please request a different connecting partner for your connecting flights to the lesser Antilles/ Caribbean islands, upon booking your travel. Your best bet is to speak with a major airline to get anything resolved, as Seaborne has no respect for mainland travelers.
UPDATE NOV 18, 2019
After speaking with the real corporate head of Customer relations, Ms. Leah Sheppard, the following statement was issued, with apporiate information.
I would first like to say we value your business and we strive to provide you with the best possible service. When we fail to meet customer’s expectations it is very important for us to know. We apologize for the service you experienced yesterday, and we regret any inconvenience or frustration this may have caused. To ensure that our staff follows proper procedures while delivering the highest level of service to our customers, the said agent will be doing retraining in customer service.
The story was written by Concerned Traveler: Michael Thomas