Phone conversations I had on Tuesday


TDCJ: Texas Department of Corrections, how can I help you?
Me: Hiya, I’m just calling to inquire about visiting an inmate. I was planning to come next week. I’m flying from England. But I’ve not received the paperwork to allow me to visit. I think the post is going slowly or something. Is there anything I can do to speed things up?
TDCJ: The inmates are allowed to change their visitor lists middle of next month.
Me: O, ok. On his latest letter, he said he’s changing it end of this month.
TDCJ: No. It’s the middle of the month.
Me: So what can I do about coming on Monday?
TDCJ: You won’t be able to visit on Monday.
Me: Is there nothing I can do?
TDCJ: You can come but you won’t be able to visit.

3.30pm Lastminute dot com, how can I help you?
Me: I have to cancel my flight for this Saturday. I remember taking out a cancellation policy on the flight. Yeh, it’s a nonrefundable flight, unfortunately. You can get a refund on the taxes. Not all of them. But a few.
Me: How much would that be? £147
Me: Really?! But the flight was £574! That’s hardly anything back. Yeh.
Me: Can I rearrange the flight? I’m probably going to go at the end of the month instead. Ok, you’d need to pay the difference, if the new flight costs more. And the airline charges £100 for admin fee when you change. And we charge £45. And you’re only allowed to travel between Monday and Thursday.
Me: Monday and Thursday in the same week? Yes.
Me: So I have to get from London to Texas, to the prison for two days of visits, back to Texas and back to London? In four days? Yes.
Me: And how much am I looking at for that? If you travel at the end of June, going Monday 24th, returning Thursday 27th, the extra charges you will have to pay will be £472.
Me: What?! Wait a minute. My flight was £570 to start with. That’s almost double! Yeh. Shall I book it for you?
Me: You know what? I’ve had a pretty rubbish day. My head is aching and I’m knackered. Can I just call you back? Mam, can I ask the reason why you need to cancel the flight? Delta have a policy that you may apply for a full refund in certain circumstances.
Me: (Deep breath.) My friend is on death row in Texas and he has an execution date next month. I wanted to go and visit him but the prison just informed me that I won’t be able to visit, even if I go all the way there. So I’m not… I can’t go… There’s no point. I can’t use those flights. Ah ok. I’m so sorry to hear that.
Me: So will I be able to get a refund? No. The special circumstances are something like if your family member is ill.
Me: Is this not a special circumstance? He’s being executed in a matter of weeks? No, I’m sorry. So shall I change your flights for you?
Me: No. I. Just. Just leave it. I can’t be bothered anymore. I’m exhausted. Bye. But mam, I…
Me: No. No more. If I could just….


It is 3.45pm. I am ready for bed.

And that, my friends, is what happened to me on Tuesday. My mind is tired. My head is aching. I’m wondering when we became so addicted to rules and regulations.

And I’m sad.

*As a postscript to this, I called on Wednesday and had changed their minds. I do not have to travel Monday to Thursday in the same week. Problem solved! I’m going in late June and it only cost £280 to make the adjustments. Phew.

12 responses to this post.

  1. Airlines are bastards, if you’ll excuse my choice of words. In my opinion they should have refunded the whole thing in this circumstance.

    Sorry to hear about your friend. Hope you’re feeling better.


    • Yeh. There was no giving in on the refund front. I even called the head office in USA and there was no joy. O well. It turned out ok because I used the money to put towards another flight in late June. I’m feeling ok now, thanks for asking 🙂


  2. Still, 280 for a flight change is highway robbery. I just hate them all. Little suggestion that will probably get you some miles/a voucher for your next trip if not a refund: write to the airline and explain. They often come through to keep a customer happy. The longer I live here, the worst Queen of Complaining I become


    • Good suggestion. Would just add – I think it’s a good idea to try and keep some bits of proof of your visit to the place to send with the letter as it will give it more credibility and that you’re not just a scammer trying to get your extra charges back.


    • Thanks for the advice. Got an angry letter in my head, just waiting to be written.


  3. Makes my day pretty good by comparison.
    Sorry for what you are going through.


  4. this is heartbreaking… I so admire you for trying to get to see the person you care about… I hope something works for you and him.


  5. […] the sun for some Portugal-based fun. I was supposed to be away at the same time but due to some nonsense rules in Texas prisons, I had to postpone it. So I was here and Danda went and had beach fun with […]


  6. Posted by Alex Jones on June 22, 2013 at 19:26

    I have a low tolerance of such red tape and uncaring attitude of service providers. I closed my business and personal bank accounts with Santander bank recently because of complexity, lack of care and incompetence. You have the patience of a saint, and I am glad you got some good outcomes out of it.


    • Yeh. It was a pain and quite expensive to change everything around but I got it sorted eventually and had my visits with him last week so it was all worth it in the end.


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