The Theft of My Camera by LAN Colombia

My Peruvian wife and I spent 6 weeks seeing Colombia: Bogota, Sasaima, San Andres, Medellin, the Coffee Region, and Cartagena. On our flight from Medellin to Cartagena with LAN Colombia, I put my digital camera in a checked bag. In Cartagena, the digital camera was no longer in the checked bag.

We went to customer service and weren’t only greeted with indifference, but also hostility. The LAN representative in Cartagena had no interest in making the customer happy. She had no concern whatsoever about the possibility of a comuna ñero checking bags for LAN in Medellin. Her clear objective was to get rid of us.

Her first move was to weigh the checked bag, which weighed the same number of kilos (as an integer) as when checked in. I pointed out that a digital camera doesn’t weigh over a kilo. She rebutted that LAN airlines takes no responsibility for checked baggage. I didn’t believe this. Carry-on baggage I believe, but checked baggage? Baggage we hand over to the airline for hours without being able to watch?

She finally got rid of us by saying the most we could do is file a complaint. I did so, noting my AAdvantage frequent flyer number (LAN is a partner of American Airlines) and that I never fly with other airlines.

The gem I received from the airline, on letterhead from Santiago (LAN headquarters):

Al respecto, queremos poner en su conocimiento que, de acuerdo a las regulaciones internacionales del transporte aéreo por las cuales se rigen todas las aerolíneas, aparece claramente especificado que todos los objetos personales transportados en cabina son de exclusiva responsabilidad del pasajero.

At first I couldn’t believe that LAN was saying that luggage is not their responsibility. But then I noticed it says objects in the cabin are the passenger’s responsibility. This bag was checked, not in the cabin. They clearly didn’t read my complaint.

But before I could respond to this, I received an email from a LAN rep in Colombia expressing sympathy and offering me $50 in cash or $100 in LAN services. I opted for the services.

This was a major shock and restored my faith in LAN.

Then I tried to use the $100 in services and was reminded that this is Latin America.

The offer letter said all I had to do was bring the letter to a LAN office in Peru. At one point I had this letter in the San Isidro office and was told I had to bring it to LAN Peru. I looked at the signage around the office, noted that I was in Lima, and asked again if this wasn’t LAN Peru. It wasn’t. She didn’t know where to take it, but I needed a physical voucher to redeem the offered credit at her office. I emailed my customer service contact who sent the offer letter and was met with radio silence. I emailed again, and got the same.

Should I be happy they at least attempted to give me something for the stolen camera? Or frustrated at the false hope, only to be let down?

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7 comments

  1. I never miss an opportunity to slam LAN. They have the worst customer service in the world;. I’ll never fly with them again – ever!

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  2. That’s freaking pathetic. I would’ve been irate and I most likely would’ve cussed somebody out.

    I guess you didn’t use one of those little luggage lock thingies. I’ve never used one either, but I’m definitely going to try to use one the next time I fly in latin america.

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  3. Sorry to break it to you, but stealing valuables from checked luggage is not a latin american thing. I learned my lesson when it happened to me in the US a few years ago.

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  4. It’s not that something got stolen, it’s the customer service response he’s writing about. What is it with Latins not giving a shit about anyone or anything? Even, or maybe especially, when it’s their job to do so.

    Where does this mindless, selfish attitude come from and why the hell are Latins so oblivious to this concept?

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