Airlines answer for poor skycap service
On a United Airlines flight in to Honolulu recently, I was injured by another passenger. I was taken from the gate at Honolulu Airport to the baggage claim area by a helpful skycap. Another skycap came by and demanded the wheelchair while I was waiting by the curb. What are the rules for the wheelchairs and who really is in charge of them?
Answer: You should file a complaint with United, providing it with details of your encounter, including date, time, name of the skycap (if available), description, etc., said Scott Ishikawa, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation.
The airlines provide skycap/porter service and other passenger-related services from "curb to cabin," he said, such as wheelchair service, escorts for unaccompanied minors, assistance to passengers with special needs, as well as compliance with federal regulations related to passengers, luggage, cargo and equipment.
When the Transportation Department receives complaints about porter service, they are usually referred to the appropriate airline.
However, if the airline or porter company does not follow up or at least respond, Ishikawa said, the department can document the incident and send a formal letter to the airline and porter company.
Or if you are not comfortable in dealing directly with the airline, he said to contact Honolulu Airport officials and provide details, "as we expect airport permittees to conduct themselves in a professional manner."
Q: I recently got a bill for my cell phone from Hawaiian Telcom. There is a universal service charge that's been going up every month by 20 cents for the past three months. Hawaiian Telcom doesn't have an idea why. Can you find out what's going on?
A: According to Hawaiian Telcom and the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Universal Service Fund fee was increased on April 1 to 11.7 percent from 9.7 percent.
An FCC spokesman said the rate is adjusted up or down, as necessary, every quarter.
A Hawaiian Telcom spokeswoman said, "The quickest way to communicate the quarterly rate change to customers is through our Web site." Here's the link to information on various charges: www.hawaiiantel.com/CustomerService_Billing_Taxes.htm.
The FCC allows telecommunication companies like Hawaiian Telcom to charge customers the Federal Universal Service fee as a way to recover the mandatory contribution the companies pay to maintain the FCC's Universal Service Fund.
Money in the fund goes to reimburse companies that provide discounted services and products to schools, libraries, rural health care providers and low-income families.
The fee collected is turned over to the Universal Service Administrative Company, which administers the Universal Service Fund programs, Nishida said. "Hawaiian Telcom does not keep this money."
Got a question or complaint?
Call 529-4773, fax 529-4750, or write to Kokua Line, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered. E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
. See also: Useful phone numbers