United, United, United … I was prepared to love you. I even got a Frequent Fliers Card so that I could better fall in love with you and use you more often.
Thanks to Yapta.com, I was alerted to a full $50 fare price drop for one of my itineraries. I was eligible to request a travel voucher for $50. Score! I phoned the 1-800 United number, dealt with your robotic little voice activated “No really, this is for your own good!” menu and finally got a real live person.
She informed me that she could give me my $50 fare drop but that unfortunately, she would have to cancel my $50 Economy Plus upgrades at the same time. Not to worry, I would be able to log in and easily upgrade myself back up to Economy Plus. I confirmed this three times with her and even got her to check to make sure all the legs of the itinerary had Economy Plus seats. After all, the trip from NY to Seattle is long and I’d like to have a few inches to move my legs.
But, United, your telephone person was wrong! Not only did I lose my Economy Plus seats, I am now situated near the back of the plane and cannot get my Economy Plus seats back. Despite spending another 45 minutes on the phone with yet another customer service rep (who couldn’t fix my problem because she “didn’t have access to my reservations.” Why is she even answering the phone if she doesn’t have access to my reservation!?!), I still don’t have my Economy Plus seating back.
She gave me the 1-800 number for Tech Support to spend another wasted hour on the line with Tech Support to beg to pay the $50 for my Economy Plus seats back.
What’s the point in offering a “Fare Protection” option if you don’t really want people to use it? What’s the point in allowing me to request a voucher if the experience is so negative that it negates the good feelings that the voucher engenders to start with?
For Soap Queen readers who have small businesses, think about your business practices – what do you do to just look good? Is your return policy overly generous in writing but stingy in reality? Do you claim that you send a “free sample with every order,” yet send non-saleable junk to your customers? Do you have a “Live Help” button on your web site but never staff it? January is a good time to rethink your true commitment to your customers. After all, there’s no point in promising something that you really don’t intend to deliver on.
I haven’t seen that site yet – thanks for pointing it out. You KNOW your customer service needs to be improved when someone is disgruntled enough to set up a web site about it …
Agreed! United is terrible! They lost my husband’s luggage on his flight from NY to Australia–and he was flying Business class!!! And when he followed up the loss, they told him it was beyond their control…made him feel like he was traveling in Cattle Class rather than Business. Never riding United again, ever!!! They did find his luggage 1 week after and it was sent to us with no explanation or apology other than it was found in San Fran(go figure)…customer DIS-service if you ask me 🙁 We found a whole website dedicated and written by disgruntled United Air passengers…check it out: http://www.untied.com
Reading through everyone’s comments, the issue seems to be the perception of the services you SHOULD be getting and the reality of the service you ARE getting.
The company that manages to make those two things interchangeable, wins.
Koinonia, thanks for sharing your United story. It makes me feel better. Though, someone just emailed me to tell me that they never fly United anymore because they always cancel flights in strange places, leaving them stranded.
Yikes … that’s foreboding sounding! =)
Carrie ~ Gigi says
Sometimes the BIGGER the company the BIGGER the problem with customer care & communication.
I seriously am toying with the idea of starting a blog called, “YELL-OUTS!” for companies who fail communicating with their (possible)paying customers.
Just in the last month this has happened to me: 1. DODGE Dealer Car shopping- New Year’s Day, called a local auto dealer, and recording simply stated they were OPEN M-F and gave the hours, did not state about being closed-made (on the holiday)made the trek out- and it was closed. Should I have assumed it was closed? The recording clearly didn’t state this. How hard would it have been to re-record a message? 2. COMCAST-computer modem problem, called the 1-800-number and was told by the customer service rep, that the local COMCAST center was open for business the next day (Holiday-Martin Luther King)…so again, made the trek to the center and the door was locked.
What’s going on here? Clearly some of these companies need a better planner, calender, customer communication class….oh heck and I change my mind, instead of a blog called, “YELL-OUT” it should be “SCREAM-OUT!”
I wish all businesses could read your post. I could not agree more. I just had another unsatisfactory interaction with a site whose products I actually love (Gaiam), so I’m determined not to shop there again unless I have to.
Sorry to hear that you’re stuck with a lousy seat, and having to waste your valuable time. 🙁
Joanna Schmidt says
What a nightmare!
I try to fly Jet Blue when available. Cheap, great service and TV’s!
You are so right about business practices. I live and work by this – always: Treat people the way YOU want to be treated. (which is always with respect and care.
I will ALWAYS pay more to receive good customer service. For example, I will shop sales at the expensive grocery store instead of Wal Mart in order to hear ‘did you find everything you were looking for?’ and ‘please let me take those to your car for you’. It is a shame though. Good customer service should be standard. It should be offered to us ALL the time, not only when we demand it.
I went through about 3 hours of ‘customer service’ phone time with United when I was trying to move my dad out here. I verified. He is a double amputee, so I wanted to make sure all our ducks were in a row for the flights. It was all in vain. When we arrived at the airport NONE of it had been taken care of. ARRRRGGGGHHHH!!
My sister in law has had many similar experiences with them (she lives in Portland, OR and frequently comes home here to CT)to the point where she no longer uses them unless she absolutely has to.
Aw, that’s too bad. It’s silly that they needed to take away your good seats to made their Fare policy work. I mean, it ends up being work for you to call them and then work to get your seats back – and that’s if it had “worked” correctly!
You make a good point about things we do in our businesses that we do but don’t really want to do.
Great post! I no longer shop at a “big” on-line bookstore due to horrible customer service and poor shipping practices. Luckily, I found a on-line bookstore I LOVE and I do pay extra for new books, but I don’t care. Airlines are tough, my Uncle loves United and it worked out for him on his last trip to Italy. His flight was canceled, but another flight was leaving on a code share partner and it turned out it was a 40 passenger business class flight from NYC to Italy. I am never that lucky when I fly and I agree extra leg room is worth it. You definitely have some good points for small businesses to ponder too!