flashmeister
Posts: 2671
Joined: Fri Apr 28, 2000 4:32 am

UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Service

Sat Aug 23, 2003 2:13 pm

Earlier this week, my mother had to fly EUG-DEN urgently to be at the side of her father, who was literally dying. She called UA and asked for a bereavement fare.

First, she had to give every last detail of where her father was, who her doctor was, even the phone number of the facility administrator -- not exactly things at her fingertips as she's rushing to go. The representative on the phone was very rude toward her, even as she tried to get the information they needed. The UA rep even had the nerve to ask her if she wanted to hear about their latest leisure promotions -- as she's crying and desperately waiting for help from him. Then, she gets put on hold forever and was told that all of the 'bereavement seats' had been sold out, after about 45 minutes on the phone.

Her next call was to Frontier. F9 doesn't have bereavement fares, and for a reason -- they don't need them. The F9 rep made arrangements for her, held a one-way ticket for her at the counter, didn't even take a credit card, and told her that if she makes the flight out of PDX, they'll take her card there, and if she can't, there won't be a charge. She got to PDX, got the ticket, flew out, and arrived at her father's bedside in time. He died an hour after she arrived.

Arranging the trip home was just as easy -- picked a flight and got on it, even though loads were fairly heavy.

What on earth is UA doing? First, to promote leisure fares to a woman in tears. Second, to not be able to identify whether or not inventory exists. Third, to request all of this totally useless information. It is, simply, pathetic service.

It's no wonder that UA is the basket case of the industry. They can't seem to get out of their own way. Instead of helping someone who was truly in urgent need (and scoring good PR points out of it), they put their blinders on and got mired down in their own self-important policies and "customer service" scripts. They've lost my family permanently as a customer -- I won't tolerate giving a dime to a company that is so disinterested in helping those in need, period. I won't book travel for my employees on them, and I sure as hell will make a point to tell everyone in my social circle who does business with UA about their absolutely dreadful performance this week.

This has also changed my mind dramatically on a point that I've argued many times, especially with DCA-ROCguy. Airlines and airports are a public good and should be forced to act that way. UA uses public facilities, gets public subsidies, and therefore should be forced to operate in the public interest. Call it regulation, good manners, or socialist business -- what's important is that these carriers be forced to stop being monolithic tyrants when it comes to performing a public good.

UA and the rest of the legacy carriers are getting their rear ends kicked by the LCCs. It's no wonder. There is precisely ZERO reason that UA had to behave this way... it is absolutely within their means -- and their responsiblity -- to do exactly what F9 did in this scenario. I know the arguments: "we have to verify", "we have to make money", "what if everyone did that", blah blah blah. Those arguments amount to a hill of beans: WN is famous for helping people in extraordinary situations, and no one can say that they've lost their shirts because of it. F9 is turning out to be the same way. Simply put, it is profitable to do business in a way that is socially responsible.

I can't say enough good things about Frontier. The way they do business makes sense, makes goodwill, and makes money. When was the last time that UA could say that?
 
tekelberry
Posts: 1309
Joined: Tue May 13, 2003 6:37 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Service

Sat Aug 23, 2003 2:20 pm

My condolences goes out to you, your mother and the rest of your family for your grandfather.

What the UA rep did was disgusting. But before you decide to never fly the airline again, think about it. You can't judge the 2nd largest airline off of 1 reservationist. I would write to UA Customer Service conveying your disgust at how they treated your mother. See where that gets you before you overreact.

 
flashmeister
Posts: 2671
Joined: Fri Apr 28, 2000 4:32 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Servi

Sat Aug 23, 2003 2:27 pm

What the UA rep did was disgusting. But before you decide to never fly the airline again, think about it. You can't judge the 2nd largest airline off of 1 reservationist.

That's the attitude that I'm talking about at UA -- believe it or not, lots of opinions of very large corporations are made or broken through the actions of a single front-line, customer-facing representative. These people are the first face of a company that most customers see.

Even then, the pricing policies of UA are just not realistic. If a (profitable) competitor can do business in a much more expedient and helpful way, then why look back?
 
ual777
Posts: 1507
Joined: Thu Aug 14, 2003 6:18 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Service

Sat Aug 23, 2003 2:28 pm

Yes, please do not call it the "basket-case of the industry". However, my condolences go out to you and your family and I am sorry you had to experience that from United. I know first hand that the vast majority of the employees are doing their best to accommodate. Please don't judge us on one CSA. Again, my sympathies to you and your family.
It is always darkest before the sun comes up.
 
WNfan
Posts: 198
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2003 4:27 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Service

Sat Aug 23, 2003 2:28 pm

What a great post. Well said, Flashmeister.

I was in a similar situation a few years ago. My wife's father died in December 1999, and we called and asked for "bereavement" fares on AA from ORD-SAT for ~$600 roundtrip each. After providing a bunch of personal information regarding her father, we packed and went to ORD, then waited at their ticket counter to be checked in for *at least* 45 minutes. Of course, once we got to the counter, there wasn't time to check our bags, so we had to dash to the gate with our luggage, only to have the door closed on us as we arrived. Our next opportunity to fly was a couple of hours later changing at DFW.

We returned to the counter and asked for our money back and were refunded, and then we went to MDW and flew WN using one free ticket and paying a similar $600 for myself -- and it was a far better experience.

The "legacy" network carriers treat people poorly, and it's time for a revolt. Your experience is part of what I hope is a permanent paradigm shift in how passengers allow themselves to be treated. The LCCs are far more respectable in giving passengers fares that are reasonable and do not require notices from doctors, hospitals, cemeteries, and the like. Amen to that.
 
MSYtristar
Posts: 7543
Joined: Sat Aug 27, 2005 12:52 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Service

Sat Aug 23, 2003 2:29 pm

That is truly pathetic. Very sorry that United treated you and yours so poorly (I guess they want to lose business...if so, it's a good way of going about it!), but I'm very happy that my coworkers were able to help your family out in your time of need.

Somewhere along the line, most airline's have seemed to lose touch with the most important thing: customer service. It's the little things that go a long way in this industry. Example: Who cares if a fee gets waived so that you can help someone out in a difficult situation? One kind gesture will surely lead to repeat business, or at least good word of mouth from the individual.


Steve in New Orleans
 
flashmeister
Posts: 2671
Joined: Fri Apr 28, 2000 4:32 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Servi

Sat Aug 23, 2003 2:34 pm

Well, Steve, I can guarantee that F9 will get every dollar that we can give them when we have to fly. Frontier performed very well and did something that simply was the right thing to do.

As for letters to UA, they'll be written... and we're enclosing a copy of a congratulatory letter that we've sent to Frontier in Denver. Perhaps the powers that be in Oak Grove Village will learn something, but frankly, I'm not holding my breath that we'll even get a simple reply.
 
UAL Bagsmasher
Posts: 1839
Joined: Wed Sep 08, 1999 12:52 pm

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Service

Sat Aug 23, 2003 2:40 pm

Please accept my condolences. While you may have just come across a rotten agent, you can still begin to see the fundamental problem with UAL. It is just a big fat bureaucracy that is very resistant to change. Management has the rank and file following archaic rules with fear of discipline if they bend a few of them to help someone in need. The whole company runs like that. People at UA have got to learn how to think outside the box. If they don't start soon, the box they will be thinking in is going to be UAL's coffin.
 
L-188
Posts: 29881
Joined: Wed Jul 07, 1999 11:27 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Service

Sat Aug 23, 2003 2:41 pm

My condolences.

Maybe somebody these majors will get the importance of the consumer.





As far the earlier comments about using public facilities, Airlines allready do pay for them, through landing and fuel fees, gate rentals and the like.
OBAMA-WORST PRESIDENT EVER....Even SKOORB would be better.
 
flashmeister
Posts: 2671
Joined: Fri Apr 28, 2000 4:32 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Servi

Sat Aug 23, 2003 2:42 pm

Additionally, thanks to everyone for their condolences... it really is appreciated.
 
flashmeister
Posts: 2671
Joined: Fri Apr 28, 2000 4:32 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Servi

Sat Aug 23, 2003 2:46 pm

As far the earlier comments about using public facilities, Airlines allready do pay for them, through landing and fuel fees, gate rentals and the like.

They don't pay for the ATC system that way, they don't pay the debt service on public bonds used to build facilities, they're not repaying the subsidies that the feds have given them (for the most part), they're not repaying the marketing subsidies that lots of airports are dangling, they're not paying for the time that a lot of local governments have to put in to keep an airport operational.

There's a lot of public money that directly benefits no one besides the carriers themselves -- and even then, usually just the incumbent carrier. Therefore, they have an obligation to act in the public interest, and should be forced to do so.
 
futureualpilot
Posts: 2404
Joined: Thu May 25, 2000 10:52 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Service

Sat Aug 23, 2003 2:46 pm

My condolences to you and your family, I lost a family member recently, and I know how you might feel. Ill say a p[rayre for him tonight. Also, they may have asked those questions to verify the reason for asking for this fare, otherwise, people might go around doing so, getting cheap flights...although Im not sure what a beravement fare is, but from the sounds of it, its a cheap ticket for someone in an emergency. But I am very sorry about your loss, and that the UA rep gave you such a bad time.
Life is better when you surf.
 
flashmeister
Posts: 2671
Joined: Fri Apr 28, 2000 4:32 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Servi

Sat Aug 23, 2003 2:50 pm

Also, they may have asked those questions to verify the reason for asking for this fare, otherwise, people might go around doing so, getting cheap flights

If that was the case, then carriers who have friendlier policies would be losing money hand over fist. That simply isn't the case... in fact, the inverse is true.

And thank you for your kind words, thoughts, and prayers.
 
UPSfueler
Posts: 425
Joined: Sun May 25, 2003 9:40 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Service

Sat Aug 23, 2003 2:51 pm

My condolances. As many have said already, dont let one UAL employee ruin your view of the airline. There are descent workers out there who do care. Excuse any words that are mis-spelled, the spell checker is in-op.
 
727LOVER
Posts: 6679
Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2001 12:22 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Service

Sat Aug 23, 2003 2:55 pm

My condolences also to you Flashmeister, but I do have a question:

If they don't get the information,telephone numbers, doctors, etc...I mean, anybody can call up and say a relative is dying.
Love Trumps Hate
 
flashmeister
Posts: 2671
Joined: Fri Apr 28, 2000 4:32 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Servi

Sat Aug 23, 2003 2:58 pm

If they don't get the information,telephone numbers, doctors, etc...I mean, anybody can call up and say a relative is dying.

Again, see my previous comment: if other, profitable, carriers can accomplish this feat relatively easily, then why can't UA?
 
L-188
Posts: 29881
Joined: Wed Jul 07, 1999 11:27 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Service

Sat Aug 23, 2003 3:04 pm

I can see an airline telling her to have a doctors note on his office or hospital letterhead when getting to the airport and paying for the ticket or having it faxed to the counter, but all those other questions regarding the facility administrator and the like where beyond what probably where needed.


And having that note gives you a second person to sue if the grievance fair was requested fraudulently. You have the purchaser of the ticket, and then you have the doctor how vouched for the need to the fair.
OBAMA-WORST PRESIDENT EVER....Even SKOORB would be better.
 
flashmeister
Posts: 2671
Joined: Fri Apr 28, 2000 4:32 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Servi

Sat Aug 23, 2003 3:16 pm

Still no answer to my quesion though: How do the (once again, profitable) LCCs manage to not lose their shirt on these types of cases?

My answer is this: it's more profitable to do business in a socially responsible way, even if it means putting up with a loophole in a policy in deference to helping people who are truly in need.

As an aside, if UA's rationale for all this documentation is partially to be able to sue over a $400-600 ticket, then they really are bass-ackwards over there. Millions per day are being lost and we're alienating customers over $400. Makes sense to me.
 
inflightmags
Posts: 98
Joined: Mon Jun 09, 2003 3:13 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Service

Sat Aug 23, 2003 3:19 pm

My grandfather died about two years ago...I didn't go but my Mother and Father did..We never called the airline directly but went to a travel agency instead...Why did we go to a travel agency? Well the fact that I already expected the kind of service the airlines give...as well as our main goal was to get to the destination at the lowest fare...I believe that most of the times travel agents can find the lowest fares...

If you already know that the airlines (any airlines) give such service then why do you torture yourself??? Sometimes it is your approach to the situation..

You are the customer and you have the right to shop around before finalizing a decision...so as much as you want to blame the airlines you have to blame yourself as well....And yes I do blame myself when I deal with big companies, because later on I realized that I approached a situation in a wrong way..

Keep in mind though that not all experiences are the same...

I know, I know there might be other airlines out there not paying that much $$ to travel agencies but it wouldn't really hurt to try a travel agency...

and yes I do have double standards..
 
L-188
Posts: 29881
Joined: Wed Jul 07, 1999 11:27 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Service

Sat Aug 23, 2003 3:22 pm

Actually, the answer is that if they price their tickets correctly, they only wholesaled a ticket, they didn't make money on it, they only broke even.

The only way the airline would loose money on that ticket is if they had to bump a passenger paying full fare. Which if the seat would have been empty anyway, isn't that big of a consideration.

And along your line of thinking that generates good will to the customer, who probably will tell everybody else.
OBAMA-WORST PRESIDENT EVER....Even SKOORB would be better.
 
flashmeister
Posts: 2671
Joined: Fri Apr 28, 2000 4:32 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Servi

Sat Aug 23, 2003 3:24 pm

so as much as you want to blame the airlines you have to blame yourself as well

I find this really insulting, frankly. Why should we blame ourselves for trying to do business with United? Perhaps a travel agent could have helped, but in this case, we needed to get her on the plane ASAP. If you read my original post, she made it by an hour.

Screwing around trying to find a travel agent would probably not have helped, anyway, since we would have probably gotten to the same endpoint anyway, which was F9's PDX-DEN flight.
 
inflightmags
Posts: 98
Joined: Mon Jun 09, 2003 3:13 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Service

Sat Aug 23, 2003 3:30 pm

Why didn't you call F9 first then?? Also, why did you call UA first??

Bigger is not always better!!!!!!
 
flashmeister
Posts: 2671
Joined: Fri Apr 28, 2000 4:32 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Servi

Sat Aug 23, 2003 3:31 pm

She was in EUG to start with. The only carrier to do EUG-DEN nonstop is UA. Time was of the essence.
 
inflightmags
Posts: 98
Joined: Mon Jun 09, 2003 3:13 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Service

Sat Aug 23, 2003 3:37 pm

Then why didn't she just hang up after UA rep asked all those questions when the situation was already becoming more uncomfortable to her?

If someone ask you "Can you please hold?" There are only two answers to this question "Yes!" and "No!"
 
flashmeister
Posts: 2671
Joined: Fri Apr 28, 2000 4:32 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Servi

Sat Aug 23, 2003 3:43 pm

Because even a 45 minute call to get a flight locally is less time invested then driving 2+ hours to PDX. Besides, we had no reason to believe that UA wouldn't help... and next time you're crying and desperate for help, let's see what decisions you make on the fly. Sure is easy to armchair quarterback from your position.

I don't appreciate you assailing her for making the best judgements she could at the time... and whatever decisions were made do not justify the awful way that UA treated her. Besides, the topic of the post is more toward pointing out the disparity between how UA and F9 approach these situations and how it impacts their public perception, and therefore their profitability.
 
User avatar
jetjack74
Posts: 6585
Joined: Sun Jul 27, 2003 6:35 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Service

Sun Aug 24, 2003 4:26 am

Flashmeister,
Log onto www.untied.com and put a post on the website. It's a slam site directed at UAL. Put comment down there. Big wigs at UAL see it. The flying public knows it's out there, so people will see it. Sorry to hear about the loss in your family.
Made from jets!
 
zrs70
Posts: 3330
Joined: Sun Dec 10, 2000 4:08 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Service

Sun Aug 24, 2003 4:31 am

Jetjack74:

I adamantly dissagree with your advice. I browse through the stuff on Untied.com. Do you realize that people are putting out private info on a public board. Some people even put their credit card numbers and home phones on there. It's absurd!

No, Flash should write ual a coherent, well thought out letter. Send it direct, not though untied.
17 year airliners.net vet! 2000-2016
 
milemaster
Posts: 1001
Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2001 10:19 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Service

Sun Aug 24, 2003 4:34 am

Yeah, that was pretty weak on UA's part.

The reality is however (unless you're totally committed) that you will be flying them again if the fare they offer to a destination is the right one.

In that scenario, the money you saved will have a bigger impact on you than the impact from the money they'd lose by not having you as a customer.
 
PHXinterrupted
Posts: 461
Joined: Thu Apr 25, 2002 6:41 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Service

Sun Aug 24, 2003 4:44 am

"I can't say enough good things about Frontier. The way they do business makes sense, makes goodwill, and makes money. When was the last time that UA could say that?"

Funny, I can't say anything good about Frontier. I've had nothing but average to poor service with about 60% of my flights (20+) being more than 15 minutes late.

As for making money, they only turned a modest profit last quarter because of Uncle Sam. Take a good look at their previous quarters.
Keepin' it real.
 
Tango-Bravo
Posts: 2887
Joined: Sun Jun 17, 2001 1:04 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Service

Sun Aug 24, 2003 4:48 am

Flashmeister: For curiosity's sake, did you consider Alaska/Horizon (PDX-DEN, EUG-PDX-DEN or EUG-SEA-DEN) for your mother's last-minute trip? If not, why not?
 
ElkGrove
Posts: 45
Joined: Wed Jul 30, 2003 12:59 pm

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Service

Sun Aug 24, 2003 4:55 am

Flashmeister- My heart goes out to you and your family during this painful time. The actions of my company's representative were completely unacceptable in this situation. There was no reason for waiting for an extended period of time before the reservation agent realized that no seats were available. Additionally the agent should have been sensitive to the situation that your mother was in. Should you request it I can give you the telephone number of an official in customer relations to officially apologize on behalf of the company. Once more I am truly sorry for your loss.
 
HlywdCatft
Posts: 5232
Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2001 6:21 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Service

Sun Aug 24, 2003 4:59 am

I agree UA sucks!!

I hate everything about them in the 90's till present- their color scheme, their service.

They used to be one of my favorite airlines, but since those strikes in the late 90s they have really gone downhill. They are very rude, that's why I stopped flying them.

I actually didn't care last winter if United went Belly Up. I feel sorry for the workers there that actually do give a damn, the few of them, but for most of the other rude workers I could care less if they went unemployed.
 
ual777
Posts: 1507
Joined: Thu Aug 14, 2003 6:18 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Service

Sun Aug 24, 2003 6:28 am

HlywdCatft,
I do believe that you are mistaken. MOST of the employees at United are trying hard to make a turn-around.
It is always darkest before the sun comes up.
 
polnebmit
Posts: 103
Joined: Sun Aug 24, 2003 8:10 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Service

Sun Aug 24, 2003 8:41 am

My condolences to you and your family. I have not had good experiences with United Airlines either. Their representatives many times lack the professionalism that the public in general would ask, especially with the high fares we end up paying for a last minute warning. I've not had bad experiences with Delta Airlines though. Two years ago I was in a similar situation and they proved very helpfull. I did not have to present any documentation till my flight back home after burying my grandfather when I was clear-minded. Very helpful, both on the phone as well as at the airport in JFK. A few months later another situation came up and once again Delta Airlines seemed to pull it together very well.
 
UAL-Fan
Posts: 342
Joined: Thu Dec 09, 1999 1:36 pm

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Service

Sun Aug 24, 2003 8:56 am

I had a similar experience with UAL last week. My Father was diagnosed with Colon Cancer about 3 wks ago, he went into surgery Monday, the same day I was to fly UAL to ORD. I called 3 days prior and asked if I could go out on Tuesday instead. The extremely RUDE agent basically told me I could just forget that for less than $1,000.00 fare increase AND if I don't use the existing ticket before my scheduled departure date I would loose that too.

Well.....I definitely know how to play the airfare game. I booked a new flight on HP for less than the original UAL tkt. Then I booked a UAL trip to ORD for a business trip I have scheduled three weeks from now. They ended up giving me money back in spite of the $100.00 change fee. I also cut up my M.P. gold card and mailed it to them (some sort of self satisfaction). I promised them that they would have to be the last Airline left standing in the U.S. for me to ever get on another one of their planes.
 
starrion
Posts: 972
Joined: Sat Jul 19, 2003 1:19 pm

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Service

Sun Aug 24, 2003 9:13 am

My condolences to Flash and UAL-fan, (is that sarcastic?) as just another business traveler, my four domestic trips on UA were uniformly unpleasant, with rude GA's, late departures and FA's who specialized in "service with a scowl".

The service on ATA was marginally better (and a whole lot cheaper) and I wouldn't fly on them again except at corporate gunpoint.

If these folks are so unhappy why don't they find a job that doesn't involve working with the public? I saw one GA reading off a customer at the check-in desk over some request, I have never -ever- seen someone in customer service treating a customer like that. I refused to deal with her, I waited for the next person to open up.

[Edited 2003-08-24 02:33:23]
Knowledge Replaces Fear
 
727LOVER
Posts: 6679
Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2001 12:22 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Service

Sun Aug 24, 2003 9:32 am

UAL-Fan, are you changing your username? Big grin
Love Trumps Hate
 
jjbiv
Posts: 1203
Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2001 10:58 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Service

Sun Aug 24, 2003 9:42 am

Starrion,

Are you referring to ATA or United when you say "I wouldn't fly on them again except at corporate gunpoint." Just curious...

Hope you enjoyed your flights,

joe
 
starrion
Posts: 972
Joined: Sat Jul 19, 2003 1:19 pm

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Service

Sun Aug 24, 2003 10:10 am

ATA
Their flights on the new 737's weren't bad, but if they want to use Midway as a hub, then they need to get some bathrooms installed and add some more take-away places so passengers can get something between flights. Both types of facilities are too small for the crowds packing the place. The whole experience was pretty unpleasant. I wouldn't fly on them willingly unless it was point to point.

United's flights weren't pleasant but they had better facilites at the airports.
Knowledge Replaces Fear
 
FLY777UAL
Posts: 4830
Joined: Tue May 18, 1999 3:49 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Service

Sun Aug 24, 2003 10:47 am

Very sorry to hear about your loss, it's very tough, I know, but frankly, aside from the rude reservation agent, I can't really find a problem with anything that happened. They were out of seats...what can you do?

If you want a black shirt from Nordstrom and they're out of your size, what are you going to do? They're out...that's it. You did just what any consumer would do...continue on.

Furthermore, why is it that you feel as if you should have received special treatment? You state that, "United should have to act in the public interest" and that, "Simply put, it is profitable to do business in a way that is socially responsible." So it's socially responsible of Nordstrom to outfit you with clothes that they don't have when you need them for an event in three hours? They're technically a "public" company, as well, trading as JWN on the NYSE, and surprisingly, they, too get help from the government, mainly by locally and state, but it is nonetheless help.

And about this so called "the hill of beans" that they have to "verify information"...that's just pathetic. For all the agents know, your mother could be a very good actress. Hell, even I can make myself cry on command. What exactly is stopping me from calling up Delta in tears, making up a phony story about my sister dying in London? I would end up take advantage of the agent and the airline for a 12 hour flight at cost, only so I can go off and enjoy a romantic dinner or surprise my sister--who by the way wouldn't be "dying" but rather attending school. Maybe she'd be "dying" to see me, but that's about all she'd be ailing from!

F L Y 7 7 7 U A L
 
gigneil
Posts: 14133
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2002 10:25 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Service

Sun Aug 24, 2003 11:38 am

While I also offer my condolences - in terms of the information requested, almost all the majors require the same information.

It sucks that the agent was a bitch.

N
 
User avatar
mariner
Posts: 18253
Joined: Fri Nov 23, 2001 7:29 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Service

Sun Aug 24, 2003 12:27 pm

FLY777UAL:

I can't imagine your post did anything to persuade Flashmeister or his mother to try UAL again.

The agent didn't say they were out of seats. He said that they were out of "bereavement seats."

Gosh, were there a lot of bereavement passengers flying to Denver that day? Or is it a very small allocation of seats?

Of course, it may be that UAL had no seats of any kind that day, but I find that a tad hard to believe. And even if it were true, a good customer service agent would suggest alternatives, under the circumstances.

If I go to Nordstrom to buy a particular Tommy Bahama shirt and they're out of it, then they'll either tell me when it's coming in, if it's available on the web or even what other stores may have it.

As to the "acting" part wouldn't it have been simpler - and certainly more kind - to find out if there were any "bereavement seats" available first, before putting Flashmeister's mother through the hoops of having to prove the crisis?

cheers

mariner
aeternum nauta
 
tranceport
Posts: 240
Joined: Fri Jul 11, 2003 5:56 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Service

Sun Aug 24, 2003 12:31 pm

Many of the arguments here against Flashmeister's excellent posts are weak. Detractors keep skirting the valid questions and facts he poses and states. Instead, hypothetical situations are being proposed instead of any factual or intelligent response being proffered.

Basically, in my opinion, Flashmeister is highlighting two valid and arguably a third valid point:

1. All Nordstrom hypothesising aside, I challenge any customer service representative from any airline, major or minor, to confirm that it need take forty-five minutes to ascertain whether or not there are available seats in any class of service or for any special circumstance.

2. Although I cannot quibble with a major airline gathering certain verifiable information, no one's arguments about hypothetical misuse of the system hold up until someone can offer some reasonable explanation why certain airlines such as Southwest and Frontier are using a doomed "public interest" model and still succeeding rather well.

3. No matter how far you step back and how big of a picture you look at, it still is the front line customer service representative that can make or break the company's image for a client, whether they be a corporation or an individual. In a paradoxical way, it is often the lowest paid, least educated people in a company who have the biggest impact on corporate image. Even if they are one voice, they are often the sole impression that is received by the public.

Once when I was younger and didn't realise how airfares worked, I wanted to see if I could fly from MEM to DEN on holiday. I phoned United Airlines reservations for the first time in my life, having never traveled with them previously. In my ignorance, I asked the reservation agent for the cheapest fare from MEM to DEN return. When they asked a date, I said it didn't matter since I was just wanting to travel when I could find the cheapest fare. At this point there was a disgusted huffing noise into the phone and I heard a few keys click and then one word was blurted out, "$XXX." I felt so dumb that I just said, "thank you" and hung up the phone.

I understand that I did not know how the reservation system worked, but on that simple experience I avoided United Airlines for the next ten years. That was based on one interaction with one rude entry-level employee. I also worked for a time in customer service with American Express. I have seen many times first hand how one "public interest" move that potentially loses the company money will raise customer loyalty and gain more clients. I have also seen how one bad phone encounter can lose one client and result in negative press all around losing other potential clients.

Flashmeister's post is a prime example of how this works. If I ever am in such an unfortunate situation as his and there is a choice between carriers and Frontier is one of them, Frontier will receive my business. That's what the "public interest" model does for a company.

To be fair, I have had similar good experiences on Delta. I once attended the funeral of a grandparent and needed to fly from ICT to MEM. I had the necessary information with me when I checked in at ICT, but the agent simply told me that it was not necessary and gave me the bereavement fare on the basis of the exisiting reservation alone.





[Edited 2003-08-24 05:34:38]
 
AIR757200
Posts: 1466
Joined: Mon Jul 17, 2000 8:30 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Service

Sun Aug 24, 2003 12:37 pm

Or is it a very small allocation of seats?

Most of the time, the bereavement fare is pooled in with a class of service. Therefore, if the bereavement fare is class "M", the airline may also sell "M" normally, let's say FBC: ME0NR, etc. etc. AA does, but I can't remember specially what class code (but I think it's "M"). So when the call took place, the specially "time frame" probably didn't have the class of service needed to book a bereavement fare. Therefore, no sale.
 
User avatar
mariner
Posts: 18253
Joined: Fri Nov 23, 2001 7:29 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Service

Sun Aug 24, 2003 12:43 pm

AIR757200:

I understand that. However, I repeat, surely a good customer service agent would have suggested alternatives?

"No bereavement fares" - is that the end of the conversation?

Happily, I seem to be lucky when I book, and get people who actually try to help me resolve whatever problems I may have.

But then I don't fly with the legacy carriers any more, mostly because of the attitude.

cheers

mariner
aeternum nauta
 
dinker225
Posts: 978
Joined: Mon Jan 17, 2000 9:18 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Service

Sun Aug 24, 2003 1:00 pm

I agree with Fly777UAL. My personal experience with United has had its ups and downs. Although the first time they let me down I did not stop flying them. Glitches happen, you may get a rude agent that just had a bad day or a difficult customer. I work on the frontline selling lift tickets for a major ski resort. Sometimes you may not be the nicest to a customer because of various reasons. Things happen. You must try to look past these things and see the positive. The incident with the agent may not have had a positive but that would not detere me for life. Give United another chance.

Dinker
Two rules in aviation, don't hit anything and don't run out of gas, cause if you run out of gas yer gonna hit something.
 
atrude777
Posts: 4258
Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2003 11:23 pm

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Servi

Sun Aug 24, 2003 1:11 pm

When my grandma died , we had to fly to MCO from BNA. we got a cheap afre and made it.


However, my aunt who was flying in from PHX booked on HP, a regular fare and when she got o the airport she inquired about those fares. they said, it was booked all the way, buit they would gladly upgrade her to first class, as an apolgy for not giving her that type of fare. So she booked a coah fare and got first class, all the way. so America West did a great job in this situation. This was before 9-11 if any of that matters...

Alex
Good things come to those who wait, better things come to those who go AFTER it!
 
FLY777UAL
Posts: 4830
Joined: Tue May 18, 1999 3:49 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Service

Sun Aug 24, 2003 1:22 pm

Mariner--

Not trying in the least bit to convince his mother or him to continue flying. They obviously found a good deal with Frontier and enjoyed their service, so that's fine.

Tranceport--
I was merely responding to his personal situation and his ranting, and raving about how airlines should have been run and how things should have been different for him. There's a reason why I skirted the "issue" as you present it so nicely for us...I clearly acknowledged the fact that there was a very rude agent, and obviously sided with him that that type of behavior is inappropriate. Moreover, as for the 45 minutes she spent on hold with United reservations (and I'm sure Flashmeister is a completely honest person and would never embellish on things such as time), it might seem like an unreasonable amount of time, but if you think about it, there might have been the slightest possibility that the agent could have been looking for other flights on which to fly. By the same token, there might have been that slightest possibility again in which she took a lunch break...never know.

I agree with you completely about the front-line employees being the ones to make or break an experience for a customer. Just yesterday when I booked a ticket to San Diego through the WN reservations number, I had a horrible agent. I got off the phone thinking "wow...they obviously wanted my business." Made me feel horrible as a customer, and eventhough I have only received amazing service from them just a few times (both onboard and on the ground), I can weed through the rudeness that many of their employees have shown and focus on the good things. They're convenient and at times can be absolutely amazing with their service. At the end of the day, I'll still give them my business, no matter what service I received.

F L Y 7 7 7 U A L
 
AA777MIA
Posts: 671
Joined: Thu Aug 07, 2003 10:30 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Service

Sun Aug 24, 2003 1:33 pm

What is sad is the fact that now the airlines have to get detailed in getting names, numbers, facts etc, that is the direct result of people ABUSING the system. Trying to beat the system to save a buck, and now you practically have to give blood to get a fare like that...
 
flashmeister
Posts: 2671
Joined: Fri Apr 28, 2000 4:32 am

RE: UA Lost Another Customer Due To Pathetic Servi

Sun Aug 24, 2003 1:34 pm

There still hasn't been a good response as to why F9, WN, etc., can be so flexible, yet the legacy carriers cannot. I suspect that there isn't a good reason at all.

I understand the arguments of those who say that my personal boycott of UA isn't justified, but I disagree completely. It wasn't a simple or single mixup -- it was an obvious lack of oversight and/or training, and it wasn't the first time that I've received poor service from UA. It was the straw that broke the camel's back.

As for why we didn't use AS, it was the luck of the draw. We fly F9 more than we do AS, but if AS would have helped in the way that F9 did, and I suspect that they probably would have, then they'd be the topic of this post. It's nothing against AS at all... they provide very good service.

And, as for fly777ual's comparison of a black shirt at Nordstrom to a daughter wanting to be by her father as he dies, it's such an invalid, laughable comparison that it's not even worth responding to.

Who is online