Telling my side of the story

WARNING: I'm not that deep.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A Customer Service Story - Delta Airlines

People who know me know not to mess with my time. More than that, I like to be treated fairly. I fly a lot and Delta is my airline of choice for domestic and international travel to Europe. That's who I fly with and that's who I monitor my sky miles with. Needless to say that whenever I have a trip planned, delta.com is my first port of call. I am extremely frugal but I'll fly Delta even when it is more expensive than other airlines because there is a certain perception of safety combined with the all-important sky miles that I have never used.

Moving on to the fun part. I flew Delta to New York and after a fantastic weekend decided to catch an earlier flight home. By earlier, I mean a couple of hours early. I call the 800-number to see if there was space available on their 3 o'clock flight and if so, see about being put on their stand by list. Imagine my shock when I learn that Delta no longer allows stand by and that you have to pay $25 to catch an earlier flight. In addition to that, you have to call within a three-hour window to make that change. Na real wa. I figured, whatever, I'll pay the $25 bucks to be home earlier and whatever, I'll call back at 12 if that makes them happy. Anyhow, I gallivant around the city and get to the airport in time to catch my flight.

Still on the fun part. I check-in my bags because I don't feel like fighting to put stuff in the overhead bins and discover from the guy at the counter that my flight has been delayed by an hour and a half! What's the point? Why should I pay $25 if I am going to end up getting home around my original time? Kia kia (quickly) I call Delta and let them know that first of all, I am a loyal Delta customer and that I fly Delta any opportunity I get. Secondly, I don't like the fact that they charge $25 for someone to take an earlier flight. I know from personal experience that AirTran doesn't do that. (I lost the battle when my girlfriends and I took a trip out of town. With them, cheaper is better so AirTran won. ) Anyhow, the real point of my call was to tell them that I didn't think I should be charged the 25 bucks if I would be getting home around the time of my original flight. What do they tell me? Sorry, they cannot reimburse me. All this was from Jovito in their call center in India. (Aside: you bet I collected his details). He puts me on hold to speak to his supervisor and comes back to tell me that his supervisor says I wouldn't be reimbursed for this inconvenience. An inconvenience due to a mechanical fault with the aircraft. I ask him to put me on to this supervisor and next thing I know, I am speaking to Nora D. in the Montgomery, AL call center. Nora D. very rudely tells me that I will not be reimbursed and that if I want, I can be put back on my original flight. Now, why would I do that? After going through all this trouble? If I wanted to leave at that time, I wouldn't have changed my flight in the first place. Besides, I had already cut short my gallivanting to be at the airport early enough to catch the 3 o'clock flight. If I had known that I would end up getting home around the same time as my original flight, I would have had a more relaxed day and saved myself $25. Due to Nora D. being so rude, I ask to speak to someone else.

After being on hold for 30+ minutes (Yes, I stayed on. I was going to get to the end of this) Nora D. comes back still indignant. I guess I must have worn her down because as I was talking, she cut me short saying loudly, "Do you want your money back or not?". Of course I do. Next thing, she puts me on hold again and comes back saying that she has 'requested' a reimbursement and that my VISA will be credited within 7-10 business days. Do I believe her? No, it was too quick of a turnaround from you won't be reimbursed to do you want your money back. Will I be monitoring my account for the reimbursement? Yes and if I don't, you best believe that someone from Delta will be hearing from me. Any time I am faced with a customer service issue, I say this to the customer service rep, "I am in the customer service business and I don't think this is good customer service". We are all in the customer service business one way or another. Somehow, people expect to receive good service from us no matter what profession we are in. People do not only expect good service but they expect the person offering that service to do it with a figurative smile. Everyone wants to walk away from a transaction feeling good about it. It's intangible but it makes a difference. It made me want to fly with a different airline next time.

In the end, the plane didn't take off until 5PM. It ended up being a two hour delay. I really should be reimbursed.

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