Supporting my Mommy friend

You won’t usually find this kind of thing on my blog, but I needed another platform besides Facebook, to jump on my soap box to start yelling. So, stick with me on this for a minute.
In the past year I have heard several people share about the deplorable customer service they received from Unites Airlines. Now, I haven’t flown United in a long time, but have had my own negative experiences. Today, we are going to focus on my poor friends’ experience. See if you can deduce what happened to her, from the letter she wrote to the CEO.
DATE: July 10, 2012TO: Jeffery A. Smisek, President and CEO
United Continental Holdings, Inc.

FROM: Sarah Staley Shenk
Menlo Park, California
United Mileage Plus Member and customer for over 20 years

Mr. Smisek,

After decades of using your airline for travel and making a long-term choice to use one credit card to enable mileage benefits only from United Airlines, I have decided as a result of my interaction with your airline yesterday to prioritize the use of any airline carrier and credit card-related mileage program other than yours. I will encourage my family, friends and colleagues to do the same.

In January, I booked flights using miles and cash and reserved four tickets for my husband, two young children and myself to travel on a long-awaited family vacation. Though ten other members of my family going on this trip opted to fly to our destination via a competing airline, we chose United.

Yesterday I was notified via email of a change to our flight itinerary. I appreciate this communication. However, when reviewing the details of the change, it was apparent that our family was no longer sitting together and the seats that we have now been assigned are in a section of lesser value than we paid.

This didn’t have to be an issue of significance. In fact, the newly assigned aircraft has greater passenger capacity. However, after spending hours on the phone with the United call center, not one of the people with whom I spoke with was apologetic for the inconvenience, able to offer a reasonable explanation or even provide access to a higher level of management in which a potential solution could be proposed.

What my exchange with your business demonstrated, and your call center so much as stated, is that there is not one person at United Airlines today or in the next month prior to my travel who is capable or empowered to make a difference for the customer.

I appreciate that United Continental is a publicly traded business and – bottom line – you must make decisions and strategize your business priorities in order to make money. My tickets were simply Economy Plus. I’m probably not your tier one target audience. But I am a customer and your business is broken — my voice is not.

Now, my friend is much more eloquent than I ever could have been, but she gets her point across. How sad it is that she had to have this experience in the first place. Do large companies just not care about customer service anymore? Do large successful companies forget that it’s because of customers, loyal customers, they are successful? A business can’t survive without customers, unless there is some new way to be successful I haven’t come across. Just treat people right, is that too much to ask? If someone is paying you to do a service…do it! Over and over again my friends continue to tell me stories of companies forgetting that customer service is the cornerstone of a successful business.
I feel bad that my friend and her family have been put in this position for no apparent reason. I feel bad that my friend has experienced unnecessary frustration, when she did what was required of her. I feel bad, because we ‘little’ people clearly don’t matter to the giant companies. My hope is that all of you who have experienced a failure in customer service speak out, so that change can begin to take place. Let’s remind the companies that customer service is a two way street.
This whole thing makes me say “What the pickles?”
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