Wednesday, February 14, 2007

American Airlines...The Final Chapter

It's over. And while I'm not completely satisfied with the results, I'm quitting while I'm ahead. Barely. Last Thursday I received the "additional" mystery voucher from American Airlines...the offer that was to make everything better. The offer that was to make amends for having to write four letters of complaint to rectify the situation. The offer that was to restore my faith in American Airlines and the whole airline industry. Now I know why John Madden rides a bus. I mean, besides that fact that he's terrified of flying.

I opened the envelope to find a three-page carbon copy form bound by a perforated edge on the left side and the American Airlines logo emblazoned in big bold type across the top. The bottom part of the page held a note: "I'm so sorry for your disappointing experience. Please accept this transportation voucher as tangible evidence of our regret and concern. (Hmmm...I've heard this somewhere before.) I hope you will use it to travel with us again soon." I opened the form to the second page and scanned it for numbers. I found the box entitled "Numerical Value" and my eyes locked in: $200.

I was disappointed...again. If $200 had been their initial offer after my original complaint, I would have gladly taken it. But $200 after all the crap I had to go through seems low. I was hoping for $300, but I'm going to settle for 2. Oh, and they let me keep those 5000 frequent flier miles. Can't forget about that!

The last step was a letter to AA President/CEO, Gerard Arpey, documenting my experience and encouraging him to look at their Customer Relations department. It may be excessive, but, hey, they gave me his name and address. Some excerpts:

I am writing to you today to direct your attention to what I believe is becoming a growing epidemic within the airline industry: poor customer service. American Airlines has always been my first choice in air transportation, and, while I may not be a business customer, I have been a faithful recreational customer, using your airline on average of two times a year. This is soon to change...

...I think that it is utterly ridiculous for me to have to write a letter to the President and CEO of a major corporation over a customer service issue. But quite frankly, these days the whole airline industry seems to be full of customer service issues, and I, for one, believe it is unacceptable. It needs to change. Ms. Scott writes, “Also, you may write to Mr. Arpey at the address below. However, he has delegated the responsibility of responding to customer concerns to our Customer Relations personnel. In turn, we keep him well-informed about customer issues. This designation allows Mr. Arpey and other senior management to devote their energies and attention the daily operation of our airline.”

While I wholeheartedly agree with the principal of delegation, I also believe that when delegated responsibility breaks down, it’s time to draw in the reigns. The airline industry is a customer service industry, and as such, your customers need to be your top priority in the daily operation of your airline. Mr. Arpey, I am not an opportunist and was not looking to “stick it” to American Airlines. I am a hard-working man who spent a lot of money on an airline ticket, only to end up sharing that expensive seat. I simply wanted reasonable compensation, and the process of receiving that compensation was too drawn out and difficult as I dealt with Customer Relations agents who were more eager to dismiss me than to take an honest look at my situation.

I am including in this letter all of my correspondence followed by each reply from your Customer Relations agents to show you exactly what I had to go through in order to seek compensation. It saddens me that I had to become a “jerk” before your Customer Relations agents would take me seriously. I hope that you would investigate and address this issue so that no other AA customer would have to go through the same grueling process that I experienced.

Game over. I'm done. I don't expect anything else from American Airlines. Some people might think all of this is overkill, but I don't agree. I'm proud of the fact that I took a stand against something that was wrong, and hopefully will have an impact on how customers are dealt with in the future.

Oh, who am I kidding?


The Beast Mom said...

I have to say you are mighty persistent! You never know, maybe Mr. CEO American will give you more.

BTW, I like the new banner graphic thingy at top. Can you put a belly-baring gold skirt on the animal?


The Beast Mom said...

p.s. The Kite Runner was the BEST book I've read in YEARS. Read it about 18 mos ago. Haven't read his new one yet.


the battered ham said...

It's amazing how motivated one can get when pissed off...time after time after time. They were wrong and I wasn't going to rest until they did something right.

As far as the graphic...I like a challenge...I'll see what I can do to satisfy your twisted sense of humor.

And "The Kite Runner" is an excellent book...a must read. Talk about not resting until seeing a wrong made right!

The Beast Mom said...

Twisted? Who you callin' twisted?

Btw, now I want the pig to be ANIMATED in its gold skirt - shakin' its booty and various other piggy parts.


the battered ham said...

Do I really have to build a case?