1.19.2006

Teilhet vs. United-The Three Hour Fight

We ended up extending our Christmas trip back home by about a week, but we had a heck of a time trying to rearrange our flight back. Trouble was we knew that Beth's Papa was going to pass, but due to United's small print we actually had to wait for him to pass before we could ask for bereavement rates on the return flight.

So the day came, and then the crazy neighbor came, and the next day Beth gave a call to United to arrange for our flight back. Now, two days prior, Beth managed to get ahold of "John" at United's bereavement department who gave his word that all we needed to do was to call back when Papa passed and inform the customer service agent of the ordeal, and then we would promptly be given the reduced rate of $100 dollars a piece to complete our trip. Turns out also, that this John guy is the only United employee who speaks english as a first language.

Low and behold, Beth had no such luck and was given the run around and even told that there is no bereavement department. Beth can be a patient person, but at this point she was maxed out due to the family situation and her having little tolerance for poor customer service. By the time she was transferred to yet another hard to understand foreigner she was done, and with tears of frustration she passes the tele to me.

Usually, Beth handles most of the telephone situations simply because I hate talking on the telephone. So, if you call me keep it short. However, I am blessed with an incredibly calm even temper and enough patience to outlast even the most stubborn customer service reps. I put on my game face, and am ready to avenge my wife's poor treatment. When I get the phone Beth had already been fighting the fight for about an hour.

I start off with a light jab by explaining the situation. "George" the customer service rep, not even close to his real name, strikes back with "what is your reservation number?"(think 7-11 on the accent) So, I clearly recite all necessary info, which by the way, he has heard at least three times from Beth already. "O.k. thankyou."

......on hold....music is a familiar song, but I can't put my finger on it because it's been remixed into elevator music.........

"Yes, hello sir" as he returns. "The total will be $1,100.00". I'm not faded, I saw this hook coming fom a mile away. I send him a left. "That's not going work George. I was promised a bereavement rate of $100 per person." And then a right, "Find me the bereavement rate, please."

......on hold...this time it's a duran duran remix..................

"Yes, hello sir". He's back. "The bereavement rate is $800.00." Low blow, but I dodge it. "George, I need to speak to your manager." Shot to the Kidney. It turns out that this guy is as persistent as I am. He refuses to transfer me and again puts me on hold to check for another rate.

.....on hold....

He returns with this explanation, "The bereavement rate is only applicable to round trip flights, and so I cannot give you the $100.00 rate." "George, I need to speak to your manager or whoever is above you, thank you." Right hook, and he gives in.

This time it's a lady, who confirms she is the reservation manager. I ask for her name and full title: "Ellen Smith" (funny, you don't sound like an Ellen Smith), Reservations Manager. The ordeal begins again, same story, same info, same result.

Einstein's definition of insanity seems to fit here:
"doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results"

I realize I need a new tactic; the gloves come off. " Listen Ellen, what your telling me is this: United is willing to leave me and my wife, customers in good standing, stranded from home because we had to cancel our return flight to attend a funeral." Right cross. Solid Contact. "I was told, by a United employee, that we would receive a bereavement rate of $100.00 per person." Left hook, she's dazed. "If you fail to follow through with this I will be contacting the Better Business Bureau directly." Upper Cut....1...2...3....4....

...on hold......Rocky's eye of the tiger...

All the sudden, she returns. "O.k. sir, I have a reservation for Friday." .....5....6...7... "What's the cost, Ellen?'....8...9
"$200.00, Sir. How will you be paying?".....10....T.K.O.

And that's how I defeated the United Customer Service Department. And I did it oh so calmly.

-well alright-

6 comments:

sekondstory said...

O.K keeping up with traddtion I'll be the first to comment on your blog. :)
Great story! I'm glad you persevered. Those poor people couldn't hang up on you( b/c that would be the very worst customer service) and they couldn't get you to get off the phome, so 3 hours later, they were like "give it to him for $200, if you stayed on another hour they would have given you the tickets for free :)
I'm kidding about the poor people, they deserve all the whiners they get, not that you're a whiner.
I'm a little bitter with the airlines from the many times they have left me stranded, at no fault of mine. One time, Tim and I were stuck in the Charlotte airprot all day. We went ahead and rented a car and drove home faster than they could fly us.( did I mention we were with our 3 yr old and 3 month old at the time...ughhh)!

Wow....this turned into a very long comment. Almost as long as your post :)

-well alright-

f1rststory said...

Yes, I believe that was united too that left us high and dry. They SUCK. That's one reason I only fly Delta. Another reason I only fly Delta is US Airways and another is Northwest. The 4th reason I fly Delts is American Airways - or whatever they're called. I pay $50 more per ticket to not have any hassles if i have a problem. I'm sure people have had problems with Delta, but I'm a Silver Medallion Member (I fly a lot) and really have always had great service.

Oh yeah, when I first saw your title, i thought this was about a soccer game..."Teilhet contra United, esta noche en los 8pm solamente en Univision".

ha

Tonya said...

I know you scored major points with Beth for that one...

Sweet Beth said...

yes he did, i was very proud of him

AmberShea said...

just reading your blog stressed me out. props for taking on "the man" and defeating him.

Steve said...

This rocks. Tim, I've got a Delta story that's almost as bad. After they left my 65+ year old parents stranded at DFW, they issued some free tickets. However, when we finally tried to use them, you have to drive to the airport and pay with them as cash. 45 minutes away.