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.
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.