Does American Airlines have good customer service?
Once again, I find myself on the "I can't believe this is happening" end of a telephone conversation with a customer service rep.
Here's the story.
I had booked a flight using reward miles to fly someone from Dallas to Denver in a couple weeks.
As it turns out, he is going to drive here a few days early and won't require the initial leg of the flight. But he fully intended to use the return leg on the scheduled date.
The lady at the Aadvantage desk told me if he didn't get on the outbound flight, the ticket would be cancelled.
What's more, there would be a $100 change fee to reschedule... the same return flight.
Ok, so I told the bottom level rep that I really needed to speak with a supervisor.
So I'm greeted by Margie Foster, who essentially tells me the same thing.
She notifies me that I have "broken contract" with the airline by not getting on the outgoing flight and they would need to issue a new ticket.
I tell her I don't need a new ticket. She insists that I do, and that there will be a $100 change fee.
I tell her that I have been an American customer for years, have Gold status, and would like them to waive the fee.
She laughs and tells me she can't do that.
I say, "you can't or you won't?"
She says she won't under these circumstances.
Now we're just talking $100, but it is the principle of the thing here. You know me. I am a stickler for principle and believe that policy should be flexible on a case-by-case basis.
Finally, she relents and says she can change it for $75 instead of $100.
So, it turns out that she DOES have the authority to make the change. She's just not going to waive the entire fee for a reticketing a ticket that really hasn't changed.
I tell her that this is why American is struggling and the other airlines are kicking their butts.
I would NEVER do this to a customer. Never.
I told her that it was a stupid policy, as they were alienating a long-time customer over an obviously ridiculous set of circumstances. She got all huffy and in my face, telling me that I shouldn't call her stupid. Geeez...
I ask who is her superior. Of course, there is no one above her. Power in the hands of someone entirely unable to manage a simple customer service issue to the satisfaction of the customer. Typical.
She then tells me that I can appeal to customer service later.
I say, I'd like to appeal now.
She tells me I can't do that. I have to wait until after the flight.
I say fine. Just go ahead and do the ticket.
She puts me on hold, goes about her business and comes back in a few minutes.
I ask her, "So let me ask you this. I am going to be contacting American customer service AFTER the flight and expressing my displeasure. In all likelihood, they will refund the money. So why not just save time and effort by going ahead and making this customer happy now?"
She tells me that it is very rare for them to waive the reticketing fee. It just doesn't happen. Uh uh. No way, charlie.
And I think to myself... "Is there no common sense left in the world? Clearly not with this lady who just thinks she is doing her job."
She asks me what I think American should do with every passenger that wants their change fee waived?
I think to myself, if they are wanting the same flight they have already booked than you waive the fee!
I proceed to tell her that this is why American Airlines is suffering. You HAVE to deal with customers on a case-by-case basis. It's the only way to fly. (yes, the pun is intended...)
You know what she says?
"Sir, I don't have to listen to you bad mouth American Airlines!"
... and she hangs up on me.
Airlines like Jet Blue and Southwest understand customer service.
American has become a bloated beast of a corporation that just doesn't get it. And unfortunately, the team at the Aadvantage desk doesn't know how to handle situations that require independent thought.
I hope that some folks from American Airlines read this entry.
And to Margie Fowler, I have nothing against you personally. You are cog in the machine and you think you are just doing your job.
From where your supervisors sit, they may think you are doing your job just fine.
From where I sit, you blew it big time.
And since I'm the customer, it is only my opinion that matters.