The Upside of US Airways

Now that I have cathartically cleansed myself of the main negativity of the experience (writing is good for cleansing), I want to talk about the positives. And I mean more than having some interesting character inspiration for future novels.

Just as my good friend Raymie White pointed out, “we should try to take time to send notes on really good customer service people too.” I actually did take the time to do this, but I admit that I could have done much better.

It’s all on me – I failed in the respect that I didn’t make the extra effort to get the names of the people who demonstrated just how good at their jobs they really are. I provided as much identifying information as I could to US Airways so they could be commended for their commitment to performance quality. Because of this entire experience, I’m going to commit myself in getting the names of those extraordinary people who not only take pride in their jobs, but who also interact with the public in such a way that they are the foundation for building brand loyalty.

Again, I apologize that I don’t have their names, but much heartfelt thanks go out to the following individuals:

The female flight attendant on the flight from Seattle to Charlotte, NC on September 4, 2013. She was not only gracious, but she made my daughter smile, which actually meant more to me than just about anything.

The younger male counter clerk at HTS on September 20, 2013. I know his job with interacting with me was made difficult by the interruptions, but he remained calmed and poised and never once said anything out of the way. Others could most certainly learn from his excellent behavior.

The flight attendant on the flight from HTS to CLT on September 20, 2013. She was not only efficient and polite with her normal duties, but she showed urgency layered with good manner when addressing a passenger she thought was smoking. He wasn’t – he attempted to puff on an electronic cigarette, which is also not allowed. Through the whole episode, she maintained a good, but firm demeanor. Even in the face of confrontation, she handled herself professionally. She is truly to be commended.

The female gate agent at gate B4 in Charlotte for the last US Airways direct flight to Seattle. After the debacle with the special assistance I was supposed to receive, I was in an extreme amount of back pain. She not only showed concern and sympathy, but she even checked on me after I boarded to make sure I was okay. I don’t know her name, but I will never forget her.

The male flight attendant on the CLT to SEA flight on September 20, 2013. He also made it a point to check on me to see if I needed anything and showed concern when he saw me crying. He didn’t have to, but showed the type of humanity and concern for others that is a step beyond the normal expectations for a service position.

Looking back on the experience, I’m saddened that I didn’t get these people’s names. They deserve that much, and I feel like I have disrespected them for not doing so. That was never my intention, and I genuinely hope that US Airways follows through on recognizing them for being the outstanding examples that they are.

Bravo to all of you. You all were truly a refreshing reminder that it’s the individuals that make the impact, not the company.

US Airways Saga Continued

Again, instead of writing about the situation more, I present you with the last e-mail I sent to US Airways customer relations.

Readers, I urge all of us to be more diligent with our interactions with companies. Don’t pay for bad service – if you’re going to spend your hard-earned money, demand the best…or at least demand to be treated with decency and respect.

Also, it’s a good idea to research companies before you give them your money – a lesson I have learned. If you look at customer satisfaction data such as that  from J.D. Power and Associates, you’ll learn that customer service is something that US Airways is not exactly known for in their business.

Text of e-mail:

We finally made it home on the flight the next day, September 20, 2013, but not without further aggravation. 

This Jimenez person – who identified himself as a so-called manager – was there to make matters worse. I know that his explanation will be that I was rude to him on the evening of the 19th. I admit, I did become indignant with him AFTER he was ill-mannered enough to interrupt me when I was talking. 
When my daughter and I arrived at the HTS airport on the 20th, I became concerned because I saw that the flight was delayed by 20 minutes again. I was especially concerned about this because it was the same situation as the day before and Jimenez had advised me that we would be better off staying in Huntington because we would likely get stuck in Charlotte because it was the last available flight to Seattle. I began talking to the counter agent that had checked us in, a young gentleman who was very polite and had assisted us with courtesy and grace. Jimenez was standing beside him. As I was expressing my concerns to the agent, Jimenez felt the need to interject himself into the conversation. I told him bluntly that he was rude to me the day before, therefore I wasn’t talking to him. All I wanted was assurance from the gate agent that although we were facing the same circumstances AGAIN, we wouldn’t have the same fate as before. The agent advised me that the computer screen showed that the flight would arrive just 2 minutes later than scheduled. I did not understand this on how a flight could be 20 minutes delayed, but still arrive pretty much on time. The only thing I could think was that maybe the weather pattern was different and the winds were more favorable in speeding up the trip. The agent couldn’t even get that far in any explanation because although I told Jimenez I was done talking with him, he continued to interrupt and force himself into the conversation only aggravating the situation even further. His display of contempt and rudeness was highlighted by a condescending attitude, and once I got fed up and started to walk away, he offered the solution of canceling the ticket and refunding my money. 
The nerve! This is really how your so-called managers treat people? How US Airways allows someone like this to interact with the public is an absolute marvel to me. For any of the other issues we’ve had to deal with on this trip, he was the absolute worst and made everything else look perfect in comparison. The fact that someone so callous and impolite is a manager at HTS indicates either a serious lack in training or a seriously low standard in hiring practices. He is not only an embarrassment in his inability to de-escalate upset customers, he’s a poor example to the employees who work for him. Instead of handling the situation and making it better, he actually escalated it and made it worse. I urge you for the sake of other customers who may have bad experiences to require him to go through remediation training to learn soft skills. When someone is upset, the last thing you should do is raise that emotion to anger. That is the basics of customer service. Not only that, it’s the foundation of decency when interacting with others, something that Jimenez showed that he is seriously lacking.
Lastly, the icing on the cake in this situation was the fact that on the 19th, Jimenez had tried to assure me that these delays don’t happen very often. THAT’S when I became indignant because my personal and professional travels through HTS have shown me differently. He just kept repeating that same phrase again and again although I had told him that what he was saying didn’t mean anything to me, and I didn’t want to hear it. Well, it’s obvious that he doesn’t listen because he just kept on aggravating the situation. Then what ultimately happened? The very next day the exact same delay happened with the exact same flight (US Airways 4236 from HTS to CLT). So much for it not happening very often.
My daughter and I were able to finally make it home on the 20th. We did arrive at CLT only 2 minutes later than scheduled, just like the counter agent said, but was unable to further elaborate on because of Jimenez’s interruptions. Unfortunately this outcome still makes me suspicious – we were able to make it when the known circumstances were the same as the day before, yet Jimenez had suggested that we stay another night in Huntington and rebook. Why did we get stuck another night? Was there another factor that no one could seem to explain, or does this alleged manager not really know what he’s talking about and only further inconvenienced us with no real reason? I will probably never know. At this point, I’m fine with never knowing. 
The totality of this experience has strengthened my resolve to never fly with US Airways again. If this is the service I pay for when traveling with US Airways, it’s totally not worth it. I can be treated badly for less money – actually, with Delta, I get cheaper rates and better service, making your offering completely superfluous. 
I will also continue to discuss this experience with friends, family and on social media. Further, given the grave indignity of this individual, a physical copy of this complaint is being mailed to US Airways corporate headquarters.

US Airways for the FAIL Again

The return trip for this vacation has taken a bad turn. Given the horrible experience with the $1000+ authorizations on my account because of the error on US Airways’ website, the circumstances are beyond ill repute. I’m really beginning to believe that US Airways actually TRAINS their employees to rudely interrupt customers when they’re talking.

I don’t even have the energy to type about the whole thing, so here’s a copy of the e-mail I sent to US Airways customer relations:

And after the HORRIBLE experience of having over $1000 of authorizations on my account that Chase had to fix – and you only said “sorry” to – we get ready for our return trip. Against my better judgment, I pay for premium seats so my daughter will be more comfortable. We get to the airport at HTS to find out that the flight to Charlotte is delayed by 20 minutes, which would only gave us 10 minutes to get to the gate for the plane to Seattle. As I was explaining this to the gate agent – a young man named Dario Jimenez – he said if WE hurried to the gate we should make it on time. I told him US Airways would have to hurry because I requested special assistance because of the degenerative disc disease in my back making it difficult for me to walk. He then explained that we would likely miss the connection, it was the last flight to Seattle and he suggested we stay in Huntington (I guess you all don’t have any sense of urgency for people who need special assistance). As he and I were talking, he ALSO interrupted me. I was in complete shock. After being interrupted in conversation with two of your phone agents and a supervisor, to have it happen again was like a slap in the face.

Then to make it even more inconvenient, he rescheduled us for the SAME flight tomorrow and oh yeah, the premium seats I paid for were no longer available. I can understand that others had paid for them and we did get a refund, but the culmination of all of these experiences has only strengthened my resolve to NEVER fly US Airways again, tell all of my friends and relatives about it, and continue to comment on the situation on my blog and Twitter.

No amount of apologies can even come close to fixing the heaping pile of inconsideration and deficient customer service US Airways has shown us.

Response from US Airways

I got a response from US Airways Customer Relations today.

“Thank you for contacting Customer Relations. We appreciate it when customers take the time to share their concerns.

I’m sorry you felt the agents in our reservations department were rude. The details you have provided will be instrumental in helping us improve our service. I have documented your experience for review by the relevant supervisory staff and also to our Reservations Manager. Additionally, this incident will be discussed with the employees and handled internally.

We value your business and are working hard to earn your continued patronage. We hope you will give us the opportunity to do so.”

I have a few problems with this response.

One, it’s obvious that this was a canned response with very little personalization. It’s shocking to me that at a corporate level, the customer relations department would actually “blurb” customers.

Secondly, felt? I guess from US Airways’ view, interrupting someone when they’re talking is not bad manners – it’s just a person’s perspective. Obviously in this alternate universe of theirs, common courtesy during a social interaction is relative. Well, US Airways, so is my money.

Lastly, this is just an apology with a promise to take action for the rudeness. They completely ignored the website errors, multiple authorizations on my card and the inconvenience I had to go through to get all of it straightened out before my trip tomorrow. Hey, US Airways – it’s called solving the customer’s TOTAL problem, not just part of it.

Mediocre product and hellacious customer service – even at the so-called customer relations level. Actually, I have a suggestion. Change the name from US Airways Customer Relations to US Airways Customer Alienation – this name would be more representative of the actual service.

Just more reason to give my money to Delta.

Here’s the problem if you’re a teenage girl

FYI (if you’re a teenage girl).

I’m all for parents being involved in their children’s lives and setting expectations for behavior, including how they present themselves to the public. Emphasis on children.

Differential treatment between the sexes is the exact reason girls continue to face problems in society. “It’s okay for boys to be half naked, but not girls.” This is quite reminiscent of “it’s okay for men to work this job and get paid more, but not women.” When you start early in setting a standard that boys and girls are treated differently rather than fairly, you set the expectation for the same type of treatment that allows for the misogynistic mistreatment of women. How about EVERYONE put their clothes on instead of just targeting one group?

Secondly, suggesting that girls shouldn’t post these pictures because you don’t want to “post anything that makes it easy for your male friends to imagine you naked in your bedroom” is a blatant disregard for a girl’s sexuality. Does this mother really think that young girls do not have those urges? Oh, but we’re not supposed to talk about that because female sexuality is not only to be repressed, but the onus of controlling a boy’s behavior lies squarely on the delicate shoulders of the girl. We have to be honest. I used to be a young girl. As a teenager, I thought I was going to explode with hormones and thought about sexual encounters on a regular basis. But, ssshhh, we’re not supposed to talk about that. And oh yeah, there’s another group that believes women’s dress is responsible for inappropriate male behavior – they’re called the Taliban.

Oh, and give your boys some credit. I’m willing to bet that they have no difficulty imagining girls naked. Actually, you probably don’t want to know what else they’re thinking with little help from the internet.

Lastly, posting this eloquently written address to the girls of the internet to be more modest was made non-credible by the accompanied scantily-clad pictures of the male members of the family. At the very least, the pictorial presentation is bad form; at it’s worst, it’s hypocritical and the epitome of the sexual double standard.

I call b.s. How about teaching your sons not to be lecherous? How about applying the same standards to all children? Novel idea – how about finally treating girls fairly and not shaming them for their bodies and sexuality?

Nice effort, but in no way commendable in its sexism.

Oh, P.S. – don’t forget all the young gay boys who are likely thinking the same things about young men wearing nothing but swim trunks.

Some Good News

us-airways-messupThe Evils of US Airways

An update on the issue I’ve had with my US Airways trip.

Chase bank did the right thing. They removed the authorizations without waiting on US Airways to contact them, so I now have access to my $1002. They did point out if there is to be a charge from US Airways, it could still post to my account. The hell – it better not!

I briefly had a debate with myself. Should I go ahead and try to upgrade again? Nah. After all of this, I’m not giving them any more money. Lesson learned!

The Evils of US Airways

I’ve had a bad experience with Delta before. I think maybe this morning’s experience with US Airways was worse – or maybe the Delta thing just happened too long ago. It’s obvious the agents at US Airways are in no way taught any type of customer service.

My daughter and I are going on a trip back to my hometown this week. I logged onto US Airways website because I decided to go ahead and upgrade our seats to something more comfortable. Traveling alone with a toddler is grueling enough, might as well be as comfortable as possible when doing it. Well, the US Airways website was experiencing a problem. I kept getting an error message that the request could not be processed and to try again. So, I did. A few times. It ended with me having no upgraded seats and multiple authorizations on my debit card totaling $1002.

I start to panic. We’re getting ready to leave on a trip and $1002 of my money is on hold. I contact US Airways by phone and the first woman I speak to is really nice. She explains that they can request the hold be dropped, but I need the fax number for the bank. I erroneously thought Chase had a fax number on their website, so I had to end the call with her and call Chase. Once I have the information, I contact US Airways again.

This is where a bad situation starts to get even uglier. The first agent I spoke to didn’t seem to understand what I was saying. She didn’t know the difference between an authorization and a charge. To make matters worse, she interrupted me while I was speaking. I asked to be transferred to someone else. She said I would have to hang up and call back. I admit, I rudely told her that she needed to be trained again, then hung up.

When I called back, I’m not sure that questioning her training was as bad as it sounds. I told the next agent that I needed to speak to someone in the customer service department, and she said they didn’t have customer service department. No wonder they don’t know how to appropriately talk to people! This same agent also interrupted me while I was talking, so I went the next step and asked to speak to a supervisor. A woman named Renita got on the line. She took my information and did everything to make the request to have the authorizations dropped. Guess what? During the conversation Renita rudely interrupted me, too! No customer service department is an understatement! All they have are sales agents that are not trained on the common courtesies of business interactions. Not only that, they didn’t even address the errors on the website – so if you use US Airways’ website today…BEWARE!

When the call ended, I wrote a formal complaint about the situation – a complaint that will be responded to within 4-5 days.

Even with the previous issue with Delta, I’m regretting that I chose to go with US Airways this time. Delta does not fly into my hometown anymore and the closest airport is a 45-minute drive. I thought I was saving my sister the inconvenience. Well, I’m not sure it was actually worth it after all of this.

Oh, and I still didn’t get my upgraded seats. Do you think I could afford another transaction when there’s $1002 being held on my account? Not likely.

As I’ve said before, when a corporation treats you badly, don’t give them any more money. I can get emotional abuse for free….no use in paying for it.