Monday, May 18, 2009

It is NOT About Customer Service Anymore

Joe arrived yesterday... his bag did not. 

 This is like "Groundhog's Day" (the movie), as this exact thing happened when he visited in March.  

We were not that concerned at the airport as there were 2 more flights yesterday arriving from Dulles.  The "Customer Service" agent assured us that Joe's bag would be on the earliest of those two flights.  They would personally deliver (which in airline speak means send unaccompanied in a cab) within 4 hours of arrival. 

 Hmmmmmm... at 9pm last night, things were not looking too promising.  I called the airline and would you believe that somehow the bag did not make it on the afternoon flight... and had just missed the evening flight.  WOW the incompetence!  

Joe had a 4 hour layover in Dulles.  How come he made it to the flight, his duffel bag made it to the flight; however his suitcase could not find it's way to the flight???...  or any of the other flights yesterday... even with what we were told was multiple "Priority" messages sent to Dulles via computer and a personal phone call from our local airport "Customer Service Rep"???  

I worked for the airline industry in the late 8o's.  I went through very detailed training  in order to transform into not only a Flight Attendant, but the best CUSTOMER SERVICE person that existed in the universe.  It was all about service then.  The customers were always right... even if they were wrong.  We brought in world famous chefs to make the (free) airline food the best... hot towels .... the best seating... movies... snacks... etc etc etc.  It was all about which airline had the best customer service.  NOT anymore... when did this paradigm shift in the airline industry actually happen???

Taking care of the customer... remember those days?  WAKE UP people... they don't exist anymore.  

The airline, who I have called 3 times now since 9pm last night (all phone calls now being answered in Manila, Philippines... which infuriates me to begin with... American jobs being shipped overseas... disgraceful... that subject deserves a post all of it's own)  Any who... The bag is still nowhere.  Not in the system.  They tell me it is in Dulles.  But they can not 100% guarantee that.  They gladly put another PRIORITY rush alert on the bag; however it already missed the morning flight.  

Joe left home this morning (headed for an important meeting) in his traveling jeans (not smelling too pretty I might add) and a golf shirt that I just happen to have bought him (that I was going to return because it did not suit his fancy) and Joey's sweatshirt(yes... it is May here in the South and 40 degrees outside!!!) .  He was carrying my cute flower binder with a few sheets of loose leaf paper that Joey was able to scrounge up.  Everything was in his suitcase.  He was not so happy.   

Bottom line... they don't care.  After releasing all of my frustration on the airline folks... they just don't care.  They don't have a "manager" on duty to escalate the complaint.  You can send an email to a no name email address... that is probably not even read.  

Oh... and here is the "game" part of all of this.  Last night, when there was still a store open, the airline could not/would not authorize any money for replacing anything.  This morning when I called, (6am no stores open!!!) they gladly offered a $50 dollar check, which , in direct proportion to my anger, grew to $100 within about 10 minutes, and finally reached the maxed limit of $150 after I asked for a name and employee number.  Hmmmmmmmm.... anyone try and replace a military uniform... shoes and all for 150$.  Go the cheap route and just buy business attire for a day for $150?  In Manila, Philippines.... YES this would be possible... but NOT in the US.  

The bag... still no confirmation/guarantee where it is or when it will get here.  ARGHHHHHH.  
Am I this upset because I have such empathy for Joe without his things?  ... am I just mad at the system and how it has gone awry? 

  Or is the anger in me brewing because tucked inside that hard-sided suitcase - wrapped carefully in Joe's business suit and his uniform are 5 bottles of this:

Oh My goodness... you don't know what it is???  It is Australian Pink Ice Wine from Greystone Winery.  I don't really drink alcohol ... I like a margarita when I am chowing down on fajitas, but that is about it.  My drink of choice is coffee.  HOWEVER... when I tasted this Ice Wine (which was the first to be made out of purple grapes and is copyright protected or patented or something like that I was told by the wine maker himself) ... I can't even explain!  It is sooooooooooo sweet!  So yummy!  

While still in Canberra, I would drive into the "bush"... literally miles and miles outside of the city and more miles and miles down a dirt road through pastures and across rickety wooden hand made bridges to get to the winery in order to add a few bottles to my wine collection.   Even the girls liked the adventure as the winery trip was always fun for them... the owner had about a dozen jack russell terriers, a playground... and plenty of wide open space.   There were always snacks for the girls and for me... not to mention a taste or two of all the wonderful wines that the winery had produced.  Inevitably, I would purchase my few bottles and the owner would throw in an extra bottle just because.  

So I am thinking this.... The airline industry could learn a few things from the owner of a tiny little winery that sits out in the bush about an hour from the capital of Australia.  GREAT WINE... but even better CUSTOMER SERVICE!!!

Side note for Ellie... seriously, Ellie... if you have not tried this... next time you are in Canberra... Greystone Vineyard is a must!  

1 comment:

Kimberlie said...

I have a couple of airline story experiences that will make your head spin. Customer No Service is what it is and I am not just talking about baggage. I am talking about rude, unhelpful, and lazy flight attendants. There is one airline (a US carrier) that I have vowed NEVER to fly again even if they are the cheapest flights available.

Do you know that my silly husband actually chose a US carrier to fly to Melbourne last week instead of Quantas? He said, "It will save the company $$." I said, "Who cares if it saves them a few bucks. You have to fly half way around the world and spend two weeks away from your family. You should at least experience an airline that does customer service better than our airlines." Silly man. :)

I hope Joe's suitcase shows up soon. You know what? They probably took your yummy wine and they don't want you to know so they are saying the bag is lost. ;)