By kenny friedman on Thursday, March 22, 2012
I could write about him but that doesn't seem like the thing to do...
Instead I'll write an open letter to Delta about my experience booking my flights to Cleveland... Because it was ridiculously horrible and is why I will never buy a ticket from them again. And that's the loss that this post is about.
My recent trip started with some shuffling of frequent flyer miles so I could book my wife and child's tickets with reward miles. My ticket was going to be a bereavement fare.
When booking a bereavement you have to do it on the phone so I called up your customer service line... I explained to the CS person that I wanted to book a bereavement fare for me and book my wife and two-year old's tickets with two different rewards miles accounts.
My wife, son and I were going to have the same outbound flight times/days but return days would be different.
I was told I had to book the rewards tickets online unless I wanted to pay a $25 fee for booking it on the phone... I asked to speak to a supervisor who told me the same thing... No care that it was connected to a bereavement fare.
I get how you justify that charge, you have to pay people, but I have no idea why you'd actually have that charge. You're basically saying that if a customer wants to speak to a real person, a person who can personify the brand, bring the personality and human touch to your brand, someone that will humanize the booking experience and help the customer connect with the people of your brand the customer is penalized.
If you want to be a low cost airline and nickel and dime folks like Ryanair or Spirit Airlines go ahead and charge folks... But if you want to look like a leader and justify your often higher prices then let people connect to people.
Don't get me wrong. I'm all for websites... I design them... But sometimes human touch is nice... And when a person is already on the phone with a representative there is no rational reason to charge them to book another ticket. Unless your airline just hates people. Well maybe that's not rational, but it would be a reason.
So cash aside the experience went downhill...
I started to book my flight... Explained to the "supervisor" that my two-year old and wife would be on separate reward miles tickets and on a different flight from me on the way home... I had given him my cell number and then was put on hold.
And somehow we got disconnected.
And I never got a call back. No call back from a guy who was supposedly a supervisor. My freaking two-year old knows that you should call people back in that situation.
That "supervisor" had my contact info, knew I was frustrated, knew I had all the emotions tied to a bereavement fair and felt no reason to call me back to book.
Luckily that "supervisor" held my info and I booked my flight.
Then I hopped on to book my son's ticket.
While booking I got three error messages when putting in his info. Unfortunately I didn't screen grab them but they were something like:
Error in the gender field.
Error in the date of birth.
Error in the contact phone number.
For gender I chose male. It was a 50/50 choice. Since my kid has a penis I thought that was a good choice... Your site was telling me it was wrong. I checked him in case I was wrong... I've change a lot of diapers but you never know.
Upon a second look I confirmed that he did have a penis and was a male...
For the birthday I put in the info for his birthday. I thought that would be best practices as I had no intention on allowing him to drink on the flight so I saw no reason to add 19 years on the year.
For the phone number I put my phone number. It's the one I give out when people ask for my phone number... Your site was telling me I was wrong... I then thought I'd send an email to everyone I've given that number to... Then I decided to call that number. It rang. It was correct.
So I had to call the online help number. They said since my son was only two years he couldn't be booked on a ticket alone since we were booking with two rewards accounts... I was getting the messages because he was too young.
Here's the deal with error messages... They are supposed to inform the user... Generic message that really say nothing do not inform the user. They frustrate them. If I try to book a ticket for him without rewards miles I get a pop-up that says he's too young... Have that freaking message show up when booking with rewards.
And let's get back to my conversations with the first two folks... They knew that I was going to book his ticket on a separate rewards account... Yet they said nothing... Again your CS folks failed... And that "supervisor" should be fired... He should know how things work.
Yada, yada, yada the online support person help me book my son's flight... She had to fake out the system... I didn't have to pay the $25 fee...
You hear that? I didn't have to pay the $25 and I was speaking to someone... It was because the website was not allowing me to do what I needed and the first to CS folks failed me... But the important thing is I wasn't paying the fee, and I was freaking pissed.
While on the phone with the online support person I was asked to book my wife's flight so the online support person could undo what she did with my son's ticket (somehow attach it to mine) and then attach it to my wife's.
You understand what was going on there? I was on the phone with the online support person, taking up her time and booking my wife's flight online.
You charge people to book online with people. Having your folks on the phone while they book a ticket... Well that's free.
So two hours later I had three flights booked and you lost a customer...
In the middle of all that I decided to write an email to your Customer Care... It said this:
I was trying to book a bereavement fair. The guy got my cell number then hung up on me. He hasn't called me back. I am livid.Pretty freaking simple right? To the point.
This is the reply I got:
Dear Kenny Friedman,
Thank you for your e-mail to Delta Air Lines regarding a bereavement fares.
Please accept our condolences for your recent loss. During difficult
times like this, we want to do everything we can to help you get where
you need to go.
Each airline has its own policy for assisting customers who must travel
immediately because of the death or imminent death of an immediate
family member. These fares can only be issued directly by a Delta
ticketing facility, and not by delta.com, travel agencies, or codeshare
partners. Although the bereavement fare may be higher than some
promotional fares, our promotional fares have restrictions such as
advance purchase, specific times and days of travel, limited
availability and ticket change fees.
For more information about bereavement fares, visit the following
location at delta.com:
You may also navigate to this information from our home page by
selecting the following links:
Special Travel Needs
We appreciate your selection of Delta and will always welcome the
opportunity to be of service.
Online Customer Support Desk
Are you kidding me? This addresses nothing. I'd rather have no reply than one that is a total form letter that has NOTHING to do with my original email, aside from the keyword search you do to find a totally (in)appropriate response.
So Delta, you fail as a company that wants to separate themselves from others by having good customer service and human contact with their customers...
Or maybe I fail as a customer for thinking you want to have good customer service and human contact.
I know that, 99% of the time, I have a choice of who I fly with... I won't be choosing you.