Call Me Old-Fashioned But...Flying Solo
With London's first snowfall of the year, city closures and changes in transportation were understandable. It wasn't safe, and accordingly, a lot of things, including my flight back home from the U.S., were cancelled. All of this I could understand and tolerate. My travel woes, on the other hand, can entirely be attributed to lousy customer service and a lack of attention to detail.
Because there are no direct flights from NYC to the Forest City, my flight itinerary had me first flying to Boston, then Detroit and then finally London. When I arrived in Boston, I was called to the counter by a ticketing agent to be informed that ALL flights to London for the day had been cancelled. I was given two choices: 1) I could stay overnight in Boston and grab my two connections tomorrow or 2) I could fly to Detroit, stay overnight there, and fly back to London the next day. HOWEVER, and this is a BIG however, I was not given any assurance that my flights home wouldn't continue to be cancelled for subsequent days thereafter. Seeing as I have a job and a life to return to, this wasn't very comforting.
At this point, I made inquiry as to where my baggage was, considering I had to pay additional monies on top of my flight fare to ensure it was checked all the way through to London. I'd also like to add that I made it abundantly clear, at this precise moment, to the ticketing agent the importance of me staying with my effects as they included, among other things, my very expensive touring guitar.
The clerk with whom I spoke assured me that my guitar and other possessions were on the flight to Detroit and that it would be a huge hassle to have them removed. With this in mind, he explained to me my best bet was to pursue option number two.
Despite feeling incredibly ill due to motion sickness, I took him on his word and flew to Detroit. When I got there, guess what? The Detroit representatives informed me that my baggage was NEVER checked onto that plane.
While in Detroit, the representatives told me I was to phone a customer care number upon arrival at home to find out the status of my stuff and make a claim. You'd think it'd be that easy, but no, I then had to navigate my way through five different phone numbers until I could speak with a real-life person. She informed me that my belongings would be coming on a flight the next day, and that I had 24 hours to make a formal claim, otherwise the airline could not be held liable for my losses. Of course, claims can ONLY be made in person at airports and London's airport, as I've already explained, was CLOSED!
I finally conceded and ventured out to London's airport, only to be encountered by some of the worst and most uncompassionate customer service reps I've ever dealt with. After I explained all of the b.s. I'd already been through, they threatened to NOT allow me to file a claim because I was rather irate.
I'd like to see where it says in the Delta "employee handbook" they're able to hold people's personal possessions hostage and refuse to help them, simply because they are upset? I mean, how would they feel if something they valued tremendously on which their professional existences relied got lost and mishandled?
It has been over a month since this ordeal began, and while I got my belongings back, I'm STILL waiting for a refund as my request was received, then lost, then rereceived.
Now, I've worked in many customer service positions, and accordingly, have dealt with many angry customers. The difference is that I've always understood that their anger has nothing to do with me personally, and that truly, the only way to get such persons to stop yelling is to do what your job description details: help them resolve the situation.
Situations such as the one I've described above, however, are NOT isolated to Delta or air travel. It seems to me that the bigger and more "faceless" a company grows, the less its employees care about their customers because they figure they'll never be held liable. The big boss, after all, only comes down for one day every few months.
Further, the movement toward corporate conglomeration is responsible for the eradication of independently-owned mom-andpop shops that actually value their customers. In a nutshell, the former runs the latter into the ground through sleazy marketing tactics, and by underselling their products and services to such a degree that if the independent stores dared to match prices, they'd go out of business because they wouldn't be able to afford their overhead. So much for a market-based economy that allows customers choice.
The worst of it, though, is the fact that big businesses are increasingly outsourcing their service centres to places like China and India. So, when you have a local problem, NO ONE you phone, even if they wanted to, is able to resolve it for you.
Let's face the facts: economics rule supreme these days and have many a time superseded even the power of politics and human rights. But, when this line of thinking results in mismanagement and inefficiency, I wonder how do these companies justify the payoff?