The Business "Trip From Hell" Part III

Parts I and II of this saga are here and here. Now, the final part. We ended Part II after dealing with my second flight cancellation in less than 24 hours.

You might ask why should anyone care about my frustrations dealing with 'customer service' of a travel company and it is a fair question. My goal in writing about this trip is to highlight to business readers (of which there are thousands) of this blog flaws in the systems of major companies so they can be fixed or improved upon.

Before I awakened Wednesday morning, I was supposed to be elevated to United's Platinum status. Since accepting their offer, the requisite "5 to 7 days" had passed (why does it take 5 to 7 days?). Why not immediately upon receipt of the funds?

When I went to United's web site to work on the flight cancellation, I was surprised that their web site said I was still "Gold" status. So, I called Mileage Plus. Here was their set of excuses:
  • The offer said "two weeks" not "5 to 7 days." As you can see above it says 5 to 7 business days. I offered to email him the document that clearly states "5-7 business days" but he wasn't interested. 
  • Then, the story changed. He said it was not United's fault but the "third party company" United had hired to do the work and it was taking an extra "three or four days." So, I said, that would be fine if they were going to go back the rerun the flights so I got the extra mileage. He said, "No, you only get the extra miles when you fly as a Platinum member." So, I told him -- again -- I expected to be elevated immediately since we were past the five to seven days stated in their Terms and Conditions. 
  • He repeated it was the fault of the third party company. I explained that the offer said it was from "United" and that their problem with the company their hired wasn't my problem. 
  • The next issue was that the company handling this was based in Rapid City, South Dakota, which wasn't where he was located. I didn't see what that had to do with it and, again, offered to email the above to him and/or to Rapid City. 
  • Finally, he said he could elevate me to Platinum status for two weeks by which time the third party company should have caught up. Problem solved! But, why wasn't this offered immediately?! I was on the phone with him (my iPhone has a call timer) 47 minutes! I have better things to do. 
At that point, they had my money for twelve days (see above) and all I wanted was for United to keep its end of the bargain. Eventually, it was fixed but only after a painful 47 minute call.

As I stated in Part I of this series, I simply don't understand why American business seems to think this sort of thing is acceptable. Why destroy your brand? Plus, wouldn't your customer service be able to handle more calls if they took care of this in ten, rather than 47 minutes?

In Part 1, I didn't name the company because -- as egregious as their actions were -- they have always given me good service in the past. I am naming United because this nonsense seems to be baked in to their current corporate culture. Come on Jeff Smisek, it is long past time to fix all this and focus on your best customers.


  1. "Since accepting their offer, the requisite '5 to 7 days' had passed"

    Actually, last Wednesday (1/30) would have been the 7th "business day" since your payment if the two Saturdays, two Sundays AND the Martin Luther King Day holiday in between were NOT counted as business days. So technically, United may have had until the END of the day on Wednesday to upgrade your status.

    That said, based on what the customer service rep told you, that wasn't the issue; but if it was, why didn't he just say so?



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