Disgusted with Poor Customer Relations

Discussion in 'American Airlines | AAdvantage' started by LWHicks, May 6, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. I am so disappointed with American Airlines. I flew to London in March from Dallas. Because of the length of the flight, I paid $350 + 25,000 AAdvantage miles to upgrade to Business Class. When I boarded the plane in Dallas, I learned that my seat was broken and would not recline AT ALL! The flight attendants tried to help, and they were very frustrated. They even recommended that I contact Customer Relations, and assured me that CR would make it right. Well, when I returned from my trip, I contacted CR and was told that I was actually buying the SPACE in the plane that the business class seat uses, and that it was tough luck that my seat would not let me recline for 9 1/2 hours! They offered a refund of 10,000 Aadvantage miles and NO dollars! They didn't even refund the 25,000 Aadvantage miles!! I have flown American exclusively on trans-continental flights, and almost exclusively on inter-continental flights. I'm so disgusted with the lack of concern AA's management has shown, that I will avoid flying AA in the future! Is AA so broke that they can't make right a problem that was CLEARLY AA's fault and very uncomfortable for its customer?! Any suggestions on what I can do to renew my faith in this airline?
     
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  2. dayone
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    dayone Silver Member

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    You're not going to like my answer. Since you did benefit from more room, better meal and personal IFE, I figure that you were due between 10K-15K miles.
     
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  3. KENNECTED
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    KENNECTED Silver Member

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    Whoa! First calm down. couple of questions?
    When you boarded the plane, when exactly did you notice the issue? Was planes door still open? If you noticed upon boarding, why was maintenance not notified? Seems they might have been able to do something if the plane was still at the gate with the door open

    You contacted Customer Relations, correct? Explain to me how AA management is to blame? Did you contact management or ask that your issue escalated?

    There seems to be something missing in the time line.

    My suggest with any complaint is to:
    1. Calm down
    2. Outline exactly what transpired in detail
    3. Leave emotions out of the situation
    4. Don't make condescending statements as to the health or management of the company as that has nothing to do with your issue.
    5. Know exactly what you want or know what will make the situation right in your eyes. Yet be ready to compromise.
    Call customer service again, ask to speak to a manager or director. Explain your situation without being rude or condescending. Let them know what would rectify the situation and leave it at that.

    If that doesn't work, you have air carrier options. I hope everything works for you.
     
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    • I'm not lying about this. The flight attendant told me that I should get the entire upgrade refunded. I didn't really expect that, but I have to agree.
    • I learned that the seat didn't work when the Captain turned off the seatbelt sign.
    • Yes, I contacted CR. Three times. And I was calm, the first two times. And I wasn't rude the third time. Just dissatisfied.
    • AA management is to blame because they are in charge of making sure their customers get value. I run a business. If I treated my clients this way, I would have none.
    • I don't understand, "ask that your issue escalated".
    • I am calm. Just disappointed in the airline I have flown for 53 years!
    • I did outline it in detail. The seat didn't work.
    • AA doesn't mind hurting my feelings, do they?
    • Doesn't it? Why wouldn't a multi-gazillion dollar business not want to make something like this right for me or any other customer? I can understand that they can't fix the weather or other kinds of flight delays. But this was their equipment. If I went to the theater and the seat was broken, I would expect my money back, as I'm sure anyone else would.
    • I got nothing from calling customer service on the phone. They referred me to a web site and asked that I write, which I did. They responded with an email that I could not, in turn, respond to. So I wrote again. Again, I got an email response from an address I could not respond to. Doesn't that seem pretty customer unfriendly to you?
     
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  4. sunspotzsz
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    sunspotzsz Silver Member

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    I think 10k miles back is fair. What do you want?
     
  5. DestinationDavid
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    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    First, let me welcome you to MilePoint LWHicks! Sounds like you had an unpleasant experience and I can understand why you'd be looking for advice.

    With that being said, I'd encourage you to take a deep breath and go back and read what dayone and KENNECTED have suggested for you. While their approach might have rubbed you the wrong way (everyone interacts on the internet differently), they did provide some good advice.

    When dealing with an airline, it's important to be clear, concise, and leave any extra information out of the interaction. Focus on when you flew, what you paid, and what was wrong on the flight. It seems you have a specific remedy in mind (did you want all your miles back?), so if that's your goal you could mention it.

    The more information you pile into the email, the less likely you'll be able to clearly convey what you want and why you want it. It sounds like you've already taken a few of these steps, so in that case perhaps dayone's note about being happy with what you have is the best route.

    You win some, you lose some. Your frequent flyer relationship with AA is like a marriage, there are good times and bad times. This might end up being in your "bad times" list. With as many years as you've said you have been with AA, I would wager that in a few days when things have mellowed out you'l realize that you stuck around all those years for a reason, and that despite going away dissatisfied this time AA does offer you destinations and service that has pleased you for the past 50 years.

    Good luck to you in your quest, and if doesn't work out in your favor, at least you walked away with some of your miles returned to you.
     
  6. Flyer
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    Flyer Silver Member

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    I would expect the entire amount of mileage used to upgrade to be refunded, but not the co-pay. And to the other posters, if your C seat was broken, I'm sure you would be as peeved as the OP.
     
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  7. mikeef
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    mikeef Silver Member

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    I'm also unsure why the flight attendant told you that you should get your entire upgrade payment returned to you. I'm guessing that she was telling you what you wanted to hear to keep you happy. She shouldn't have, since she's not the one making the decision.

    Having said that, I'm going to take the contrarian approach and agree with you that you should have received more than 10,000 miles. If you're in biz class and my impression from your OP is that you got slighted because you were an upgrade. Likewise, I did a search on AA's website and, under the link to business class, here are the first two paragraphs:

    Clearly, AA is telling travelers that seat recline/movement is important; it's the first thing listed. It seems you got everything else, so I think AA should have split the difference with you, giving you back either the cash or the miles (Guess which one they would choose to give you.).

    Your original question was about renewing your faith in the airline. Truthfully, there's not much you can do. You could continue to escalate, try to call Gerard's office or call your credit card company to dispute the payment. The two other options are the ones at either end of the spectrum: Accept the verdict and move on or truly never fly AA again. That's a decision that only you can make.

    One last thing: you really came out swinging here. I can completely understand why you are so upset. Lousy customer service ticks me off to no end and really gets under my skin, to an extent that my wife has told me to calm down so I don't have a heart attack. And the forum is an outstanding place to vent, since we have all been there.

    I think DestinationDavid has the best advice. I've always found AA inflexible when they offered me compensation for something and I thought I deserved more. My guess is you will find the same.

    Mike
     
  8. hulagrrl210
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    hulagrrl210 Gold Member

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    Having actually been in that same position with a non-reclining seat for 10 hours, I have a little more sympathy for the guy.

    I don't know much about how things work over at AA (I guess they don't have sky kits?), but here's my suggestion anyway- if you're not happy with the compensation they gave you call if you can or email back and tell them that. No need for a DYKWIA attitude, but you can gently remind them of your status if you have any, and state that as a long-time customer you expect better and you would really appreciate anything they could do to help you out. If needed call back and/or ask to talk to a supervisor.

    They messed up, no doubt about it, but unfortunately when stuff like this happens, the burden is on us to try and get some sort of decent response from the airline. I know from personal experience it is beyond frustrating and time-consuming but try to stay calm about it. Remember the person on the other end of the phone or answering your email didn't break your seat, so try to be nice to them.

    Just my opinion, I don't think your request for a full-refund on he upgrade is unreasonable. The premium product you paid extra for was not what you got, so keep after them! Good luck.
     
  9. Steven Schwartz
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    Steven Schwartz Gold Member

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    I'm with you. Whether cash, points or a combination of the two, if I had a broken seat for that long, I'd be very, very upset. And I'd bet that AA knew the problem or, to put it another way, that they did not take the plane out of commission after your flight. Yes, these are assumptions.

    Any company with the slightest care about customer service would not sell that seat and would get it fixed ASAP. THEY chose not to. You deserve compensation. That said, your case would be stronger if you had told the stewardess that this was not acceptable and asked to be moved back to coach. Had you done that, I would have voted for full refund of your upgrade. The fact that you chose not to means either that the flight was full and that was not an option, or that you were willing to stay and hope you got the refund. In that light, it diminishes your claim to the full refund.

    On another note, nothing like a good, old-fashioned FlyerTalk pissing contest. Let's ALL take a deep breath!
     
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  10. Jenny & Curt
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    Jenny & Curt Gold Member

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    Did your return flight have the product you expected and paid for?
     
  11. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    Welcome to MP. This sort of question tends to bring out passionate responses but between the outrage you'll find some good advice.

    I'm a little surprised that the FA/purser didn't try a seat swap, to have you switch seats in business class with a nonrev who had a functional seat. I've observed this as SOP on other carriers when someone's seat or AVOD system isn't working. The fact that this wasn't suggested makes me believe that every seat on your plane was filled with a passenger who paid either money or miles for the flight.

    Unfortunately a lot of planes fly around with nonsafety equipment that doesn't work. One problem is that there aren't enough hours when the plane isn't being utilized to fix all this stuff at bases that have maintenance capacities. A second problem is that FAs and pursers aren't always as careful as they should be to write up seat and equipment problems. They're lazy about filing the paperwork and if the problem isn't reported, it can't be fixed.
     
  12. dildooba44

    dildooba44 Silver Member

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    I have been flying AA almost exclusively for a few years (6) and have only had one negative confrontation (rude gate agent in Denver). I hear a lot of people complain about AA customer relations but haven't experienced that. If your return leg was fine then it seems they should refund you half of the 25K, which they did basically. But I am sorry it happened to you.

    I really like the comment about taking photos or video of the situation. AA has always been great with me when I'm cordial and give them the facts. But I also tell them how much I appreciate flying with them (which I do).
     
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  13. hulagrrl210
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    hulagrrl210 Gold Member

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    I don't think it matters does it? So what if he gets a free one-way upgrade out of the deal, they gave him a broken seat for 9 hours!
     
  14. boxedlunch
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    boxedlunch Silver Member

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    For posters implying that the OP's return trip should factor into the compensation...I'm not aware of any $350+25k mile RT upgrades.

    Offering 10k courtesy miles for a non-functioning seat seems a bit stingy to me. Let's face it. AApologists aside, the OP paid-for and got a bait 'n switch, rather than the hard product/class-of-service expected. Personally, I'd expect 25k miles & a $350 voucher to feel whole again. I wouldn't expect a refund, however.
     
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  15. Jenny & Curt
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    Jenny & Curt Gold Member

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    That was me -- yep, I was (wrongly) assuming RT

    Yes -- it is certainly not the IFE and the meal that enter into the calculus for me in deciding between Y and C
     
  16. Kalboz
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    Kalboz Gold Member

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    I'd take the 10K AA miles and move on ... several years back, on a return leg of a 135K AA miles award ticket on JL NRT-BKK, the flight attendants filled first class with business class customers (comp. upgrade on the flight!) that there was no western breakfast left for me when I woke up the next day!!!! Complained upon return to CR and got only 3K AA miles "good-will gesture" from AA.
     
  17. Randy Petersen
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    Randy Petersen Founder

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    Like others, let me welcome you to milepoint, where we'll try to give you some advice and answers in a friendly manner—we're working on that.

    I like the open-mindedness you have with your last sentence about how to renew faith after a travel inconvenience. I haven't read much here about how to do that so maybe our members can offer some solutions to that question. I actually really like dildooba44's response.

    So, anyone for advice on how to renew faith? I've had similar over the years and simply chalk it up to averages. i fly again and again and if there are patterns, then i move my business. However, i have never judged an airline on a single incident and as dildooba44 states, I also send some love back to them when warranted.
     
  18. spaced2
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    spaced2 Silver Member

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    In general, I think of service recuperation at airlines similarly to how i see them at restaurants; if the restaurant screws up (long wait on a reservation, repeated mistakes, long pauses between courses, bad service), i expect the waiter or manager to come over and apologize. if they want to to come back again, they'll give me a dessert for free or comp my wine. I recognize that since I ate the food, it would be silly to ask for a refund.

    For me, air travel is the same. As long as I get from point a to point b alive, mission accomplished. If things get screwed up on the way, I hope that the airline apologizes and provides some sort of service recuperation as a gesture. Like Randy, I tend to chalk it up to averages. I've been consistently loyal to Continental, and 4 out of 5 times, everything goes perfectly fine.

    It's not exactly like a restaurant b/c while I expect the waiter to realize he F'd up, it takes a letter into the airline to communicate service disruption. When things don't go well, I send a detailed email to customer service recounting the issues I faced. I tend to highlight both the good things and the bad things (amazing crew that tried to make a difference, inoperable IFE) in the hopes that a) the good performers will be rewarded, b) the airline is aware that of a mistake / issue, and c) to receive recuperation on the airline's behalf.

    I've gotten my fare share of compensation. I got 5k miles for a cancelled itinerary a couple weeks ago, 3k miles for a broken IFE, award travel change fees waived due to a misconnect, etc. . . and to me they're all part of a give or take of customer service. I don't demand anything - but my faith in the airline is restored when they recognize the service issue, apologize, and give me a free dessert.

    That all being said, I think 10k is probably a bit stingy given OPs situation. I feel like that's like having the waiter offer charge you for truffle shavings on top of pasta only to serve chopped white salad mushrooms...and then giving the diner a free dessert without refunding the cost of the truffle.....but you can't win them all!
     
  19. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    In the larger picture, many airlines (and airline FF programs) tend to go up and down in response to competition, market conditions, and changes in top management. With many carriers, if you wait a few years, they'll be very different. Old planes will be replaced by newly-delivered aircraft, the carrier will re-do the menu and wine list, service protocols will be changed, employees will go through a new training program or be offered incentives for performance, etc. Corporate culture can be hard to fix, but many other things change as the result of regular updating.
     
  20. aamilesslave
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    aamilesslave Silver Member

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    Just a couple of questions for thought:

    Was the experience the same as an experience in coach, or was it better? If it was better, something less than the full refund of 25k miles+$350 seems reasonable.

    What should the compensation be on a paid J ticket? Say when booked, the J seat was $3500 and a coach seat was $350. Would $3150 be fair compensation?
     
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  21. pjoalfa
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    pjoalfa Silver Member

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    Sorry, I'm not gonna be an apologist on this. He should get his 25k and a $350 voucher. Food service is not worth anything significant. IFE on an overnight flight is nice, but the point is to be able to sleep lying down.

    In answer to your thoughts, if I paid $3500 cash, yes, I would expect a very significant refund or voucher. I suppose I'd settle for a free upgrade on the next flight (worth the same). Partial doesn't cut it. I wasn't buying Premium Economy either.
     
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  22. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    I think one can reasonably say that no airline will give over $3000 for a broken seat, except possibly a super-top elite with a paid full fare ticket in suites for a ultralonghaul flight.

    Realism is probably something like split the difference in the cost of the upgrade with any money being returned as a credit for future travel. One might be able to make the case that the upsell to an upgradeable fare was part of the cost.
     
  23. rrgg
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    rrgg Silver Member

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    Maybe the FA said that because the FA thought it was an SWU?
     
  24. DestinationDavid
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    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    Even so, FAs don't make decisions on refunds, regardless of whether if the upgrade is from miles, money, or SWUs. If she promised him a refund, she shouldn't have.
     

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