Delta and the Value of Service

So we’re on vacation.  We’re not even back yet, still in flight as I type this.  We’ll see if I can get it posted while we’re still in flight or I have to wait until we land.

Edit:  Didn’t get online while airborne.  Landed; drove home; now posting.

Anyway… We flew to Orlando to spend some time with my Grandmother.  Let’s chat about our experience. We flew on that airline that’s known by a letter of the Greek alphabet.  You know the one.  The one that just raised their rates for baggage.  And on that note, charging for baggage??  Seriously???

Which leads me to my experience.  We purchased our airline tickets in May of ’09.  We used one of those 3rd party online sites because we got a great deal.  You know how it is, right?  You never get the best deals from the airlines directly.  So a few months after we purchased our tickets, we got an email from that 3rd party site saying that the air carrier (that Greek letter) had cancelled one of our connecting flights and that we would need to select another option.  There was no money changing hands at this point.  Just a re-direction, so-to-speak.  So we got that done in November.

The night before we left in early January, I was checking out the 3rd party site as well as the air carrier’s site.  I was looking at baggage info to find weight limits and also – since we’d be traveling with a 5-year-old and an infant – to find out about limitations for car seats & strollers.  Among the great deal of information I found was that there would be a fee for baggage for every passenger (there were 5 of us plus my infant son).  And the price went up if you had more than one bag per passenger.  Dumb, but I knew it was a possibility.  Ok, not dumb.  That’s not nice.  How ’bout greedy.

But then I found that tickets purchased before a particular date would not be subject to the baggage fee.  Well, I should check and see when we purchased our tickets!  Did we get them before the date?  Yes we did!!  But I didn’t want to take anything for granted.  I thought the best thing to do would be to call the airline just be be sure.  So I did.

The first girl with whom I spoke told me that I had purchased the tickets after the cut-off date, and gave me a date in November as the purchase date..  I explained to her that the air carrier had cancelled one leg of the flight and that I had simply made a change so that we could go on vacation without being stranded in Georgia and so that we actually had enough time to change planes.  She wouldn’t budge, so I asked for her supervisor.

The supervisor was very helpful!  She looked up our reservation and told us that we did indeed purchase our tickets before the cut-off date and that we would be able to fly and bring one bag per passenger for free.  She reminded me that additional bags would incur a cost, and suggested that we check in at the airport counter rather than online to ensure that we wouldn’t be charged for our luggage.  And that’s how it worked.  It was quick.  It was easy.  It was right.

So we had a great week in Florida and went to the airport for our flight home.  Again, we chose not to check in online so that we could avoid the baggage fee.  This is where the joy and good wishes come to an end.  The first lady behind the counter said that we would have to pay for our luggage.  I explained the situation and she said that there was nothing she could do.  I asked her to look up our reservation where I knew was noted the conversation I’d had with customer service, and she said she still had to charge me for our luggage.  Ok.  How about your supervisor?

So here came the supervisor (or “Performance Leader” as her business card says) who said the same thing.  Mostly.  What she told me was that I was wrong about the cut-off date in question.  I told her that I found the information on the air carrier’s website and that I had spoken to a supervisor with the customer service center.  She told me I was wrong to have read the information on the website.

What?  I was wrong to read the information on your employer’s website?  Yes, it seems I was.  How silly of me.  Then she told me that the customer service person that I’d spoken to a week ago had also given me the wrong information.

Ok.  So let’s just say that both the website and this supervisor were wrong (doubt it).  How about you as a representative of this airline honor what this airline has already promised to me and that was honored on the flight out.

No.  She told me that since everyone but her was wrong (in the spirit of honesty, please know that I’m paraphrasing that last part), that there was no reason for her to comply.  And she told me that the customer service supervisor had indeed left a note on my reservation saying that we were not to be charged for our first bag.  But since that customer service person was wrong, she wasn’t going to comply with that note.  She wasn’t going to honor the air carrier’s word.

And so now here I sit on a flight back home having spent $75 for luggage that I was told I wouldn’t have to pay for.  Would I have packed differently had I known I would have to pay for my baggage?  You bet.  Would I have had more carry on items?  Yes.  Could I change all that around there in front of the ticket counter?  Nope.  Couldn’t do that.  And we were pretty sure we wanted to bring all our stuff home that we’d brought with us.

So I’ve chosen not to name the airline to this point.  But I’ve changed my mind.  I’ve changed my mind because I would like you to help me.  I don’t know that I have a terribly large circle of influence.  In fact, I’d say that it’s fairly small.  But I know a few people, and my friends know more people.

So I have this request:  post this.  Repost this.  Tweet it and Retweet it.  Tell people about this experience AND choose not to fly Delta Airlines.  Yes, it’s true that I’m just one person and this experience was just one family.  Yes it’s true that there are bigger things going on in the world today.  But, I’m tired of businesses stomping on their customers, using them and squeezing them for every penny and continuing the dramatic decline of service.  It seems in this day and age – in general, not just in this situation – that the customer no longer comes first.  Remind big business that they don’t get a paycheck if we don’t buy their product or service.  Will this post and a few reposts and retweets make a difference?  YOU can make that happen.  So what is it that I’m asking?  Pass this along and fly another carrier.

I flew on Delta Airlines from San Diego to Orlando (connecting through Atlanta) on January 5, 2010 and returned on January 12, 2010.  Because I’m sensitive to scams (and you may be too), I can be reached for verification at the following:
www.facebook.com/bobrhodessocal
twitter.com/bobrhodessocal
www.bobrhodes.org

This is not about $75.  This is about service.  This is about the value of a promise.  This is about holding to a standard.  This is about honoring your word.  This is about the power of the consumer, not just in the airline industry but in every aspect of business.

Pass this on.  And don’t fly Delta.

Peace…

4 thoughts on “Delta and the Value of Service

  1. Hey Bob so sorry for your bad experience. I just watched a news report today that Delta is now charging $25.00 for the first bag and an additional charge for additional bags. The reporter used an example: a flight would cost him $115.00 but it would cost him an additional $120.00 for his luggage. Stupid airlines. Southwest doesn’t charge and will be getting my business. I’m with you Don’t Fly Delta!! Chalk it up to an expensive learning experience and a chance to help other people out. Glad you guys are home.

  2. I had a similar experience with the same airline. In our case, they cancelled the connecting flight, but did NOT contact us to reschedule. Instead they left us with a connecting flight that left the airport 7 hours later from the oldest and dirtiest terminal in their hub airport. Did I mention that we had our 3-year-old daughter with us? As a parent, you can guess how thrilled we were with that. To top it off, they lost the bags we paid to have stored on the plane BOTH DIRECTIONS. So we paid these bozos to have our bags NOT be there when we got off the plane… TWICE! And when the bags finally showed 4 days later (TWICE), at least one was destroyed. It’s time the people spoke up against the callous treatment we receive from these airlines that wouldn’t exist without our tax dollars bailing them out every few years. Thanks for the post.

  3. Update. After being disconnected at least 4 times (not exaggerating) with Delta’s customer “service” team, the duplicate fees have been refunded. But they won’t refund the original charge. For that, I have to fill out a form on Delta’s website. No, I’m still not exaggerating.

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