Airline customer service is a joke. That’s the conclusion Scott Overland came to after a lengthy — and at times funny — back-and-forth with Delta Air Lines’ “customer care” department.

The e-mails, which he was kind enough to forward to me, suggest Delta doesn’t always read its customers’ e-mails.

The chain starts simply enough, with a request to extend credit on a canceled ticket. Overland had been promised he could use a ticket credit for up to a year, but Delta didn’t bother to tell him when the year started.

When I called Delta, I was told that the one year began on the date the ticket was issued, February 28th, not when it was canceled, in June. The agent who canceled the flight never told me this, and I was led to believe that she would at least have a year from the cancellation date, if not from the date of the flight.

This creative definition of year — and even day — is not uncommon in the airline industry.

Here’s the predictable cut-and-paste answer from Delta’s customer care department.

While we would like to offer special consideration in cases such as yours, we are unable to honor the many requests that we receive from others in similar situations. We follow a consistent policy to ensure that Delta is fair to everyone who travels with us. Accordingly, we must respectfully decline your request. I am truly sorry to disappoint you, as I am sure this is not the answer you expected.

Unknown to that department, Overland had already made contact with the airline at a higher level, and it had agreed to help him. Apparently, one hand didn’t know what the other was doing. Overland called Delta on it.

I am very sorry to receive a e-mail from you that is so blatantly false. I already received a phone call from your customer care department in Atlanta and they reissued a credit for the full $190.

Thus, at least one department of your airline does offer “special consideration,” and I truly appreciate them.

Nonetheless, I am incredibly offended by your e-mail that includes straight lies in it, and I intend to forward it to the heads of customer service for Delta, along with with travel media outlets.

In the future, I would suggest checking with you actual customer service department before sending false e-mails.

Overland makes a valid point. Based on the correspondence between him and Delta, it appears the customer service agents didn’t take the time to carefully review his request. If they had, they might have responded like its executive contacts — with a little compassion and understanding instead of an insincere form letter.

At least that’s how he sees it.

It just really angered me for other people who may not think to copy the head of customer service on an e-mail. The fact that he essentially lied to me in that e-mail, while the customer service folks in Atlanta were incredibly helpful, seemed like it should be made public.

While this situation worked out in my favor, I just can’t stand the airline industry double standards, the blatant misrepresentations at best, and lies at worst, that are in the e-mails.

This just illustrates the disarray in the airline industry.

I’m glad Delta was able to help Overland, but I share his disappointment in the subsequent form rejections. I think the airline can do better.