Last week’s post about excellent customer service brought a few me-toos out of the woodwork, including this noteworthy account of United Airlines doing the right thing.
United, which is planning to merge with Continental Airlines, has no shortage of critics. But this story should give ‘em something to chew on for a while.
Kerry Whitmire flew from Los Angeles to Rome recently; her checked baggage did not.
We were told it would be in the next day, however we were scheduled to immediately take a train to Verona.
United said they would deliver our luggage to us in Verona the following day. After numerous phone conversations between the manager of our Verona and baggage claim in Verona, we were told they could not deliver the luggage and we had to take a cab out to the airport to pick it up.
Here’s the problem: The cab to the airport cost Whitmire 51 Euros and 1 ½ hours of her vacation. United should have delivered the luggage to her, as promised.
Upon arrival back in the US, I contacted United and requested reimbursement. They denied reimbursement, indicating their policy was to reimburse for reasonable items that had to be replaced because the luggage did not arrive.
I responded that it was not an issue of not having certain items; it was an issue of them not doing their job by delivering the luggage to my hotel. Again they responded with the same language about “reasonable items that had to be replaced” because the luggage did not arrive.
I then wrote and asked for a supervisors name to contact. Again, they responded that they were sorry about my “disappointment” and restated their policy and would not give me another person to contact.
I suggested Whitmire contact someone at a higher level at United. You can find the names on the new On Your Side wiki. She did.
Late yesterday, I heard back from her.
I received a letter today from United. They reconsidered my claim and agreed to send me a check!
Although I can’t be sure what went wrong here, I have a reasonably good idea. A customer service representative scanned her initial email and determined that Whitmire was asking United to reimburse it for something that it doesn’t cover when luggage is misplaced, as a matter of policy. But the rep didn’t see the big picture.
Appeals yielded the same result because a manager didn’t see the forest for the trees. This is where the error should have been caught and addressed.
In a situation like this, taking your case to a manager – in this case, Helen Chellin – was absolutely the right call.
Good work, United.
(Photo: Deanster 1983/Flickr Creative Commons)