Monday, November 28, 2011

Blog Redemption: Delta

Last week I posted a blog entry about how Delta's customer service department failed me. After my post, my experience only worsened when my husband and I boarded our flight only to realize we were seated no where near each other (he got stuck in a middle seat next to a guy with horrible B.O., and I was stuck next to a man who snored the entire flight from Atlanta to Ft. Lauderdale). 

However, after posting my blog on Delta's Facebook page and linking it to their Twitter account, I was able to speak with competent Delta employees. Through Twitter, I started off by explaining my frustrations, especially once I was on the plane and my husband was seven rows behind me. I worked with an employee with initials WG who was great! He (I'm going to call him a male because I am unsure of the sex so my apologies if you are female) definitely was helpful and sympathetic. He checked into our return flight to ensure we were indeed seated next to each other. He also said that he was going to send my blog post to a manager, well above the supervisor who was so rude to me the previous day. While I was still very much upset with Delta, he helped tremendously and like I told him on Twitter, was a "breath of fresh air."

I was dreading calling Delta again today to have them refund my baggage fee for my flight tomorrow morning. I wasn't in the mood to explain the entire situation over again and I had zero faith that the jerk of a supervisor from last week actually followed through and made note of this in my file. However, I was pleasantly surprised with how easy it was; my call was pleasant and my situation was handled immediately with no questions asked. It was like all was calm and good in the world again with Delta, which is how my previous experiences have always been. 

I want to give a huge thumbs up to alias KT on Delta's Twitter account. She was who I conversed with today through direct message. She was not only was sympathetic, but being that she is also a supervisor, she was able to award my husband and I each a $50 voucher to use in the next year. While I wasn't looking for anything more than to get a manager or executive to call me and make this all right, I am very appreciative for her make-good. She also promptly called me to discuss the issues I had while trying to change my name with my Delta SkyMiles account, and to briefly discuss how rude the other supervisor was and what actions would be taken. I explained that the name change process needs to be fixed and made easier for future brides or anyone who legally changes their name. She agreed and said she would escalate this to the right people. Hopefully changes will be made in the future. 

Delta - you have reminded me why I am such a loyal customer, and for that I am grateful. The best thing your customer department has done is having your Twitter account, @DeltaAssist. The folks that work it are fantastic and should not be taken for granted.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Delta Customer Service Fail

Delta, you have failed me! It pains me to say this since I am an extremely loyal customer - my husband and I have the American Express Delta Gold card, we are both frequent flyers and we will always fly Delta as long as a competitor isn't more than $50 cheaper.

I got married in May and legally changed my name about a month later. However, one of the hardest challenges with getting my name changed on documents was my Delta SkyMiles card. After a few fax attempts and a number of calls, it finally got changed. However, my flight to South Florida for Thanksgiving was booked before this change was made, so my maiden name was listed on my ticket. I noticed this issue yesterday (Tuesday) morning, for my flight which is tonight (Wednesday). I called Delta's customer service number and was immediately helped with no issues by a very nice woman. She told me that my reservation was updated with my new last name and I was all set. Great!

Around 7pm last night, I received the E-mail alerting me that it was time to check-in. I signed into Delta and saw both my husband and my reservations waiting to be checked-in. When I tried to check us both in, I was able to successfully check-in my husband, but I was given an error message for my ticket. I was told to check-in with security at the airport. This wasn't going to fly with me (no pun intended) since I would be flying out on the busiest travel day of the year and I was traveling out of the Atlanta airport, which is the busiest airport in the country. 

This is where phone call #2 to Delta's customer service department came in. I spoke with another nice woman who was able to fix the error and allow me to check-in online for my flight. However, because my husband was already checked in, she had to give me a new confirmation number. She assured me that I would still have my seat next to my husband and all would be the same, except that I was now on my own reservation instead of with him. Fine. I thanked her, hung up and signed back onto Delta's site to check-in. 

As I was going through the process everything was fine until I indicated that I needed to check-in a bag. This was supposed to be at no charge since we booked our flight with our American Express Delta Gold card, which allows each passenger to check-in one bag at no cost and also gives you priority seating. There was NO WAY I was going to pay $25 to check-in my bag. So here comes Delta call #3 for the day. This one didn't go so well...

I was connected to a woman who barely spoke English. I normally don't have a problem with customer service reps with broken English except that she wasn't understanding my issue. I also try never to get worked up or raise my voice at anyone in customer service since I know that ultimately my problem wasn't caused by them. However, in this case it was. I started to get frustrated after going back and forth for almost five minutes with her telling me that she could do nothing on her end and I had to go to the airport and have them check my bag in without the fee at the service desk.

This was not going to work for me. I explained to her that I was flying on the busiest day of the year and out of the busiest airport in the country and I needed this to be taken care of now. I finally asked her to put on a supervisor, which she said she would do but that they couldn't help me either. At this point I'm on hold for another 10 minutes and I can feel my blood pressure rising. I was finally on with a supervisor, who immediately answered the phone by telling me that there was nothing he could do. Here is where I lost it (I was calm by the attitude definitely came out). 

I told him that he needs to figure this out now as I am an extremely loyal customer and a frequent flyer and as the customer I need to be helped. He explained to me that when I called earlier that morning to switch my last name, I was removed from my current reservation with my husband and was put on my own. Clearly, the rep didn't tell me this, which is why I had the issue checking in. When I called the second time, the rep didn't tell me that because I was on a new reservation that I was going to lose the perks from booking with the Delta credit card. This was screw up #2 on Delta's part.

However, instead of the supervisor apologizing for the lack of communication on his staff's part, he blamed me. ME! Now I was EXTREMELY angry and frustrated. I told him that I work in a customer service industry and I am the client and he was handling this situation wrong. He again disagreed and told me that the best he could do was to have me pay for my bag online and then he would refund me. Fine. But I wasn't happy that he and his staff caused me to waste over an hour of my day on the phone with them. I then asked him if I would have to call back on Monday to get my fee waived for my flight back to Atlanta and he said yes. So now I was going to have to waste time during my vacation because of Delta's screw up.

After he did the refund, he tried to immediately hang up with me. He didn't even ask if I needed anything else, which everyone knows is customer service 101. But you all know me, I wasn't about to let him get off the phone that easy. I then told him that he needed to give me some sort of make-good for my troubles. He was silent. I told him that he could upgrade my husband and I to emergency exit row seats. He said no. I asked him if the seats were taken and he told me he could not reveal this information. Um, excuse me??? So then I told him that he needed to give me some free miles. He said no again. I told him I refuse to hang up until he does something for all of my inconveniences. So after I heard him huff and puff, he told me he would give me 100 miles. I told him, try 1,000 minimum (which is the equivalent of $10). I could hear him rolling his eyes, he sighed again and said fine, and more of less hung up on me. DOUCHEBAG!!!

I was exhausted at this point and it was getting late and I still needed to pack for my trip. I was about to throw in the towel when my husband came into the room and asked me what happened. After I explained everything, he was even more mad than I was. He decided to call American Express and tell them what happened. He was lucky enough to speak with a really nice guy who informed my husband that they get so many calls complaining about Delta. He saw that we are very loyal Delta and American Express customers, and even though AmEx had nothing to do with my issues, he gave us 10,000 miles for our troubles. 

Delta, you could learn a thing or two from American Express' customer service department.

A VERY angry customer!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Vent Session: Animal Adoptions

As most of you know, I volunteer my Saturday afternoons as an Adoption Counselor at Atlanta Pet Rescue & Adoption. I work with potential adopters to fit them with the right dog for their lifestyle and family, or in some cases, I send them home without a dog if I see they are unfit owners. While I absolutely hate having to deny certain people, I do it knowing I have the dogs' best interest at heart.

I also volunteer my time as the admin for Atlanta Pet Rescue's Facebook fan page. In the past two days, I have had to share two very sad circumstances with two animals who were, in one way or another, abused or neglected. While it is hard to write about these situations, it helps to educate people on why we can be categorized as "strict" when it comes to adopting from us.

I have a number of families with small children who come to the shelter to look to adopt a small dog because they are considered "cute." Yes, Chihuahuas and Toy Poodles are very cute, but they are also very fragile. So your three year old child who cannot be disciplined is practically a death wish for any of these tiny dogs.

Point in case:
We currently have a 4 month old Toy Poodle named Roscoe at the shelter who was surrendered by his previous owners who had purchased him (either from a breeder or pet store, this information is unknown) for their small children to have as a pet. Unfortunately, one of their kids dropped poor Roscoe, which caused his front leg to break at the ankle. We did not get Roscoe in our possession until 10 days after the incident, and the only option we now have to help him is to amputate his front leg.

Roscoe in pain with a broken front leg
 This is one of the many cases we have had to deal with because of ignorant people who buy a dog because they think it's cute, yet when something tragic happens as a result of their own negligence, they magically don't have the money or time to treat the dog and get it healthy and safe. So yes potential adopter with a really well behaved kid - I understand your child is a good kid, but that does not mean that their friends will act this way when they come to the house or that an accident won't happen at the dog's expense while you aren't monitoring play time with little Fido.

We had two (now one) adorable 1 year old Maltipoo males who came from a puppy mill situation. These two dogs were unsocialized and very shy. Over time, they have learned to trust humans through the examples set by other dogs at the shelter. While they have come a long way since their initial intake, the only way to set them up for success and continue with their progress is to go to a home without small children and also with another dog. It is nothing against people with young kids or who only want to have one dog, but rather it is what we feel is best for this dog to thrive and have a happy life. I can't tell you how many people I have had to tell they cannot adopt these dogs because they don't fit the qualifications.

While most people do understand, I did have one woman who kept telling me that she had saved all of her money to adopt one of the Maltipoos from us. When I told her that because she doesn't have another dog she would not be the right home for him, she decided to tell me that her sister has a dog. Clearly, she didn't get it. She then tried to persuade me that she would give the dog so much love that he would be happy. Loving an animal is great, but there are other needs for these pups that she could not provide. She then tried to ask me about adopting two dogs, which I asked her how she was able to afford two since she had only saved up for one? Busted! The next question almost made me laugh - she asked me how much it would cost for her to go to a breeder and purchase a Maltipoo. I love when people ask rescue groups about buying dogs from breeders. We wouldn't be in this industry if it weren't for the overpopulation of dogs and cats made possible by irresponsible breeders and puppy mills who are in the business just to make a quick buck. Of course there are reputable breeders who are doing it to better the breed. When I told the woman who only had enough money to adopt one dog from us at $275 that a breeder would charge close to $2,000 for a Maltipoo, I thought she was going to faint. Needless to say, she left without a dog.

I always try my best to educate people on why we are saying no to a specific dog that doesn't fit their current lifestyle, and instead recommend a dog that would fit in seamlessly and set them up for success. I will continue to do what is in the best interest of the dogs since they don't have a voice of their own. I just wish people would be logical and understand where APRA and I am coming from.