The Customer Is Always Right Screwed

united_continental_logoIt amazes me how many companies are happy to be perceived as pricks! Just when you think cable TV or banks or cell carriers have the lock on customer unfriendly policies, in comes United Airlines to raise the stakes.

It now costs $200 to change a domestic ticket on United. If you’re going to South America that’ll be $300, $250 for Asia and Europe!

There are a few reasons United is doing this. Obviously, they want to be able to lower prices (if necessary) without letting those already holding reservations take advantage of the discount.

Why can WalMart do this, but not United? From

  • We will match any local competitor’s advertised price.
  • We do not require customers to have the ad with them to honor a competitor’s ad.
  • Items purchased must be identical to the ad (size, quantity, brand, flavor, color, etc.)

stew-rule-stoneEven better than WalMart’s is Stew Leonard’s customer policy, carved in stone!

Businesses are supposed to make money. No one, certainly not me, wants to deprive them of that ability. What bothers me is when businesses take advantage of their market position and create one-sided rules. It almost seems as if they’re relishing our pain.

Airlines can change my flight times or itinerary or nearly any other part of my trip without compensating me. On the other hand, I have to cross every “t” and dot every “i” or suffer their wrath. That seems inherently unfair.

Airlines can delay without penalty when they can’t get a crew to the airport on time. If I can’t get to the airport, tough luck.

Not only can’t I freely change my ticket (except on my fav, Southwest), I can’t sell it or give it away either. Why should any airline care if it’s Helaine or Stef or me or anyone else? From where I sit, this is mean spirited.

Like I said, airlines aren’t alone operating like this. The less competition there is, the more likely stuff like this will happen.

I am happy to see Google beginning to compete with cable companies and T-Mobile upending the cellphone business model. We need more.

Where is PeoplExpress when you need them?

11 thoughts on “The Customer Is Always Right Screwed”

  1. RE: “Where is PeoplExpress when you need them?” – PeoplExpress merged into Continental Airlines in 1987 and Continental merged with United last year, so the airline you are complaining about, United, is actually the successor to PeoplExpress, the airline you are pining for.

  2. The Vermont Country Store has a ‘Customer Bill of Rights’. They are a very successful, long standing family business. I love doing business with them; wish others would follow their lead!

  3. I know exactly what you mean. I switched banks to New England bank a year ago. In November their larger partner United Bank took over the whole operation. Since then service is down (they now charge $5.00 for a money order I USED to get for free and jacked up my monthly maintenance fee from one dollar to three,laid off three of my favorite tellers, kept the bitchiest one, AND they got rid of the lollipops and dog biscuits!). I’m planning on moving my accounts to another bank as soon as I find one that meets my needs. When they ask why I’ll tell them.
    Customer service ain’t what it used to be.Lkike the kid at Burger King the other day. I ordered a hot fudge sundae and he gave me a cup of ice cream. I told him I’d ordered a hot fudge sundae and he told me ‘OK well I’ll put some on but NEXT time TELL me what you want.’ Ummmm….I DID tell him. And when I got home I got online to BK corporate and told THEM too!
    As for Walmart I bought a case of cat food and when I got home found that two cans were damaged and had leaked all over the box. I contacted the maker who was very nice and sent me coupons for frfee cat food and walmart whom I NEVER heard from after 3 email attempts. Where’s Mike Boguslowski when I need him?

  4. Peoples Express got swallowed up by Continental. United blows, American Blows. US Airways isn’t much better.

    JetBlue and Southwest seem to still be staffed by people that enjoy working but they don’t fly everywhere you need to go.

    Some of these airlines won’t be in business for much longer, between their surly attitudes and the TSA thugs, people are driving or not travelling instead. That will only work for so long.

  5. I tend to agree that good customer service has taken a back seat lately. Which brings me to my point. We live now in a society where a lot of companies are now publicly owned companies with shareholders. Not common people share holders, major high up share holders. When a company does well share holders do well. So, lets make profits as high as possible. Where do they trim the fat, customer service, outsourcing, policy changing to work in companies favor. which means more $$ in their pockets, less in ours but more frustration for us the consumer. Anyway, that my Point of view on this.

  6. I do make it a point to give extra business to companies that have great customers service. I’ve been very impressed with L. L. Bean and Amazon. Also, especially, local businesses with great staff.

    Part of the problem for airlines might be how hard it is to actually turn a profit. I think Southwest does get extra business because of their attitude towards the customer. But it is probably very difficult for an airline to choose customer-friendly policies over making a little extra money and maybe eking out a profit for the quarter. If enough people reward the airlines for customer-friendly policies then maybe others will emulate.

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