Amy Rees Anderson

Companies don’t have to be perfect but they do need to fix it when they screw up!

It’s late and I’m tired, but even worse I am frustrated beyond belief because I have just gone through one incredibly bad customer service experience and I am still going through it as I write tonight’s blog. I spent several hours tonight online booking airline tickets with Delta. I have been a faithful Delta Airlines customer now over 20+ years. I used them for my entire company to book all of our employees flights and I use them for all of my family flights. I have more flown miles on Delta Airlines than I care to even think about. I am what you would call an incredibly loyal customer for them. Even when another airlines has cheaper rates I still fly Delta because I have always used them.

Tonight I began trying to book flights for a family trip several hours ago. I first researched the prices of the flights and figured out the best time options and the best rate. Then I went to book them. As I booked them I assumed the rate on the website was the same as when I looked them up like two minutes before, but as soon as I got my receipts it showed a substantially higher charge then the one I had selected?! So I went back onto the website and sure enough the same lower fare I thought I had selected when I booked the tickets moments before! What the !?!?  So I immediately called Delta to tell the customer service agent that I need them to either fix it with a credit back to me or I wanted then to cancel my five tickets and rebook them at the correct lower fare. I spent close to an hour with a Delta agent whose accent was nearly impossible to understand, but because I wanted to be kind I kept explaining the situation to the agent and I even offered to send a screenshot of my computer that was currently up that proved that in fact the rate I could book for right this minute was lower than what they charged me before I placed the support call. The agent kept putting me on hold for massive spans of time and then would come back and say she couldn’t help me because the rate was now higher. I explained that the website was literally showing the lower fare as we spoke but she just kept fighting me on it. I then said that I wanted her to cancel the flights and I would simply rebook myself them right now at the lower rate WHICH WAS ON MY COMPUTER SCREEN AS I WAS TALKING! (can you sense the frustration yet??)  The agent said that she could cancel them but then I wouldn’t be able to rebook for 48 hours until the miles on my account could be credited back into my account, which meant I would likely lose my seats all together. I literally couldn’t take it anymore and I asked very politely for the representative to get me a supervisor to talk to. She said I would have to hold again and then immediately she hung up on me.  Are you kidding me?!?!?   I dialed the support line back again and after holding forever and listening to elevator music a new agent with yet another accent I could barely understand answered the phone and I asked to be given to a supervisor to talk to. The agent got angry with me and he demanded to know why I need a supervisor and wouldn’t just talk to him. I explained that I had already spent an hour on the phone and I didn’t want to walk through it all twice so to please just transfer me. Again the agent pushed back on me. At that point I literally demanded to be given a supervisor….finally I was transferred. When I got heard the supervisor answer and I could understand what they were saying I literally wanted to hug the person on the other end of the phone. I once again walked through my entire situation I had been dealing with and this supervisor seemed to be far more professional. She could see that the system had overcharged  me and she said she would help fix it and credit back my account. We walked through each overcharge on all five tickets together and got the totals that needed to be credited figured out – I thought we were finally almost done with it until she said, “sorry I need to put you on hold so I can get someone from ticketing to help us credit back your account.” And now I have sat on hold for another 20 minutes just waiting for her to come back on the line….It is 12:20am and I just want to go to bed but guess what? I can’t because I am still holding on the phone praying I don’t get hung up on or transferred to yet another agent where I will have to start this process all over again….And all I can do is ask myself – why have I been so loyal to an airline who isn’t at all loyal to me???  20+ years of flying Delta and this is the best customer service available?? Wait she is coming back on the line. She just told me that she was able to credit two of the five tickets but she had to cancel the other three and I will have to go to their website and rebook those three tickets all over again…but then i was put back on hold…she came back on to let me know that my seats may be gone now because someone else may have grabbed them while she was cancelling them for me to go rebook them. I was blown away…this was the solution – for me to start all over again…it is now 12:57am and I just finished rebooking the three flights she had to cancel because apparently her website doesn’t show what the delta.com website shows to me so she couldn’t do it for me. Keep in mind this is the supervisor I am getting helped by?  I don’t have any words….

Having been a CEO for so many years it makes everything in me want to pick up the phone and call Delta’s CEO and say, “Do you have any idea how badly your company is doing on customer service? And do you care!?”  The impact of one truly bad customer service experience such as the nightmare one I had over the last several hours is tremendous. Because not only did I have a horrendous experience, but I am now sharing that experience with all of you and some of you will likely re-share the experience with people you know and so on and so on….The negative impact to Delta is bigger by far than the effort it would have taken them to simply fix their mistake.

The only thing I can say is the words of Donald Porter, “Customers don’t expect companies to be perfect. But they do expect them to fix things when they go wrong.”

~Amy Rees Anderson

12 Comments

  • Jane says:

    Oh. My. Goodness. Sadly I have had bad Delta experiences and stopped using them. I guess they don’t get it.

  • roberta says:

    Typo. not=now

  • Scott Wood says:

    Amy, you’re not alone on this one. Most of us have had these type of experiences. I think the older I get, I realize that good old fashion customer service is not moving as fast as technology, and sometimes is not there at all.

  • Charles says:

    Second your concerns about the language issues with so many Delta agents. Plus, a bing of the time I can hardly hear them. Line or mic I’m not sure which. Working this very week on a family trip oversea’s and a day after booking, the original schedule got pushed back by over 2 hours. Called in to see about rerouting as that schedule wouldn’t work for us. One agent couldn’t understand why an hour and 6 minutes wasn’t enough time for an ATL transfer with two senior citizens involved. Another couldn’t even find the two flight numbers the website showed me on the desired day.

  • Paul says:

    Amy,

    Sorry to hear about it…sucks when (all too often) things like this happen. Happy to hear it was resolved, but am left wondering what recourse, if any, those of us without our own blogs and CEO title on our resumes would have? Between small children, 2 full time working parents, and the usual life 101 issues, I suspect the usual US corporate mantra would have applied: “Ignore the customer, they’ll give up/go away, and we’ll keep their money anyway.”

  • Randy says:

    Amy – you are definitely not alone… Delta is very poor on customer service. For one of my experiences, I got a call from Delta, but the number I got to call back did not go to a real person and I never could get back in touch with the person. It is so frustrating to be a loyal customer for 25+ years and over 2 Million miles credited, but still treated very poorly. Safe travels and great blog.

  • Roy Smith says:

    Sadly, your good experience posted later (contacted by the CEO) seems wholly due to your web visibility. I have been a loyal Delta customer since 1955, yep over 60 years, but still have negative experiences without significant concern. We were recently left on the tarmac over 3 hours due to a paperwork foulup by the crew fueling our plane, but virtually no accommodation was forthcoming. It seems they even taxied back to the gate once apparently so as to be able to say we were not actually on the tarmac long enough to receive compensation. I am very patient and long – suffering but Delta has changed a lot in 60 years.

  • William says:

    I am as loyal to Delta as you are and what you described is very very normal of Delta. I constantly experience system/technical issues on virtually all aspects of my Delta travel experiene. I have reported no less than 11 very obvious technical issues through delta.com’s feedback system, and mostly they are always brushed aside. CEOs and upper management team have no clue on how bad things are. In actually, the people that should held responsible is not the CEO but the senior executives that manages IT and customer service. I agree that you only got a response because your web popularity and exposure. I am glad you have your issue resolved. Your positive resolution to your problem is not characteristic of Delta’s handling of customer service issues and many other issues are left unresolved.

    I am sure many PM and DM members will agree, Delta has adapted a culture of not wanting to (or unable to) fix issues on the spot, but compel customers to write in complaints after the fact or after the travel. This is a terrible way to approach customer service.

  • Neal B says:

    Delta sucks. Worst customer service ever. Cancelled my flight, wouldn’t rebook on another airline. Said I had to wait 4 days to fly home. Called them, was on hold 2 hrs 46 mins and gave up still trying to get a refund. Message on Delta 800 number says wait time of over 3 hrs. How can a company this incompetent even get a plane off the ground?

  • Larry Lynch says:

    I read both your original blog and follow up with interest after my own (frequent) bad experience with Delta and must tell you I disagree with your assessment of Mr. Bastian.

    I write this as I spend a Friday night with an unplanned overnight layover in Detroit where I’m spending over $400 for a room not to mention the value of my time because Delta can’t deliver on its promises,.

    I, too, have been a CEO, an entrepreneur, a Fortune 50 executive and business leader. And there is one consistent deliverable I have seen in every business situation I encounter: a company led by a CEO with a passion for the customer will find the requisite behaviors reflecting their vision cascading through the organization.

    Everything I see about Mr. Bastion and his “leadership” tells me that he is far more concerned about cost than the customer.

    Perhaps his assistant understands the customer experience but don’t project those traits on him. As I waited in a crowded gate area in Chicago today for 3 hours I watched a young lady in tears trying to get back to her 3 year old as a gate agent berated her. That’s an acceptable behavior only if permitted by management driven by overt and subtle messages from leadership.

    I finally connected with Delta and got the usual shallow reply that they’ll share my concerns with “leadership”. I’ve completed countless of their post-flight surveys and nothing changes so the message is clear: there is no leadership and management doesn’t care.

    So feel free to compliment Mr. Bastian’s assistant but I have to disagree with your assessment of the CEO.,As a long-time Diamon Medallion with 1.5+ million miles who flew his first commercial flight on Delta 42 years ago it isn’t just apparent, but it is obvious that this is a new Delta where it is CEO first, board second, stockholders third and passengers fourth. The CEO doesn’t get that fact that without the fourth the other three don’t matter.

  • Adesola Adebiyi says:

    I had a terrible experience with Qatar Airways. As opposed to your blog that the Executive Assistant to the CEO of Delta called, several emails to Qatar Airways execs were in the defensive and they screwed up badly lying and defending their wrong actions.

    I can never ever fly Delta Airlines again.

  • Adesola Adebiyi says:

    I had a terrible experience with Qatar Airways. As opposed to your blog that the Executive Assistant to the CEO of Delta called, several emails to Qatar Airways execs were in the defensive and they screwed up badly lying and defending their wrong actions.

    I can never ever fly Qatar Airways again. Apologies for the typo error.

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