Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Poor Customer Service from American Airlines

We recently returned from a great trip to Napa and Sonoma, California. There is much to tell about the trip, but before I get to that, I wanted take a moment to let everyone know about a poor customer service experience we had with American Airlines. The long and short of it is that American Airlines lost one of our checked bags on the way back. Now, I know this isn't that out of the ordinary for any airline, but since we now have to pay a $15 checked bag fee and we checked the bag more than two hours before our flight took off, we thought it would be fair to ask for a refund of the baggage fee. We received an email, which I have posted below, in response to our request. I have two issues with this email: (1) the writer's failure to admit a mistake occurred, much less actually apologize for the mistake and (2) the writer's ridiculous assertion that paying for a service should bear no relationship with a service provider actually doing the service I paid for well. Here's the the email:

June 30, 2009

I know it was a disappointment not to receive your luggage in a timely manner when you returned from your trip. However, since you were "home" and ultimately had access to your necessities, we must respectfully decline to provide compensation or to cover the cost of consequential expenses. This is a standard policy and we believe it to be reasonable.

Under the circumstances, we can certainly appreciate your point about the baggage fee you paid. However, we must respectfully decline to refund the fee. The baggage fee you paid was assessed to transport your belongings as specified under our baggage allowance policy. At the same time, while we do our very best to ensure your baggage arrives when you do, we do not make this absolute guarantee. Accordingly, while we understand your perspective, the issue of the baggage fee and the delayed arrival of your baggage are two completely separate matters.

Most importantly, we will continue to find ways to prevent baggage mishandling altogether. We know how it important it is for our customers to have their belongings arrive at their destination when they do. Please give us another opportunity to serve you better.


Kay Farmer
Customer Relations
American Airlines

And here is my response:

Ms. Kay Farmer:

I am in receipt of your email titled "R2009/06-35414-00300-001-00" in which you declined my request for a refund of the $15 baggage fee for my bag that arrived a day after I did in Dallas.

However disengenous I think it is too assert that the baggage fee I paid and AA's failure to timely deliver my a bag are two separate matters, I am not surprised, unfortunately, by your response. Though I haven't read your baggage allowance policy, my guess is that American Airlines is well within its rights to deny my request for a refund of the baggage fee.

Nevertheless, let me just say that your email and AA's response reflects appalling customer service. The truth of the matter is, AA made a mistake. My bag was checked more than two hours before my flight. I box my wife checked at the exact same time made it to Dallas on time. The fee itself insures that fewer bags are checked these days, a fact that was clear to me as a watched a total of 20-25 bags come off the flight at baggage claim. Instead of an apology and a refund, which I continue to believe is a fairly reasonable request, I only received your email denying the request for a refund and failing to apologize or even admit AA made a mistake.

My only recourse, then, is to tell everyone I know about my customer service experience with AA. I've posted your email and this response at my blog at http://dallascowboysdad.blogspot.com/ - cross-posted to my facebook and Twitter accounts.



Shades of Gray said...

and of course, the one thing you did not mention is that this fee was implemented last year when fuel prices were so high, and of course, there was no adjustment to this policy when the prices went down.

I will say that when I wrote to AA last year and complained about many problems on a flight, my customer relations rep was very apologetic and did put mileage credits in my account. However they did comment (which I thought ridiculous) that the cat in the lap of the fat woman intruding into a third of my seat was probably a service animal.

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Bay Area Connect said...

Just came across this blog....not to bore but I had a flight from hell last week. My girlfriend was on the same flight, same mileage status received a credit...I was told "too bad". Guess who wrote the email...Kay Farmer. This women needs to lose her job.

Anonymous said...

Another Kay Farmer story to add to the mix. I wrote a polite letter (snail mail, not email) to American Airlines customer service to ask to contact a specific flight attendant (or to allow her to contact us) as a result of a really positive experience aboard a flight. (Details are not important, but I hoped to be able to contact her before an upcoming family wedding.) This week I finally received the following email from Kay Farmer: "We've received your request but must decline to forward your message to a fellow AA'er. While we'd like to be of assistance, we simply aren't in a position to comply with the numerous similar requests. If we did so, it could delay our responsiveness to customers who utilize our 'Contact Us' link to send us feedback about our service." The most bizarre and disingenuous response possible. How often does AA EVER get positive feedback and the chance to contribute to a feel-good story? Ms. Farmer seems incredibly adept at turning silk purses into sows' ears.