Executive Email Carpet Bomb Scores Direct Hit On Delta

Using tips from How To Launch An Executive Email Carpet Bomb, Evan got 500 Sky Miles and a $50 change fee refunded, along with a $200 travel voucher.

Among his complaints: late arrival and departure, children kicking his chair and running around in the aisles, being told to “deal with it,” being laughed at by desk agents, getting a call about a planes lateness only 30 minutes before its departure, missing his lunch appointment that he was flying for, etc etc.

When he called and wrote Delta, the best any one would offer was a $50 travel voucher. But Evan dropped the ebomb and got what he asked for, and then some, within 24 hours.

Read his complaint letter, inside…


Evan writes:

When I called about the April 1st flight, the CSRs just said “I’m sorry you had a bad experience, I’m not authorized to do anything about it.”

When I called while I was waiting to fly this weekend, I spoke with a guy in the Refund department and he said he couldn’t help me, I would have to write a letter.

I called back (more Consumerist tips) and got someone in Customer Care. She did apologize and was the only nice person in this whole process, but said that she couldn’t offer me anything other than a $50 voucher, and that I couldn’t apply that voucher to any travel already booked. She too suggested I write a letter.

Also..I emailed just my issues about the first flight to Lee Macenzak and got no response.

That was all Thursday, so I sent the letter you see on Sunday night (yesterday) once I was home.

My complaints and what I asked for are all listed below. I got a call from the executive assistant for Lee Macenczak (the VP of customer relations) and he is re-crediting my 500 Sky Miles, refunding me the $50 change fee by check (not a voucher) and giving me a $200 voucher for future flights.

This made me very happy with the situation and I will definitely continue to fly Delta. I also agree that its very important to exhaust all options before going to the top to not appear petty – this won’t work every time but I am a happy customer. Thanks for your help!

Evan

PS – I mentioned going to the Consumerist blog if they didn’t respond, maybe thats what did it?

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Evan [redacted]
Date: May 13, 2007 6:56 PM
Subject: Delta Customer Service Issue – Please Respond
To: gerald.grinstein@delta.com, james.whitehurst@delta.com, lee.macenczak@delta.com, joseph.kolshak@gmail.com , daiquiri.gleaves@delta.com, anthony.black@delta.com, katie.connell@delta.com, gina.laughlin@delta.com, betsy.talton@gmail.com
Cc: airconsumer@dot.gov

All:

I am a frequent and loyal Delta customer and have had two extremely bad experiences with Delta – just weeks apart. I have made numerous attempts over the phone and in writing to rectify this and am now escalating it in the hope that my issue receives some attention. I recognize you are all busy people and I will attempt to be as brief as possible. I ask that I receive a prompt response.

My name is Evan [redacted], and my SkyMiles number is XXXXXXXXXXX.

Issue 1) I flew on Delta Flight 1671 from San Francisco (SFO) to New York (JFK) on April 1st.

In an effort to be concise, on this flight the issues involved:

- Departing late

- Broken televisions throughout entire flight (the pilot came on the PA and said “please just deal with it”)

- Screaming children kicking my seat and running up and down the aisle for 45 minutes

- When I politely asked the flight attendants to do something about the children, I was told to “deal with it” (a recurring theme?) and was then not provided with the drink I asked for (water) despite three requests

- When we landed (late), the bags took 40 minutes to come out – not my bags, mind you, but all the bags

Several times over the next several weeks, I spoke to various CSRs about this issue. For this flight, I booked online but ended up needing to change the flight date the next day. Because of this, I was subject to both the loss of my web bonus (500 SkyMiles) as well as a $50 re-booking fee. I asked to have both these issues refunded/returned to make up for the service I received. I was told no. On 4/29, I sent the above information by email to Lee Macenczak, and asked for the same restitution. I received no response.

Issue 2) I had another flight booked for May 10th, just a week after not hearing back from Lee about the previous issue. This was Flight 507 (LGA to ATL) then Flight 1101 (ATL to BNA). I was originally booked on Flight 155 and 5551, which got in at 9:04 PM, but paid $50 and took the entire day off to ensure I could be in Nashville for a 1 PM lunch I couldn’t miss.

I apologize that the summary of this episode is longer than the above one, but I am constrained by the sheer number of absurd things I was told by your employees.

- I arrived at LGA at 7:30 AM for 9 AM flight. I waited in line for 10 minutes curbside, then was told I was a security risk. I waited 10 minutes, and a “security inspector” arrived (this person was not a TSA employee). This person then said under his breath that he was not allowed to do inspections. The two employees argued back and forth about whether or not they had the authority to inspect me. They then checked the computer again and said it was no longer an issue because my flight was cancelled. I then went inside to ticketing, and the security issue was never mentioned again.

- I waited in a 3-person line, and after 25 minutes, finally was called by a gate agent named Jackie Wlodarczyk (after my previous experience, I was sure to record names this time). She typed a few things into the computer, then said, “Looks like you aren’t going to Nashville! Haha..I shouldn’t laugh, this is a problem for you I’m sure.” ( Note: By now, it should be clear that Delta’s motto should be changed to “Just deal with it”)

- I indicated that I needed to be in Nashville for a lunch by 1:00 PM.

- She then suggested a 9 AM flight from JFK (when I was at LGA and it was now 8:20 AM).

- At 8:25 AM and 8:35 AM I received automated calls from Delta telling me there were issues with my flight. Does anyone leave their home 30 minutes before takeoff? How was this helpful in any way?

- Jackie then said that the only flight that worked was a 2:40 PM flight from JFK on JetBlue, but that JetBlue was not a partner of Delta so this is, and I quote “my problem, not theirs”. I asked her the number for JetBlue, and she said “Nope” and made no effort to find it. I then explicitly asked her to look it up and she said no.

- I then asked for a supervisor, and R. G. Hanson came over. He first went through the same steps that gate agent did.

- He also told me there was nothing they could do for me (Delta: “It’s Not Our Problem” – since 1924″ ). He then had conversations with the gate agent back and forth over many potential options, ignoring me for 15 minutes. After I told him I had to be there for 1 PM, Mr. Hanson repeatedly suggested flights that got in after 9 PM.

- We then decided the best option would be to reroute me through Cincinnati to get to Nashville. This flight got in at 7:45 PM. The whole reason I paid the switch fee and took the day off was to not get in at 7:45 PM!

- Because I was now missing the entire reason I needed to be in Nashville, I asked for a refund of my $50 flight change fee. He said he couldn’t do it and I would have to call. I then asked for an upgrade, and he said he couldn’t do it. I then asked for an upgrade for a flight I am taking next week on Delta, and surprisingly, he said he couldn’t do that either.

- I again brought up the fact that being charged $50 to move my flight earlier in the day was unfair since I was no longer getting in earlier. This time, Mr. Hanson said he could refund it, but wouldn’t because he did not have my receipt number. I then pulled up the email on my phone that contained the receipt number. He then said he needed a separate receipt number specifically for the change fee. I was able to find that as well. He then said he could no longer refund the $50.

- I said, “I have now been inconvenienced, spent over an hour at the gate, had my flight cancelled with an absurd notice time, been treated rudely, charged for a service I couldn’t use, and still have no options and have to try and go on standby to even attempt to get in on time. What can you do for me?” He said “You can write a letter if this really bothers you (emphasis his), but I can’t help you sir.”

- I called the Delta Refunds line about the $50 fee, and he said he wasn’t authorized to refund it but perhaps I could write a letter.

- I searched for a different number, and ended up calling Customer Care. I spoke with Ramona Scruggs .

- I told her the whole story, and she did apologize but said all she could offer me was a $50 voucher for another flight. She said I could not use this credit for my flight next week – meaning I would have to fly Delta again to redeem it.

- I have a 101-degree fever right now, and have been sick all weekend. When I got to Cincinnati, I ran off the plane, sprinted across the airport, caught a shuttle, and arrived at the plane just as they were doing last call. Covered in sweat and feeling like death, I made it on to the earlier flight as a standby passenger. I arrived in Nashville, and still missed my lunch.

In just over the last month, I have flown Delta roundtrip to Salt Lake, roundtrip to San Francisco, to Nashville, and am scheduled to fly Delta to Des Moines roundtrip in just a few days. As you can see from my account, I am a frequent customer and have never had an issue before these two flights. The above two issues are unacceptable to me.

By way of fair and reasonable restitution, here is what I would like to happen:

- For the flights (507 and 1101) on May 10th:

o My web bonus of 500 SkyMiles should be reinstated, because the flight was switched offline by Delta, not me.

o My $50 switch fee should be refunded (not a voucher), because the flight time that I switched to was not honored by Delta.

- I would like some sort of restitution for the poor customer service I received from two flight attendants on the April 1 st flight, screaming children, broken televisions, an unresponsive Lee Macenczak, two rude gate agents, an unresponsive customer care agent, and for missing my lunch in Nashville. I have spent far too much of my time resolving this issue and expect a meaningful voucher, miles – something to signify Delta values my business.

- Finally, I would simply like an apology. Every person I have spoken with has told me that this is my problem, I am wrong, I need to write a letter, etc. I would like written acknowledgment from Delta that this is no way to treat a loyal and frequent customer.

Today is Sunday May 13th. I recognize this is a long letter and appreciate Delta’s need to investigate this issue further. However, I will not waste more of my time if Delta cannot be bothered to respond. If I do not hear back from a Delta representative by Friday, May 25th, including information about restitution for the issues above, I will be sending an additional letter to the Department of Transportation, the Consumerist blog, and taking further steps to attempt to resolve my issue. I am hoping that my Delta flight this coming weekend does not become the concrete block that broke the camel’s back.

Thank you very much for your time in reading this letter and resolving this issue. I would like to remain a frequent Delta customer, and await your response.

Sincerely,

Evan

Elements that helped make Evan’s executive email carpet bomb land true:

• Wrote clearly and directly
• Exhausted normal avenues of resolution
• Made specific demands linked to specific service deficiencies
• Used employees’ first and last names
• Set deadline for action
• Declared who he would escalate the issue to if it was not resolved to his satisfaction
• CC:d Cc: airconsumer@dot.gov

Learn how to launch your own by reading How To Launch An Executive Email Carpet Bomb. — BEN POPKEN

(Photo: Getty)

Comments

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  1. mikyrok says:

    I know it’s bad, but I couldn’t help but laugh at how deplorable his customer service experience was.

  2. tvh2k says:

    Honestly…if it were me I doubt that I’d ever fly with Delta again, even after getting the $200 credit and change fee refund. The OP is clearly a regular business traveler and should not have been treated the way he was. The level of customer service he encountered was deplorable. Perhaps what was most disturbing was the overall trend in attitude that he alluded to: CSRs reflecting issues back at the customer! In fact, after reading that, I’m going to think twice before flying Delta in the future.

  3. axiomatic says:

    Whats worse is that if he would have raised his voice even one he would have either been kicked out of the airport or worse, arrested.

    Our US airports and airlines are a joke. Don’t pay them any more money until they remember who the consumer is.

  4. timmus says:

    I never thought I’d say this, but I think Greyhound is about to eclipse the airlines when it comes to class and service. At least with Greyhound the level of service is consistent and predictable.

  5. Canadian Impostor says:

    @timmus: I took the train from Boston to New York for a job interview and oh man was it refreshing. I got on board a clean, spacious, quiet Acela and arrived in New York faster than if I had flown since I didn’t get patted down by TSA Gestapo.

    I wish I could take the train everywhere.

  6. legerdemain says:

    @Jason: Amen. I’ve completely sworn off flying. I’m a nice guy. A non-violent guy. I understand there’s a job to be done securing the planes, but that doesn’t appear to be getting done. Instead, protecting rude employees from the natural result of their customer hostility by arresting stranded Americans is now a national security priority.

    I will drive, take a train, or take a boat. If you think it’s so dangerous that I can’t get into your vehicle without taking off my shoes, I don’t want to ride with you.

  7. Onouris says:

    Man I don’t even live in America and this is making me want to take the train instead of the commercial flights I don’t take :S

  8. asherchang says:

    how do you escalate beyond execs?

  9. Three Word Chant says:

    Asher I was the submitter for this story..what I would suggest is that if you have exhausted all yoru available options within the company, it probably means that you have been treated very poorly, repeatedly, and I’m sure at least one really ridiculous thing has happened. That is a good time to look for help outside the company. Your two best bets are the media (either a blog like this one or a consumer reporter on the evening news), or an oversiht body (the government, BBB, etc.) Even before those oversight bodies have a chance to do something, if the company in question knows they have been reported they may suddenly want to help. Good luck!

  10. BigElectricCat says:

    I ‘fired’ Delta back in 2002 and haven’t regretted the decision once. And I live in Atlanta, their largest hub.

  11. u1itn0w2day says:

    What the heck,why won’t these airlines just raise the ticket prices to cover the fuel cost instead of PRETENDING not to raise ticket prices yet nickel and diming you to death.

    And retroactive,this is getting like the credit card and universal default let alone all the fees and high rates they’re charging.