Delta: Sorry Your Lung Collapsed, But You Should Have Used Your Voucher Sooner

Trevor’s lung collapsed last year, flummoxing his plans to travel with Delta from New York to Toronto. Delta issued a voucher and promised Trevor that it could be redeemed anytime within one year. What they didn’t tell him, at any point, was that they started counting not from the date of his planned travel, or from the date he requested the refund, but from the date they issued the original ticket.

Trevor sent us his exchanges with Delta. His initial letter:

Dear Delta,

In June of 2007, I experienced a collapsed lung. At the recommendation of my thoracic surgeon to avoid flight for three to six months from the time of my operation, I was unable to use tickets booked on June 11, for a flight from NY JFK to Toronto—flight XXXXXXXX.

After being made aware I would not be able to use the tickets, I called a Delta representative who informed me that once receiving a signed letter from my physician, I would be given full cred ($365.58) for the flight. The credit would be available for one year. On both occasions I spoke with Delta representatives—when canceling the flight and when confirming my letter was received—I was not made aware that the credit expired on the date the flight was booked (June 11) and not the date of departure (Aug. 3). This information was only relayed when I attempted to use the credit on June 24, 2008. No email or letter acknowledging the restriction was ever offered, just the instruction to call when I wished to apply the credit. On top of that, nowhere in the confirmation information given to me by Travelocity is the booking date listed, only the flight date and I’m sure you can imagine, given my health circumstances, how that is unsatisfactory if you expect me to consider June 11, the key date in this situation.

I understand Delta must have restrictions and expiration dates for credit; however, I feel my medical condition was taken advantage of by inadequate customer care that neglected to communicate the central piece of information. I am using the credit in a window well within a year of the flight date. This is the first time I’ve booked a flight since my injury and am dismayed by a lack of sensitivity by Delta’s policies and customer care representatives.

I appreciate your consideration and understanding.

Delta’s response:

Thank you for your correspondence to Delta Air Lines.

We realize you expect to receive accurate information when you call us. Our Reservation Sales representatives are carefully trained in all our procedures, including providing a positive experience for our valued customers.

Please be advised most unused international tickets can be applied towards new travel, domestic or international, to commence within one year from issue date of the original ticket.

Delta tickets and other travel-related documents are valid for one year from the date of issue. Once a ticket or other document has expired, it has no further value and cannot be refunded, extended, or exchanged.

While we would like to offer special consideration in cases such as yours, we are unable to honor the many requests that we receive from others in similar situations. We follow a consistent policy to ensure that Delta is fair to everyone who travels with us. Accordingly, we must respectfully decline your request.

Again, thank you for writing. We recognize this was not the response you expected to receive and trust you will understand our position. We value your business and hope you will continue to choose Delta. Should you need to contact us in the future, or find information about our service or operations, please visit us at delta.com.

Sincerely,

Irene M. Roberts
Manager
Customer Care

Can’t you feel the love and care of their velvet-covered sickle?

Trevor responded:

Dear Ms. Roberts,

I’m sure it comes as no surprise that your response is completely unsatisfactory and no, I do not in any way understand your position. Due to human error, Delta has stolen—that may sound like a strong word, but is in fact the ONLY way to refer to it—almost five hundred dollars from me.

You can claim your “Reservation Sales representatives are carefully trained”; however, all experience in this situation points to quite the opposite. Just one example, it took two hours and the escalation of the issue to a supervisor before anyone could even figure out how to locate my reservation. I understand the challenges of staffing qualified people to low-paying positions, but don’t screw your customers when they slip up. If you have many requests from “others in similar situations” than you have an institutional problem that needs to be fixed and I do not feel I should pay the price for that failure. It is certainly not Delta being “fair to everyone who travels” with you. Quite the opposite in fact.

In a business whose success and failure hinges on the ability to create customer loyalty—one ticket, just one, bought by me could erase any loss you’d take from giving me MY MONEY back—it’s shocking to me that you’ve decided to give me the middle finger and I’m sure, a contributing factor to Delta’s struggles. I will NOT “continue to choose Delta.” In the internet age, I’m just shocked Delta doesn’t understand this costs more than it saves. You have no right to this money and with poor customer service from top to bottom, have taken advantage of my illness.

Attached you’ll find signed statements from just a few of the people who’ve heard my story and agree that Delta has abused its corporate powers and hidden behind policies that avoid accountability. This will be just the beginning as I feel it’s important people hear how your company approaches its customers.

I will be happy to forgive and forget if you decide it’s worth actually considering my case individually and realize the importance of respecting your customers especially when they are confronted with life and death health challenges.

We’ve shown that a well-crafted, reasonable Executive Email Carpet Bomb can decimate arbitrary airline deadlines. Send an EECB to Delta’s executives using previously published contact information, and don’t forget to cc the Department of Transportation.

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(AP Photo/David Kohl)