Customer Service: It’s Important, People

I could have been convinced by United’s introductory video that customer service is important them. I could have been convinced, but then the stewardess on my first flight yelled at an elderly Spanish speaking woman to sit down and wait to board the plane. Of course she didn’t understand, but with childlike puzzlement, she knew that she had done something wrong. She glanced around helplessly, so the stewardess repeated herself…louder. Because, after all, it must be that she didn’t hear–despite the fact that the flight departed from Torreon, Coahuila MEXICO…

I could have been convinced that United cared about their customers, but upon arriving late into Houston on my return flight, I was greeted with, “EVERYONE missed their flight, you should travel with enough money to pay for a hotel in case you have weather problems.” No “I am sorry that you’re stuck in the Houston airport at night with your infant–let me help you find a hotel.” When I asked about other ways to get to Torreon, my “customer service” representative told me that she didn’t have time to wait on the phone to ask about flights. She couldn’t “hold the line” for that. See, doing things like helping seems to be beyond United Customer Service employees. That must be why a twelve year old child was crying while trying to find a hotel for her family. She was the only one who spoke a bit of English, but did the ONE Spanish speaker (the same agent who “helped” me) offer to help? Obviously in distress, other passengers offered food, water, and money to the woman and her two children.

I could have been convinced by the lady who did finally help me get a hotel. It was then apparent at nearly 10:30 that evening that my flight had only been delayed. But due to the misinformation I was given, my baby and I went on a wild goose chase to track down new flights and luggage. She could have convinced me if she didn’t keep looking at the clock while telling me she needed to go home…

I could have been convinced the next day at the Houston airport that employees received training on how to talk to customers. However, the “gentlemen” sitting next to me talking about “having sexual relations” (it wasn’t worded like that) with a girl who “wanted it,” made me think otherwise. When I asked them to save their conversation for their break room, I was questioned, “We’re we talking to you?” Ummm…no, sir, you were apparently not raised to bite your tongue around ladies and children… Actually, the fact that you keep staring at the children you are supposed to be caring for while they wait for their grandfather, intermittently saying, “Sit down!” explains a lot too. Forget the fact that a eight year old and her six year old sister are nervous and excited to be so far from home alone. Forget the fact that their parents paid a lot of money for United to “escort” them to their destination.

While waiting to get on the plane, I thought perhaps I would be able to ask the lady helping board the plane about my seat. After all, breastfeeding on a plane is difficult enough–proper seating with space if allowed makes it much easier to travel with a four month old baby. I could have been convinced that passengers could go to her for questions regarding flights, but after being turned away once because she was busy, waiting until it was time to load, hearing her help another young parent, instead she says to me, “They”ll probably have to move your seat anyway because you have a baby.” Appalled not by her words, but more by the way she said them with heavy agitation dripping in her voice, I asked her name. “Maria ____,” I said, reading her badge. “Really!?” she said loudly and indignantly, “Really? Because there aren’t any window seats?” I was shocked a bit beyond words at the tone of her voice and the challenge I heard there.

Despite the fact that priority seating is not given to parents with small children, another young mother asked, “Why?” politely. “United has their reasons,” she was told. “We give priority to our premium customers.” Perhaps United doesn’t want parents with children to fly with them?

I didn’t have any guitars for United to break. I am not musically inclined enough to write a YouTube hit. But I am equally distressed by United’s customer service. It’s apparent to me that no, customer service isn’t important to United. For every helpful employee there are three more equally hateful. The propaganda video that I watched three times wasn’t enough to convince me. After all, actions speak louder than words, people…

4 responses

  1. Oh my gosh that is HORRIBLE! What a nightmare! You should definitely write a letter… I have always flown American Airlines around the globe for the past 8 years because it is always the cheapest and I haven’t had problems. This last trip to Mexico they were SUPER accommodating and upgraded our seats without asking.

    • Awesome! What about with your little one? I was going to have to buy her a ticket to fly with AA. I flew with AeroMexico from Torreon to Chiapas–and it was the best! They automatically put mothers in areas with more space.

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