Playing Customer Service Roulette

If at first a customer service agent tells you something you don’t like, try again. That’s a rule I remembered this week as I was trying to redeem some Delta frequent flier miles.

Delta has a nice online interface for redeeming SkyMiles, so I didn’t have much trouble reserving the itinerary I wanted. The trouble came when I hit the "redeem" button, and I got an error message instructing me to call the SkyMiles reservation number if the problem persisted.

And the problem did persist. I canceled, rebooked and tried again to redeem the miles. Several time. No luck. So I called the number.

And what the customer service agent told me was that he’d happily complete the miles redemption for me – for an additional fee of $20 per ticket. So instead of paying $20 to cover the security fee for two tickets, I’d have to pay a total of $60.

I objected. Why, I asked, should I pay extra when the problem is with Delta’s Web site? 

"Look at it this way, " the agent said. "Those tickets are worth thousands of dollars and so $60 isn’t much to pay."

He really shouldn’t have said that. It’s an utterly bogus notion. I earned those frequent flier miles, and those tickets are no more a gift from the airline than any ticket I bought.  And I told him that.

He insisted, against all logic and fairness, that he could not waive the fee, that no supervisor could waive the fee, that it was impossible and it would never be done. We’ll see about that, I told him.

When I called back two days later with the same issue, another agent waived the extra fee. I didn’t even have to ask.


2 thoughts on “Playing Customer Service Roulette

  1. Robert Brooks

    Did you ask to speak to a supervisor when the initial agent lied to you? You certainly knew that what he said was false, and the “… $60 isn’t much to pay” is clearly a non-issue. Did he refuse to let you speak to someone in authority?

  2. Jeanne Leblanc

    Hi Robert,
    No, I didn’t ask for a supervisor. In my experience it’s easier just to call back and get somebody else. The problem, I suspect, was not that the customer service agent was lying but that he didn’t understand.


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