United Airlines Epic Fail

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Jun 022013

UnitedAirlinesPlanesLast week I flew to Chicago to attend a professional conference. I was sent along at the last-minute, and didn’t have a lot of time to work out the details of the conference, so I’d just planned to take the last flight home Wednesday evening.

It was raining in Chicago last Wednesday, so it will be no surprise that nearly every flight was delayed. My flight was scheduled to depart at 7:32PM CDT and arrive in Tampa at 11:14PM EDT. The conference was over right around noon, so our sales person in Chicago gave me a ride to the airport, and we stopped and had lunch along the way.

I arrived at O’Hare around 1:30. Although I’d checked in on-line, I checked in again at a kiosk. In the past, during that kind of on-site check-in, it would automatically put you on standby for earlier available flights. There was a flight scheduled to leave about 2:30PM, but it was already delayed to around 4:00PM. The kiosk didn’t present me with the standby option.It did however, notify me that my flight was potentially over-booked, and asked me if I’d be willing to volunteer for a later flight (meaning the next morning), for a $200 voucher. I declined.

I went through security, and just headed to the posted gate. Of course, no one from United was at the gate, and actually there wasn’t much of anyone at any of the nearby gates.

I headed back up the concourse to the customer service counter. It didn’t seem the line was very long, but was I in for a surprise. There were a series of kiosks there as well, and you were supposed to check in on those, and you got a ticket telling you when to come back to actually get waited on by a person. My wait-time for that privilege was 2 hours and 3 minutes. Lest you think I’m kidding, the actual ticket is below. Continue reading »

Feb 022007

I guess I outsmarted myself. I was on an evening flight from Boston to Dulles that allowed me just under an hour to make the connection. So, I wisely arrived early and got on an earlier flight. This woukd give me a two and one half hour window in case of delays.

Well, this flight is now so delayed, I probably won’t make the connection, and my original flight left on time. They were moving people over, but then quit just as I got up there, as they decided they had this plane repaired. Now they are replacing something else.

It’s 7:30, they are still working on it. It’s 90 minutes to Dulles, and my outbound leaves at 8:55. I’m stuck in D.C. For the night, I can just feel it.

UPDATE: Well, as expected I did not make it on the connection last night due to the extra work that had to be done to the plane in Boston. But of course, it couldn’t be just that. The people at United (as with most airlines) have a great way of piling on insult to injury.

They were moving people with connections to the plane I was originally on. When it was my turn at the ticket counter, the gate agent announced he’d been told they had a good plane, and everyone should get ready to board and depart on that plane. So of course, then there were the additional repairs that too so long they even reopened the cabin door.

At just after 7pm I called the travel agent’s number expecting to roll to their after hours call center. Of course Debbie answered, and insisted on helping out. (That’s why you book with a travel agent rather than an on-line agent.) She saw in my record they had already booked me on a 10:40 our of Dulles the next morning, so they knew at the gate I would not make my connection. Of course 10:40 wasn’t the earliest flight out. There was an 8:00am. flight.

Debbie noted there was a Delta flight leaving at 8:05pm going direct to Tampa. So I started ringing the flight attendant call button. I had to ring it four times, and finally 11 minutes later the flight attendant decided to stop by (despite the fact that I was in First Class). She went out to talk to the gate agents, and returned to tell me they’d be down to speak with me, but it was too late to get me on the Delta flight. Supposed the paper work would take too long, but of course they just didn’t want to pay Delta for the flight.

The gate agent started up on me about why I didn’t get on the other flight. I reminded him that I was standing in front of him to do just that when he announced I should board the flight I was now stuck on. I asked them for the hotel, meal, and ground transportation vouchers for Dulles. Of course they couldn’t be bothered with that, and advised me to check with the gate agent when I got to Dulles.

I explained that I was tired of being inconvenienced and the female gate agent advised me it was inconvenience for them too. (Oh yeah, that really settled me down.)

I returned to my seat on the plane, and while in route I explained to the flight attendant I expected a big problem with the checked bag, and asked her to call ahead and be sure the bag was either made available gate-side or taken to baggage claim. She took the claim number, and returned a bit later to advise me the captain had radioed ahead, and the bag would be taken to baggage claim. I then double checked with her that it was going to baggage claim. Continue reading »

Update On The Flower Disaster

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Feb 142006

At 1pm, I still had heard nothing from FTD about the delivery of Lay’s flowers. I called their 800 number again, and just had it on the speaker phone on the desk while I continued to work. Two hours later….At least I wasn’t hearing other conversations this time.

I did some searching on the web and made a call to FTD corporate. After mentions of the credit card disaster, I was put through to Brenda Robertson (V.P. of Customer Service) and Keri Wolfe (Chief Financial Officer).

Based on information from Ms. Wolfe, it is clear they use a third party call center for in-bound orders and customer service calls. (At least it appears to be U.S.-based.) She explained they were working with their contractor on the situation, but tried to tell me it was an isolated situation. Sorry, I just don’t buy that, given that I made three calls over two days, and each time overheard multiple conversations. Also, noting that the CFO sat in on this call, it is clearly of great concern to them.

If you placed a phone order with FTD over the past several days, you need to contact the credit card company that you used to place the order.

Oh, and the customer service call was finally answered after two hours and 28 minutes.

Finally, I received flowers at about 5pm. Ms. Robertson spent an hour attempting to get one of their florists to answer her phone call with no luck. She finally called there district representative who went by a florist and picked up an arrangement and brought it down to me. I appreciate their efforts, but as I feared, the arrangement is thrown together with whatever was laying around the shop, and it shows. Some will open fully in several days, and some will be dead tomorrow…they are already drooping.

All-in-all, it was a very disappointing experience, and I will NOT be using FTD ever again.

Be Careful Ordering Flowers, You Might Pay For A Home Theater System

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Feb 142006

It seems that FTD has a problem with their 800 order number (800-Send-FTD). After being on hold for a while, you are allowed to listen in to other callers talking with FTD Customer Service Representatives and placing orders. This means hearing the sentiments, addresses, phone numbers and Credit Card numbers.

Yesterday, I placed orders for delivery of three arrangements with FTD.com. They were all guaranteed for delivery yesterday. My mother’s arrangement up in North Carolina got delivered. However the flowers for delivery here for Lay, and for his Mom had not been delivered by 7:30 last night, so I called FTD’s 800 number. Given the time of year, I was not surprised to be put on hold for over 12 minutes (I’ve learned to start timing customer service hold times). Well, after 12 minutes, someone came on the line and started talking. I responded, but suddenly realized that I was hearing them, but they weren’t hearing me. In fact, they were apparently on another call.

Okay, I figure their phone system is flooded, so this is some sort of anomaly. Reluctantly, I  hang up and dial back in. This time I’m connected to a call within about nine minutes. However, this time, I’m still not the person they are talking with, and I can hear both sides of the conversation. This person was taking an order, so I was hearing addresses, credit card numbers…everything. I’m speaking the whole time, but clearly not being heard. I decide to stay on the line this time, and sure enough a minute later, I’m listening in on another call…this time I’m hearing only the caller’s side of the conversation, but they are placing an order.

A gentleman in San Jose is ordering flowers for his mother on behalf of his father in Modesto. After he hangs up, I call his cell phone (number provided during the call), and tell him what has happened. I explain to him that while I am obviously not interested in ripping him off, his problem is we don’t know how many other people might have been listening in to that call.

While I’m on my cell phone talking to him, I’m hearing another order being placed on the office line. Then I get routed briefly to the voice mail of someone in their IT department, but before I could leave a message I was pulled out of that call, and heard another call where a person was merely inquiring about an order.

I was finally routed to a customer service representative that can hear me. I tell him the situation with the phones, and he puts me on hold to report it, and comes back to tell me they are aware of the situation and working on it.

He and a supervisor were unable to tell me anything about my order, but the supervisor agreed to at least credit me for the delivery charges.

I called back this morning, and lo and behold, the same thing happens. I hear two other conversations (one just the FTD side) prior to being placed in my own call. (As of 11am, I still don’t have Lay’s flowers, and the FTD guy still doesn’t have any information for me.)

After that call, I contacted the local TV News Channel. They seemed very interested in the situation. Moral of the story…do NOT place a phone order with FTD.