Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Adventures with United Airlines

...a new reality show beginning last fall.

First I want to say that the customer reps (except 1 or 2) that we have dealt with have been kind and as helpful as they could. The issues seem to stem more from company management and policy.

Before I begin, let me refresh your memory on the highlights of our United Experience last year.


Because of United’s inability to accept a Canadian credit card, I booked my plane ticket, JD’s and Joshua’s (at a later date). When JD and Joshua show up at the airport, JD was informed that her ticket had been revoked…a while ago and the computer showed a refund had been requested. Um… I didn’t get a notice or a refund on my credit card. So with minutes to spare, a new ticket had to be purchased.

Meanwhile, our 4th team member’s flight is delayed, as a part for the plane has to be sent from somewhere else. She arrives in D.C. just before we begin boarded for Ghana.

But wait… this plane has the same issue and will now not be leaving until the following afternoon.

Get hotel and food voucher from United and proceed to wait several hours (not exaggerating) in the Nov cold in clothes meant for African weather for the hotel shuttle. Get to hotel and wait another hour only to find out the hotel is full and we must go to a different hotel. (Did I mention it’s now very early morning) Finally get in our room about 3 am.

Fast forward 2 weeks once we are home, I begin the process of trying to get my refund for the revoked ticket. I called and ended up in India or Bangladesh or something. Every time I was given different information and still no refund. I was getting nowhere. After a month of giving United a chance to make it right, I simply disputed the charges on my credit card. Meanwhile, JD sent a message about our experience on Twitter requesting it be passed along.

Shortly thereafter she received a call from the US customer service director. While I think we should have gotten some 1st class free flights anywhere, we did end up with $400 vouchers for each of us to be used within 1 year.


We decided to use our vouchers for a trip to Haiti. Since I was going to be in Canada and booking the flights with my credit card again (fingers crossed) it made sense to do it then.

Call #1:
We got the names, addresses, and flight information into the system. She was unsure of how to process the paper vouchers and trying to get help from a manager. Somehow the phone was disconnected while we were on hold. Houston we have a problem… the number on file to call back was JD’s work number and JD wasn’t at work.

Call #2:
This was one of the few reps who did not provide us good customer service, we’ll call her Bad Day Diva. We had no information, but having been on the phone for an hour already we did not want to start at the beginning again, especially not with Ms. Diva. Luckily, JD was able to check her work voicemail and get the confirmation numbers the rep. had left. (That was a Godsend, because typically you can’t get a confirmation number without credit card information and we hadn’t gotten that far) We decided to hang up with this woman and try again in the morning.

Call #3:
My man Paul. After I explained the situation he told me he was new… only worked there 35 years. Oh he tried and tried to make those vouchers work. He changes the expiration date on the reservation to give us an extra 5 days. This was another godsend. Then he says, “Did anyone mention that you need to convert these paper vouchers to electronic ones?” Ummm….. no. That would have saved us some phone minutes. I get online and he shows me what to do and he tells me there is a whole department that deals with the vouchers. He knows something in that department so he’ll transfer me to that person. Except… Not in the office. He tries to transfer me to the main number and it isn’t working. I take down the number and hang up.

Call #4:
Electronic Voucher Department…. I’m sorry the number you have dialed is no longer in service.

Ummm… didn’t we get these vouchers to restore our faith in United? How is this making us want to purchase from them again?

(3 days in now)

We get the vouchers scanned and go thru the online process of converting them. Oh wait… first I have to take a PDF of the voucher and make it super tiny to attach.

Your voucher has been received; it may take up to 72 hrs to receive your electronic voucher.

...... waiting.....

3 days later… electronic vouchers arrive! HALLELUJAH we have progress!

(6 days of trying to book these tickets…. Beginning to wonder if this is a sign we aren’t supposed to go…)

Call #5:
We’ve got the confirmation numbers. We’ve got the voucher numbers. He puts them in and finally – IT WORKS!!! Magic Mike. Yes, JD actually called him that on the phone. Awkward silence for a moment and then he moved on. He graciously agrees to even waive the $75 of phone booking fees. Give him the credit card number…

I knew it was going too smoothly.

It kept trying to convert my card to Canadian funds because JD’s address was in Canada. Even when he changed the billing address to mine, it still wasn’t working right.

But 3rd time was a charm. And finally the tickets were booked.

This should the end, right? But that wouldn’t be any fun now would it???

A few days later I checked my credit card balance and something didn’t seem right. There was $50 in phone booking fees and JD and Jillian flights were charged twice. I was dreading the call I was about to make – fearing the worst and having flashbacks from last year…. Did I have the strength to do it?

Call #6:
Rep was very understanding and refunded the $50. Magic Mike probably just forgot – there was a lot going on and back and forth between 2 reservations it was an easy oversight. She assured me that the 2nd set of charges wouldn’t go through but she would note the account just in case I had to call back (NOOOOO!!!!!) but she was certain I wouldn’t need to. 20 minutes and it was taken care. Record setting phone call. (And thankfully the 2nd set of charges are gone)

And now we prepare to go, praying that United planes don’t take as long to get off the ground as it does to book a ticket.

Lord, please we are praying there is not a part 3 to this story.

1 comment:

Bestie said...

Oh... the adventures!!!! Next time, we'll skip United and walk. Even if it's overseas. Jesus walked on water, He'll show us how :)