What are you doing to your customers? Part 1

A couple of weeks ago, I booked an airline ticket to Ottawa for a speech that I am delivering. My flight was scheduled to leave at 7:00am. Last week, I received a notice that the 7am flight has been cancelled and I had been moved to an 8:10am flight, which would make it difficult for me to get to Ottawa for my speech. I called the airline in question (let's call them Air Canada) to ask about cancelling the flight. They said I cannot get a refund, but I can get a credit. Fine. I booked a morning flight on another airline and then called Air Canada to get my credit. Now speaking to another customer service agent, I found out that I could have gotten a refund, but that the 7 day period for a full refund had expired. She then went on to tell me that I had to pay a change fee of $75 in order to get the credit for the flight I wanted to cancel.

As you can imagine, I was not very happy with this. The idea of paying a $75 change fee to get a credit for a $129 flight was not something that I would be participating in. I was also surprised (although not really) that a company that is in the customer service business would enact such a policy. Who in the world thought of this and why didn't someone give them a shot in the arm when this was suggested? Think about all of the ridiculous policies that companies implement in order to squeeze more money out of their customers. Don't do that to your customers.

I almost (and I stress almost) felt sorry for the customer service rep with whom I spoke because she was about to feel my wrath at the mere suggestion of a change fee. Before blowing my stack, I simply asked "so what you are telling me is that you want to charge me a $75 fee to get credit for a flight that you cancelled, is that correct?" As you can imagine, there was dead silence on the other end of the line, followed by "let me talk with my supervisor to see if we can give you a refund of your ticket." Of course she came back and told me my money would be refunded, no harm, no foul. But why have that policy in the first place? If you want your customers to come back, then think about what you are making them do and the trouble you are causing them.

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