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Frequent Flyer Program
COMPLAINT: SkyPeso's and other issues (bags/Cust Service)

 
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Old Mar 30, 2016, 8:56 PM
jharbinal jharbinal is offline
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 4

I am hoping you can help me with a problem.

I have been a member of the Delta Frequent Flyer program since its inception and more recently the SkyMiles program. I have been a Delta customer for over 36 years. The Delta product of today is nowhere near the product of the 1980ís and 1990ís. Delta has gone from a good southern airline with customer driven service to the overpriced, customer non-friendly facsimile of Delta that nowhere feels like the Delta that I used to know.
I was a charter member in the Diamond Medallion level of the program from its creation with the exception of one year where I missed the requirements by 10,000 or so Mileage Qualifying Miles. Most of my business travel is international long-haul with only a couple of trips a year being domestic travel.

Since the major changes in the SkyMiles program transitioning from a miles based earning system to the revenue based earning system, I have seen the devaluation of this program and even as a Diamond Medallion, I found restrictions in place. The revenue program favors those who buy the highest priced tickets and are probably the people who really donít need the SkyMiles benefits. If they can afford to buy business class tickets or Y, B M fare codes, then the major SkyMiles perks are not as valuable as they are to someone traveling on a lower code fare (in my opinion).

Since the beginning of the SkyMiles devaluation by Delta, even as a Diamond Medallion level member, I still traveled on the most economical coach fares (non Y, B or M) due to corporate travel policies. As such, I could not use miles for international upgrades. Any certificates that I earned, I could not use the majority of the time because I had to call the reservation agent on the telephone and I was told there were no seats available for upgrade (but plenty to purchase). I was a bit easier to search for upgrade seats when Deltaís inventory was available to Expert Flyer. But again as part of the SkyMiles devaluation, making the seat inventory available to Expert Flyer was changed so there was no way to see available mileage award seats. All you could see were the seat maps on the Delta site and even though it showed available seats, the agent would tell you nothing available. You could ask to be waitlisted, which I did on a few occasions, but 99.8 % of the time, the waitlist would never clear.

Last year, my international business travel was less than it had been the preceding years, and I found myself 10,000 miles short of even qualifying for Platinum Medallion status. I checked my American Express SkyMiles card spending and realized I was a couple of thousand dollars short of the $25,000 spend to generate 10,000 MQMís for 2015 which applied to the 2016 status. In January 2016, I received an email from Delta offering to sell MQMís to reach the next level. After doing some business travel projections, I initially concluded that Platinum Medallion status, while not a good as Diamond, would still be useful since I had been a Platinum flyer for many years before the introduction of the Diamond level. I spent $1795.00 to purchase the needed MQMís for Platinum but then when trying to use Platinum status and SkyMiles benefits, I realized that the new Platinum was also devalued and not as beneficial as it once was.

I had accrued 4 Global Upgrade Certificates last year (2015) as a Diamond Medallion which had an expiration date of March 2, 2016. Again, due to fare classes, whenever I tried to use them, I was told I could not use them due to my fare or there were no seats available for upgrade. Of course with business travel you sometimes donít have much of an advanced window. We have to wait to book travel until the meeting or workshop dates are confirmed. By the time of trip confirmation, there are a few low fare codes that can be booked but mostly center seats or aisles in the back of the plane. When you are traveling 28 hours to Asia, extra space and the ability to lay down and rest makes the trip a bit easier to tolerate. But I have these ďbenefitsĒ promised by Delta that they seem to not want to honor. And of course, these certificates have expiration dates. Delta wants these to expire without being used to reduce the liability on their books. I called the Delta Platinum telephone number in February to try and use the GUCs for an Asia trip in late March (from which Iíve just returned) and before they expire. Again, I get the old ďno seats available for upgradeĒ excuse, but I am asked if I want to be placed on the wait list and I agree. The week before I am scheduled to leave for Asia, I get a call from Delta telling me that my GUCís have expired and they are taking me off the wait list. They tell me you much book and USE the GUCís before the expiration dates meaning I would have had to complete all of my travel on or before March 2. So 3 of my accrued benefits evaporate without me ever having the opportunity to use them. And as a Platinum Medallion member, if I call the toll free number in the membership material, I get put on hold just the same as the normal general public number. So I can tell that this level of the Medallion program has been devalued since my earlier days reaching that level.

I now realize that I made a very poor decision to purchase these MQMís because I am not getting the benefits that this Medallion level has promised. I feel exploited, lied to, promised benefits that I will never be able to use unless its extreme cases but never in my day to day normal business travel.
On top of this, my experiences with the SkyPriority yellow luggage tags that supposedly guarantee expedited baggage delivery to the belts once you arrive have been a failure in about 60 Ė 70% of my business trips the last 8 months. Not only has my yellow tagged bag come out after non-yellow tagged bags, but in some cases it was one of the last ones to arrive or in one case, it never arrived and was delivered a day later. I sent correspondence to Delta alerting them to the failure of this service and I got a lot of ďWe are sorry you feel this wayĒ replies. So their while frequent flyer program is devalued unless someone is spending a lot of money on non-discounted full cost fares.

I sent a correspondence to Delta earlier this week and listed the latest baggage failure, the inability to use any of my accrued benefit GUCís, the inability to use miles (I have around 150K) for an upgrade and an overall disappointment in not being able to use a lot of benefits I had accrued. I told them I felt cheated and I asked for a refund of my MQM purchase. I have made the decision to be a free-agent and take the cheapest fare, the most direct routing and the shortest travel time to my destination. Since Deltaís routes are weak in Asia, the Middle East and India, other carriers will be better suited to our business schedules.

This is Deltaís reply:

Subject: Re: OCSD-General Feedback-SkyMiles (KMM58892033V44703L0KM)
Date: Mar 29, 2016 9:07 AM
Hello John,

RE: Case Number 19252237

I'm sorry to know that you were having trouble checking in online. I realize you had a long wait time to speak to a representative over the phone. I certainly understand your disappointment as you weren't able to use your Global Upgrade Certificates as there weren't any seats available. I'm aware you weren't pleased with the changes to our SkyMiles program. We feel our SkyMiles program best balances the needs of our customers and our business. We recognize and reward those who spend more time and money with Delta. We've made it easier for all customers to redeem miles and enjoy redemption options such as One-Way Awards and new Miles + Cash Award options.

With regard to the $1795.00 price paid for the needed Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMís) and the benefits, we must respectfully decline your request for a refund of this amount. I can only imagine your frustration when it took so long to get your checked baggage in Huntsville. Youíre absolutely right. When you use your Sky Priority baggage tags, your bags should be expedited to baggage claim and unloaded first at the carousel. I was concerned to hear about the impolite behavior of our baggage agent in Huntsville who didn't help you report your baggage that was delayed to the carousel.

I understand all these recent changes have prompted you to become a Free-Agent as you've not been too pleased with them. I'm aware you felt that you haven't received accurate assistance and the appropriate customer service you shouldíve received as an Elite member. I apologize that we didnít meet the high standards that we strive to provide.

We Hear You
I can see why you were upset with the customer service you received, as this wasnít what you expected. I'll be passing on your comments to the appropriate service teams, so they can make the needed changes to improve the customer service we provide.

Delta Choice Gift
As a goodwill gesture, Iím sending a $150.00 Delta Choice gift. You will receive a Delta Choice gift code, from [email protected] in a separate email within three business days and she can select the gift card of her choice within 60 days of receipt. Included in the gift option are several merchants that she will be familiar with as well as our new Delta gift cards. Once redeemed, the gift cards have no expiration and may be used by anyone she wishes. You will want to add this email address to your list of accepted addresses. Our Delta Choice gift code email will include a customer ID and instructions on how to redeem the gift. Please check your spam folder if you donít see the email in your inbox.

We've incorporated our new Delta Gift Card into our Delta Choices selection. This replaces our electronic voucher and offers you more flexibility besides the ability to select other options. If you choose the Delta Gift Card, that has no expiration date, may be given to someone else, and carries no service or inactivity fees.

We thank you for your business as a Platinum Medallion member and hope we'll meet your expectations on your future flights with us.

Regards,

Anthony M. D'Lima


My original correspondence to Delta:

On Friday March 25th, I received an email that it was time to check in. I have used the internet check in option on many occasions both domestically and internationally. Delta has all of my information in my profile including my passport number, date of expire, etc. In addition, I have Global Entry access and therefore a Known Traveler number, which Delta also has on record. When I tried to check in on my return flight the screen reads to ďSee an Agent at the AirportĒ. I called the Platinum medallion telephone number and was put on a lengthy wait (more about that later). When I was finally able to speak with someone they said there was an issue with my documentation (passport). I had left my home airport (HSV) on this itinerary on week prior and my passport was checked. From experience, I would not have been allowed to leave the US if I didnít have at least 6 months or more before expiration on my passport. So why is there an issue on the return? I speak with someone else, a supervisor, and they say that I have been randomly selected by the computer for additional screening. OK, again as a long time Frequent Flyer/SkyMiles member whose travel history is in your system, why am I selected for additional screening? In my opinion, the targets for this should be the infrequent travelers and those that buy one ticket one way. That should raise a red flag and not the frequent traveler. But then, you have all of my information so itís easy to target someone like me so you can report your numbers to the federal authorities.

But this is not the first time I have has check in issues from an international airport, especially if the first segment is operated by a partner. Itís happened when I traveled back from Australia once on Virgin Australia, itís happened on West Jest and itís happened coming back from Malaysia when the first leg is Korean air or a non-partner. Itís quite a frustration to get the email but I canít utilize this service. On more than one occasion, Iíve arrived at the airport having not been able to check in from the internet and have to get in a line which I like to avoid. So this is just the latest in a series of disappointments with Delta and the travel experience.

In 2015, my business travel was not as extensive as it has been in the past. As a result, rather than qualifying for Diamond Medallion status, I was short the miles to even qualify for Platinum medallion. After receiving an email that I could buy the necessary MQMís to attain the next level, I analyzed my work projects and felt that for my 2016 business travel projections, that purchasing the necessary miles for Platinum medallion should be a help. I have since come to realize this was a very POOR decision on my part. The $1795.00 price paid for the needed MQMís and the benefits realized absolutely do not balance out. I am capitalizing on NO benefits. I could have stayed Gold Medallion and a 2 Million Miler status and been just as good as I am now. Thus far this purchase has proved to be a waste of my money. Therefore, I am requesting a refund of that $1,795.00 purchase and I will return the credentials (I havenít even removed them from the sheet). I feel it has been a rip off and it has provided no benefits to me. I have had three GUC (Global Upgrade Certificates) expire because almost every time I tried to use one, I was told no seats available. I have tried to use miles to upgrade and again, no seats available or I donít have the correct fare class. So bottom line, Medallion benefits are on paper only and are no real value. It boils down to if you buy the most expensive tickets, then you have access to the best perks. Anyone can walk in off the street, put down the money for the outrageous fares Delta requires and go right to the top of the list on all priorities. Loyal customers be damned. It is very frustrating to have these benefits and almost never get to use them. It also makes me question my loyalty more and more.

I have been a member of the Delta Frequent Flyer program and more recently the SkyMiles program since the formers inception. I have been a Delta customer for over 36 years. The Delta product of today is nowhere near the product of the 1980ís and 1990ís. Delta has gone from a good southern airline with customer driven service to the overpriced, greedy, customer non-friendly facsimile of Delta that nowhere feels like the Delta that I used to know. I guess the merger with Northworst allowed Delta to become infested with the same losing attitude that caused them and other carriers to go broke, into bankruptcy and in cases out of business. But back where there were many more carriers, competition kept Delta customer and service minded. Now, after all of the mergers, there are only three major choices and for the most part, doesnít have to compete. I have seen this ďnew attitudeĒ projected more and more the last few years. Delta really has no need for a frequent flyer program. When there was competition, it was necessary to generate business and attract customers who might choose a competitor product. Today, attracting customers from a competitor is not the same so Delta has starting devaluing the SkyMiles program. It now more of a liability than what it was intended do which was to attract customers.
Should I continue to be loyal to Delta when they are no longer loyal to me by allowing me to use the SkyMiles benefits that I have earned? It is like a one way street. If you read the flyer forums (FlyerTalk.com, webflyer.com, Expertflyer.com, and others) you will see that I am not alone in this thinking. I have seen more and more people jumping from Delta to other carriers due to higher fares than the competitors and the gutting of the SkyMiles program.

Deltaís objective with the latest changes to the SkyMiles program is to ďthin the herdĒ in terms of elite members. Everything costs more and if a customer doesnít pay the highest prices for whatever in the new revenue based model, they are treated as second class citizens. When I was a Diamond Medallion SkyMiles member, I could call the telephone line and get someone to assist within a couple of minutes. When I called the Platinum telephone number, it strangely resembles the general public toll free telephone number. And the wait time was unusually long.

When you people say "we appreciate your loyalty", back that up with some real results, such as allowing me to use my loyalty earned rewards. Or does loyalty really mean $$$$$. It seems like you are really saying "we appreciate your money". If you don't spend enough money (buy high priced fares), we don't really appreciate you. Just calling it like I see it. Actions speak much louder than words and your in-action is speaking volumes. Bottom line, the rich get richer and the rest of us customers are poor saps. If you can afford the good seats in BE or whatever you want to call this illusion, a customer sure doesnít need SkyMiles perks, which are proving to be worthless. SkyMiles are like the stock market, you invest and invest and sooner or later you lose your butt (based on my personal experiences). As far as upgrade certificates or other benefits, Delta WANTS them to expire so it's not on your books anymore (a liability). It's like the guy in the insurance commercial with the dollar bill on a fishing pole, jerking it out of reach every time.

On my latest flight, when I saw Richard Anderson reminding customers of Deltaís promises and how much they respect the customer, I couldnít help but feel angry and lied to.

I'm sure you've seen it and know the untruths of which I speak.

The words on the screen are the biggest bunch of malarkey I have ever read. Yes, if you are a customer who has spent thousands on a ticket and there are no restrictions (F, J, Y B or M) then life is good. For those of us who must get the lowest priced ticket due to company policies, the F, J, Y, B or M fares are out of our reach. And so then are any Medallion benefits.
On a long-haul international flight on the morning of March 25th, there was a family of 5, including 3 children, in Delta One. The sad part is those children with probably not as many SkyMiles as I have accrued over the years have better medallion status than me because they "bought" the status. The moral of this story is if you want the topmost elite status, you can buy right to the top. And Delta thanks me for my loyalty? Empty words backed up by absolutely no gestures (i.e. show me how you appreciate my loyalty). As I said, the silence is deafening.

I had issues with my Sky Priority baggage yesterday (Iíve filed that in a separate incident report). I want to commend Delta for not doing anything that they promised they would do in regards to bags delivered in 20 minutes and Sky Priority bags are expedited to come out first, empty promises. Upon landing in Huntsville and going to the baggage claim area, baggage did not start coming out on the carousel over 20 minutes after the flight had landed. A co-worker who was on the same flight mentioned it was quicker to get baggage in New York than it was in Huntsville. The Baggage Service agent, Dreama, was next to the carousel handing out water, etc (I guess to keep other passengers from becoming angry at the slow service). I pointed out to Dreama that there was a lot of non-priority baggage coming out on the carousel. Dreama walked away from me while I was trying to make this point to her. I consider this rude behavior, especially for a company that claims to respect the customer as Richard Anderson points out in his video. My bag, with the yellow priority tag finally came out near the last of the bags to be delivered. After finally retrieving my one bag with the yellow tag, I went to the baggage service counter and asked Dreama to file a delayed bag file reference. She refused because I had my bag and she said we donít file a claim when you have your bag. If you want to file a complaint, you can do that. When I file a baggage complaint, the form always asks me for the file reference but in this case, there is no file reference because the baggage service agent refused to do so. I can see that Dreama represents the new Delta with no respect for the customer.

This and other incidents within the last couple of years has brought me to my decision. I have tried to stay loyal to Delta by often going out of my way to book Delta or Sky Team flights for my business trips. In some cases, this requires a longer travel time and takes me out of my way and in most instances costs more than a more direct route on a competitor. Sometimes it has been hard to justify to my corporate travel and stay within policy. On a couple of occasions, I had to have a VP signature to go against corporate travel policy. I am going Free-Agent from here forward.
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I donít want their gift certificate, nor more miles that I canít use. I just want my money back because they are not delivering what they list as Platinum level benefits. I am a 2 Million Miler and I have Gold Medallion status for life. I find that Platinum these days isnít any better than Gold so it is a big rip off to me. Iím finally done with them and I donít want to chase a golden ring that I can never catch.

I hope you can help me.
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