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Customer Service
COMPLAINT: Severely Inept Customer Service

 
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  #1  
Old Jul 16, 2012, 7:22 PM
dootzie dootzie is offline
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 3

So, my boyfriend and I live in California and we planned a cruise to the Caribbean. We used JetBlue to get there. Our first flight was cancelled then our second flight was delayed 3 hours due to mechanical failures which made us miss our connecting flight in JFK which, in turn, made us miss our cruise. They eventually got us to Jamaica where we could catch the cruise on the 4th day but had to spend a significant amount of unexpected funds in order to stay there for 3 days.

We sent JetBlue a complaint and all they want to do is give us each a $200 credit each which won't pay for a whole plane ticket.

My boyfriend says they aren't legally obligated to do anything since our first flight was cancelled due to weather conditions and the other flights were booked as a "favor" to us. My question is - how can airlines get away with such poor customer service when many/most other companies can't!

I am so frustrated.

Here is the full story in the form of the complaint letter I sent to JetBlue:
I would like to share with you the experience my boyfriend and I had with your airline on June 22nd and 23rd. We had booked a straight flight from San Francisco, Ca. to Fort Lauderdale, Fl. (Flight 278) for a cruise. We were originally very excited to fly with JetBlue because of the wonderful things we had heard from friends. Unfortunately, our experience was not as pleasant as we had expected.

Our flight was supposed to leave around 10pm from SFO and get to FLL at 6am. (Our cruise left the port at Fort Lauderdale at 4pm.) We got to the airport right before 8pm and quickly found out through other passengers that our direct flight was cancelled. Up to this point, we did not receive an email update nor was the information on the JetBlue website updated (it still showed our flight as “on time”).

The lady (I cannot recall her name) at the check-in counter was very nice and tried to find us alternate routes to FLL. She found a flight through another airline company with a layover but at least we were going there in time. During our wait, she discovered that JetBlue had already re-directed us through JFK getting us to FLL by 2pm. The flight to JFK was supposed to leave at 12am. Even though we had a long wait, we were grateful and happy we were going to get to our cruise in time.

We get to the gate at SFO. First, the screen behind the JetBlue representatives had the flight leaving at 11pm. I was a bit confused since the lady at the check-in counter said 12am. When I told one of the staff about the screen, he said, “Oh, we know.” I know this may seem insignificant but customers rely on this information to know if it is possible to get something to eat, use the restroom, etc. The fact that these two staff members were accepting wrong information to be posted is unacceptable.

Then our flight arrived at the gate and de-boarded. Midnight and 12:30am came and went with no explanation that there was mechanical failure. Finally, there was an announcement that there is mechanical issues that needed to be taken care of and the flight’s new departure time was 2:15am. The plane actually left the gate to get repaired.

Again, 2:15am came and went with no further explanation why the plane was not back at the gate. Finally, around 2:45am, a manager announces that they have not received any new information from the mechanics working on the plane. This announcement was made as our plane was pulling up to the gate. To me, there seems to be a major break in communication among the staff at JetBlue.

In the meantime, we asked the staff at the gate desk about our connecting flight in JFK. First, a staff member argued with me about when the plane would arrive in JFK. According the computer screen he was looking at, the plane would arrive at the same time as it was projected to if it had left at 12am. I asked him mathematically, how that was possible. I understand planes can make up some time in flight, especially in the middle of the night, but not when it is already 2 hours past the original departure time. Then he conceded that maybe I had a point and he started to look at other flights leaving JFK that could get us to our destination.

He told us that everything was booked and there was nothing he could do. No sorry, nothing. I asked to speak with the manager who I had seen make an announcement. He said that he would have another staff member look at flights for us but there was not much more they could do. The other guy looked for a while but informed us that he could not look at other airlines. My question is, why not? Why would I have to leave the terminal, go through the security checkpoint, and go to the check-in counter (where I cannot imagine there was a staff member there to help me at this time of night) to find out if there are other airlines that can get us to our destination?

Finally, the staff member put us on standby on the last flight from JFK to FLL that would get us to our cruise in time. We ask are we going to be stranded in JFK and what would happen if we were not able to get on the flight. He said he was certain we were going to get on the flight in JFK and not to worry. Well, he was wrong.

We approached the desk for the connecting flight in JFK and ask the staff member there about our chances of getting on the flight. He huffed and puffed and said every seat was booked and there was no way we would be able to get on. During our conversation, two pilots walk up to the desk. The staff member did not say excuse me or anything but turns towards the pilots mid-sentence and asks them if he could help them. They ask for two seats on the flight we were waiting to get on and without hesitation, gives them two seats.

A little flabbergasted and a lot tired, we asked them how the plane had open seats for them but just a minute ago, the plane was fully booked. He said that his priority was the pilots and not the customers. Yes, those were his words. As you can imagine, I began to get upset. He told me there was no need for me to get upset. I said, “I shouldn’t be upset for a week’s worth vacation to be used for nothing and a $3,000 cruise that I am not going to get to go on?” He said, “no, you shouldn’t be upset.” Well, I think many people would agree I had every right to be upset for missing a cruise I had paid my hard-earned money for.

A little later in the “conversation”, he turned to my boyfriend and said, “I am going to talk to you because I can’t talk to her.” Excuse me??? It’s one thing to DO this if the customer is upset but to have the nerve to say this in front of me. Does your company train your employees to talk to customers like this? Totally unacceptable.

He finally told us there was absolutely nothing he could do for us because, again, he could not look up other airlines. He told us to go the information desk - at least, this was not on the other side of the security checkpoint. After waiting in a VERY long and time consuming line, we were finally helped by Fayola (I did not catch her last name) - one of the only two people at the desk.

At this point, I was crying. My boyfriend explained to Fayola our situation and she actually seemed like she cared. She looked through the different flights leaving JFK and found us a flight to Jamaica where our cruise was stopping along its way. She recommended we call the cruise line before booking the flight to make sure we could catch the cruise in Jamaica. After confirming that this was a possibility, she booked us on the flight. She told us, though, that our luggage would probably be on it’s way to Florida and it may be a day or two before getting the bags in Jamaica. She not only found our bags, she came to our gate and let us know that our luggage would be on our flight to Jamaica.

First of all, I want to explain to you my viewpoints on caring. It’s one thing to actually care (or not care) about the customers complaints or problems; however, it’s quite another thing to not seem to care. The staff members at the SFO and JFK gates did not seem like they cared AT ALL. One staff member at SFO just stared nastily at another customer who was crying and upset because she was trying to get to an ill family member in New York and the mechanical issues were preventing this from happening.

Secondly, I can understand when flights are cancelled because of bad weather and how this is not the airlines fault. But, when your planes have mechanical problems, the customers should not be punished for that. We were treated by the SFO and JFK staff members like this was something we were just going to have to deal with with no sort of compensation. It was not until we pushed for some sort of resolution that we got answers. The staff member in JFK even argued with me about whether there was mechanical problems on our flight from SFO.

We are both extremely unhappy with JetBlue and the so called customer service we received from many of the staff. Ultimately, my boyfriend and I missed 3 days of our cruise and unexpectedly spending a lot of money ($1500) in Jamaica on hotel, food, and taxi fares because of JetBlue’s mechanical failures and poor customer service. There are many things JetBlue could have done to get us, the stranded passengers, where we needed to go on time. There are many things JetBlue could have done to compensate us for the havoc caused by the delays, cancellations, and failures. Instead we were treated with indifference and contempt.
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  #2  
Old Jul 16, 2012, 10:24 PM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Shropshire, England
Posts: 3,197

You certainly were treated very badly by jetblue. You will inevitably get a lot of responses from people stating that you should have bought insurance and you should fly at least a day ahead if you have to make a cruise, or you should have booked the flight through the cruise company. However, even with all these points, you are still entitled to be treated with respect and fairness and JetBlue failed on these counts. There is a lack of accountability in the US airline industry. De-regulation has failed and consumers have too few rights. It is time for achange.
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  #3  
Old Jul 17, 2012, 1:56 AM
dootzie dootzie is offline
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 3

We told our travel agent to buy us travel insurance but it was never purchased. We also didn't know it was best travel the day before - something I think our travel agent should have known. Our travel agency has a whole list of complaints sent their way as well.
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Old Jul 17, 2012, 5:46 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Shropshire, England
Posts: 3,197

if you instructed your travel agent to purchase travel insurance and they failed to do so, you may well have a cause of action against them to recover your losses. You are unlikely to recover anything from JetBlue, as the airlines all uniformly require you to agree as a condition of travel that the airine does not offer any guarantee that you will get to where you contracted to go on time, nor are they responsible for consequential damages. However, if you can prove your travel agent failed to act on your instructions, I would hot tail it down to Small Claims Court and claim damages from them, as they let you down big time.
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  #5  
Old Jul 17, 2012, 1:56 PM
cortney cortney is offline
Airline Employee (NOT OFFICIAL REP)
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 288

I agree with Jim. I love to cruise and usually fly in the day before. even though i work for an airline, airlines can be unreliable, i dont trust (ever) that im going to get there on time and when i do, its a plus. You did give yourself PLENTY of time to make that ship on a good day but mechanicals happen and weather happens. Your travel agent should have told you to fly the day before and get the insurance.
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  #6  
Old Jul 18, 2012, 1:34 AM
dootzie dootzie is offline
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 3

Unfortunately, we don't have an email showing we asked for it so it is her word against ours. I don't think we are going to get anywhere with that.

We hadn't read anything on cruises before we booked because it was all so overwhelming and we had trusted the travel agent.

Don't think I will use a travel agent again. It's a lot of work planning your own trip but at least, with the right information, you can do it right.
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  #7  
Old Jul 18, 2012, 7:06 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Shropshire, England
Posts: 3,197

I think you have been badly let down by your travel agent. Even if you had not asked for travel insurance, any travel agent worth their salt would have advised you to have it. When your flights are critical to meet the ship, there is considerable scope for things to go wrong and the costs of trying to "catch up" with the cruise can be considerable as you found to your cost.

Your agent should have advised you to have insurance and that it is prudent to fly the day before. They failed you, even if you hadn't instructed them.

If you travel a lot, you are better to buy an annual, multi-trip plan. These are not too expensive and cover you in such circumstances. One off plans are often more restrictive and expensive.
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  #8  
Old Aug 10, 2012, 7:34 PM
Matt_FLL Matt_FLL is offline
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 100

Dootzie: It is clear that you are a very level-headed and smart person. Your complaint is so well-written, factual, and logical. Kudos to you for not doing the common “I-WILL-NEVER-FLY-YOUR-AIRLINE-AGAIN!!!!!11111!!!” type of letter. I’d imagine you were so frustrated yet you stuck to the facts and even recalled specific names. You will find that very few people can do that.

Your story has so many ups and downs. Some of the down points would not have hurt as bad if people treated you differently. Jim is right, a lot of people will probably say that you should have had trip insurance. Perhaps that is true. But I think you would have felt much better if people treated you differently. I don’t think anything can help you recover what you’ve lost—especially a $200 voucher.

Were you still able to enjoy your cruise and return to SFO without incident?

Matt
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