Old Mar 12, 2012, 8:53 PM
emle emle is offline
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 1
Default Horrible treatment of customers

I meant to post this here, it's also posted in another forum on this site. This is a letter I sent to Alaska and cc'ed many news places to help get noticed. *Note, it's very long!

Dear Mr. Prentice and Customer Care:

I would like to begin by saying I have flown on Alaska Airlines for the past fifteen years along with several of my family members. I have always had good service. After one flight from California to Portland, Oregon our son's car seat had a small part broken off during baggage transit. I contacted Alaska Air regarding the damage and after asking for nothing in return, I was politely offered a complete reimbursement for a brand new car seat. This left a good impression on me, and part of why I have stuck with Alaska over the years. Great customer "care" always leaves a mark on customers. This is the reason why I write this letter today. I have become completely disappointed by Alaska Airlines in my most recent trip from Oakland, California to Portland, Oregon.

In early January, I purchased a one way flight from Portland, Oregon to Oakland, California. The flight was last minute, and the reason was to see my father who was ill with cancer. My plan was to wait to book the return trip back to Portland, Oregon since my father's health was uncertain. My father passed away while I was in California, which has been one of the most difficult life changes for me and my family ever. My son and husband were not able to fly down with me to be with the family for financial reasons, in addition to the fact our son has autism and disturbing his daily life would have been more traumatic in the long run. Emotionally, I was not all together and had just seen my father pass away. I was distraught and devastated with grief. The reason for these details is to explain why my flight back to Portland went so horribly wrong, and my dismay at how apathetic every person at Alaska Airlines was to my situation.

I purchased a ticket online while still in California. The transaction for that ticket was on January 20, 2012. I printed the boarding pass, checked in online, and never noticed that I had made a mistake on the booking. I repeated the flight information to my husband, sent copies of the itinerary to my mother and sister, and myself. Let me add that the three family members are very detail oriented and would normally have noticed an error such as mine, but considering the loss of my dad, we had all been out of sorts.

On January 26, 2012, I arrived at the Oakland International Airport approximately 1.5 hours prior to my departure time. I proceeded to go through security, and went to check for my flight which I didn't see on the electronic board. I came to the conclusion that I was too early and decided to wait a while and check again. My flight was to board at 2:35 p.m. and at 1:45 p.m. I became concerned when there was nothing listed for my flight. I found two airport employees who helped me. They asked to see my boarding pass and discovered that the flight was booked FROM Portland airport and not TO. I was overwhelmed with panic as I discovered that I had booked the wrong departing city. The employees urged me to go to the Alaska Airlines customer service desk and see what could be done. I arrived there just before 2 p.m. and found three other passengers waiting to speak to Alaska Air as well. To our shock, the ticket counter was not open and there was a sign posted that it would not open until 3 p.m.! Next I had no other choice but to call the toll free number for Alaska Air. Let me preface this by saying that all I wanted was for Alaska to reverse my flight so I would be flying from Oakland, CA to Portland, OR. I honestly thought this would be a simple phone call, and that Alaska would not make a big deal out of it, and treat me as a fellow human being who made an honest mistake in a time of trauma and upheaval. I first spoke with Ann, a customer care representative. I explained my situation, remaining calm despite what was happening and what I had been through during the trip. Ann said that I would have to pay a change fee of $75.00, and then pay the difference in airfare since now my fare wouldn't be the one I originally paid for which had been made 7 days in advance. She said that now at the time of "booking" it would be treated as if I had never had an existing flight, and as if I had just called to book a flight that day. My jaw dropped in disbelief as I listened, and thought at how low I had been treated. I asked to speak with a manager, as I found this offer from Ann unacceptable. She then transferred me to Sherry who is a manager and I told my story all over again. Sherry gave me the same answer that Anne had, but then told me she could waive the "change" fee of $75.00. I was becoming increasingly upset and frustrated and truly felt that this company to be callous and greedy. I was now speaking with a manager, who I would think could have authority to make a simple switch without choosing to charge me extra money in the process. Sherry said that she could put me on hold and look up the fares from the day I had booked my flight, and if they were the same from Oakland to Portland as from Portland to Oakland she could justify it. I sat on hold for more than five minutes, all the while feeling horrible about the whole situation. Sherry came back on the line only to tell me that Oakland to Portland had been more expensive on the day I booked than from Portland to Oakland. So, she *had* to charge me $101.00 EXTRA if I wanted to fly out of Oakland back to Portland. At the mercy of this airline, I agreed to pay it as I had no other option presented by Alaska Air.

The day after I returned to Portland, I called Alaska Airlines again on January 27th, 2012 and asked to speak with Customer Service. I spoke with Brittney in management who I explained my story to once again. She repeated what I had already been told by both Ann and Sherry, and she had nothing more to offer but that I could email the company. At this point, I was exhausted from the flight, the ordeal of not being treated with "care" by Customer Care, and was still grieving the loss of my father. I was spent, and couldn't take any more of this. I called Alaska Airlines again on February 13th, 2012 for the third time and spoke with Sandra in Customer Care. Again, I explained why I was calling in attempt to find a person at this airline who might see my situation differently. I was on hold for 14 minutes before speaking with her, and when I did she never at any point in the call expressed her condolences. This is the only positive thing I can say about the three other reps I spoke with at Alaska. Sandra told me repeatedly that she COULD NOT refund the extra money I had been charged. She said she could ask her supervisor if there was something else they could do for me and I agreed to hold while she did. I was on hold for an extremely long period of time by the time she returned, only for her to tell me that they could offer me a $50.00 coupon for the NEXT flight I made on Alaska. I declined the offer, as I was not looking for a coupon and just to be refunded. I also am not flying on Alaska ever again, and would not consider it until I receive an apology and a refund.

I spoke with several friends and family members and they have all been shocked and appalled at the treatment Alaska Airlines had given me. Most of my friends and family fly on Southwest, which had previously been the airline my husband and I would use but then switched to Alaska after moving to Portland for more availability between California and Oregon. What I have been told by friends who fly Southwest is that there is NEVER a fee for bag checking, nor is there a fee to CHANGE a flight. So why in my right mind would I choose to go back to Alaska when I am charged for my luggage as well as a change in flight plans? One practice of Alaska Airlines which doesn't exist any longer was that of giving prayer cards out on flights. This always bothered me and seemed odd and intrusive to assume that all passengers are Christian, to let alone make a religious offering. I overlooked this, but always remember that Alaska had done this. Looking back, I think it's highly ironic that a "Christian" (?) airline would treat one of its repeat customers of over fifteen years in such an UN-Christian manner. Airlines are competing with one another every day, and I'm disappointed and disgusted in the way I have been treated. I would think you would want to keep your customers and not drive them away, but that isn't the case.

I look forward to hearing a positive response from your company.
Old Mar 13, 2012, 7:24 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Shropshire, England
Posts: 3,197

Anyone who has read my posts will know that I am typically on the side of the customer over an airline, but here I am not so sure you have been treated as badly as you make think. Of course, I am sorry for your loss and understand how distraught you will have been when you made the mistake, but it sounds like Alaska did ultimately do the right thing.

They dropped the change fee and looked back to see what the fare would have been if you had not made the mistake and instead booked Oakland to Portland. If I understand your account correctly, the fare from Oakland to Portland on the day you booked the ticket was $101 higher. So Alaska put you in the position you would have been, had you not made the mistake. This seems fair and reasonable to me. Did I misunderstand that situation?
Old Mar 13, 2012, 3:37 PM
Gromit801 Gromit801 is offline
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 745

Entitlement run amok. I am sorry for your loss, but you made the mistake you think the airline should be paying for.

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