It’s a goal. Not just a wish or a hope, an actual goal. I don’t need to own one, just have ownership in one.
Air travel continues to go downhill. It increases my desire (and hubby’s) to avoid it if possible. You could probably trace the origins of our desire back to the days when Blake took his first contract job in 1999. It made you sick to your stomach to know that even though the flight time was short, the total travel time to get from our home in Southeastern Idaho to Fort Collins, Colorado took almost the exact same 9 hours as it did to drive it. If the same travel could have been done by private jet you would have cut that time down to under two hours easy. Because we value our time, it was always on the brain.
Add to this the airline tragedy and aftermath of 9/11 and you have a melting pot for unpleasant air travel. Things weren’t fantastic before, but there was at least a focus on doing something – anything – to make the experience less painful for the traveler. Maybe even a little healthy competition for it and the revenue stream that followed. The added (and necessary) security measures put into place after that fateful day seem to have become a springboard for airline excuses for unpleasant traveling. Apparently, the vast majority involved haven’t yet figured out that what you do isn’t near as important as how you do it. You ask anyone who flies public transportation these days and you’ll find the vast majority only do it for lack of options. That’s a great premise for any business relationship. *eye roll*
So things are in a pickle. Naturally we add more to make it worse. Now we add economic strain, high gas prices and struggle for financial survival. Corners are cut which often result in more damage than salvaging. One of the biggest being outsourcing customer service calls. If you’ve seen the photo e-mails in circulation about the phone lines in India you can appreciate the irony of this. It’s the one where the telephone pole looks like Clark Griswald’s Christmas light plug nightmare of 100 plugs and cords sharing one outlet with a caption that reads “And this is where our calls for technical support go.”
Recently my husband had another experience that put the private jet ownership back on the forefront of our discussions. As it’s blog worthy and he’s not currently blogging I’ll be telling the story.
We decided earlier this year to let our daughter go to Idaho five days early to spend some one on one time with her grandma and family there. This meant buying her an airplane ticket to fly solo from Phoenix to Salt Lake City. Blake bought the ticket in April with US Airways. It was explained there was a $50 unaccompanied minor fee which was also printed on the ticket information. The only inconvenience he had with this policy was that they wouldn’t let him pay for the service with the ticket, he was told it had to be paid when he arrived at the airport.
As this is our first time doing this, he called last week to make sure we knew everything we could in preparation. He listened to the foreign accent on the other end of the line rattle off the guidelines and perked up when he heard him say something about paying the $100 unaccompanied minor fee. He corrected the man, reading from his printed ticket information the fee was $50. The man replied that the fee went up the first of May. The remainder of the call was spent trying to learn why this information wasn’t shared with the customer and why that is a problem.
I won’t bore you with the details of language barrier and lack of customer service. Suffice it to say it went the way most customer service calls go these days with an employee who can barely speak English, doesn’t like their job and doesn’t care about it or the customer they’re servicing. But the end of the conversation is worth sharing, I’m told it went something like this:
“Sorry sir, you simply don’t have any other option.” (Add in a great deal of foreign accent for the right affect.)
“Actually I do. I have the option to cancel my ticket and never fly with your airlines again.”
Now what’s really crazy about all this is that in this strained time for airlines you’d think they’d being doing all they can to keep customers not push them out the door. US Airways lost more than $50 extra dollars for a service, they lost the entire refundable ticket price as well as all our future business. It wasn’t about $50 more, it was a simple customer service principle that was violated – making changes in a contract without informing and gaining consent with the other party.
The crappy customer service continued through the process of cancellation and refunding as well. Another phone service employee with language barrier problems had to be taught how to do her job by my husband because she wasn’t sure if she was just canceling or canceling and refunding. A classic end to the experience.
The good news is that we got a better ticket rate, no additional fees and two bubbly English speaking employees at Southwest airlines to help us. There’s a lot to be said for the attitude, speaking skills and positive personality when it comes to customer service interfacing. Today Southwest wins, but I’m still looking to the best solution which is ownership in a private jet.