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If You Suck, You’re Dead

I recently had an awful experience with United Airlines and feel 100% unsatisfied by how they handled the situation. I made a commitment to them in January, when I paid them money for airfare from BUF->AUS roundtrip (for my annual trek to SXSW). My flight was for Thursday morning, the day before SXSW started (which cost me $400 for admission). I watched as delays due to ‘mechanical failure’ kept delaying my flight, it reached about 2.5 hours (I didn’t wait that long, they were pushing it out that long), that I knew I’d miss my connecting flight to AUS (from IAD) — so I knew that’d be a mess if I actually got to Dulles and then was stuck there.

I spoke with someone via their 800 number, who told me to call a different 800 number, who then said to speak with someone at the actual ticket counter. (What!?) So after those many minutes of my life were destroyed, they told me they “were sorry” and that they could get me out on a flight Saturday morning. “SATURDAY MORNING?! WTF!” I mean, wtf. I NEED to be in Austin. This isn’t the first time they’ve had problems with an airplane — have planes in reserve, even if only at your main hub (IAD) and fly them over. “But sir, we can give you your money back.”

Give me my money back? Are you f’ing kidding me right now? I don’t want my money back, I want to arrive in Austin Texas. Today. “Sorry sir.”

I’m sorry, but that’s not acceptable to me. My forced option was having to go on Southwest.com and drop another $384 on a one-way flight from BUF->AUS, so I could get out of Buffalo that day. Had I known I was going to drop this much additional, I wouldn’t have been such a cheapskate in the first place when I “saved” $250 by booking via United, rather than Southwest.

I let it go and decided I’d deal with it once I got back from the trip — and thus, I wanted United to reimburse me for $384. Through many emails and calls with Indians (no offense, but I want to speak to an American that I can understand), they offered me a $25 gift certificate on future United travel. “WTF?!” Then they eventually boosted it to $35 after more angry emails to them.

Wow, Thanks United. I’m done with you. I will never fly United Airlines again in my life. I have felt shafted and never want to be shafted by them again if this incident were to arise again. I purchased airfare to Belgium a couple days ago — and I paid a little extra as to not fly United Airlines.

The Internet has become a beautiful, beautiful thing. In the past year, Twitter and Facebook Status updates (aka “micro-blogging”) have really come to fruition — and in years to come, there’s only going to be more of it. It’s the new “word of mouth” marketing — only now, when I bitch about a brand, it doesn’t go out to the 1 or 2 people that I’m telling next to me — it goes out to the world; specifically though, it goes out to all of my friends/contacts, whom I have some influence with. In Twitter I have 816 followers, this blog has 1,219 readers, and in Facebook I have 334 friends. Granted, there’s overlap. But if even only 100 people see my message — heck, they may tell their friends about how Steve Poland got the shaft from United Airlines, and they might join my boycott, because they are sick of airlines treating consumers with zero respect. (Heck, I might get this post digg’d the the homepage of digg and have a legion of United Airlines Boycotters).

United Airlines — You Suck, and I hope you are one of the companies that will go belly-up BANKRUPT in the next 5 years, as word-of-mouth on the web starts to hold all companies accountable for their actions and customer service. When I look at your logo, I visualize a middle finger in it and you’re telling me to go screw myself. Well, this writing is my middle finger back to you.

The age of (near) full transparency is here. I say “near”, because we can’t see the shady stuff going on inside companies, but maybe anonymous Twitter accounts will start popping up with insider-employees at companies ratting out their own companies on shady activities.

  • http://pocketronic.com William

    United was bankrupted after 2001, and the government bailed them out. Keeping them alive means that their routes can’t be taken over by better run airlines (since the government owns airports and artificially limits compettion). Keeping them alive keeps a corporation running that doesn’t care about the market.

    Why should they treat you well? They don’t need your business.

    So, not only do you suffer, but better run airlines, like Southwest, suffer because it is harder for them to expand and grow.

    This is playing out in banks right this minute, and as a result, in a decade or two, the banks will be really horrible to deal with.

  • Dave Levinthal

    Reading this for the first time now. Such vintage PoPo. But there are ways to get airlines to give you anything if you make the right kind of stink. We’ll chat.

    In the meantime, I’m going to read this again and laugh twice as hard as the first time.

  • http://move Autumn Andrade

    I cannot agree more with this person. I have just experienced a nightmare situation with United Airlines last month around May 31st when I went to Oakland, California for a teaching job interview from Denver, Colorado. United disenfranchised me as a customer while I was buying my ticket online, from putting me on the wrong flight, making me go to the wrong airport, and then putting my luggage on the wrong flight. Needless to say, I went to my job interview at 8:30 a.m.on 4 hours of sleep after receiving my luggage at my hotel room at 2:00 that same morning, and did not get the job. How am I supposed to rectify this situation when they only have representatives on a 800 number that work out of Manila??????
    I would never dream of flying on United again as long as I live!!!!!

    Distraught

  • Wireman

    LOL. Geez, keep a spare plane?! At 50 million a copy I don’t think that’s too feasible to cover a 400 dollar airfare. Oh wait, the airfare was less than $400, of which the government immediately gets 28% of the ticket monies. It was mechanical, deal with it fella. If your engine was smoking or your brakes were out on your car, would you really want to drive half way across the country being responsible and liable for the hundreds of people in your back seat?!?! And do you have a spare vehicle in your drive for a situation like that? I am sure United made the right call under the circumstances and next time I suggest paying a little extra for the trip insurance.

  • http://stevepoland.com/about Steve Poland

    @UnitedAirlines screwed over @rsarver: http://twitter.com/#!/rsarver/status/74085119496949760

  • Thinkr

    every airline has had a beef with a customer who would like to see them vaporize or go bankrupt. That would leave and us all you riding horses to Austin TX

  • Thinkr

    And thats you and us all…