My daughter and I were away at a photo shoot for my new book in Cincinnati last week. I'm pretty much burnt out on living out of hotel rooms, this has been a hectic summer. We had a long week, the shoot was tough and I was stressed out at the end of each day. By the time we left, all I wanted was to be back home in my own bed and asleep.
On the way to the airport, we got a phone call that our flight was going to be delayed. By the time we got to the airport, we were informed it would be two hours delayed and perhaps more. I checked my daughter in and changed her seats so we could sit together. My husband has Silver Status with this airline because of his frequent flier miles. He flies often and having Silver Status makes it a little less stressful. He boards earlier, gets his luggage checked for free and gets an occasional upgrade. My flight was booked by my publisher, my husband booked my daughter's flight through his account. When we checked her in in Philly, her bag was checked for free by the airline computer. She was flying as herself, not as my husband. We had not pretended she was him. I assumed that she was flying under Silver Status since the bag was free and she was boarding in Zone 2. What we didn't realize was that by not paying for the bag for which we were not charged, we were flagged by the airline for fraud.
What has happened to customer service?
Had I known, I would have gladly paid for the bag. I wasn't trying to get something for nothing. In fact, I am so painfully honest it drives my husband insane. If I'm overcharged, I inform the cashier. If someone accidentally ships something to me twice, I return the second item. If I find money on the floor, I take it to customer service to make sure the person who lost it can get it back. I never, ever expect something for nothing and I surely wouldn't willingly perpetrate fraud over a 25 dollar baggage charge.
So fast forward to last night. I'm tired. I'm stressed. I'm having trouble breathing because there were smog alerts in Cincinnati. I'm frustrated that we're now several hours away from departure. Still I'm marching forward with my sense of humor mostly in tact. We check the bag on the electronic kiosk, I pay the fee musing out loud to my daughter that I thought her bag was free since it had been on the first half of our trip and the customer service woman informs me very loudly (as a favor, mind you) that the account has been flagged for fraud. She's grinning from ear to ear and I'm just shocked beyond belief. I would never willingly commit fraud. I explain this to her, calmly. She continues to repeat over and over again so that everyone in line can hear, that she can do nothing about it and she didn't commit fraud and I did.
I have, never, in my 47 years on the planet lost it in public. I'm friendly, I'm affable, I treat customer service people with kindness and respect because I spent 12 years waiting tables. I say please and thank you and I'm sorry and if I get great service, I always make a point of acknowledging it. This woman, with her evil grin spreading wider, kept repeating the word fraud until something inside of me snapped. While she laughed and again announced to all who could hear that SHE didn't perpetrate fraud and that I did, small cartoon smoke puffs began coming out of my ears.
I told this woman that I'd had enough of this airline. She just kept laughing, calling me a fraud. People were shuffling uncomfortably as I became more and more upset. I told her I was happy to pay for the bag, offered her my credit card and she refused to take it. I explained that I'm an honest person, I'm generally a very nice person and that I wanted to rectify the situation. She just kept laughing and saying fraud. I have never, ever, in my entire life been treated so rudely. Shouldn't there be an assumption on her part, as a customer service person, that this was simply a misunderstanding and not an intentional attempt to commit fraud for a 25 dollar baggage fee?
What has happened to customer service?
I finally stepped away and my daughter and I went to get some dinner before the airport closed. Yes, the airport stores and shops closed at 7:30 and our plane did not leave until 10:30. I woke up this morning still upset. Is it so much to ask to be treated with respect? Is it so wrong to want to be heard? They made the mistake of not charging us, so perhaps an apology, an explanation and we would have gladly paid for the bag. We tried to pay for the bag. Is publicly humiliating customers who spent 800 dollars to fly on your airline over a 25 dollar misunderstanding appropriate? Is it really on us to deduce that they made a mistake and if we don't, are we at fault? Really?!
I think the loss of basic civility and common courtesy is destroying the fabric of our society. If we don't start working on getting that back, I'm afraid this great nation is heading right down the toilet.
Oh and if this isn't rectified and we are not given an apology, I'm never, ever flying on the airline with the same initials as an acronym for our country again. Just for the record.