Wednesday, October 12, 2011

United: As Loyal As Your Last Dollar

The following was sent to United Airlines by my business partner.

Subj: Congratulations
>
> Body:
>
> You win. You have successfully alienated one of your most loyal
> customers. Well, I don’t know, maybe 1.6 million miles over the last 19
> years and my willingness to pay hundreds of dollars more than your
> competition to fly on your airline doesn’t count that much since that’s
> the message I have received.
>
> I didn’t make 1K last year due to a slow-down in business. This year,
> I’m well on my way at 43K so far, but that pace won’t last. It won’t
> last because you have decided that it is better to try to pry 50 more
> dollars out of me to grant me the privilege of sitting in an (otherwise)
> empty seat on a flight that is leaving 2 hours earlier than my scheduled
> flight.
>
> About 8-9 years ago Northwest pulled the same stunt on me and I vowed to
> avoid their airline in all cases except when I have no other reasonable
> choice. And so, I’ve flown on them about 10 times since then. Often
> times flying to their hub cities via connections on United to avoid them
> – even when you charged me more.
>
> It just makes absolutely no sense to me to make customers wait for a
> later flight if you have open seats. I can’t speak for all customers but
> I can speak for myself. And when you do this to me, it makes me very
> angry. What if the later flight is delayed? Or cancelled? Why should I
> have to take that risk? Why would you want to take the risk of making me
> even angrier? Is that your idea of good customer relations? I think it
> stinks, and I think you have lost sight of the big picture.
>
> Since NW pulled this stunt, I have tried to figure out a rational reason
> for them screwing their customers. The only one I can come up with is
> that they (and now you) somehow believe that charging me to sit in an
> unoccupied seat keeps me from trying to book flights at cheap times and
> then standing by on a better time that you wanted to charge more for. My
> reaction to that is that your tiered pricing system is flawed and
> instead of doing your math better, you are trying to goad your customers
> into paying up and fixing your problem.
>
> Well, that ridiculously terrible service doesn’t work for me. And I have
> no intention of continuing as one of your most loyal customers. I can
> fly on any ol’ airline and be treated like you treat me as a Premier
> Exec 1.6 million mile flyer. What do I get from you that they don’t
> offer? Early boarding. Does it matter? Once in a while it does, and
> mostly it doesn’t. So, as a Premier-Exec-for-life customer, I can enjoy
> the same benefits on your airline as I get as casual traveler on any
> airline.
>
> In conclusion, you should know that my new policy to go along with your
> new policies is to buy the cheapest ticket with the best connections, no
> matter who the carrier is. There is no such thing as a loyalty program
> in my book. Your program, like all others, is a joke and I’m not
> laughing anymore. Southwest? Sounds good. USAir? Ok. Continental…oh
> that’s you. Sure, if you meet my policy. Frontier? You bet. Any airline?
> Absolutely. It’s all about me, my convenience, and the best value.
>
> I will be passing these thoughts on, unsolicited, as I causally travel
> my way on the low-cost carriers... I guess just skipping my next flight
> with you will pay for about 20 of those seats I could have bought
> tonight. Too bad I didn’t buy it because that means that you lost that
> stanby seat plus 20 more next week.
>
> Bye-bye!

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