rant, service, travel, wanderlust

holding the reservation

I was in the gate area waiting  to board a flight from Tampa to Dallas in late February. The Tampa airport, like so many airports, has the absolute worst acoustics. Background music, crowd noise and competing announcements from several gates all echo and mingle together into audio chaos. This made it near impossible to hear the assortment of “more-special-than-me” groups being called out by the gate agent. We were all huddled under one speaker asking each other who was called and what was going on.

By happenstance, I received an email later that day from American Airlines outlining their new boarding process. It’s so simple that it’s brilliant. First class becomes Group One, Executive Platinum becomes Group 2 and so on. The first four groups are considered priority boarding and get to board through the lane marked, surprisingly, “priority.” General boarding is Group 5 and onward. I told you, so simple it’s genius.

The next day I received an email from Citibank explaining how my boarding group and status would be affected by the changes at American. I have the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive Mastercard. [There are several Citi AAdvantage cards and this particular card has the benefits and perks I find the most valuable (we can discuss those in another post). It comes with some great perks and one of them is priority boarding. I covet priority boarding, not because it makes me feel special to use the boarding lane that’s separated from the inches to the left of the general boarding line by a station, but because it usually guarantees I’ll get space in an overhead bin and not have to check my bag.] As an Executive cardholder I will be boarding in Group 4, remember this is the final group classified as Priority. Boo-Ya!

I get to DFW Airport later the next week for another trip and check-in in at the kiosk. As I headed to the TSA Pre-Check line I noticed I was assigned to Group 5. Huh.

Jerry: I don’t understand, I made a reservation, do you have my reservation?

Agent: Yes, we do, unfortunately we ran out of cars.

Jerry: But the reservation keeps the car here. That’s why you have the reservation.

Agent: I know why we have reservations.

Jerry: I don’t think you do. If you did, I’d have a car. See, you know how to take the reservation, you just don’t know how to *hold* the reservation and that’s really the most important part of the reservation, the holding. Anybody can just take them.

From the Seinfeld episode, The Alternate Side

I waited for the line to die down and approached the gate agent to ask. I told the agent how much I loved the new boarding process and explained that I understood I would board in Group 4 but was assigned to Group 5 and asked if there had been a change to the new process. She said no and told me that credit cardholders were in Group 5. She pulled her cheat sheet out of the drawer to show me. I pointed to the Group 4 box that clearly said Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive Mastercard. She looked baffled. She wrote Group 4 on my boarding pass and suggested I talk to customer service.

I called customer service later that day and was told, ” credit cardholders were in Group 5.” I referenced the boarding process page on their website. She had no response and suggested I fill out the form on the AAdvantage website. I completed the form and included a link to the boarding policy and a screenshot of the emails I had received. Customer Service replied a couple of days later to thank me for my inquiry and letting me know they would get back to me. It’s now mid-April. They never did.

I had two more business trips where the same thing happened only with the gate agents upgrading their response to eye rolls and, in the case of the guy at the gate at  DFW two weeks ago, yelling at me.  After he yelled I did what any sensible person would do- I called out @AmericanAir on Twitter. Boy do they respond quickly. They asked me to DM them and give them all of the details. I did . Explanation, screen shots etc. The whole thing. Two weeks later there’s no definitive answer from American Airlines other than I should check in for my next flight, see what happiness and then let them know if I’m not in the correct boarding group.

RANT:

I don’t understand. You send me emails and post things on your website and then not only don’t follow through with them but don’t seem to care and don’t have a way to fix it. You can send tubes of metal at 500 miles per our whilst 40,000 feet in the air but you can’t manage the relational database behind your passenger profiles?

I don’t need to feel special, I just want you to do what you said you were going to do. I just want you to “hold the reservation.”

photo is my own taken at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

 

 

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rant, service, travel

traveling pants {logic defied}

I was traveling. I bought pants. Then it got crazy.

First, let me be upfront that I know I’m not the demographic of Superdry.  I stumbled upon them last year in Times Square. I didn’t “get it” at the time. Besides, it was damn cold outside and I needed coffee.

Fast forward about a year (to the week, in fact) and I stumbled across their newest US store at Disney Springs. If you’re not familiar with Superdry, here’s how they’ve been described:

A British international branded clothing company, Superdry products combine vintage Americana styling with Japanese inspired graphics.

Yeah, not me. I thought. I had time to kill and a few extra dollars left from my conference per diem. So why not? I wandered through the aisles for about twenty minutes with increasing realization they don’t sell things in “dad size” and beginning to suspect the Japanese text on the clothes probably doesn’t mean anything. [I digress. I do that a lot.]

I found pants. Basically uber-comfy sweatpants. They were on sale. I thought they might be comfortable for an upcoming 15 hour flight when I’m crammed in the back of economy. The sizing is really weird on there clothes so I tried on an XL. They were, much to my delight, a bit too big. I decided to buy the Large. I grabbed a pair off of the shelf that has an L sticker on the folded leg and paid for them.

Two nights later I was back home and unpacking my suitcase. As I was going to pull the tags off of my new globetrotting pants I noticed something awful. Remember that little sticker with the L that I mentioned was on the leg? It was wrong. I had bought an XL- the size that didn’t fit when I tried them on in the store.

So here’s where the breakdown and head shaking starts. Try to keep up.

  • The next day, I logged on to the website and reviewed the return and exchange policy. I dealt entirely with orders that had been placed online.
  • I called the store at Disney Springs and explained what happened. The sales associate explained that I had to call the central customer service number to make the exchange (remember this part, it’s almost funny later).
  • I had to wait to call customer service because they are in the UK, don’t work weekends and have that whole 7 hour time difference.
  • The agent I spoke to told me I had to submit my request by email and provided a top secret email address for me to use.
  • About 36 hours later I received a reply from the customer service folks in the UK telling me I would need to call the store where I bought the pants and work it out with them because the customer service office didn’t have any merchandise in their office so they couldn’t swap them out for me (see, I told you it would be funny later).
  • Always one to follow directions (drips with sarcasm) I called the Disney Springs store the next day and explained what happened. They were confused and didn’t know what to do or how to help me. They gave me the number of a location in Brooklyn that had a warehouse and would be able to exchange my pants.
  • The number didn’t work.
  • I called Disney Springs back. They gave me the number to another NYC store and sent me on my way.
  • I called the NYC store, asked for the manager on duty and went through my entire adventure thus far. He asked why they didn’t have me call the store in LA because it’s closer to me. WTH?!?
  • He does take pity on me and has me text a picture of the pants to him so he can check their inventory. He does, and says I can mail mine to him and he’ll mail back the correct size.
  • I trek out and pack the pants in one of those spiffy free priority mail boxes at the post office. I also enclose a return shipping label and an $11 stamp for return postage (based on the estimate from the self-serve postal kiosk). It costs an additional $15 to to mail everything to NYC plus $3 for the packing tape.

Keep up with all of that? I’ll spare you all of the details about how the package arrived in NYC 3 days ago but no one bothered to tell the manager it was there until I called with proof of receipt yesterday.

I still don’t have my new comfy pants, but that’s not the main point here.

I am completely baffled that it is, by my best guess, 2017. I made a purchase from a company that not only has an e-commerce division but also a supply chain for  brick and mortar stores in several countries. How do they not have a central and efficient return and exchange process? If it’s too hard for you to figure out then just pay Amazon to do it for you like the rest of the world does.

Rant over. Now mail me my damn pants.


April 13 Update: I talked to the NYC store manger last Saturday, April 8th. Today I received a text from him asking what size I needed because they had done inventory and the pants he had set aside for me had been re-shelved. Um, if you had mailed them Monday when you said you would then we wouldn’t be having this convo.

April 22 Update: Still no pants.


Since I’m entrenched on a project at work dealing with open resources I feel obligated to admit the photo above isn’t mine.  Found it in a google search.

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