Yesterday I wrote about good customer service. And then there is American Airlines.

After cancelling the last leg of my trip, I asked how much of a refund I would receive if I just rented a car and drove the three hours home. “About $120,” she said, so I made my decision based upon that.

A week later I received a refund for $87 — a third less than quoted — so I wrote American asking them to honor what the agent told me. Here is their reply:

From the comments in your recent email, it seems as if we need some improvement in the area of reservations. Our reservations agents should make every effort to provide our customers with correct information and I’m sorry we didn’t do so when you called us. The Reservationist does not have the capability to give you an estimate on a refund amount for a partially flown ticket. I’ve made a copy of your comments of your email available to the Managing Director of Reservations for follow-up with our reservations staff. Dr. Triplet, [note the misspelling] only our Refunds Department would have that kind of information available, thank you again for contacting us and letting us know about this.

It reminded me of what the Washington Post’s Ben Bradlee called a non-denial denial from the White House during the Watergate era. It said nothing. This was not a response to my request for a refund. It was a non-answer answer.

Vagueness has its place in certain settings. Customer service is not one of them.

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

Dr. beth triplett is the owner of leadership dots, offering coaching, training and consulting for new supervisors. She also shares daily lessons on her leadershipdots blog. Her work is based on the leadership dots philosophy that change happens through the intentional connecting of small steps in the short term to the big picture in the long term.

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