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

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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