Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Customer Service: US Airways

Time for me to once again pull the spotlight into the shadowy corners of that myth of all myths: customer service. I pride myself on the fact that my customer service blogs have drawn a TON of hits. And every time I get a new one, I love blogging a little more.

As a sometime resident of PA, I have an extensive history with US Air. And over the course of three years flying back and forth to Pittsburgh on almost a weekly basis, I managed to rack up a couple miles. Enough, in fact, for a free flight to the Caribbean if I so chose. Of course in the infinite wisdom of US Air, if you don't use these miles or if there is no activity on your account, they close it after 18 months.

Why? Because I died? Because I no longer fly on airplanes? Because I have obviously moved to a city with a different carrier hub?

I guess rules is rules.

Message generated on www.usairways.com at 8/7/2007 8:50:53 PM.

Several times over the last few months I have set about to try and track down my US Air miles - and several times I have found the US Air website hard to navigate and uncooperative. When I finally decided to try and track down my Dividend miles account, I was told it just expired 30 days ago. Given that I've had so much trouble using the website, I'm hoping you can give me a break and reinstate my miles - I plan to continue to use USAir for travel, including travel to Europe, through Philadelphia, in the near future.

I got a reply a few days later:

Thank you for contacting US Airways.

I apologize that we were not able to respond to your email in a more timely manner.

With the new Mileage Reactivation Policy, which went into effect after January 31, 2007, miles are subject to forfeiture if the member has not had activity within 18 months. This new policy was announced on May 21, 2006 on usairways.com. We also sent e-mails and direct mail communication to members who were most impacted by the change. Your account shows that your last activity date was 11/18/2005 and 30,688 miles were forfeited.

We realize you may have attempted to earn miles or used US Airways or a partner recently. Please make sure you submit your request for missing credit at usairways.com or by contacting our partner now.

Members have three options to reinstate forfeited miles.

1. Pay $200.00 reactivation fee which is based on the number of miles being reinstated.
2. Earn miles with one of our credit card partners. Allow 4 to 6 weeks from your first purchase using your new card for miles to start crediting to your Dividend Miles account.
3. Purchase and fly a First Class or Envoy trip on US Airways / America West in fare codes A. F, C, D or Z. (GoFirst, GoEnvoy, GoSleeper upgrades are not valid to reinstate forfeited miles.)

These options are time sensitive. The timeframe during which you may reinstate forfeited miles may vary, depending on your last activity date at the time you forfeited your miles and which option you choose. If you choose the option to earn miles with one of the credit cards or to fly, allow sufficient time for the activity to post to your account as the miles must post within 36 months of the above activity date. When miles for the credit cards or flights credit to your account, forfeited miles will be reinstated automatically. After the deadline, there is no option to reinstate the miles because miles are permanently deleted after 36 months of inactivity.

To reinstate forfeited miles, contact the Dividend Miles Service Center at 1-800-428-4322.

For details on our Mileage Reactivation Policy, visit our website at http://www.usairways.com/awa/content/dividendmiles/
programdetails/memberguide.aspx#milexpire

We appreciate your continued patronage of US Airways.

Denise Villatoro
Dividend Miles Service Center


I love that last line: "We appreciate your patronage."

So much so that I can buy my miles back for $200. I can sign up for a credit card. Or I can fly first class. In the next 36 months. Because I missed a cut-off 30 days ago. Because I moved. And couldn't operate their website.

Appreciation, by definition, is thankful recognition. That -and $200- will reinstate my miles.

I write back:

Denise,

Can I assume you can not make an exception, based on my poor experience with your website? As I stated, I tried, several times, unsuccessfully to update my account online. The emails you sent in May 2006 went to an email address that is no longer active. The direct mail wasn't forwarded to my new Texas address. As such, I didn't get them. When I tried to update my information with US Air on your website, I had continual disconnections, dead links and circular directions which were completely unhelpful.

And now, as I prepare to book a May flight from Philadelphia to Glasgow on USair, you can't help me out?

Can one of your supervisors help me?


In the mean time, I have reason to ressurrect my LONG idle Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards account. I talk to a nice woman (on the phone!) and explain it's been years since I've flown Southwest and that it may be hard to track down exactly which address my account is associated with. She asks for my name. And then she reads back my present address. So Southwest has a database that automatically updated my address despite a move out of, and then back into Texas. Interesting. Oh yeah. And all three of my segments from previous trips (in 2002) are still in my account. And Southwest is the one that isn't digging its way out of bankruptcy? Really?

Stop back for updates.

-------

Update: 9/13/07

Mr. Helms,

Thank you for contacting US Airways. I apologize for the delayed
response to your request. We will be happy to reinstate your miles due
to non-notification. Your new account balance is 30,688 miles. Please
be sure to post activity to your account within 18 months to avoid
future mileage forfeiture.

We appreciate your continued patronage of US Airways.

Bobbi Pearce
Dividend Miles Service Center


And there was much rejoicing.

I have to say I've been feeling pretty good about the traffic this post has received. My google-ometer shows just under 100 people has found this post when searching "US AIRWAYS customer service"

I am pleased that, without a whole lot of escalation, I managed to get 'em to hook a brother up. But I am stillway more impressed that Souwest Airlines managed to keep track of my info despite the fact that I moved three times over a 3 year period, and none of my segments has expired.

'at's it, mate

Talking me into a gin and tonic is not exactly a hard sell proposition. So it's easy to like what's going on here.

But really? This guy's personality (try Tony's Telly for the most vivid portrayal) is kind of wanna-be gin to me.

I think Rangpur hit it better. And the music is better, too.

BTW: I'd like to quickly weigh in on online age verification. WTF? It's a beating for legal folk. It's unenforcable for the underage. It's like the TSA if it wasn't actually manned by a bunch of angry unemployables.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Frigging Say It


Rudy and Buffy, at Tattoo Projects, are not apt to mince words. At least in my personal experience (Buffy lambasted my choice of footwear in mid-recommendation on LinkedIn).
You want hot co-workers? Just ask.

Overt-ness. It's a strategy that has worked for me. Quit pussy-footing around the damned obvious and tell me what you're thinking. So if you want to hire people who look good in a belly shirt or a pair of leather pants, frigging ask for it.

Of course, as a student of the well-crafted creative brief, I'll tell you: Pick a single compelling point. And then execute the motherloving shit out of it. Either get talent that kicks ass. Or get talent with nice ass. Looking for both and you start looking for a needle in a North Carolina haystack.

I, of course, have both. But, alas, I live in Dallas.

Aim High



Those of you who've heard me blather on about this campaign know how exciting this is to me. I'm fully intrigued by the black-and-white lead up. Surely it'll be impactful.

Tease

Thought this spot would lead to something else.
In fact,it leads to itself.

I give it a six (it does, after all, feature an attractive - if depersonalized - model in her underwear.)

UPDATE:

Oh. I see. She has friends who also do weird stuff in their underwear. Now I give it a seven. It's a myspace campaign. I get it.