Listening to other people's consumer grievances tends to be a drag -- important to them, but not really the kind of thing you want to hear about. But if you would indulge me for a moment (or just move on to something more interesting), I experienced such profound consumer exasperation today that I need to vent:
A couple months ago, I purchased a $399 round-trip fare on Northwest Airlines from DC to Minneapolis for reunion weekend. This week, my colleagues at work asked me to go to Indianapolis for some meetings the two days prior to my Minnesota trip. I wouldn't be able to get back to DC in time to make my flight to Minneapolis, but the travel folks at work said I could just fly to Minneapolis instead of flying home. Works out well -- I waste half my flight, but no harm.
Then I call NWA to tell them I no longer need the outbound half of my flight, and things just go downhill. The friendly rep tells me that because I'm not showing up for the outbound leg, my ticket gets cancelled and I won't be able to fly the return leg. So I need to alter my reservation to make it a one-way flight, which will cost me...$785. Yes, $785. To make my two-way $399 round-trip into a one-way. He explains all the reasons (short notice, one-ways priced differently from round trips, new fuel surcharges, etc) this is true. I tell him that while I understand, it just doesn't seem reasonable.
For the first time ever in my life, I pull the "Can I speak to a manager?" thing. I talk to Scott, to whom I make the following "business case" for not charging me to change to a one-way:
- I bought a service, and am now trying to use only half of it, but this for some reason costs almost three times as much as using the entire service.
- If NWA changes my ticket to one-way, they can resell the seat I'm no longer using, but keep my money for the whole fare.
- I was about to book a business trip on NWA (the only direct flights to Indy from DC), but if I can't change this conflicting personal trip, I cannot book this second, revenue-generating trip.
- Furthermore, if they refuse to be reasonable, I will remain extremely disgruntled for an extended period of time, not likely to leap at the chance to fly NWA again.
I did not yell, and I was not even unpleasant -- I just laid out a rational case. Scott did not acknowledge my arguments, and told me that he had no authority to override what the system said. He said he could transfer me to the Customer Care Center, where they did have authority to make exceptions, but he didn't see a reason why they would do so in my case. I told him to transfer me, and I spent 20 minutes exploring the branches of the phone tree but never found anything other than automated messages referring me to the website or the reservations phone number. I might have gotten snippy at that point if there had been anyone to talk to.
So, I'm not going to the work meetings in Indianapolis, Northwest lost a few hundred dollars in revenue, and I developed enough hard feelings to extend to NWA and their merger partner, Delta.
Sorry, I won't post any other consumer rants. But this totally ruined my afternoon.