Thursday, December 12, 2013

Come through for us Southwest Airlines

Hello Gumptionistas, As I am preparing for holiday travel next weekend to visit my husband's family in Minnesota, it reminded me of the not so fun experience with Southwest Airlines last year. I was re-reading the letter I sent last January and can only hope that a good experience is just around the corner. The results of this letter were that we received a refund for the early boarding and also two $50 vouchers for future travel. It was interesting to refer to my now husband as 'boyfriend' as he wasn't even a fiancĂ© last January! Here's to safe and pleasant travels for everyone! Mr. Gary Kelly, CEO, Southwest Airlines Dear Mr. Kelly: I am a frequent business flyer, and Southwest has always been my preferred airline. I am not sure what has happened to your customer service, but it has recently failed me several times. I am so incredibly disappointed with Southwest that I felt inclined to write to you. As an executive myself, I thinks its very important that I know what is going on in my company, and often my customers are my eyes and ears. This is a rather long story, so I am going to abbreviate as much as possible. On December 30th, my boyfriend and I were flying back to Burbank, CA from Minneapolis, Minnesota. When we arrived at the airport, we were notified that our flight was delayed. An hour later, the gate agent announced if anyone was flying into Burbank to come to the counter. We were told that because of the delays, we would not make our connecting flight in Phoenix. Options presented were stay overnight in Minnesota or stay overnight in Phoenix. We asked if there were available flights into LAX or Orange County and were told “no.” We asked if there was cab fare or rental car vouchers available and were told “no.” We asked if there was a voucher for a future Southwest flight and were told “no.” We asked if there was any compensation for the inconvenience of not only not flying out that day, but being stuck in MN for another night and was told there was not. We took the option of staying in MN since we have family there and therefore, did not cost Southwest anything. The gate agent printed out our boarding passes for MN to Phoenix for the next morning, but said she was unable to print Phoenix to Burbank. When we saw the boarding pass, it said that we were boarding at the end of the B line. We had paid $10 for early boarding, but were told that whatever the computer spits out is what we get. The agents have no control over it. On December 31st, when we tried to do self-check in, it would not allow us to check in our luggage. After 15 minutes, we were finally acknowledged by an agent. She looked at our tickets and said that the agent, who rebooked us the day before, did it incorrectly. She not only booked us going in the wrong direction (BUR to MSP), but also put us on an illegal connection, so our luggage wouldn’t make it. She called a manager over and they apparently “fixed” it, but we were still advised that we would have to go back to the airport in Burbank to get our luggage later in the evening. We asked if she could help us board sooner or in our original boarding group since we paid extra for it, but was told there was nothing she could do. We were very frustrated, and she offered no help. We proceeded to the gate and the woman that rebooked us the day before was there. She said she remembered us and actually printed out our boarding passes for our connection when she came in at 3AM. I told her what had just happened downstairs, and that we were told she had rebooked us incorrectly. She said that the other agent didn’t know what she was talking about, that she booked us correctly, it was a legal connection, and our luggage should make it. She apologized for the mishap. We asked about boarding sooner and she said no problem. She would tell the boarding agent to let us board with preferred seating. She was the most helpful person that day. She also told us that we would be refunded for the $10 early boarding fee. When we arrived in Phoenix for our layover, we asked the agent there if we could board early. We explained the situation and the fact that the MN agent let us board with preferred seating, etc. She told us that she was not authorized to do that. We explained again, very politely, that we just wanted to board early, in our original group, so that we could sit together. She refused. She said, “the only people who can authorize that is the corporate office.” I said, “apparently MN can authorize it too.” Another person unwilling to help. We boarded at the end of the B line and we did not sit together. At the end of the flight, I asked the flight attendant if there was a way to tell if my luggage was there or if I needed to just wait for it. He sarcastically said, “now how would we be able to do that.” I responded, “I am not asking you to do it, I am asking if there is anyone at the Burbank Airport who can tell if my luggage arrived with this flight.” He then apologized, as he knew he was out of line, and said that he didn’t think so. I just want to know what the problem is with your Customer Service. Out of 5 Southwest employees we engaged with, only one was helpful, and she happened to be the one that got thrown under the bus by another agent. When you have a mission statement such as “The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit”, you damn well better be able to stand by it. While I’ve always been a big proponent of Southwest’s philosophy, I think you are really failing. I love that Southwest doesn’t nickel and dime their customers, however, I do feel when I am paying for something, I am getting better service. I flew Suncountry Airlines on my way to MN, because Southwest was unavailable at the day/time I needed. I had pulled a muscle in my back two hours before my flight and could barely walk. They went so far out of their way to assist me. I was so impressed with their customer service, their attitude, and their courtesy. We paid about $400 each, one way for our Southwest tickets and were completely inconvenienced with no viable options, the day before New Years Eve. We had to call and have my boyfriend’s 78-year old father drive to the airport in the snow to pick us up when you couldn’t accommodate us, and then turn around in 14 hours and take us back to the airport. While I understand that the holidays are busy and weather conditions are out of your control, good customer service is always within your control and the behavior of your agents and staff was unacceptable. Since we were bumped from our original flights, I would like to be compensated in addition to being refunded for the early boarding costs. I would consider some type of vouchers for a future Southwest flight, for two people, to be acceptable. Your attention to this matter would be appreciated.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

I am baaaaccckkkk in fighting shape!

Hello to all the Gumptionistas out there! I took a little hiatus from writing my blog, but I am back. In the last two years, I reconnected with a man I dated 10 years ago, we were engaged on February 4th, and we were married on August 30th! It was wonderful and magical and I highly recommend it. It's never too late to get married and regardless of your age, you can have the wedding that you want. I never dreamed of my wedding day. I was not the girl who dreamed of her wedding day since she was a little girl. My dreams were to become the CEO of a company and make millions:). That hasn't happened yet but its never too late. I always wanted to be better than I was (always putting far too much pressure on myself) and wished more for myself than my parents had. This is the dream all parents have their children, but at a young age, I was accutely aware of that and wanted more for myself, too. Deep down, I knew that I would meet someone very special, but I didn't focus on it. Unfortunately, not focusing on it at all left me getting married at 46, but it happened exactly the way it was supposed to and I have no regrets of holding out for my perfect someone. I am with the man that I was always meant to be with, who supports my feistiness and crazed letter writing, and everything else that comes with it. Although I have not updated the blog in a while, I never stopped writing letters and recommending or making changes where I felt they were needed. I will work on getting those posted in the next few days. I am still out there fighting to make things right and make senior management at companies take notice of their customers and consumers. I joined Toastmasters at work and it made me realize that I still have a voice and there are still people who want to listen to my passion for ranting (all in a positive way of course).

Friday, January 6, 2012

Got Gumption in 2012?

Happy New Year! I was on a long hiatus from writing, but I am back. With the economy still glum and prices for everyday products continuing to rise, its more important than ever that we voice our opinions. I've written many letters in 2010-2011, which I will post in the next few days. I hope you enjoy the upcoming blogs and continue to fight the good fight! Best regards, JM

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Target's Gift Registry is the Worst

It’s been several weeks since I’ve blogged. It’s been a hectic, but productive summer. I’ve been prepping for my sister’s upcoming wedding on October 12th in Vegas (threw a shower for 70, bachelorette fondue party/sleepover), I coordinated a friend’s wedding day a few weeks ago, consulting full-time, and running a professional organization with 1,200 members. Whew! I need a vacation.

This blog comes with heavy heart. My favorite store in the world has let me down. I am still very frustrated and angry about my experience yesterday with Target. I’ve always been a huge fan of Target, shopping there several times a week. In fact, there are four Targets in a 10 mile radius of my home and they’ve all been gracious enough to take my money each time. As long as there is a Target close by, all is good in the world.

My sister, Jen, who equally shares in my fondness of the Big Red T, registered there for her wedding. I thought it was a great idea because she would get all her essentials, her guests wouldn’t have to pay an arm and a leg to buy a gift, and there are so many stores around that you could pick it up and not have to pay for shipping charges. Awesome, right? Well, what she quickly found out was Target is not at the top of their game when it comes to gift registries. Their return policy is absolutely ridiculous. It’s so ridiculous, that I wrote a letter to the CEO last night, and woke up at 6:00 AM this morning (Sunday) to blog about this. I would highly recommend not using Target for gift registries. They are not gift recipient-friendly.

I was with Jen when she returned one item from her shower a few weeks ago, because it was a duplicate. The associate was so rude to her and said that she only had x amount of dollars worth of gifts that she could return. Um, huh? What does that mean? I remember the days when friends would return all of their wedding and shower gifts because they needed the money. In this case, my sister actually took the time to register for things they needed. She only returned something because she had already received it. This was her first clue that a Target registry may not have been a good idea.

Last night, we went shopping and of course, Target was one of our stops. Jen had a gift she needed to return, because it was another duplicate from her registry. We got to my favorite store in Manhattan Beach and proceeded to Guest Services to make the return. Since she didn’t have a receipt, the associate had to call Corporate for approval to give a gift card. We didn’t think much of it and said we would do some shopping and come back. As I was in the checkout line, my sister went back to Guest Services to check on her return. I noticed that she was visibly angry, and the associate was back on the phone. Apparently, Corporate could not approve the return without a receipt. How many people actually put gift receipts in with gifts? 10%? The gift did not show up on the registry as being purchased. Something happened where either the purchaser didn’t ask to have the gift registry updated or Target did not update it. In either case, this was no my sister’s fault and she was being penalized for it. I asked to talk to the person on the phone as a last resort. I reiterated what happened and asked what he could do to help the situation. The “gentleman” said that there was nothing he could do without a receipt, regardless if it was on the registry or not. Huh? Seriously? What? I asked to talk to his supervisor and he said he was the highest level of escalation there, and was incredibly rude. Does he realize who he’s talking to? Does he realize that this is not going to go away?

The manager of the store, who they refer to as the ETL (Executive Team Leader), was asked to call Corporate to see what she could do. We explained the situation to her and she completely agreed with us. She admitted that when she got married a few weeks ago, she didn’t even register at Target. She called Corporate and spoke to a few different people. I was shocked at what I was hearing. It was apparent that the “gentleman” on the phone was raising his voice with her. At one point, I heard her say, “I am not a team member, I am an ETL and you are out of line.” She was wonderful, helpful, and really wanted to do the right thing. She was shocked herself that this was the return policy. She kept repeating, “I have a very upset guest in front of me, and this is not her fault. This is on her gift registry and you are telling me that there is nothing we can do, as a corporation, to help her? This is a Target mistake that it’s not showing up as purchased. I think this is ridiculous. Yes, you did hear me, this is ridiculous.” When she hung up, her face was flush and she looked completely defeated. She felt so sorry and kept apologizing. She said that the man on the phone was raising his voice and was threatening to her. Not only was Corporate rude to a guest, but they were rude to their own employees. We waited about an hour, and the result was that we left with a $300 gift that my sister already had.

As I’ve mentioned above a few times, I am still in shock. This is cut and dry. I could see if my sister tried to return something that was opened or clearly didn’t come from Target or was trying to get cash back. None of these were the case. The money was going to be spent right back into Target, and this was on her registry!

I came home and wrote a letter to the CEO. I wish I could hand deliver it to him, because that’s how irate I am over this. I am hopeful that I will be able to update you all in a week that this ended in a positive result. We’ll see if Target holds up to their reputation for excellent guest services. Right now, I am not convinced.

If you're interested in reading about other similar issues, check out the following:

Friday, July 17, 2009

They Are Listening...Now's the Time

I recently wrote a review about my experience with Vonage. I still remain a very happy customer with both the product and the customer service. I was very pleasantly surprised when I received an e-mail from Vonage's publicist shortly after posting my blog, letting me know that she had read the review and would be happy to provide any information I needed in the future. In my opinion, this is good customer service and corporate awareness.

Now is the time to Twitter, blog, or just spread the word, about your experiences. Vonage, among other organizations, are listening to their customers. Publicists are being hired to search social networking sites for anything written about their clients, and the leadership in organizations are watching and listening. Reviews are being brought to the attention of the CEOs and they appear to be paying attention to what their customers have to say. This will be the difference between the companies who survive during this economy and those who do not. It all comes down to the customer and the reputation. Make yourself be heard.

A Gumptionista in San Diego fights and wins!

Happy July everyone! I hope you all had a nice 4th and are enjoying the summer.

I just received an update from a friend in San Diego, who recently asked for some advice on fighting a vendor.

"Dear Gumptionista:

I took your advice and sent a certified letter to the President of the company that did the electrical work for San Diego Gas and Electric and broke my thermostat! Guess what??? Today, I got a call from the original person who told me he was denying my claim, that they are now promptly sending me a check to cover the cost of my broken thermostat!! WOO HOOO!!

Thanks, Gumptionista for the awesome advice!"

My recommendation, as always, is to send a certified letter to the President of the company and do not take no for an answer. If you have to threaten that you will report them to the Better Business Bureau, blog, or Twitter about the issue, do it.

Monday, June 29, 2009

More Vonage Tips

In case you are interested in pursuing a Vonage phone line and you travel, I wanted to share these tips I received from Vonage:


The best part of summer is getting away, but even when taking a break from the real world, everyone still needs to be in touch with work, loved ones, or both. Vonage offers a number of ways to do just that:

- Domestic Travel: Did you know that if you take your Vonage adaptor with you while traveling domestically you can make and receive calls for the same cost of using the adaptor at home? Just plug in an adaptor in to a high-speed Internet connection, and your home phone number comes with you virtually.

- International Travel: If you are traveling or moving abroad this summer, Vonage offers a way to make calls back to the U.S. without getting charged an arm and a leg on your cell or using cumbersome calling cards. Plug in your Vonage adaptor and you can make calls to the U.S. for free.

- Virtual Number: While abroad, you may want to add a local phone number to your Vonage account so locals can call you for free. Vonage has you covered here, as you can add a local international number in several locations for an additional $4.99-$9.99 per month (more details here).

- Vonage’s $24.99 Residential Premium Unlimited Plan includes calls to the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, and landlines in Italy, France, Spain, England and Ireland are included.