United Airlines Complaint - Terrible Website Design and Even Worse Customer Service
United Airlines has hands down the worst customer service of any company I've ever dealt with. And I include Sprint PCS in that statement, which is impressive. That's like winning the poor customer service Olympics!
After waiting on hold for over half an hour trying to make a reservation, I decide follow the advice that the recorded voice gives me every three minutes and try to book on line.
When you fill out the on line form for destination and departure city, you are given the option to check a box that says "include nearby airports." I choose not to check that box, since I will be picked up by the hotel at the Louisville airport, and will have no way to get to the hotel from any other airport and therefore would be screwed if I were to fly into one. Since I did not check the box that said "include nearby airports" I assumed (crazy me!) that the search would not include nearby airports. What I unfortunately did not understand is that what the box really means is "whether or not you want us to include nearby airports in your search, we will return you flights to every airport within a three state radius of your intended destination. HAHAHAHA!"
At this point, however, I am blithely unaware that United.com is offering me the mere illusion of control. And so, when a list of flights is returned, I select one. I book my flight under the insane assumption that the search form will return the flights that I've searched for, and exclude the flights that I've chosen to exclude.
I later discover that, despite the fact that I specifically chose NOT to include flights to other airports in my search, the flight I booked based on the returns from that search goes to an airport clear across the state from my intended destination.
"That's unfortunate," I think. "But, since I booked the flight based on a misleading if not mendacious feature on their website, I'll just call and they'll fix the problem."
I have to call twice. The first time I run through my lunch break waiting on hold, listening to that godawful hold music and the sweet siren lies of the voice telling me that I can solve all my problems by going to united.com. The second time I call, I do finally get through to someone. When I explain what has happened, they look up my reservation, and exclaim, shocked, that I made it SIX DAYS AGO! My god, that's almost a week! Clearly there's nothing that can be done after such a vast expanse of time! They acted like I was asking them to see if they couldn't do something about the lifeboat situation on the Titanic.
I explain that I had just caught the issue today.
They say that they can change the flight but it will cost me $100.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, I work for a non-profit, and I don't have that kind of money to throw around. Also, I think it's wrong that I should have to pay for a failure in the design of their website. And the fact that this mistake happened six days ago is irrelevant. They offered the feature to only search for flights to my intended airport but give me a flight to an airport 90 miles away. It doesn't matter when this error on their part happened, the point is that they have made an error and the onus is on them to correct it.
I try to explain this to the person on the other end.
I am still shocked at the level of rudeness of the United personnel. The gentleman i was talking to (employee # N049382) interrupted me and cut me off nearly every time I opened my mouth. I kept an even tone of voice throughout, but I had to keep reminding Mr. N049382 not to yell at me. I think the best part of the conversation is when good ol' N049382 accused me of just deciding that I wanted to change my vacation destination and cooking up this explanation to stick United with the bill for my change of mind. Wow: not only are you not helping me to solve the problem created by your website, you're actually calling me a liar. i mean, am I right kids? That's a special form of bad customer service. Kudos, United. You've really gone above and beyond.
In the end, Mr. N049382 refused to change the flight and hung up on me.
This is my opinion:
If you are going to make it impossible to speak to a reservation agent without waiting on hold for the better part of an hour, your website better work like it is supposed to. If it doesn't work, you should correct the mistake. I'm no MBA, but I think that asking your customer to pay $100 to correct a mistake made by your poorly designed search engine that she was forced to use (despite the fact that she had been told it was poorly designed) because she was unable to speak to an agent on the phone is poor business practice. Although I have a credit card that gives me United miles, I've had enough. I'm going to switch credit cards and I'm sure as hell going to switch carriers.
LEARN FROM ME! Any carrier other than United.