Monday, October 09, 2006

United Airlines Really Needs to Train Its People

See, I told you, a day can't go by without using that word.

I called United today to make travel arrangements to go home to PA this weekend. My Uncle that I went to visit a few weeks back passed away yesterday morning, he had been a lifelong smoker and died from lung/brain cancer. I'm glad that I got to see him a few weeks ago, we had a wonderful visit and although he looked totally different, and for the first time ever - an old man, he still had the same sense of humor and joking way about himself.

So I called United today to make travel arrangements for The Boyfriend and I to go home this weekend......

Fucking United Airlines has outsourced their reservations to India. I'm not gonna go on about how wrong that is...that's not the issue...the issue is that the girl who helped me had no idea what she was doing or the type of call that she was handling.

I told her at the onset of the call I was arranging travel for the funeral of a family member. She gets all of my details and comes back with a fare of over $500 for each ticket....whoooo.... So I ask her, if that's the fare for bereavement at which point she says "What kind of fare?" in that same perky voice.

"Bereavement, you know like when a family member dies and they have a funeral." Then she told me to hold...when she came back she told me the fare would be less but only about $125 less, so we proceed through the rest of the call, confirm, credit card number, yada yada yada and while she's waiting for my credit card authorization she has the nerve to say "Sir, would you be interested in applying for our United Visa card which offers an introducto..." that's where I cut her off with a curt "No, thank you" she even had the audacity to continue on with her spiel saying "you could earn 75 thousand..." "I'm really not interested in a credit card right now," I politely told her.

So I got my confirmation number and was ready to hang up the phone when the girl says in the same happy tone "Sir, did I fulfill all of your travel needs today" "Yep you sure did," I told her, "And you sure follow your script don't you?"....she responded with a quizzical "huh?" and I hung up the phone.

I've worked in Customer Service for years now, and almost all of it has been phone based, and I understand the need for a script and to follow it....but come on people, train your CSR's to have a little bit of compassion.....if I wanted to talk to a fucking robot I would have done the transaction online....but I can't because you can only do bereavement fares on the phone and they charge you a $15 fee to do that.... I've talked to all kinds of people in all sorts of situations.....hell this one time I even had a lady tell me that her husband had just handed her a request for divorce and she was still at work placing orders....I felt so bad for her....we sat and talked for aabout ten minutes and didn't even place an order....but not little Miss United Airlines....not that I was expecting a pity party from them, but the least the lady could have done was at least sound a little reverent instead of perky perky perky and try to upsell me on their fucking credit card. I've ranted and if I rant much longer I'll probably keel over myself.


Andi said...

and this post? You should e-mail United and link to this. I know what you mean about outsourcing to India. You don't even want to KNOW about the fuck ups Dell caused at Christmas by messing up orders and people in India not knowing a fucking thing.

It involved George (who HATES) shopping, on Christmas Eve (possibly THE busiest night EVER) going shopping to buy two complete computer sets from Best Buy.

But really, e-mail United. You should.

Jeanette said...

If you want to see something interesting, see if you can get your hands on the episode of the 2nd season of 30 Days where they sent a guy to India to work in Bagalore where his job had been outsourced to. It was very interesting. The people that work in these call centers are paid way more than Americans for the same job, but it the overhead costs are so much less. These are some of the best jobs you can get in Bangalore. They even train these people to work on their "american" accents. It's kinda crazy.

I too agree that you should email your post to United. United will never know unless people like you speak up.

My deepest sympathies on the loss of your uncle.

SwissTwist said...

Sorry to hear about your uncle. I hope the trip back home does not become too stressful and painful.
Good luck!

The Big Finn said...

Michael - I'm sorry to hear about your uncle. It's nice that you got to visit him a few weeks back so that you could enjoy his sense of humor one last time. It kind of makes me realize that I need to take a trip to Canada soon to see some of my relatives - they're not getting any younger.

I don't think Jeanette is right about the people in Bangalore being paid "way more than Americans for the same job". The reason these jobs are moving to India is that American companies save TONS of money by hiring Indians for way LESS (at least in total compensation) than Americans. Why would the jobs move to India if it was costing the U.S. companies more money? However, these jobs are high paying jobs as compared to other jobs in INDIA.

That being said, I agree with you that these call centers still have A LOT of work to do when it comes to being non-robotic. When I dealt with a Dell Computer call center in India right after ordering my computer, I became enmeshed in a complete cluster-fuck. I cancelled my order, and I ended up getting a Mac instead.

I'm thinking that the ultimate goal of these companies with call centers in India is to get the American consumers so fed up that they'll just order everything possible on-line so they don't have to deal with Bangalore.

Karen said...

Hi Michael, I'm so sorry to hear about your uncle. As TBF says, it is good that you had a chance to visit him a few weeks back. These last visits mean a lot for everyone. Take care this weekend.

As for scripts, ergh! What can I say? When I was on the phone with visa to cancel my card last april after being mugged by a crazed knife-brandishing drug addict, the conversation went something like this:

Visa: Now ma'am are you sure that you haven't just misplaced your card?
Me: Pretty sure. I was just mugged at knife-point ten minutes ago.
Visa: Oh my goodness, how awful. Are you okay? [insert appropropriate commiserations here]


Visa: Okay, ma'am, your card is cancelled. You should receive a new one in the mail within a week.
Me: Great. Thank you very much
Visa: Is there anything else that we can do for you today?
Me: No, this is fine.
Visa: Okay, have a nice day!
Me: ?????????

I tell ya!