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Customer Service from Hell

Northwest Airlines plane by whatsthediffblog, on Flickr

I can excuse barking back at an unruly customer. I understand setting someone straight who is out of line. But what do you do, as a customer, with a salesperson that bites your head off when you’re being nice? No complaining, no whining, no demands, just a pause.

Is there a new customer service tactic being developed that trains the sales person to strike first before the customer has a chance to complain? If so, I’m the first victim.

I had travel plans go sideways, for reasons that I won’t bore you with. So, I decided to call Northwest Airlines (whom I now affectionately call Northworst) to see if we could fly rather than drive to get our plans back on track. As always, when asking for the nearly impossible, I always start out as kindly as I can, explaining that I understand if what I’m asking for can’t be done, but I have to ask anyway, just in case it can.

The person on the other end was very clear with her answers, and explained what I would need to do in order to get three tickets from Greenville to Detroit tomorrow. I paused to consider the cost, and then it came:

“Well! What do you think you’re gonna get, trying to travel within 24 hours, this close to Christmas!”

And the tone was downright nasty. Loud. Rude. I was shocked. And, while it may have taken me 15 seconds to consider paying double what it normally does for that flight, my decision immediately swung the other way. Forget it. I was not getting on a plane with a company that preemptively lambastes its customers.

No excuse. None. Nothing would explain yelling at a customer for merely pausing during the conversation. I didn’t raise my voice, I didn’t balk at the cost, I merely paused. Wow.

I know that United flies Greenville to Detroit, too, it’s just a bit more expensive. And maybe it’s worth it to not get yelled at by Ms. Cranky.

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  1. Christy,
    I completely understand your opinion of Northwest. I have the same opinion of them after a flight I took in August. I blogged about it here:

    Posted by: Sean Cheyney | December 28, 2007
  2. Great article.
    Your readers might want to try http://www.Measuredup.com a leading customer service review website where people share reviews with other users and with companies. Companies that are involved with and value customer service read Measuredup to keep up on what people are saying and to be able to improve customer service.
    It is free and easy to use.

    Posted by: Marc | December 28, 2007
  3. Christy, what is it with you and Northwest Airlines. You have the worst luck.

    Posted by: Edson | December 31, 2007
  4. Edson, I have *no* clue. I think it’s not just me, though. You’re much too young to remember dealing with “Ma Bell,” but I invoke that one only to liken dealing with airlines to that horrific experience. Heck, I’ll bet that the whole Ma Bell era spawned this customer service movement.

    Posted by: Christy | January 2, 2008
  5. Ms. Brewer, its not just you. Northwest’s policy seems to be: shove a ticket in your face, push you onto a plane, attend to you as little as humanly possible to get you where you need to go, and then shove you off the plane when you get there. I cannot stand their service. I think Angry Ed might also have a few comments on them from a horrible experience he had.

    Posted by: Kriste | January 2, 2008
  6. Well, apparently it’s not just Northworst. An acquaintance here in Greenville just posted this little nugget about Delta: http://brainsonfire.com/blog/2007/12/28/no-frills-indeed/

    Posted by: Christy | January 2, 2008
  7. Lots of validation that Northwest isn’t getting any love. Check out the the link for a list of hated airlines by the Consumerist. It ranks #5 in complaints.

    Posted by: Kel L | January 7, 2008
  8. Shipping and “handling”…indeed.

    I just read (another) blog post from Seth Godin about shipping and handling — woohoo — but it got me thinking about you my customers. Are you? should you be? OK with (like Seth) receiving a couple boxes of checks

    Posted by: Behind the Button | January 10, 2008

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018