May 14, 2010
I was just forwarded this link reporting that Jessica Cabot, a woman from Vancouver who is blind, was left behind and locked inside a United plane upon landing in Chicago. She was accidentally discovered by maintenance workers shortly after.
I’ve heard about this happening before with sleeping passengers implying that the crew failed to perform the final aisle check before leaving themselves. In this case however, someone on the crew would have interacted with the passenger at the start of the flight so, in addition to doing the final check, she was simply forgotten. Understandably this passenger was shaken by the experience and apparently could have been in the plane for much longer than the 10 minutes she was there.
What was United’s response? They offered a $250 voucher for future travel and apologized for “the delay” in providing her with her escort. I think the unexceptional monetary offer should have been a little more in-line with the exceptionally poor customer service, but I know the written response was just plain insulting.
This response demonstrates that the priority with United’s damage control policy in customer service failures continues to focus on protecting themselves legally. Their lawyers write carefully worded statements that either fail to take responsibility or they phrase them in such a way as to apologize for the situation but not the fact that they may have caused it. The response should have been simple:
1) We dropped the ball on this one
2) We’re sorry for that
3) We’re now going to do something that will make your next experience with United extra special (maybe even ask the customer: “what would you deem fair”)
4) We’ll find out how this happened and will make changes to ensure it doesn’t happen again and we’ll notify you when we put those safeguards into place
When you screw-up admit and make it right. Don’t call your lawyer and say: “get me out of this will ya?” When your customer service goes to crap the answer is to admit it, apologize and clean it up, not cover it in varnish and show the world what you did.
People despise being treated like fools more than they despise being inconvenienced and when you treat people like fools, it makes them want to show others who the real fools are. I’ve been asked a few times why I followed through on making three videos about my experience with United after the first one went viral. Stories like these make me wonder why I stopped at just three songs and begs the question: “Can Jessica Cabot carry a tune?”