Thursday, May 03, 2007

And Another Thing: British Air and Behavior Mod

Yeah, I'm mad at 'em. I realize that in the big scheme of things, divorce, alcoholism, rape, sexual molestation, child abuse, domestic violence, that this is really, really shallow. But as they say EVERYWHERE on the blogosphere, it's my blog.

And British Air so deserves this.

How silly of me to think that I could use the 26, 000 plus miles I'd racked up over the years to book a trip to go to my niece's wedding. It looks like the miles have expired.

Huh? What kind of nonsense is that! How can miles expire?!?!

So I called customer service. I waited quite awhile, actually, but a customer service representative eventually answered the phone. I could tell by the superior affect in his tone from the start that I wasn't going to get anywhere. But I teach assertiveness, right? So I have to practice once in awhile.

Me: Oh, hello. Maybe you can tell me why you cancelled 26,000 of my miles. The web site says they're expired. I just flew British Air in 2004.

Customer Service Representative: Oh, you know, there are rules. Do you know the rules?

Me: Huh?

CSR: Well, you and the other 2 people on your Executive Club card would have to have flown British Air within the last 36 months or you would lose your miles.

Me: Well that's a little severe.

CSR: Those are the rules. You'd be surprised (he sounded gleeful, honest) how many people don't KNOW the rules. Why, just the other day I had to tell a customer who had thousands more miles than you did that she just didn't know the rules, which is why she lost her miles.

Me: You're sounding a little unsympathetic, you know, like you have an attitude. You could be nicer to customers. I'm grieving here.

CSR: I'm sorry but you should have read the fine print.

Me: You know, I fly a lot. Most of the airlines aren't this punitive. It makes me think I shouldn't fly British Air anymore.

CSR: That's your choice.

Me: You don't care?!!

CSR: It's not for me to care or not.

Me: Aren't you a customer service representative?

CSR: Yes.

Me: Well doesn't that mean you're on my team? I'm the customer.

CSR: I have to explain to the customer the way things work, how we enforce our policies.

Me: Not why you have the policy.

CSR: No, not really why we have the policy, but the policy.

Me: Then you're really a British Air representative, not a customer representative.

CSR: No, I'm a customer service representative. I'm here to help you.

Me: So help me. Restore my miles.

CSR: I'm afraid I can't do that.

Me: I'm not asking you to do anything illegal.

CSR: That would be against our policy if we restored your miles once they've expired. But let me look up your account. (He did, and then he tut, tutted, made those funny smacking noises.)
No, you haven't flown since 2004 so your miles have expired. Unless, of course, you have flown but didn't report the trips to us.

Me: Well, one of us flew in 2007.

CSR: But didn't use the frequent flyer number?

Me: It's quite possible.

CSR: He only had 30 days to report the number, if that was the case.

Me: Well, that's passed.

CSR: See? People have to learn to read.

Me: What a terrible way to talk to me! I can read. Do you think I can't read?

CR: Well, I would imagine you can, but you didn't read the rules when you signed up for the Executive Club.

Me: Can you read?

CR: Yes, of course.

Me: Good, then read my blog. What did you say your name was again?

Actually, I didn't say that. I didn't say, Good, then read my blog. What did you say your name was again? I didn't intimidate him. I hung up on him. Slammed down the phone, actually.

I'm hoping I hear from people who Google British Airways (though that's unlikely). But for me, B.A. will be an absolute last resort next time I travel overseas. They need MUCH better customer service. I think I'll e-mail them and tell them so.

The truth? I have to tell you. I'm not really a big complainer, even though I've started to complain a little with this And Another Thing feature. The feature's really just to draw attention to things I find unfair, or to things I think people should consider doing. It's more of an opinion piece than a rant. Fact is, I'm pretty happy with what I've got, the good and the bad, and I give most people the benefit of the doubt.

But when I put kids on behavior mod programs in therapy, the first thing I tell their parents is, you give a kid a point, you DON'T take it away. It's just not allowed. It's morally wrong to give, and then take away. In my world, that is. And I do live in a kid's world half of the time.

So British Air? You can't giveth and taketh away. It's just not right.

Meanwhile, friends, if you have miles with British Air?

You know the rules. Fly. Or better yet, let 'em expire. Fly another airline.

And B.A.? You still have time to change those very uptight, British rules. Come on, seriously. Is this necessary?



Anonymous said...

Fine Print should be illegal!

therapydoc said...

Exactly. If we wanted to read it we couldn't.

Anonymous said...

Stick it to the Man!!

I had a similar experience recently. Where do these people come from? Is there something in the job description that says, "Wanted, self-righteous, condescending individual. Snide tone and passive aggressive tendencies a plus!"

therapydoc said...

It's hard for me to stick it to the man, but something has to be done. They have to be told.

Swan said...

I'm sorry that you lost your miles.

And it is this kind of stuff that makes you want to pull your hair out! Just because worst stuff can happen doesn't mean these other annoyances aren't really - well - annoying! And even costly, not to mention the stress that they cause.

Good luck in your future air travel - and I will avoid BA in future.

therapydoc said...

thanks Swan

DF said...

Next time PLEASE ask for their supervisor. They absolutely hate it. Tell them that you'll stay online however long you have to talk to them, but at CS they have to let you talk to them.

Then you can tell them that their customer service rep insinuated that you didn't know how to read.

Supervisors are the secret to Customer Service everywhere.

therapydoc said...

You're right, of course.

Heidi said...

Ok, I won't fly British air. You so don't deserve that kind of bull treatments. British air is losing more than 1 customer.

What you could've done is hang up on him, and then call back. Another operator might have helped you better, way better.

Worse come to worse, say you want to speak to the supervisor. The supervisor at least would take your point of view with way more professionalism.

therapydoc said...

CK, you're right of course of course! Why didn't I think? Oh well. Why do I think this isn't over, actually?

Anonymous said...

You should definitely get in touch with a manager. Maybe they do have a policy of expired miles but they may restore them because of the way you were treated.

I'm currently in the same situation where I was trying to change my hotel reservations and met up with a very rude reservationist who treated me like I was an idiot. I emailed the hotel to get the general manager's name and just sent him an email. Let's see what happens now.

Thank you for sharing this with the Carnival of Family Life.

therapydoc said...

Thanks for running that carnival, Kailani. You're right, I should push this.

Anonymous said...

I think it is a combination of things.

1) People react to ways we behave and that affects our interactions with them. If I constantly act aggressively, people will react to an aggressive person and I will see the same pattern in my interactions.

2) I think we are also drawn to people who feel familiar and shun people who behave in a way that is unfamiliar. Humans fear the unknown and hate change. In that way we continue to replicate the relationships we learned in our family of origins instead of breaking out of old patterns and trying something new.

3. Even if we do recognize the pattern and fight to change, we have no idea what to change it to. We only know how to react in the ways we learned in our families. This makes changing our patterns a true uphill battle, but it can be done and it is worth the effort.

therapydoc said...

So true, thanks ANON.

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