Customer ServiceFor the first time in my life, I actually booked tickets for a flight for the wrong day. I am actually not to blame, because the SES site does say Monday through Thursday, but I didn’t realize that Monday is a training session day and not really part of the conference.

Since I booked the flight a few days ago, I was hoping pushing the day forward would not cost me too much. I dialed the main line to Continental Airlines and spoke to four people, with hold times of about 7 minutes (on average) before speaking to each person. Each person said, we can’t change your flight without a change fee, plus your fair is going to be much higher. I said, I then asked if they can do something, so I was transferred twice before speaking with someone who was basically yelling at me for the mistake.

I won’t say her name, because I forgot it and I don’t want her to get fired. But she was like, “Why are you asking me about this?” I said, I don’t know, I was transferred here by the other person. She asks me again, “why would you speak to me about this, I can’t help you!” I kept saying, I didn’t ask to speak to her, but they transferred me to her. She just kept on going, making me feel stupid that (1) I was speaking with her and (2) I booked the wrong flight. Okay, I was stupid for #2, but still.

I then apologized to this customer service person. I told her, I am sorry if I am making your day turn out bad. I added that I really didn’t mean to be transferred to someone who cannot help me. I just want to find out if I can do something about my mistake. She basically grunted and asked again for my confirmation number, so I gave it to her. Then the shocker….

She said, “Your elite access,” I said yes, I know. She then began apologizing to me for the trouble and said she would transfer me to the “elite desk.” She then apologized three more times and transferred me. Wow!

The elite desk answered right away, made the flight change for free, with a slight cost for the flight difference. And I was all set within minutes after being transferred to the “elite desk.”

I was shocked to see how Continental treats their “average” customer, compared to those that have “elite” access (i.e. fly more than 25,000 miles a year with them). I know you treat your better customers better, but to virtually yell and belittle the “average” customer and then treat your best customers like gold, seems way off to me. There has to be a better balance between the two.

And if you are off to SES San Jose, double check the agenda and make sure you are flying in and out the correct days.

Website Comments

  1. andrew

    so i see from this that if u are an average joe they dont care about u at all
    but once u are elite u are something
    THAT SUCKS and continetal should change that ASAP

    or for people who can travel with barry he is high status

  2. Christina Gleason

    Unreal! I would expect that someone who gives them a lot of money would have less of a hassle with customer service than someone like me who flies maybe once a year. You get the concierge. I get the phone bank. But no one deserves the verbal abuse you put up with before they realized you were “elite.” Ridiculous.

  3. Leon Schwartz

    You know how I will react to this before I even do. There is no reason to treat any customer disrespectfully. But to depend on systems that allow such differential treatment to become obvious is inexcusable. All service reps must identify the customer’s status BEFORE they address their issues. This is easy enough. Then apply appropriate perks to “elite”, while treating any customer with respect. Ranting at any customer should be cause for dismissal……

  4. Kye Swenson

    Continental’s reps suck. Their on-flight service isn’t too bad though. Nice stuartists and decent food for the average customer. Overall, I think Ryanair has the cheapest rates of any airline. But then again, everyone is packed onto the plane like a bunch of sardines and the takeoffs and landings are always a little rough. I guess you get what you pay for.

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