I wanted to share a personal story about United Airlines. They are obviously not a hyperlocal business, but they are in the customer service industry, a point they have clearly forgotten or choose to ignore. It has become typical to get into a discussion with a fellow passenger about how poorly United treats its passengers.
This simple example has to do with an email I sent them to get clarity on their updated frequent flyer program. My question to them was (I thought) fairly simple:
I’m just curious about what looks like a change to the MileagePlus program. I recently had a flight from Newark, NJ to San Francisco, CA – flight 1735 on 10/13/15 and flight 1608 on 10/15/15.
I was awarded 740 miles for each of these flights – this seems REALLY low for a cross country trip? Can you advise how/why this happened?
I sent this email last night (November 24, 2015). I was surprised this morning to have an email waiting in my Inbox from United. I opened it to get this response:
Hello Mr. Barnett,
We’re always glad to hear from MileagePlus® members like you. Thanks for writing.
MileagePlus® is a travel reward program that provides hundreds of opportunities to earn thousands of miles. You can use miles to travel free* to over 800 destinations in 135 countries.
As a MileagePlus® member, you can:
- Earn miles for qualifying flights on United, United Express, Star Alliance® members or any of our global airline partners
- Earn miles when you stay in a hotel, rent a car or take a cruise with our travel partners
- Earn miles for everyday activities, such as using a MileagePlus Visa, dining out, making phone calls or even shopping online
- Earn enough miles to achieve Premier status and receive priority treatment designed to make your travel even more relaxed and enjoyable
To learn more about the MileagePlus® program, please visit www.mileageplus.com .
*Taxes and fees may apply.
Don’t hesitate to contact us again if there’s any other way we can help.
This message is intended only for the use of the Addressee and may contain information that is PRIVATE and CONFIDENTIAL.
I had to read it three times to make sure I wasn’t missing something. They had not answered my question, or even addressed it. What they did was send me a standard form email! This is worse than not replying at all. They even had it signed by an individual. I don’t know if this person is real or part of their automated response program, but that makes it even worse. A response that is meant to be personal, but with literally no personal information at all. And to top it off, they add the disclaimer that the message if PRIVATE and CONFIDENTIAL.
I did reply to this email to remind them that they didn’t answer my question and all they did was send a form email. If they respond, I’ll update this post. In the meantime, for any hyperlocal business wondering why your personalized service and attention matters, here is Exhibit A.