American Airlines – customer service problem

When I tried to use a $17.40 hardcopy travel voucher to make a partial payment on a $345 ticket, I ended up not being able to use the voucher (and I’ll be throwing  the thing out now) plus I was charged another $20 for the privilege of trying. Needless to say, I was exasperated. So I wrote to American Airlines:

Dear American Airlines:

I am a Platinum member frequent flyer.

I always buy my tickets online. Usually, I buy my tickets within one or two weeks of the flight.

Since I had a travel voucher for $17.40, which was going to expire in December, I decided to use it this time. The agent told me she would charge me $20 to take the ticket in person. I said that didn’t make any sense, since the voucher was only for $17.40. She said ok, she would not charge the fee.

After much ado with the voucher, and where to send it, she discovered that I didn’t have enough time to mail in the voucher. I said I’d give up and just pay for the ticket and hopefully use the voucher another time.

When I got my ticket, I noticed she’d charged me the $20.

Now mind you, I would never have called the agent in the first place for this ticket. It was just that I needed to use up this voucher.

When it turned out that your voucher redemption system is too cumbersome to be used for normal business travel, I gave up.

Now I get to throw away a voucher (which I received for an overcharge a long time ago) and I get to pay $20 “penalty” only because you have such a cumbersome voucher system.

This system does not work and your customers have to pay the price.

Please, don’t send me a travel voucher as a gesture to refund the $20.

After a day, I got this very nice and completely useless response:

Dear Mr. Haupt:

Thank you for contacting Customer Relations.I’m sorry that you are disappointed with the fee that applies to tickets issued through our reservations offices and airport locations.

This type of fee is fast becoming an industry standard and represents a way for us to continue to offer full services and keep our pricing competitive. When you are using a transportation voucher toward the purchase of a ticket, this fee is waived. However, you do need at least 12 days before departure to process a transportation voucher. The vouchers are mailed to Milton, Florida for processing.

Mr. Haupt, we hope you find this information helpful and that you will still have an opportunity to use your transportation voucher.

Lisa H. Jackson
Customer Relations
American Airlines

Bottom line: Wanted to throw out the voucher, because they are always such a hassle. Now I paid $20 more, and I still have to throw out the voucher. Plus, I used up good emotional energy, I wrote this entry, and I used up dear Lisa Jackson’s time at American Airlines.

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