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18 December 2010 @ 10:59 pm
Still so angry  
Angry!rant warning about United Airlines and outsourcing. You have been warned.

So I've been traveling by plane for a few years now and never really experienced any problems. I was a little annoyed at the food cutbacks, sure, and having checked luggage cost around $25 is certainly an inconvenience. But other than those things, I never had any other problems. I guess I've been fortunate in that respect. But my flight home yesterday was the most god-awful ever. First of all, it was at 7 in the morning, which meant I got up before 5. With only about 2 hours of sleep the night before, I was already exhausted. I would never get up before the sun rose if I could help it. I was trying to make the best of the situation, though - at least I'd be home in the morning for once.

Except for being ridiculously tired, I thought things would be fine. But then when I arrived at my final airport, I found out that my suitcase had not arrived. In retrospect, I can understand why it did not arrive when I did - I had about a 20 minute layover, so there really wasn't time to transfer my suitcase onto my next flight. There were other flights from the airport I had my layover to my final destination that day, so it really shouldn't have been a problem for my suitcase to arrive on a later flight. My mother and I went to file a missing baggage report and the lady, while not exactly rude, was not helpful or very nice either. She said that my suitcase should come on another flight and that maybe it would be delivered to my house that afternoon or evening, but maybe not. But I filed the report and left.

By 7:30pm last night, I had not heard anything and so decided that I would call the United Airlines customer service and find out what was going on. Stupid me left medications in my suitcase, not to mention I wanted my clothing back at some point. Anyway, I was looking over the report and realized that not only did the woman from the airport write down for luggage description that it was red when I clearly told her it was pink many times, but she also wrote down the wrong baggage claim number. Every checked suitcase is given a specific number, to help track it if it is missing. With the wrong claim number and wrong color, no one would match my suitcase with the report I filed. So I called the customer service hotline and ended up talking to an agent working in India. I explained the situation to her, and she promised to try to get my luggage to me. She told me that my luggage had arrived at the airport early that afternoon. I hung up somewhat reassured that now I had fixed the situation and should be getting my luggage soon.

Now, I have some basic knowledge about globalization and outsourcing. I read Thomas L. Friedman's The World is Flat. I have even found it to be helpful before - when my laptop had a problem, I had no problem receiving help over the phone from a representative in India. I understand the idea and how it can be beneficial to big corporations and provides jobs to people internationally. I have always had some problems with it, but they were more based on thoughts and feelings than on concrete evidence.

Anyway, after talking to the representative I decided to check online and make sure my baggage information was correct. To my dismay, it wasn't. She had my bag down as black now and the wrong address for delivery. This time my dad called the hotline and talked to someone. But once again we found out that the information was marked incorrectly in some way. We made about five calls that night trying to correct information and find out what was actually going on.

Obviously the problem started with complete incompetence of the woman actually working in the airport who filed my report incorrectly. But then things just escalated and became worse and worse. The language barrier proved to be a huge problem while calling United representatives. They couldn't understand some of what I said, and I had trouble understanding them. And they don't live in the United States, so there's some lack of basic knowledge, such as apparently the name of my state. At one point they wrote down West Concil instead of Wisconsin. And since they're answering calls in India, all they can really do is make calls themselves and look at information on computers. They could tell me my luggage had arrived at my airport, but they couldn't really do anything about it - they could call other people who could do something. At some point I started feeling like they were little more than middlemen, which really irked me. I would have rather called the airport directly, but it doesn't deal with problems like this.

My suitcase didn't arrive last night. Five phone calls resulted in absolutely nothing. This morning my dad called them again and they promised my suitcase would be sent out around 9am and since the airport really isn't that far from my house, I should have received it soon. Did I? Of course not. My mom also thought it was getting a little ridiculous that we were only talking to people who could apparently do nothing themselves and so we called the airport, but my airport has no live person answering calls on the weekend. Don't airports run 24/7? I don't get it. So then my mom called the United hotline again. Once my mom explained that my suitcase was missing, that woman immediately told her my luggage had been in the airport since yesterday afternoon. Well, yes, we knew that. She couldn't get in touch with anyone at the airport either. But the woman promised to call some other people and find a way to get my luggage. She also promised to call back in an hour, which of course didn't happen.

Now my airport is only 30 minutes away from my home. And yet somehow it took United Airlines 27 hours after my flight to get my luggage to my house. I would have gone myself to pick it up, but I didn't realize the problem until late last night and then the United representatives kept promising me that they would take care of it and send it over to me at once. I wasn't about to go to the airport and find out that my suitcase wasn't there but being delivered to my house.

I'm glad I finally did my suitcase this afternoon, but I really am in shock at how much of an ordeal it was to do so. Between me and my parents, we placed about 11 calls. If that doesn't signal some sort of flaw in the communication process, I have no idea what else does. I really am considering boycotting United Airlines. Or at least lodging a customer complaint. It seemed as if this was a series of unfortunate incidents like no other. Like really. If I can bring this to the airline's attention, maybe they'll realize the problem and work on some way to fix these problems of communication. No one deserves to have to deal with that.

And on that note, I am really going to have to wish super hard that my luggage doesn't get lost on my flight to Egypt on January 2. At least I had sweats to wear at home, but if I'm suitcase-less in Egypt, I'll really be screwed. But these things are uncommon problems? Right?
Current Mood: pissed offpissed off
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