It is a blessing that in general one only comes across a company that is a complete and utter failure in customer relations on a few rare occasions during one’s lifetime.
Now seems to one of those moments for me.
let me explain; last year I flew with Continental Airlines from Shannon (Ireland) to Fort Lauderdale (USA) on my way to do charity work in Haiti. I obviously also flew back with them three weeks later. No big issues during the flight. However when I unpacked my luggage the next day I noticed that several items were missing from it. Most notable was my missing netbook. A few smaller items were also missing. All had obviously been stolen from my luggage while it was being transported by Continental Airlines from Florida to Ireland. After I was finished having a big hissy fir over this I pulled up the Continental Airlines website to see if they could advice me on what action to take. There were no clear instructions so I decided to email them. Oh by the way Continental, your website is a user nightmare. I listed what flights I was on, dates, times and missing contents, I hit sent and waited, and waited and waited…..
I’ll keep it brief-ish but it took 6 months and a lot of chasing up from my side until they issued me with a travel certificate for $2000 as compensation. Which was great but I had no plans to travel any time soon and as we needed more funds for our charity work in Haiti I decided that it might be worth selling the voucher and using the proceeds in Haiti. So I put a message up on twitter offering “1 Continental Airlines Travel Voucher” up for sale. I got a few replies but then someone pointed out to me that the voucher was non-transferable. Strange but hey rules are rules. So I withdrew it from sale. I also called Continental Airlines customer service to check this and was told that yes indeed I could not sell it but as I still had the voucher and it was obviously not sold it was still valid. I even gave the person on the other end of the phone the certificate number and she confirmed that it was still valid.
Roll on 3 weeks ago. I had decided that I was going to go back to Haiti to do a few more weeks of work to kick of a few new rebuilding & development projects there. As I still had the Continental Airlines voucher it was logical that I would fly with them. So I went online and booked the flight with no problems. Or so I thought. My booking was accepted and I received a confirmation email. However three days later I received an email notifying me that the voucher had been voided and that I could not use it to pay for this flight.
I contacted Continentals customer service department for clarification but all they could tell me was that the voucher had been voided in November 2010. For further details I had to email their “Corporate Security” department. I duly sent of an email to request clarification and several days passed by before I received a reply. The reply was 2 lines long:
Last November you attempted to sell your ETC on twitter. The terms and conditions clearly state that any sale or attempt to sell will result in the ETC being void.
The ETC will not be reinstated.
We will not be reinstating the voucher
Once you declined and threatened legal action, the offer ceased to be available.