Posted February 17, 2009 by Carl Unger
United will be disconnecting its customer service phone line this coming April, and instead will ask passengers to submit complaints and compliments via email and letter. The airline says written comments generally result in happier customers, because written comments tend to be more detailed than verbal ones and this leads to more effective responses from customer service.
I can believe that, but at the same time, is there anything more frustrating than writing a thoughtful email to customer service ... and then waiting, waiting, and waiting some more only to receive a canned response? Well, is there? Oh, what's that you say? Calling customer service and being put on hold for three hours is worse? I guess you have a point there.
My sense is that people will be divided on this. On the one hand, speaking on the phone gives you the satisfaction of actually speaking to a real person, a captive audience that can at least feign interest in your plight and perhaps even accomplish something. But at the same time, sitting around while on hold only adds to the frustration you are calling about in the first place, and this frustration builds and builds until finally you unload on the entirely innocent and likely underpaid service rep on the other end.
On the other hand, emails seem easy to ignore, but at least you can send the thing and get on with your life. And United is right: Sitting at a computer, you have time to craft your message and include details you might otherwise forget while on the phone.
What do you think? Do you prefer to file your complaints or compliments by phone or email? Leave a comment below with your thoughts. Should more airlines follow United's lead? Thanks!
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