The fundamental satisfaction consumers get when purchasing a good or service, is receiving exactly what we expect to receive. It’s simple.
This year, my wife and I decided to go for the holidays to our country Dominican Republic. We wanted to visit our relatives and friends who we had not seen in so many years and that our children hardly knew. We were very excited.
Of course, I wouldn’t have to think where to buy our airline tickets. It was clear that the service we would use was American Airlines. I personally use this airline several times a month for work purposes, regardless of how many times in the past, it has failed me one way or another. We have had our little hiccups before, nothing major. So, we bought our tickets several months in advance.
When the day of the trip came (December-19-2012) my wife, my two toddlers, and I headed to the airport. We were informed that our flight was delayed several hours. Nevertheless, this was not going to ruin our trip. We checked our 4 suitcases, headed to the gate and patiently waited to takeoff.
Arriving in Santo Domingo, we went to the baggage area to pick up our 4 suitcases and to our surprise, none had arrived. We were directed to the baggage claims kiosk in order for us to make a claim on our luggage that apparently decided not to travel that night. There, a young woman reviewed our case, she started off by stating: “I can see that your six suitcases…” at that moment we realized this was just the beginning to a serious problem. To cut the long story short, that night we had none of our suitcases and American Airlines claimed we had 6 bags instead of 4. Just imagine a couple, with two young toddlers without access to personal items because the airlines in which we trusted, has little or no control over their customers baggage, not even thinking of the damage they may cause. Upon hearing the news, questions started flowing by the milliseconds, what is the procedure? Who will fix the damage? What will we do without our belongings in a place where we came on vacation? If we have to buy some clothes, would the airline cover the cost? At this point we were very anxious and a bit frustrated. However their answer was just as unfit and uninformative as their amazing lack of empathy. They stated “wait for the next few hours to see if your bags show up, if in 5 days they do not appear, then officially report them missing. Please call tomorrow to see what news we have. ” At this point I felt like I wanted to kill her, it was late (2:30 am) and after spending so much time in this process it would’ve been a waste time. So we decided to wait until the next day.
The next day (Dec-20-2012) we spent the whole day calling the claims department to the number that they had provided us with at the kiosk the previous night which surprisingly no one answered, go figure. At this point we personally had to go to the office located on Winston Churchill Ave. There we met with the most indolent staff known to mankind. My despair grew and at this point I was screaming feeling impotent, nonetheless the employees who were present did not even flinch. A young woman, with all her patience, decided to make a call. She informed us that the 4 suitcases had arrived to Dominican Republic and that they were going to send them to where we were staying. Finally, what relief I felt. At 9:30 pm an employee, sub-contracted by the airline, came to deliver our suitcases. When I come out to greet this person, I was in total happiness because my bad luck was about to end, the employee informs me that he only had 3 suitcases with him, meaning that one of the bags had not arrived. Immediately the feeling of helplessness returned but this time on steroids. It was late, I called the 809-542-5151 number they had provided and all I got was a recording stating that their hours were until 7:00 pm; what a service!
The next day I kept calling (Dec-21-2012), the following also and so I kept trying every day, asking about my suitcase, until the 26th of December (a week later) I decided to personally go an office located inside the international airport in Romana. They advised me to fill out a claim form and to include all invoices of every item worth more than $ 100 that were inside that suitcase. You read that right? This means that the only hope I have to recover my lost items, in case my luggage does not appear, is to have all the invoices of all items of value that were in there, my iPad, headphones, clothes, etc etc etc.
Today is January 1, 2013 and still I do not have my suitcase. As expected, I do not have on hand most of the invoices of the things that were in that suitcase. In order to get those documents I would have to do an immense amount of work intelligence and go to each of the store where I bought my articles and beg them to stop their operations and try to get my invoices. Which I see are very unlikely.
As confirmed by one of American Airlines great customer service agent, “I should calmly wait, since just like me, there are many other customers in this same situation” What a shame!!
The reality is that due to the poor service of American Airlines, they spoiled our holiday. After all American Airlines is a very large company and it shows that they care very little to lose a customer. What is certain is that I will personally make sure of spreading publicly my story to everyone I can and while I am alive, I will try to never ever use the services of this airline.
Ironically when we arrived back home, I found in our mailbox an envelope containing my letter that certifies me as an American Airlines “Gold” member. I certainly doubt I will be using this membership.