Musings on miles, points, and travel from members of the Saverocity network

Episode 55 – Dealing with frustrating customer service

Episode Description

Trevor and the Joes tackle our brave new world of social media, where every negative interaction on an airplane or otherwise gets filmed. Is this a good or a bad thing? When do you cut airline employees some slack? And how do you deal with the bad ones? Plus, some ranting about the “not a cell phone” ban. Recorded 13 May, 2017.

Episode Notes

With the advent of social media, it seems like almost everything gets filmed these days. We’re getting more and more videos of customer service representatives behaving badly. We tackle whether this is a good or bad thing and try to not get TOO crazy about making remarks about society overall, but we ARE blow hards so we only have mild success (4:35). (Check out Trevor’s thoughts on how social media is changing the travel landscape).

We then discuss how we should generally view customer service representatives. When do you give them the benefit of the doubt? What kind of behaviors are completely unacceptable? (17:19)

Finally, we close out our main topic trying to figure out how to deal with bad customer service. We discuss ways to get the customer service rep on your side and remind each other not to be jerks. It’s hard! (24:11)

The show ends with a couple of rants on the electronics ban. Spoiler alert: we are not fans. (36:58)

Couple of housekeeping items. Tagging Miles has a new Facebook page, find that here. Like and follow that, and when you’re done, follow the new Saverocity Observation Deck podcast Facebook page HERE!

Find old episodes on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play! If you enjoy the podcast, we’d love it if you leave us an iTunes review and subscribed.

Music: “She” by Still Pluto

4:35 – intro to topic

6:50 – social media

17:19 – when to cut slack?

24:11 – how to deal with bad CSRs

36:58 e ban

Transcript

Joe Cheung: Hello and welcome the Savorocity Observation Deck where the customer is always right and we are here for Episode 55. I’m back with Trevor and Joe Cortez and kick things off I have a question for Trevor he recently just came back from a sourcing trip and I’m sorry for putting your business out there but he flew down to another state and then drove back up so I’m just a little bit curious you know? Is that something that you do regularly? Is that a normal thing to do did you rent a car to have like secret cars you had hidden around the country like what was going on with all that?

Trevor: I have Aston Martins hidden in every major city they’re just horrible for sourcing

Joe Cheung: No, you just resell those.

Trevor: I wish but you know whenever you drive a car off the lot it loses twenty percent. I like to make at least fifty percent in my margins. Now joking aside, so I actually had to get some stuff out of my parents is attic and they live in St. Augustine in Florida so Thursday night flew down to Orlando picked up I was hoping for a taco but I got a Ford Expedition which worked out really well Alamo by the way I’m just going to say you are dead to me I’m not going to rent with you again unless you’re super cheap because they made it so much harder they didn’t even. National let you do the whole like you know your wife can drive without you know any additional charge they want Church fifteen bucks a day just just going to leave it there yeah so what we did is we rented a car in Orlando spent the night Orlando and then stopped at like three places a couple of targets a Wal-Mart on the way to my parents’ house gripped lunch and filled up the car from from their attic and then I want to say we stopped another eight to ten time. I’m between St Augustine Florida and Laurel Maryland we left St Augustine about one o’clock we pulled into our house at three A.M.

Joe Cheung: Are things in Florida cheaper as there are no sales tax or like what’s going on there or is it just as you make your way to different states you just see different opportunities that you don’t see in your local stores?

Trevor: Yes. So it’s it’s more the latter right so like it’s just like hello and Joe you have kids so so I got to believe you understand this you know they want the killer Barbie or they want the particular Star Wars figure right if you go to more stores your probability of running into those rare figures or rare toys are higher right now and I don’t think I’m killing anything because the fact of the matter is the sale is waning but in may target does like their biggest clearance of the year you’ll find a lot of the electronics between thirty and seventy percent off we had a fair fairly good luck I’d say we probably only spent about four or five maybe yeah I’m going to say five or six thousand dollars in the course of driving up on Friday we did our trip primarily on Friday twelve May. We could have done bigger but because of the Expedition unfortunately it was probably more than fifty percent probably about seventy five percent full before we had the chance to source.

Joe Cheung: Oh, with suffering your parents?

Trevor: Yeah, yeah although it was kind of cool because like my mother is been…so in my family, and I don’t know how many northern northeastern people we have that listen to us and I’m curious if you know this Joe but growing up in New York it was a big deal to get the Hess truck every year for Christmas. And so, my mother just by her nature of kind of you know seeing an opportunity, she would get me a Hess truck and she kept one for herself that she just keeps in the box and kind of you know stowed away in the car and the closet. And so, she sent me with all of my oldest trucks and then kind of a collection of her trucks that she had kind of stored away and so we’re going to see how that does this Christmas.

Joe Cheung: Yeah, the has trucks were weirdly huge here in New Jersey growing up. Joe Cortez what he’s been up to?

Joe Cortez: Me and I don’t have Aston Martin Lee mast and Marley’s dash all over the United States. I don’t go on secret runs for stuff. Actually, I’ve been doing a lot of tracking on this customer service debacle that all the three airlines have been facing and if you can read any of the coverage on Flyer Talk you’d notice that it’s not just United having this issue, American have a very similar issue with a couple of instances, and Delta also had a couple of issues with the pastor that use lavatory before takeoff. How many times we see a that happened on aircraft? But now it’s becoming an issue when somebody is getting thrown off a plane for that and then another father who didn’t have the right seat or something getting threatened with arrest because of an issue with his service. That all led to Delta ultimately canceling their public their press days that they have every year where they show off what the airlines will be doing next in New York because of all of these debacles. So, what’s fascinating to me is now as I’ve been reading through all this and reporting on all of this is we’re seeing the airlines come up and being forced to acknowledge their miscomings because of citizen journalism, which is fascinating and a little bit kooky and fascinating all the same time. So, while Trevor’s off gallivanting looking for items to sell, I’ve been fascinated by what’s been going on on aircraft and wondering to myself, “Where does the madness stop or does it?” I’m not sure that it does.

Joe Cheung: All right so I guess you’re getting us right into the main topic of today so we are going to be talking about just what’s been going on customer service wise in the airline industry and you know Joe’s right it’s not just been United’s just feels like it’s been a bad month for all the airlines have the least the legacy carrier.

Trevor: South just had a brawl too so I mean it’s already said. I’m sort of listen…

Joe Cortez: I thank you for reminding me I forgot all about that.

Joe Cheung: But the but the brawl wasn’t with the flight attendant it was two passengers I think, right?

Joe Cortez: Yes.

Joe Cheung: Yes, so it’s you know a really great message that it’s not great. So, Joe started touching on this so here’s my question for you guys that have been a video technology and social media I mean they’ve made it very easy to shine a light on bad customer service, bad behavior of customers, you know there’s an entire like Twitter feed based on shaming bad behavior on airplanes from you know passengers. So, what do you think? Like, overall do you feel like this video and social sharing business as it relates to air travel you know, do you think that’s a good or a bad thing?

Joe Cortez: I think the sharing is not necessarily a bad thing, but I think it also has to be taken within reason only because there’s so much out there that can be taken completely out of context. Obviously, the situation with a doctor being dragged off a United flight that was taken out of context the situation where the woman had her stroller removed and was very shaken on the American flight I think some of that may have been taken out of context but we can’t to get the context is that flight attendant or the gate agent getting in the face of another passenger who was starting an argument with him in front of everybody else over the situation. Some of these things can be taken out of context. I think there has to be a line drawn somewhere, but the other hand, this is also keeping the airlines transparent. If there were no cameras on board, if there were nobody taking pictures of the situations on board, what do we know they happened and would we know the severity of which they happened? Without that video proof, there would only be allegations. It would be a “he said, she said” with I think the airlines having the upper hand. So, on one hand, great I love the idea of citizen journalism. I love the idea of people being able to be proactive with it, but on the other hand, it also has to be taken with a grain of salt because we don’t know all of the situations and all of the… how these things come forward that lead into these situations.

Trevor: You know, I have to say I agree with I agree with Joe, but to an extent, right? So, I mean you have to take all this stuff with a grain of salt, I mean we saw with the…, what was it? The “#leggingsgate” where somebody wanted to believe something and sort of created a story around it. But, I think the larger issue, and I would argue that this is an issue that that everybody should be concerned about and cognizant of I’ll say, is we always have to be on. If we are outside of our home, we have to be on. We have to realize that somebody might be recording us, you know? If you’re working, if you’re you know, on a plane, even if you’re not working on a plane, you’ve got to acknowledge that somebody might be recording. Now there’s privacy concerns like nobody’s business, but I’m not sure how we kind of resolve those privacy concern. I mean you know, yes, it’s important that there’s, you know, kind of a video record for some of these issues that have happened and you know, had we not, we probably wouldn’t know, you know, kind of some of the crazy things like what happened with Dr Dao and and whether or not it was him or the the Chicago Aviation Police, but to the same point, I mean we’re kind of giving up some of our own privacy by the fact that, you know, cell phones provide you know, one touch or two touch access to be able to record and you’ve got nothing, you know, relative to privacy.

Joe Cortez: And that’s not a bad thing. Anytime I’m out in public, I expect that something is going to be photographing me, something is going to be watching me. That is, unfortunately, a realization of today’s world. And I think ultimately, it’s a position we’re going to be in and you’re right, we always have to be on. However, 99% of customers who have this, who are good, normal, law abiding people who have no effect on this, this should be another day of flying for them and none of these situations will affect them. But, I think for the one percent that are affected by this it will affect it will be a situation that will be something we need to be more cognizant of as a border as they board their planes. Ultimately this, long story short, don’t be a jerk when you fly. You just have to enjoy yourself, trust in this system, trust the airlines will get you to your destination as I wrote for travel guy last week. The airlines are not out to get you. All we have to do is just work within the within the rules of the system.

Joe Cheung: Yeah, I mean I mostly agree with you guys. I mean in terms of video social sharing. Like that is just the reality that we live in now and whatever you do like whether it’s in your job, or whether you’re just out at the grocery store, or if you’re on a plane, you know there’s a chance that if you’re acting like a jerk, it’s going to get recorded. I mean, I think in some ways, it kind of sucks because you can’t get a mulligan and we all have bad days, but in other ways, you know hopefully, overall it can help keep society a little bit more accountable for their actions in terms of air travel. I mean here’s my thought on it. I think on a micro level I dislike the social video sharing. Like you know, yes, customer service representatives should be nice and friendly all the time, but if you kind of are afraid of being recorded all the time, like at least some personalities, they might react and be stressed about that and then go the other way. So, on a micro level, I don’t like the concept of basically we’re almost demanding our C.S.R.s, well not to be perfect because usually when one is getting recorded, they’re being like real jerks, but like I said, there’s kind of no mulligans. However, on a macro level, you know I think that the social video sharing will improve customer service in the long run because now that we can hold airlines accountable I’m sure thirty years ago airlines could have gotten away with being jerks to the customers all the time but now they can’t so in a big picture level you know I think the social video sharing will help to improve customer service on a little picture level you know I think some C.S.R.S. will get what they deserve but some others, like Joe was saying, might be taken a little bit out of context.

Trevor: You know I have to offer this though. The thing that boggles my mind is how some people are so brazen and being pulling out their phone and starting to record. I personally feel that like you know other people have you know the right to privacy and you know, yeah, they might be doing their job and stuff. I’ll give you an example. Not in person but like I had an amazing experience with with a Hyatt globalists love saying that actually don’t say it but it’s…

Joe Cheung: Lobbyist?

Trevor: Globalists. As opposed to an excursionist or …., what is your status there Joe?

Joe Cheung: I think it’s expeditionalist I think it is.

Trevor: Yeah, yeah so, I’m only a globalist but like you know the person was amazing. I literally, I called. I said “Hey I have to jump on a telecom” because I was calling during the day. I shouldn’t have, but I was and she’s like, “I’ll just email you” and I’m like, “Oh you rock!” and so she lo and behold, she actually e-mailed me and made everything work the way that I wanted it to and so I went on social media to tell concierge “hey this person rocks” and I’m thinking to myself as I’m writing it I’m like “Holy crap. I really don’t want to let this person’s, you know, identifying details like out” you know. How little can I identify for this person to still get like you know, good, positive, kudos from her boss because she deserves it.

[END OF 15 MIN.]

1 Comment

  1. May 17, 2017    

    Very enjoyable episode gentlemen.

    Regarding the issue of citizen journalism and customer service, part of me wonders if there is not a small segment of ‘fame-seekers’ out there who are just trigger happy (or record-button-happy) and looking to get their 5-minutes of fame, maybe to the extent of escalating a customer service incident that doesn’t need to be escalated. I mean I know the higher profile cases of late were definite issues with regard to CS, but do you think that some passengers are just itching for a fight (in the hopes of fame or bullying their way to an upgrade or points or something)?

    My most recent case of CS that I wasn’t too happy with, occurred last year on a flight with my family from HKG to PBI with a change-over in DFW. Perhaps too lengthy to go on about here, but in the aftermath, when I was dealing with an airline CS rep who was being less than helpful I just did an audio recording (with my phone) of the encounter. This was just in the event that I would need it for later reference (which I did not). I was never upset with the rep (who was just parroting airline policy) but I was very frustrated at the policy and by proxy, the airline itself.

    On the not-a-cell-phone ban, is the next step an all out electronics ban (including cell phones)? Because my iPhone can pretty much do everything that my iPad can do (in fact it can do more since it can make cellular calls and the iPad cannot). So it can’t really be that they are scared of people doing some remote-app thing, unless they are gonna go after phones too. Is it because of the size of the devices (i.e. can fit more stuff inside one)? Then where is the cut-off? I mean aren’t some of the Samsung Galaxy line of phones huge, with screens as big (if not bigger) than small kindles or iPad minis?

    Also, why not flights from Asia? There are groups with ties to terrorism throughout parts of Asia (Philippines, Indonesia, etc.). And there you are looking at an even longer time being deprived of your device (8-16 hours). I’ve read comments on other travel-blogs where some are trying to defend the ban saying that opponents don’t have all the information or don’t know what Homeland Security knows, etc.

    Looking forward to the next episode. 🙂

No Pings Yet

  1. Observation Deck: Frustrating Customers or Frustrating Customer Service? - Tagging Miles on May 23, 2017 at 10:16 am

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *