Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Call Ahead

(35) Call Ahead

On bad weather days, the radio and TV traffic reporters caution us of flight delays and tell us to call our airline for up to date information.

Right.

Ever try that?

You wake up. It’s pouring. Winds from the west at about 40, gusting to maybe 50.

You have a flight booked on, say, Untied Airlines for noon. You’re going from New York to Washington.

First you scurry around looking for the phone number. After some serious research, you find it: 1800 UNTIED AIR. (Since when did they start using nine digit phone numbers?)

“Welcome to Untied Air. Our menu has changed. Please listen carefully to the following 19 choices before making your selection. To book a reservation, press one. To check on a flight, push two. To auto-confirm your reservation, push three. To change a reservation, push four. To find a seat assignment, push five.”

By the time you reach the 19th choice, you’ve forgotten the other 18, so you push “zero” and hope you’ll be connected to a live body. The time now is 8am.

BEEEP.

“I’m sorry, I do not recognize your selection. To hear the choices again, please push ‘one.”

BEEEP

“Welcome to Untied Air. Our menu has changed. Please listen carefully to the following 19 choices before making your selection. To book a reservation, press one. To check on a flight, push two. To auto-confirm your reservation, push three. To change a reservation, push four. To find a seat assignment, push five. If you’re a stock or bond holder checking on our bankruptcy proceedings, please hang up and dial 01 91 11 248 3456.” (notice they slip that one in only occasionally. You have to call India direct.)

You pound on the pound sign until you see stars, thus remembering the star sign and push that.

BEEEP

“That is an invalid choice. Please wait while we connect you to a customer service associate.”

Click click click

Then, the music starts. You get a snippet of “We Kiss In The Shadows” by the Elevator Strings and Chorus. Maybe eight bars.

Then:

“Due to unusually heavy call volume, you may experience delays in connecting with a customer service associate. Your call is very important to us. Please stay on the line and your call will be answered by the next available associate.”

It’s now 8:30 am.

Another few moments of the song and:

“All customer service associates are still busy helping other customers. Please stay on the line for the next available associate. While you’re waiting, did you know that Untied Airlines Frequent Flyer miles accumulate faster than any other airline’s? Find out more by pushing one.”

Don’t you dare.

More music.

Then: “All customer service associates are still busy. Due to new homeland security regulations, Untied Air reminds you to arrive at the airport no later than two hours before your scheduled flight time….”

More music.

Time now: 8:40 am.

Just when music-on-hold gets to a song you like:

“Untied AirthisisCindyhowmayIhelp you?”

You provide your name, your reservation number, your airport and she tells you

“Your flight is on time, sir, please get to the airport by 9 am.”

Click.

Time now, 8:50.

Not going to make it.

Good thing you called ahead.


I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.™

©wjr 2006

1 comment:

John G said...

Not only airlines but more and more outfits that one calls are like that. And websites, such as that of Amazon.com's, can give you the royal run-around. They make you go everywhere before they tell you how to contact them to ask a question or provide a fact that they haven't offered as an option. Times are rough.