Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Dear American Airlines (again),

As a loyal American Airlines passenger, I have been sorely disappointed in the customer service provided to me over the last several months. Below, you will find my initial letter of complaint regarding an incident in the Piedmont Triad International Airport in August. My complaint was quickly resolved with the issuance of a voucher valued at one hundred dollars.

On November 28, 2006, I booked a flight for December 21 using the voucher. I called American to make my reservation and carefully followed the instructions of the customer service representative. She instructed me which part of the voucher to send in and how to address the envelope and return address. The voucher I received had a front page with my name and address, a sheet of carbon, and then a back page with all of the voucher information, including the value. This back page was the page she instructed me to mail in, along with the flight and passenger information for which I was using the voucher recorded on the outside of my envelope.

Today, December 12, I was surprised to receive a phone call from American Airlines indicating that this ticket had not actually been booked yet. I was told that I did not send in the correct page of my voucher, that there were three pages, and I had sent in the incorrect page. Firstly, I only received two pages, one of which only contained my name and address, information which was also on the back page. Secondly, I followed the explicit directions of the customer service representative. Thirdly, due to the late booking by American of this ticket, the flight is now overbooked and this ticket does not have a seat on the flight.

I was then told that I could not have the reserved ticket unless I put the one hundred dollars on my credit card. I was also told that I would then be foregoing the use of the one hundred dollar voucher, since I could not produce the correct page of it, a page I had never received to begin with. I was asked if perhaps I had used the voucher already and merely forgotten its use. I assured the representative that this was not the case, as I had only just received the voucher in September and had not traveled since the prior incident, which could be verified using my AAdvantage number.

My level of frustration has reached new proportions with this latest development. As this flight is my way home to my family for Christmas, I had no choice but to pay the one hundred dollars. The voucher was part of the reason that I decided to fly home instead of drive this year, as it would save money. I am very hesitant to book another American Airlines flight again. This incident makes twice that I feel I have not been treated with the basic respect a customer deserves. I do not understand how something as simple as a voucher cannot be user-friendly without these seemingly unnecessary complications. For example, it seems that American Airlines would be able to know which vouchers have been used by the number assigned to each voucher. There should be a simple system in place (a computer?) which could cross-reference used and unused numbers.

After following the explicit directions of the customer sales representative, I do not know what I could have done differently to achieve my simple goal of using the voucher. I only received two pages connected by a carbon in the middle. I cannot produce a third page which I did not receive. The paper I returned had all the necessary information listed on it, and yet I am still paying an additional one hundred dollars for a flight I would not have taken without the voucher.

Upon receipt of this letter, I expect that I will receive an explanation for this experience, my one hundred dollar voucher re-issued to me, a seat on the flight which I was told had been booked two weeks ago, and further compensation for this inconvenience during the holiday season, a time when money is already tight. Living in north Texas, I often encourage my visitors to fly American due to the ease and vast availability of flights into DFW, but I am now questioning the continuation of this practice.

I look forward to your response.

Thank you,

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