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Persistence pays off

October 2nd, 2008 at 02:17 am

Today I went to United's website to purchase a ticket home for the adult stepson. The ticket was a gift for my husband, who is graduating with yet another degree in December and who asked that we fly the adult stepson home for the graduation ceremony/party.

I was able to find an airfare for $279, and I wanted to apply a $100 travel voucher toward the cost of the ticket and then pay for the rest of the ticket out of pocket.

I got to the screen where you pay when I realized there was nowhere to enter a voucher number, so I called United's customer service number and was told I would have to call the reservation line to book the flight if I was using a paper voucher (which I was).

Before I go any further, let me explain how I got the paper voucher. Last October while The Midge was traveling back from California with my sister, United decided at the last minute to cancel their flight because it was way undersold. Instead, they stuck them on a later flight. However, they didn't cancel the flight until The Midge had arrived at the airport. Then they made her sit at the airport for 10 hours and she didn't make it home until 11 p.m. -- not good for a 7 year old who had to be up the next day to go to school.

My sister threw a fit, which caused an earthquake in southern California. The skies opened up and the gods bestowed on my daughter a $100 travel voucher for the "inconvenience." A travel voucher that was fully transferable.

So back to today ...

I call the reservation line and I'm told I will be charged an extra $25 if I have a real live agent book the flight, so I go through United's automated phone system instead. Everything's going along swimmingly up until the point where I have to pay for the ticket -- and, again, no way to enter a voucher number... .

At this point, I repeat a dozen times "Agent please!" and I'm eventually connected to a real live human, to whom I explain that I'm trying to buy a ticket with a voucher so my adult stepson can come home. (Home as in he lives in one state and I live in another state where home is... .)

I'm then told that in order to get the quoted fare I will need to go to the nearest airport within 24 hours with the voucher and The Midge and the adult stepson -- who lives in ANOTHER STATE!!!!

HELLO!!!!! KIND OF HARD TO GET US ALL TOGETHER AT THE SAME AIRPORT WITHIN 24 HOURS UNLESS SOMEONE'S GOING TO BESTOW A FREE TICKET OR TWO HERE!!!!

After I explain all this to the agent on the phone again, she puts me on hold to "check with her supervisor" (also known as checking with her brain).

A while later, she comes back and says I can have the adult stepson fax or e-mail a copy of his government-issued identification to me and then I can mail it along with the voucher -- and a copy of a government-issued ID for The Midge -- to some address in Michigan within 24 hours.

"Uh, what if The Midge's government-issued ID is sitting in a safety deposit box that I can't access until tomorrow at the earliest," I ask, totally forgetting that her passport is actually sitting downstairs in my husband's office.

"If we don't have a copy of both government-issued IDs and the original voucher postmarked within 24 hours, we won't honor the voucher," I'm told.

"So, explain this to me: we got this voucher because of your lousy service, but we can't use it because of your lousy service," I ask.

"Yes, sorry," is the response from the United agent, readily admitting that her employer provides lousy service.

In the end, I did end up buying the ticket with the voucher, government-issued ID for both "children," and cold-hard cash -- but only after spending an hour dealing with United and promising them my left arm, all future earnings and any future grandchildren the above-mentioned children may spawn. ...

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Oh, and as long as I'm here, I'm adding $37.50 to the Challenge from a small job I did for a client of the booming business. That brings my new total to $12,731.67.

Tootles...

2 Responses to “Persistence pays off”

  1. homebody Says:

    Try using your miles when you live in a small rural California town. Same nightmare, especially when talking to the people on the phone who live who knows where. Now I just call the overseas agents, they all live in America, seriously! Glad it got taken care of for you.

  2. M E 2 Says:

    You're a much better person than me. I would have just paid the $25 fee and been done with it. Sorry, but $25 is worth my sanity. ;-)

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