Just Let Us Talk To a Person, Please - The Missourian: Feature Stories

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Just Let Us Talk To a Person, Please

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Posted: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 12:00 am

The airline site looked easy enough to use, but three hours later we still didn’t have confirmed seats on our flight to England in June. We were flying high until the final step — paying for the flight. Our credit card was rejected.

“It’s a new card. We’ll try another,” Spark said. That one didn’t work and neither did a third.

Calling the airline seemed like a wise idea, but we’d done that at the onset of our fiasco and were told if an agent booked our tickets it would cost an additional $50. We didn’t want to tack on any other fees since we wanted to upgrade to “economy comfort,” because of the long flight.

So we turned to the online site, read about the aircraft, selected the dates, and digested the fine print in the cancellation insurance.

All of that took a while, and we thought we might have timed-out online. Maybe that’s why our credit cards weren’t accepted.

The airline site listed a toll free number for online technical support and we went that route. After a long hold, with lilting symphonic music playing in the background, a woman answered, and listened to my plight.

“You’ll have to go back to ‘home’ and start the booking procedure all over again,” she said.

I moaned and groused. She felt my pain.

“Let me put you on hold and I’ll check something,” she said.

I held again, and while the music lilted on I checked flights on other airlines. None offered the roomier seats. I held a few more minutes and then gave up, griping about the time I’d wasted, an evening set aside to finish a good book.

Spark went downstairs to watch the Notre Dame game, but upstairs my wheels kept turning. There had to be a way to get those tickets bought. I gingerly walked downstairs and pleaded my case. Spark agreed and we sat on the couch together with the laptop.

This time we were quick as bunnies as we re-entered all of our information — to no avail. Our cards weren’t accepted.

There was only one thing left to do. Call a reservationist, plead our case and talk the airline out of charging the extra $50 fee for talking to a living, breathing human being. And that’s what Spark did, very patiently, to an agent who initially tried to hand us off to “Internet tech support” again, something he begged out of.

It took a while for the reservationist to take down all of our information — just spelling out Stuckenschneider several times will eat up the minutes, but pretty soon it was mission accomplished. Spark hung up and we breathed a huge sigh of relief, feeling positively victorious.

Minutes later Spark urged me to double-check the e-mail confirmation to make sure the agent had assigned us the “economy comfort” seats he’d so clearly requested for the transatlantic portion of the flight. She hadn’t.

This mistake, of course, had an online fix. We didn’t have to make a phone call to the “complaint/comment” department. Wonder of wonders we could simply send an email, which we hammered out in bursts of utter frustration.

We got a reply three days later but had to read the e-mail out loud repeatedly to try and decipher what the writer was saying. It remains unclear, and required another email from me, asking “Dear Jinny” if she can call me in person and listing not one, but two phone numbers, for her benefit.

All this malarkey for 4 inches of extra legroom and all the drinks we can ingest on the international flight.

If, and/or when, “Dear Jinny” calls I’m going to suggest the airline provide rounds of drinks for potential customers trying to purchase their tickets online. Goodness knows Spark and I could have knocked back a couple of stiff ones.

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