I booked a flight for myself and family to visit my mother and sister during the holidays. The tickets were pretty expensive so we elected to use miles. The day before the flight, while I was making a car service reservation, I discovered that my outbound flight was no longer listed. I logged onto aa.com to check my reservation and sure enough, they had changed the flight number and departure time for later that day.
I didn’t recall getting any communication from American on this change, so I called. They indicted they had sent my wife an e-mail with the change information a couple of weeks back. She didn’t remember getting that e-mail, and a search through her Outlook revealed a number of communications from American for vacation packages and fare sales, but nothing about our flight change. When I asked the agent to resend the confirmation she indicated that it was American’s policy to charge $15 for sending a second confirmation e-mail, once they ascertained the correct e-mail address was on file and the message had been successfully sent. Of course it’s entirely possible that my wife missed the message, or there was some other glitch, but I wasn’t asking them to do a lot of heavy lifting.
I was aghast! As someone who has been in the digital space since 1994, has been responsible for service and marketing e-mail programs, and works in a service heavy industry, I know that it costs less than one penny to send an e-mail. E-mail is a great service tool that firms can employ that is significantly less costly than a phone call, and provides the consumer with a record and peace of mind. I can’t imagine how American or anyone else for that matter could justify this policy based on actual cost to the company. The e-mail may deflect a call later down the life-cycle of the purchase. As a customer, it felt like yet another way for desperate carriers to seize any opportunity to collect revenue.
I very clearly expressed my displeasure to the agent and informed her of my professional experience in this area—sending an e-mail doesn’t cost $15. She then offered to send it without the fee. That supports my belief that they are preying on consumers who would not know better. American should be ashamed. Do they really know why we fly?