This call may be recorded = victory

We all have experienced the awfulness of businesses demanding that we engage them via telephonic means to resolve an issue caused by the business in question. And we have all heard the generic IVR greeting that somehow navigated the slalom of focus groups, legalese enthusiasts and managers that stated that our words were potentially subject to digital immortalisation. 

Alas, the word may is a misnomer – your call will be recorded. The statement you heard as the call commenced isn’t false, however it is terribly dishonest:

Your call may be recorded for quality and coaching purposes does not exclude your call being recorded for any other of a multitude of purposes. Your call will definitely be recorded for legal and business purposes – semantically this happening is completely consistent with the message you endured as a customer upon calling to ensure that the particular form of fuckery that some particular business offered to inflict on you at least didn’t burn down your house or exfoliate your perineum with a belt sander.

The psychology of observance

Having a colleague, boss, sibling, parent, friend or other eyeball owner hover on one’s shoulder as one acts is typically considered an act of scrutiny by many and for good reason – there is an association between examination and confirmation of correctness. 

Alas, I have heard from many friends, family members and random people that I yell “your call will be recorded!” in the general direction of that the statement gives them pause – the idea of review and scrutiny can serve to demand some level of compliance to some arbitrary set of unspoken norms that are leveraged all too often.

And this is a problem.

Call recorded = victory

As this Arsehole has stated previously, one of your greatest assets is information. More specifically, as a customer you are in a position to expect that statements made to you are representative of the organisation you have engaged with and you can demand that such representations are executed.

There are two very recent examples that have served this Arsehole well on behalf of his Arseholly self and his family that reduce to a simple question.

Why are your customers paying for your company’s mistakes??!?

Example 1 – really?

My parents decided that they’d visit the UK before the island cut itself off from Europe for reasons that are best characterised as refusing to recognise that we’re all human beings and comprised of the same fucking stuff.

Alas, due to some changes being made by the airline that would carry my family from London to the US, the mile and status earn owed to my parents was hamfisted into oblivion in a fashion comparable to George Lucas’s insistence that Ewan McGregor surrender the ability to emote and act in Episode 2 and 3.

As I’m a completely reasonable human being I suggested that my Dad call the airline the mile and status earn was being credited to and inform them of the situation. The call boiled down to:

  • Yes, we see that the fare has not been credited properly – we’ll fix it.
  • Yes, your wife’s account will also be credited

Alas, only one of these things happened – there have now been multiple conversations with the people answering the calls we make, and they are ill-equipped to actually assist, regularly falling back on policy.

The moment a mention of “pull up the recording of my previous call” is mentioned, acquiescence comes more quickly than my cats do when my voice goes up by an octave.

The actual cunting fuck!?!

My parents decided that they’d fly north toward a den of boganality and my homeland’s bestest rollercoasters. As they’re not savages, they opted to fly at the front of the plane and upgrade with the multitude of point/mile earnings they’ve secured. Of importance in this example is the fact that the airline flown and the loyalty program involved are directly associated and promoted singularly.

Alas, this encouraged behaviour resulted in 2 of the 4 flights involved earning absolutely nothing in terms of points/miles and status recognition. When questioned, the response was:

  • Yes, we know that there is an issue
  • Yes, we will fix it

Alas, this did not happen:

  • Multiple phone calls were required to ensure that the conditions of the fares purchased were honoured
  • To date (15/Dec/2019), the promises of those conditions being honoured have not been fulfilled
  • At each interaction, staff have attempted to cite policy in an attempt to refute their employer’s responsibilities

These examples serve as an archetypal basis for holding companies to account – staff are disempowered, stated expectations are discarded and indifference is expected.

To quote my dad, there’s a lot to be said about getting some cunt about you.

As much cunt as you get about you though, please don’t be an Arsehole.

Our rules only apply when we say!

This particular Arsehole had reason to fly from the US to a few places in Europe (and back) and identified quite an excellent deal being offered by Turkish Airlines for all the major cities that needed to be visited. After maximising the value of the purchase in terms of credit card rewards, the Arsehole was happy in their securing of the set of tickets on offer.

Alas, it all started to go somewhat wrong.

The first leg of the trip departed from the sixth worst airport in the entire world, LAX. The excellent Star Alliance lounge at the Tom Bradley terminal served as a wonderful refuge from the terminal prior to boarding, however this particular Arsehole soon learned that announcements for boarding were not a matter of procedure in this lounge and passengers needed to ensure that they were at the gate for boarding without prompting for Turkish Airlines flights.

With this information, the Arsehole headed to the gate to observe a complete omnishambles in progress. The gate in question featured shiny new biometric scanners that weren’t used, staff who decided to complain in the general direction of anyone asking why boarding was delayed and changing the configuration of the boarding lines every few minutes out of either catharsis or confusion.

Eventually, boarding happened and I was very impressed by the crew and the way they took care of their passengers – uniforms were immaculate, attentiveness was present and unobtrusive and the handling of requests was very exceptional.

And then the flight landed

Istanbul Atatürk Airport is a very interesting place. Many aircraft land at remote gates, there’s quite a lot of congestion and jet bridges have a rare configuration for deplaning passengers involving well-dressed airline employees standing at the threshold, directing passengers up a ramp to the departures level for connecting international flights or down a different ramp to customs and connecting domestic flights. This is where things started to go quite wrong.

Somehow, the flight from LAX to Istanbul had managed to lose about an hour in the air, so the connecting flight that Turkish Airlines had sold me had since buggered off to Bucharest with precisely zero fucks given. In cases such as these, it is the responsibility of the airline to rebook passengers such that they get to their destination without having to resort to hitchhiking or hiding in someone’s luggage and I was directed to the Turkish Airlines rebooking desk. Which is in the domestic section of the airport for some incomprehensible reason.

A brow-beaten bloke looked at my boarding pass, muttered something unkind about Bucharest and then gave me a new boarding pass that would see me arrive more than 6 hours later than my original itinerary promised. This made me a very sad panda, but things only got worse. 

Upon finally boarding the flight to Bucharest, it became apparent that an equipment change had occurred and no Business Class seats were present. In an example of gross egregiousness, I was subjected to flying in Economy! 

Thankfully the subsequent legs around Europe were without incident, with an expectation of dealing with the late arrival and downgrade of my Istanbul-Bucharest leg once I was home. Alas, I was about to be grossly disappointed.

As originally booked, my flight to the US would see me have over 3 hours to meet a connecting flight at San Francisco airport (which is the 5th worst airport I have ever been to). Yet, for some unknown reason, Turkish Airlines decided to alter my itinerary such that I would have less than 90 minutes to clear immigration and customs, recheck my bags, change terminals and be molested by the TSA. To add insult to injury, the incoming flight was ordered to come to a halt and wait for a bloke named Keith to tow the 777 to quite a distant gate.

Upon getting through immigration, Turkish Airlines staff had tried to be “helpful” and moved my bag off to a storage area which they proceeded to forget the location of. After administering hypnosis and deploying my personality in the general direction of the staff, my bag was suddenly found and I was told that I would be delayed by another few hours and I would have to endure the unrelenting pestilence that is Economy for my connecting flight.

Up with this I shall not put

So in summary:

  • My arrival in Bucharest was delayed by over 6 hours
  • The Istanbul-Bucharest leg was downgraded to Economy
  • The San Francisco-Seattle leg was changed without notification or justification
  • The rebooked flight arrived hours later than scheduled and was downgraded to Economy

I wrote to Turkish Airlines, expressing my concerns and was told to fuck off in the second most polite way I’ve experienced to date. After laying out all the facts, the airline refused to do anything about the issues encountered even though their customer rights document laid out exactly what they should be doing.

In the end, I ended up invoking my favourite C word in their general direction and let American Express deal with them. Oh, the fun that was had:

Dear Mr Arsehole,

Thank you for bringing the issues you encountered during your journey with Turkish Airlines to our attention. We have reviewed the documentation and evidence you have provided and agree that the airline is refusing to act as is detailed in their customer rights document.

To that end, please be informed that a credit of 1,200 Euros will be applied to your account whilst we recover the funds from the airline.

Love,

American Express

But this is not the end of the story

About 6 months later, I received an e-mail from Turkish Airlines with regard to this incident. I was expecting the message to allude to attempting to claw back the funds in some fashion, but surprisingly this was not the case:

Dear Mr Arsehole,

We have reviewed the manner in which your case was dealt with and agree that it was unacceptable. As an apology, please find attached a voucher valued at 168 Euros for use on our airline when we next welcome you aboard.

Sincerely,

Turkish Airlines

Victory! Twice!

Six little digits

Technology advancement is wonderful. Thanks to the relentless focus on data as a valuable commodity there are many means of maintaining contact with friends, family, coworkers, businesses and advertisers that are based on acknowledged relationships between parties. As a result, the majority of the communication I engage in does not involve a conventional phone call.

Consequently, it was with great joy and anticipation that I answered my phone recently only to be greeted with a voice wanting to offer me access to an amazing investment opportunity! What a frabjous day it was turning out to be!

Of course, my joy was entirely a function of the fun I thought I was going to have. My expectations were met in this regard – I was very amused. 

Give me your number

Scammy calls of this nature always have a predictable, boring structure. For the purposes of giving an example, we shall call the lying, vindictive belligerent party in this scenario Scott Morrison.

Scott: Hello! Is this Ultimate Arsehole? I am from Dodgy As All Fuck Fake Investments and I have an amazing, fantastic opportunity for you! We have many happy investors and are eager to share the details of their success with you and help you reach your financial goals quickly and without any risk. Would you be interested in us sending you more details on our products?

At this point, there are many ways one could respond to useless pricks like Scott. Some of my favourites include:

  • Really? What are my financial goals specifically?
  • Can you provide me with a link to the ATO ruling that covers your product?
  • What’s your company’s ABN? The form on ScamWatch won’t let me submit reports without that.
  • What is the Morning Star rating on your product?
  • I only invest in mud wrestling promotions and brothels for livestock
  • Are your expense ratios calculated before or after deducting time lost to management masturbating and them praying for forgiveness for masturbating?

As the person in question was calling from an Australian number and was in fact calling an Australian number, I decided to try out a well-worn shortcut so I could get back to perfecting my masturbating-whilst-investing technique. I simply asked, “What is your organisation’s AFSL number?”

Hilarity ensues!

At this point, “Scott” started making a series of statement about as coherent as an inexperienced teenager in a barrel of Vaselined eels. 

Scott: Yes, I am from Dodgy As All Fuck Fake Investments – DAAFFI

UA: That’s interesting, and not even remotely an answer to my question. What is your Australian Financial Services License number?

Scott: Yes, we provide investment services.

UA: This really isn’t that hard. You’re selling financial services, and to do so you need to possess an AFS License – I ask again, what is your AFSL number?

Scott: The numbers for returns on investment are only available to customers.

UA: I’m sorry, but do you have some difficulties with comprehension or basic English? I’ve asked a simple question, and you either need to give me the requested answer or admit that you’re engaging in a scam.

At this point, I really thought this person would cut their losses and go dial a bogan named Keith or Theo. How wrong and amused I was….

Scott: Our number is 612 8103 4313.

At this point, one should probably have two pieces of information:

  1. An AFSL number is generally 6 digits long.
  2. “61” is the Country Code for Australia as allocated by the ITU

I could scarcely believe it myself – Scott had somehow decided to give me a phone number to satisfy my request for actual credentials. At this point, I laughed so hard that one of my cats attacked one of my feet, the local neighbourhood nutter complained about the noise and I learned about the effect of mineral water and saliva on Razer’s green keyboard switches. Scott was not impressed by the remainder of my response:

UA: That’s a phone number. In fact, it’s the phone number that was presented before I answered this call. Do you have an AFSL number or not?

Scott: Our address is on Pitt Street in Sydney…

At this point, I decided that I was overdue for my third wank of the evening and decided to wrap this fuckery up.

UA: Again, that statement has precisely nothing to do with my question. Do you know that you’re participating in a scam Scott or are you a victim like the Keiths, Nigels and Teeshans that you spout this fuckery at? 

Scott: <click>

TL;DR: Scammer is asked for a license number – provides their phone number in response. Was amusing, would repeat.

Your internet has been hacked!

How long I have waited! How long I have hoped for this wonderful day!

In the last 7 days, I received a phone call that commenced with the sultry tones of GlaDOS, assuming she’d decided to go out on a bender of nutmeg and kerosene:

This call is from Telstra.

Your IP has been been hacked and is compromised. You need a new IP and a new router, and this will be provided free of charge. Please press 1 to talk to our Senior Technician.

How could I refuse? I pressed 1 with extreme enthusiasm and proceeded to talk to a person who we shall call Percival as to protect their identity (apologies to all persons named Percival who aren’t actual pricks).

Speaking to Percival was interesting, in the same way that attempting to save a towel from being swallowed by one’s toilet is interesting.

Percival: “Hello, I be Senior Technician Percival. Are you a Telstra customer?”

UA: “You tell me Percival – which IP address did I last secure a lease on ?”

Percival:  “Yes, your IP has been hacked. Your internet has been hacked.”

UA: “I don’t have ‘an internet’. What does ‘IP’ stand for?”

Percival: “Sir, I need to access your PC so I can fix your internet.”

UA: “You were asked a very simple question – answer it or go bugger a goat. Or a cow. Or both. Perhaps you can upload the footage to ‘your internet’ so someone can scam your stupid arse when they claim that your ‘IP’ has been ‘hacked’. Also, ‘IP’ stands for ‘Ignorant Peon’ – when did you last wank whilst huffing perfume in a Chemist?”

Percival: “I will find you and KILL YOU! <click>”

Well, I seemingly upset poor Percival. So much so that his manager Clarence decided to call me and provide more amusement:

Clarence: Sir, my good name be Clarence. Your internet has been hacked! Percival need to help you!

UA: You are so full of shit you cry brown tears.

Clarence: You are a racist! We are legitimate business!

UA: Ok – what are the last 3 digits of my payment instrument used to fund my Telstra account? I know that those details are available to all sales and support personnel.

Clarence: Do be confirming your credit card number so I can be providing the detail.

UA: Err….no

Clarence: But sir, I must have the info for doing the needful.

UA: I like cheese. Please cease to exist. <click>

I tied up Clarence and Percival for about an hour, got a hold of their call origins and network arrangements, sent then on to various legal and commercial entities and hopefully made their lives somewhat harder.

I do hope they call back – their sobbing was quite unique.

 

UA vs VA – 2018 – a trend presents and an outcome occurs

There’s a worrying trend that continues to become apparent in various organisations – the touch points involving customers are deprioritised in terms of cost, training and focus.

This was the case when I represented my family when taking issue with many issues caused by VA’s gross incompetence.

There were many discussions, however they were all completely unproductive:

  • My computer says that the correct outcome is X, and I’m incapable of reading and/or understanding the analysis of the Terms and Conditions VA has published and made public.
  • Our application of the published terms and conditions is incorrect, but that’s what our management says should be done so no other discussion will be entertained.

After being poorly amused by the idiocy on display, a missive was sent in the general direction of VA and their CEO’s inbox:

Dear VA,

The level of ineptitude and disempowerment of the staff your company has decided to deploy in response to the issue I have raised has given me cause to take this matter outside of your resolution process.

American Express will be instructed to issue a chargeback for all tickets issued by VA and VA’s partners given the refusal of VA to adhere to the stated Terms and Conditions.

Love,

Arsehole

I was expecting this missive to result in dismissive behaviour, but I was thankfully incorrect. Less than 12 hours after this foretelling was communicated, a mildly competent person from VA did contact me (very insistently in fact) and afforded my family the full allocation of points stated in the program terms as well as a compensation in points to address the refusal to understand and address the issue initially.

The old man wins.

Victory!

Can UA win this one? UA vs VA 2018 – A prelude

This particular Arsehole and his family spent some time in the US in March 2018 and all hold Gold or higher status with Virgin Australia. This is meant to provide a few privileges:

  • Access to lounges with Virgin Australia and their partners, including Delta
  • A 75% bonus on points earned in Virgin Australia and Delta flights (100% if you’re a Platinum member, which this particular Arsehole is)
  • Priority boarding and baggage
  • Priority phone service from a specialised team of Virgin Australia staff

Unfortunately, the to-date smooth experience my family and I have enjoyed with Virgin Australia experienced turbulence:

  • As if they were inflicting the “experience” of “flying” Jetstar upon themselves, my parents were denied access to the Delta SkyClub at Los Angeles International
  • Even though Virgin Australia state that Velocity Gold members earn a 75% Points Bonus on all airfares on VA and DL tickets operated by either VA or DL, bonuses of a mere 37.5% were awarded.
  • 12 days after completing the trans-Pacific leg of their journey, the earned points and status credits had not credited to my family’s accounts. At all.
  • The Family Pooling arrangement between two of my family’s members was severed, but VA continued sweeping the points and status credits to the beneficiary anyway.

This particular Arsehole didn’t think this would be a problem, as the situation could be discussed with the skilled, customer-focused people that Gold and Platinum members get access to. Alas, this was not to be the case:

  • Platinum members are now shunted into the same contact centres as everyone else.
  • Basic mathematics was provably impossible for those tasked with addressing my concerns.
  • The first response was seemingly written by someone that failed remedial high school English and was named Chan’tel by their evil, sadistic parents and contained a terrible turn of phrase:

I’m sorry that you feel that way

When a company states that they’re sorry that you “feel” a certain way, they have completely failed to comprehend the issue, let alone engage in acknowledgement, correction and making it right. I wrote back to Chan’tel Brit-tney L3a and stated the following:

  • The stated concerns have not been addressed – please review the correspondence and correct this
  • If a discussion is required, note that the aggrieved parties are currently on the US west coast

Things did not get better from this point.

We know where Ralph Wiggum went for work experience

At 11pm local time, my phone rang and a very insistent person calling themselves “Ignatius” decided that they would launch into telling me that the concerns my family and I had stated were wrong and that nothing needed to be done. This is an example of where preparation is the best possible weapon one has in such disputes:

  • “Ignatius” attempted to ignore Virgin’s own earning charts
  • “Ignatius” displayed a complete lack of awareness of prior correspondence beyond a highly-trivial extent

Most worryingly, and to my infinite horror, “Ignatius” didn’t understand my favourite C word!

In an act of defiance of this particular Arsehole, “Ignatius” sent me an e-mail summary of our conversation, if one applies the the term summary in this instance in the same way one applies “factual account” to Harry Potter.

At this point, this Arsehole was looking at inevitable defeat, with many wanting him to finally be put in his place.

To be continued.

 

If you don’t ask…

Although I have precisely zero evidence to support such thinking, I am of the opinion that there is a reliance on customer apathy by many organisations when it comes to their customers. Specifically, I’m referring to organisations that impose undue difficulties on their customers when they need to have something addressed resulting in customers either not asking at all or giving up in frustration.

Here I present two somewhat-contrasting cases of what happens when one does ask.

Amazon.com

As I’m a hopeless geek, I had preordered the special edition of a very mature, culturally important video game that came with a collectible thingy. On the day of release, no shipping details were available so I wrote to the good people at Amazon to find out what was going on. The response I received can be summed up as follows:

  • We made a mistake managing our inventory
  • You’ll still definitely get the limited edition you ordered
  • We’ve upgraded the shipping on your order from 2 days to overnight at no cost
  • Here’s a $15 Amazon credit – we don’t imply that this makes up for the delay but we hope you’ll accept this gesture as a show of our want to retain your trust as a customer

This is an example of acknowledging, resolving and making the issue right with the customer. The cause of the issue has been stated clearly, the resolution laid out and things made right with the customer. I was extremely happy with this outcome, but seemingly Amazon weren’t. Later on that same day, Amazon sent me a UPlay code for the game so I could start playing it immediately, effectively allowing me to get started on the campaign before I would have otherwise been able to.

The game itself was more of a letdown than ordering a Meatlover’s pizza and having a Vegan’s Delight pizza delivered instead. With the pizza being cold, stale and missing all analogues of cheese. But that’s hardly Amazon’s fault.

Virgin Australia

In 2016, I had scheduled a month-long holiday in the US so I could be incredibly mature and ride as many rollercoasters as possible. Of course, I needed to fly Business Class but wasn’t willing to pay the asking price and used my wanker-ish status with the airline to upgrade using points.

At this time, Virgin Australia was in the process of refitting their fleet with an excellent, originally named Business Class product and a seat had opened up on a flight featuring this upgraded product. Of course this Arsehole immediately called (because making this change online is seemingly impossible), paid the required $100.00 change fee and secured themselves a seat in this much better cabin. Or so it would seem.

A few days later I’d noticed that my seat allocation had changed, and to my infinite horror it turns out that the flight I’d changed to still featured the old product without direct aisle access for all passengers and lots of other undesirable aspects. I wrote to the good people at Virgin Australia, explaining that I had now paid $100.00 to receive the following benefits:

  • The exact same type of service I previously had secured
  • Earning fewer Velocity Points and Status Credits
  • Having to get to the airport even earlier
  • My then-partner’s (yes, I date – don’t laugh!) unending laughter for securing all this for the incredibly reasonable price of $100.00

I wrote to the good people at Virgin Australia, requesting that this change be reversed (as the only reason it was made was to get access to the shiny new product) and was told the following:

  • Thank you for being a Velocity Platinum member
  • Cabin configurations are subject to change for operational reasons
  • Go away

Of course, being an Arsehole I did not go away. I wrote back, providing screenshots of my seat selection, requests that the call recording be checked and asking precisely what sort of person would want to spend any funds on the “benefits” I’d received by making the change.

At this point those that knew of my arseholery were hoping for imminent defeat, with my antics somehow resulting in me ending up Economy (or the cargo hold) to restore balance in the universe. Alas, a wonderful person named Linda from Virgin Australia called me, credited $100.00 to my Travel Bank balance and added the deficit of points and status credits to my account. It was also admitted that an issue at the airline caused the problem that I saw and the initial response had not considered all the facts, with additional training and reviews being considered to stop this from happening again.

All-in-all, the issue was sorted satisfactorily but at the cost of more effort than was warranted.

The moral of these ramblings

Things are going to go wrong, regardless of how much is put in place in terms of safeguards, planning, mechanisms and good intentions. Focusing on the manner in which issues are dealt with is infinitely more important than focusing on the issue itself.

 

 

Please, don’t always be an Arsehole (and when to consider being one…)

As mentioned in some of the posts on this questionable site, there are certain rules that one should follow when being an Arsehole, one of the most important of which is to have basis for being an Arsehole. One must remember that the person who will be hearing your words, reading your missives or questioning the right of Twitter and Facebook to exist is a human being who is performing various tasks as part of their employment and is deserving of respect and to be treated as you yourself wish to be treated.

A recent event occurred that reminded this particular Arsehole to post on this subject. My family and I decided we were going to head to New York and had booked flights and accommodation to facilitate this, even though the trip would see us have to get up at 05:00 (a time that I personally think doesn’t deserve to be acknowledged). At 17:47 the day before, we were informed that our flight had been cancelled due to an absolutely shocking storm impacting the US North East.

The airline did the right thing here, and also indicated they’d be rebooking us as soon as possible.

Which they did.
Via Phoenix.
On a red-eye flight.
In Economy.

I really wasn’t enamoured with the idea of at least 2 of the “features” of this new itinerary and my family was even less enthused. We decided to do something else and the airline happily refunded the flights in full, however the hotel was under no obligation to do so and a $500 cancellation fee seemed to be unavoidable.

One catches more flies with honey than with vinegar

Upon calling the hotel and explaining the situation, they very happily asked for our original flight numbers and cancelled the reservations at no charge. I’ve since written to the hotel to express my thanks and bring attention to the staff member who made the process so incredibly easy and efficient.

The particular hotel superchain involved has gained a larger share of my accommodation spend as a direct result of how they responded to a friendly request. In this particular instance, there was no need to be an Arsehole.

 

 

The AA incident – the aftermath

After flying back from the US thanks to claiming victory over American Airlines, this particular Arsehole decided that they’d gotten off way too easily:

  • I had to get myself back to Melbourne after the SYD-LAX leg was terminated
  • The Melbourne to Sydney leg of the journey was not reissued
  • The Sydney to Melbourne leg was also not reissued
  • I’d spent about 3 hours sorting the situation out

I thought I’d give AA the chance to make things right, so I wrote to them.

Dear AA,

Due to an operational decision made by AA, my journey to Los Angeles needed to be rescheduled and the original MEL-SYD and SYD-MEL segments that were purchased were not included in the reissued fare. Please detail how AA will be addressing this issue through either an appropriate refund or awarding of AAdvantage miles.

Sincerely, an Arsehole

Amazingly, AA responded with a well-intentioned but ultimately inadequate offer of 10,000 AAdvantage miles. Although that’s better than nothing, it’s not quite what I had in mind.

Dear AA,

Although I appreciate the gesture, 10,000 AAdvantage miles is not comparable to the value that was not delivered by the reduced itinerary provided. Considering the miles, EQMs and EQDs that I did not earn due to this change and the costs I incurred as a result, I would require that the amount be increased to 75,000 AAdvantage miles to consider the matter settled.

If this does not occur, I will instruct my card issuer to raise a chargeback against the transaction.

Sincerely, an Arsehole

AA responded with “Sorry, there’s nothing we can do” to that particular missive. Of course, that isn’t true and served as excellent evidence for the chargeback process.

The particular issuer of the card used to purchase the airfare unfortunately relies on systems that were designed in 1974 and seemingly have decided to outsource their chargeback handling to an adult daycare centre that provides vodka intravenously. The process went as follows:

  1. Arsehole sends description of issue to card issuer
  2. Card issuer sends a generic e-mail requesting more information.
  3. Arsehole provides extensive information, and includes the statement “Please provide specific questions if any additional information is required”.
  4. Card issuer states that they do not have enough information and close the dispute
  5. The entire process is repeated 3 more times (!!!)

After the third attempt, I decided that the only way I could ensure that I would get any satisfaction at all is by being an Arsehole to the bank involved. So that’s exactly what I did:

Dear Dodgy Bank Corporation,

I have now attempted to comply with your chargeback handling process 4 times and have been given no information as to why the process has been stopped on each occasion. This conduct is in violation of the Scheme rules and is an egregious drain on my time.

Should I not receive confirmation that my case has been escalated and is being handled by someone qualified to and capable of ensuring that the dispute is raised with American Airlines in the next 48 hours, I will be referring the case to the Financial Ombudsman Service. Should I receive additional generic, non-specific requests for more information, I shall take this as an indicator that my request has not been actioned.

Love, an Arsehole

Of course, the only response was a phone call asking me to state the specifics of my dispute. Upon telling the person to stop wasting my time and look at the voluminous correspondence that I’d already provided, they committed to getting back to me the following day. They didn’t.

At this point, I had more than enough material to make a solid case with the FOS. There’s a very convenient online form for this process, and more-often-than-not does not require speaking to any humans. After 5 days, the bank in question made an offer of $1,000.00 to settle the complaint.

10,000 AAdvantage points and $1,000.00 in cash – victory!

 

UA vs AA (Spoiler: UA wins)

As previously mentioned, this particular Arsehole has taken on both United Airlines and Delta and declared victory in both instances. In March 2017, American Airlines were offering an extremely reasonable fare from Melbourne to Los Angeles in Business Class, which suited this Arsehole perfectly as he needed to get to the US for some business thing. The fare even included flights between Melbourne and Sydney on Qantas, but did require that it be booked through a travel agent (something that this Arsehole normally refuses to do).

3 hours into the flight from Sydney to LA, things started to go more wrong than a Barnaby Joyce-themed porn shoot:

  • The flight diverted to Brisbane due to a medical issue onboard
  • The flight then diverted to Sydney as Brisbane wasn’t in a position to handle AA’s ground needs
  • Announcements were made telling all passengers to stop asking about what would occur after the aircraft landed in Sydney
  • Upon landing, all AA staff decided to fuck off and had Qantas staff tell the passengers to come back the next day at 7am for updates “if available”

This Arsehole was not in a position to wait until the next day, as the business thing in question needed to be rescheduled as a result of the delay. At this point:

  • AA/Qantas staff refused to discuss the issue or rescheduling after determining that no other flights to the US were available that day on AA (no other OneWorld partners were considered)
  • The travel agency stated that they had no idea what they could or could not do to accommodate the changes to my schedule (in direct response to this issue occurring)
  • Neither party was willing to offer any assistance on returning to Melbourne other than “just go buy a cheap flight from Expedia or something”

Obviously, up with this I would not put! Upon the event in the US being rescheduled, the fun started.

Dear Travel Agency,

The engagement I was travelling for has been rescheduled to X/Mar/2017. As previously discussed, please ensure that tickets are issued for MEL-LAX on (X-1)/Mar/2017 and LAX-MEL on (X+1)/Mar/2017.

Love,

Arsehole

Of course,  expecting a remotely helpful response to this message would be akin to expecting an admission of error from The Orange One.  Instead of replying in writing, a bloke named Keith called me.

Keith attempted to insist that I would need to pay a change fee of ~$5,000 as I had chosen to not take the flight heading out the following day. The fact that this would have seen me spending barely 36 hours in the US was quite lost on poor Keith, and he refused to investigate options beyond asking me for my credit card number.

At this point, I told Keith that he needed to get my requested changes made at no additional charge by the end of the day or I would come to his office and subject him to my best Elephant Impression . Keith put me onto his manager, Jaydee-Taylah (yes, I did check the spelling) who explained that she would personally call the airline and call me back. Which she didn’t.

Because I was feeling charitable the next day and had picked out the ideal set of pants to pull the pockets out of, I called Keith and was told that he had been given the waiver code required to alter the reservation but could still not get American Airlines to budge, likening the experience to attempting intercourse with a bull. As much as I would normally like to explore a man’s admission of attempting to pleasure a bovine, I decided to focus on the facts:

  • Give me the waiver code. No sayeth Keith, as apparently there’s some sort of super-secret set of rules between Travel Agent proles and Airline proles.
  • Give me the details of the department you’ve been speaking to at the airline. No sayeth Keith, as they’d apparently refuse to talk to me.
  • Which would you prefer – to give me a refund now or to experience a chargeback? At this point the pleading started, and Keith responded to My Favourite C Word with details of who to call at American Airlines.

And this is where the real fun started.

Arsehole: Here are the days I need to fly – change my reservation.
AA Prole: Because you didn’t take our offered option, that will cost $5,123.13.
Arsehole: AA’s offered option was of zero use to me. I needed to be in the US on the days I originally booked and have had to change my plans as a result of the operational decisions AA made. I will not be paying a cent to make these changes.
AA Prole: Well, you need to take that up with your travel agent. They hold the booking.
Arsehole: I don’t think so. Here is what is going to happen – you will reissue the ticket for the required dates now or I will instruct my card issuer to raise a chargeback for the transaction and commence proceedings against AA to cover the cost of the trip on another carrier and I’ll definitely win. Your call.
AA Prole: Would you like to keep your original seat selections?
10 minutes later, this particular Arsehole had the required tickets. In the course of these changes finally being made, American Airlines decided to cut the travel agent out of the loop, thus denying them any of the commission associated with the fare. Keith called me in response to this and started asking many questions (mostly along the lines of trying to figure out what I did), all of which I told him I’d answer once I see the bonus points his agency was offering land in my account. Keith then hung up on me.
TL;DR – airline wanted $5,000 to change a trip that they failed to execute on. Arsehole made them do it for free and managed to remove the travel agent’s commission in the process.
Victory!
But this is not the end of the story