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.

 

Elder Price was wrong about Orlando

Orlando is an amazing place. It’s warm, welcoming and hopelessly inefficient to the extent that a corporation run by a giant mouse has been given preferential treatment in an attempt to paper over all that is wrong with the port of entry.

Last year (2016 for those reading this in the future), this Arsehole decided to visit Orlando and visit many local attractions. Of course, much went wrong and this needed to be righted.

After flying in on Delta Airlines via the hub that connects the various cities, afterlives and inconveniences of most people, I was greeted with the worst possible arrival experience that someone could possibly anticipate. The signage upon arrival is limited, undifferentiated and directs all towards unending carpet corridors that afford wear to the wheels of one’s carry on, offense to one’s nostrils and unrelenting contamination and damage to the soles of one’s shoes.

I had afforded myself the luxury of having transportation from this airport to my accommodations organised well in advance of my arrival, however the poor organisation constructs and resultant choke points enabled by the designers of this particular point of entry resulted in the sequence of me getting to baggage collection at the same time as many other passengers on all of the other “traditional” US airline arrivals, seeing my bag take over 35 minutes past my arrival to get to collection and my very patient driver Matt still offering to happily take my bags and give me a bottle of Pepsi Max as requested.

The airport is a terrible, terrible place. By the time my bags had returned to my possession, aging had seen my sperm count drop more than Tony Abbott’s relevance.

Of course, this particular Arsehole cannot afford consideration to the transport providers that demand payment for carriage to this particular gaping maw. Thus, a letter was written:

Dear Delta,

Upon arrival at MCO, I was subjected to an onslaught of inefficiency, disorganisation and confusion of staff. After overcoming the presented obstacles I encountered a baggage collection area that promised delivery of my possessions whilst the previously-organised transportation agent patiently waited for my response to the SMS they had sent, generously expecting that the delay was attributable to the crowding present in the arrival area due to the poor operations of the airport in question.

I understand that Delta has no control over the specific operations of the airport, however the fees paid to the airport for my carriage were paid to Delta and I expect that consideration of the inconvenience I experienced and the additional cost imposed upon me due to the delays caused by the confusion that was enabled by overcrowding and poor scheduling will be appropriate.

Regards,

Arsehole

Delta are a wonderful airline!

Dear Arsehole,

Please take 25,000 SkyMiles by way of apology.

Love Delta

Victory!

UA vs UA!

In May 2016, the Ultimate Arsehole had basis to take on the other UA – United Airlines.

This particular Arsehole flew from Orlando (which is the worst airport I have ever been to) to Newark (which is the second-worst airport I have ever been to). The flight was quite decent, however the arrival experience was as bad as bringing your crush home only to find out they are infested with genital warts.

The landing at Newark was almost as delayed as universal Marriage Equality, the airport was dirtier than an asexual bachelor’s toilet and the baggage claim area was about as organised as a fundamentalist religionist’s speech on why creationism isn’t a complete and total fucking joke.

Having flown Delta within the US, this particular Arsehole grabs their phone and starts a stopwatch as the plane lands to ensure that they get their bag within 20 minutes or get a bunch of Delta SkyMiles for their waiting time.

After 21 minutes, I decided to start tweeting at United Airlines. After 35 minutes, I was surrounded by a bunch of other Business Class customers asking where the fuck their bags were. We decided to band together and call United Airlines customer service and report all of our bags as lost. The person on the other end of the phone decided to escalate our concerns to their manager and told us to, and I quote, fuck off.

Eventually (after over an hour) bags did appear, as did various e-mails to the proles at United Airlines. After many statements regarding the lack of control United has over bags being delivered and the idea that bags being delivered after an hour being reasonable being completely disregarded by this particular Arsehole, a message was received:

Dear Mr Arsehole,

We sincerely apologise for the experience you were subjected to on flight UA69. Please accept this $500 travel voucher and United Gold status by way of apology. We sincerely hope that we and our Star Alliance partners will be considered in future for your travel arrangements.

Victory!

My favourite C word

There’s a wonderful word that works wonders when dealing with belligerent merchants who have failed to deliver. It’s a filthy, horrible word that is highly offensive, typically results in serious professional ramifications and will have multiple parties cursing your name in response.

That word is the following:

Chargeback

In every case where some company has refused to acknowledge issues they have caused, the mere utterance of this word results in near-immediate escalation and demonstration of empathy in most cases, or flat out offers of a full refund otherwise.

To understand why this is the case, there are a few facts that most cardholders aren’t aware of that need to be understood:

  • Chargebacks are expensive for card issuers to handle – the process is still quite labour intensive and long-running
  • Chargebacks are expensive for merchant banks to handle – the process is tedious and has high administrative overhead
  • Chargebacks are extremely expensive for most merchants – the fees levied against merchants are very high (greater than $25 / chargeback in many cases) and result in transaction fees being “reviewed”.

For this reason, think long and hard before using something other than a Scheme Card (Visa/MasterCard/American Express/Discover/JCB/Diners Club) to pay for anything.

The first time I used this word, hilarity ensued….

 

Apartment living

There are many benefits to living in an apartment. Invites to parties are easy to come by, home-delivered entertainment in the form of door-to-door religionists is frequently provided and there’s quite often an exhibition of balcony coitus on display if your evening plans fall through.

There are, however, some downsides to this assortment of varied delights being so conveniently packaged. Between yourself and the various tradespeople who take care of things related to the building sits an ogre calling themselves a Building Manager. Often this person is actually very good at what they do, but this is not always the case.

Due to constant issues with the garage door on the property, the electronics that drove the door were replaced. As well as the motor the electronics controlled. As well as the door that the motor moved. All at once.

In response to this, the following delightful communication was sent by the Building Manager (who we shall call Bob) to all residents:

On the day of replacement, Theo from SomeDoorCompany will be present in the building from 4:45pm through 5:00pm to provide replacement door remotes. Please note, if you have model X of the remote currently, you do not require a replacement.

Lucky me! I was in possession of a model X remote so I didn’t need to hinder Theo in his quest of getting to the pub by 5:15! Bob had ensured that I could spend my Thursday afternoon at work whilst also ensuring he didn’t need to bother himself with considering the convenience of the people who paid his salary via exorbitant Body Corporate fees! Thanks Bob and Theo!

Little did I know that at both Theo and Bob were professional, fully-trained idiots.

Upon my next attempt to leave my abode in my metal chariot, my model X door remote was as effectual as a Taser at a hair removal salon – the lights turned on but the results were fury and disappointment as opposed to a clear avenue for excursion being revealed.

Thankfully SomeDoorCompany’s contact details were recorded on the wall near the impassable door, so I did what any reasonable person would do and called them. Lo and behold, Theo himself answered and began the most futile conversation I had that week to date:

UA: Hi! My remote no longer works with this new door. I’ve got a model X remote that matches the photo provided by Bob and was told in writing that it would work fine.

Theo: You must be using the remote wrong.

UA: The remote has one button. I am pressing it. How exactly is that using it incorrectly?

Theo: It must work. I tested them all before I gave them out. It’s not my fault you didn’t come collect a new remote.

UA: How exactly did you test the remote I’m holding Theo? It hasn’t been out of my possession for 2 years and this door has been here for less than 2 days. Did you break into my apartment? Do I need to call the police?

At this point, Theo begrudgingly admitted that there was a problem “with something” and that he would arrange for a remote to be made available to me via Bob. At this point a queue formed behind me, with several other residents discovering their model X remotes were also impotent despite promises made to the contrary. Thankfully Theo had provided details of how to manually open the door – he’d put a placard containing the super-secret, super-secure 2 digit override code in plain view of the public.

As Friday started, I realised that I didn’t particularly feel like being home and listening to the new neighbours knock their pot plants off their third floor balcony whilst attempting to imitate whatever pornography they had last streamed so I called Bob to get my hands on a new remote. At this point I discovered that, not only was Bob a professional idiot, he was quite an aggressive one as well!

UA: Hi! Theo told me he was going to pass along details so I could get my hands on a new remote, as the model X one I have does not work.

Bob: Yep, Theo told me about you. You should have just shown up and gotten a new remote. I’ve only got spares left so you’ll need to wait a week and pay $50 for a new one.

It’s your fault for thinking my instructions were accurate

Let’s just analyse that statement shall we? Paying thousands of dollars per year in Body Corporate fees, including payments into a fund dedicated to building improvements and maintenance and management fees that pay Bob’s salary entitles me to neither a replacement remote nor remotely competent instructions? At this point Bob was not my most favourite person in the world, to the extent that I would serve him $3 wine from Aldi and say he was drinking it wrong when he remarks it tastes like paint thinner.

Of course, I could only respond kindly to that brilliantly reasoned statement from Bob:

UA: Bob, I followed your instructions, I’ve paid my Body Corporate fees and I expect the door I am one of the owners of to open when I need it to. Where is the remote that was allocated to my property?

Bob: Mate, do you want to be able to open the fuckin’ door or what?

Profanity! Diversion! Impropriety! Advantage: Arsehole!

UA: I have made my expectations with regard to the door very clear. I have also made my expectations with regard to management of the property quite clear. Answer my questions, have a remote in my hand today delivered to my office or I shall have to act on the presented information indicating your company’s inability to perform the tasks you have agreed to undertake. If yourself and/or Theo have failed to keep records of who you dispensed replacements to and how many you gave to each property, you’ll need to sort that out – I’m not paying for it.

Bob: *assorted stuttering* Yes Mr Arsehole. I’ll have a remote to you today.

UA: Good. I’ll have a spare set of keys for the common doors whilst you’re at it.

2 hours later one of Bob’s colleagues showed up at my office with a remote that was neither a model X nor inoperative. I thought this was the end of this interlude and a victory. I was only partially right.

I received two letters the following week, both from Bob’s employer. The first was addressed to “The Resident”:

Theo and SomeDoorCompany will no longer be servicing our doors. SomeOtherDoorCompany will be taking over – new contact details have been placarded around the building.

The second, however, was actually addressed to me directly:

Bob has moved on from our Property Management practice. Reginald will now be handling all inquiries and has taken over Bob’s desk and mobile numbers.

Yep – victory!