Beat Bureaucracy

Case study 3: The Navigator speaks

January 16, 20__

To:  Customer Service, Northern Airlines

From: Barry Growe

I wish to file an objection to the way in which your airline handled my need to fly from Vancouver to Toronto on December 2nd on urgent family business.

On the phone one of your ticket agents told me that I might be able to get on a flight on at 4 pm that afternoon if there were no-shows for the flight. But when I got to the airport I was told that I could not fly stand-by even if there were no-shows. The misinformation I received on the telephone cost me half a day’s pay. Here is what happened:

  1. At 11 am on December 2nd I learned that a relative had died in Toronto. I spoke to a ticket agent on the phone and was told to try stand-by for the 4 pm flight.
  2. I left work, went home, packed and went to the airport, bought a ticket and proceeded to the departure gate.
  3. At the departure gate the ticket agent, Ms Keystone, explained that the Toronto flight made a stop in Winnipeg and was oversold from Winnipeg to Toronto. She said that if she put me on, I might lose my seat in Winnipeg and the airline would have to pay for a hotel room for me that night. She said it was against airline policy for her to risk this expense.
  4. I spoke to Mr. Nazir, a supervisor at the airport ticket counter, who told me that I could address a complaint to Customer Service.

Because of a lack of coordination within the airline ticketing departments, I lost half a day’s pay. I should have been told by phone that travel to Toronto that day was not possible and that I should make a reservation for the next day when there were available seats. I would like the airline to compensate me for $90, which is my net pay for half a day.

I would appreciate a response at your earliest convenience.

After I sent this letter, I received a prompt reply stating that they would give me a full response within one month.

After six weeks passed without a reply, I wrote Customer Service and sent them a photocopy of their letter saying that I would hear from them within a month. A month later I received a cheque for my half-day’s pay!


Click here to go to Case Study 4, "A charity refuses to issue a tax receipt for a $1200 donation."