Delta's new approach to customer service

I've observed that Delta has an interesting customer service model. It works something like this:

1. Use automated system to Screw the customer
2. Use automated systems to inform customer of their screwing.
3. Use automated system to field initial customer complaints.
4. Use human representative to inform customer there is nothing they can do to remedy.
5. Use human representative to insist there is nothing they can do.
6. Hope that customers cell phone runs out of power on hold.
7. Lie to customer.
8. If customer persists past this point, do what the automated system in step 1 should have done to begin with.

We flew Delta on our recent trip to Savannah. The trip there was fine, but on the way back, Delta's new customer service was on display.

I checked-in online about 20 hours before the flight. I noticed that we had terrible seats for the 5 hour flight from Atlanta- 42B & 43B, two middle seats in different rows! (Step 1 & 2) Which is weird since I'd picked out seats (together) for our flights. Trying to change seats online, there were no empty seats (Step 3).

So I called Delta to try and get decent seats and air my complaint that they'd changed our seats without telling us. I spent about 10 minutes going through an IVR (Step 4) and then waiting on hold (Step 6). When I finally got through to a person, they told me there was nothing they could do (Step 5), but that they'd be able to help me at the airport (Step 7)

Now of course, this is a complete lie. Once you've checked-in online, they can no longer change your seat at check-in, and by the time you get past security to the gate, all the seats will have been assigned. He was merely pushing the problem along the line (at which point it would be even harder to fix). After further complaining and asking to speak to a manager, they put me on hold for another 10 minutes (Step 6), then told me they'd unblocked a row, and given us seats together (Step 8).

Woo Hoo! I'd navigated Delta's new Customer Service policy and ended up back where I'd started!

Fast forward 20 hours.

Our flight from Savannah to Atlanta is delayed. We get in at noon, 2 hours late to ATL and our flight to SFO has already left. Of course on the plane they say there will be agents meeting the flight to answer questions about connections, but of course there's no one at the gate.

What they do have are these bar code readers scattered around the terminal (Step 1). You scan your existing boarding card and it will print out your new boarding card for your new flight. Sure enough, we scan our old boarding passes and it prints out a new boarding pass. Great!

However on closer inspection, the boarding pass is for the nest day@ 8:30am (Step 2)!
There are 3 more flights to SFO the same day, but somehow there are no seats on any of these flights and we are stuck in Atlanta till Tuesday.

So of course I get back on the phone with Delta (Step 2-3). Once I get through to a representative, she tells me there are no seats to SFO, or to San Jose or Oakland! I ask about standby for the 3 remaining flights to SFO.

Here is where it gets surreal. The Delta rep tells me that "Delta doesn't do Standby anymore". (Step 7)

Huh?

She refuses to put me on Standby list, insisting that Delta doesn't have Standby anymore. Now this is clearly a lie. Delta has flat screens @ each gate showing the cleared and standby list.

I insist on talking to a manager. After putting me on hold for 10 minutes, I'm now magically on standby for all 3 flights. Unfortunately, I hang up before I can press this woman on how she single-handedly re-instated standby for Delta.

After some Chick-Fil-A for lunch, we spend the next 40 minutes anxiously watching the standby list. We're 5th on the list, then 6th than back to 5th, then 4th.
After general boarding is completed, we make the cleared list! Woo Hoo!

It's also clear that the customer-screwing machines which run Delta have a sense of humor. The seats together I spent 30 minutes on the phone getting are long gone - we didn't even make the flight. We fully expect 2 separate middle seats when we board. Our last minute, standby seats: 12A & 12B

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