Sun, March 23, 2003
Technically on non-refundable tickets the airline is not responsible for refunding that ticket partially or wholly, no matter what the reason. However, at times for goodwill and retainment of a loyal customer base, certain customer care agents will authorize either a travel certificate for the unused portion of your ticket since you involuntarily were canceled on your original return flight. At other times I have seen actual refunds to the original form of payment in situations like yours. The customer service agents who take calls at 1-800-wecare2 are not necessarily from the same philosophical background as those who perform the customer care function at the Headquarters office on 1600 Smith, downtown Houston. This is partially because many of the employees at the we care number come from a reservation agent status previous to their tenure as customer care agents. As reservationists their focus was on making bookings and abiding STRICTLY with company policy,i.e., if a ticket is non-refundable under no circumstance will you get a refund. Grey areas are not acknowledged by them so much, as they have been taught to act in a non-managerial capacity. On the whole many customer care agents at Houston Headquarters did not necessarily come from the reservations office. The climate is different, affecting their approcach to customer service. First of all the 1-800- wecare2 agents actually work in the reservations office. Those downtown work close to the CEO's (Gordon Bethune's) office and are not saturated with the massive call center mentality. Anyway, perhaps you could dial 713-324-5000 which is the main switchboard number downtown and ask to speak with a customer care manager IN THE SMITH BUILDING ON THE 32ND FLOOR. You must make that distinction otherwise you'll be transferred through the 800 number. When the customer care receptionist picks up ask to speak to a customer care manager and the first available person will pick up. Try to be calm yet specific and gracefully firm. Remember that the best way to resolve an issue is to be respectful as you would want yourself to be treated. In their defense, they have been screamed at for situations that are not their fault and as humans have at times grown weary. Maybe to avoid becoming weary yourself you could suggest the option of pasting the statement you made on this web site to a specific customer care email address, explaining you have a letter already prepared. In any case, have your dates and if at all possible the flight numbers from your original itinerary ready for the agent. Finally, this is only a suggestion and not a guarantee. Please remember the American airline industry in general is in great jeopardy. No airline has recovered fully from the 9/11 humongous financial blow. To add insult to injury, just when things started looking slightly more hopeful, the war has further caused hundreds and hundreds of more layoffs,etc. We are in dire straights... SERIOUSLY. So as a gentle reminder please understand that a non-refundable ticket is just what it says: NON-REFUNDABLE. However, if anyone can help, it will be an agent as previously mentioned in this letter. Best wishes to you, and I apologize for your frustrating experience.
#3Author of original report
Sat, February 22, 2003
I originally booked for 02/15/2003 and coming back 02/17/2003