Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Death of Customer Service; or How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Hate the French

As much as I whole-heartedly agreed with OtherJason's post ranting about the obnoxiousness that is Southwest Airlines, a new carrier has overwhelmingly taken the reigns as my Most Hated Corporation: Air France.

I'd always had my reservations about all those anti-Frenchy comments about how they are rude, or stinky, or how they smoke like Siberian chimneys, but now I am steering the bandwagon on its quest for Freedom Fries. THE FRENCH SUCK.

I'm saying this only with having experienced approximately 0.000000082% of the French population, but these were employees of Air France, and therefore representatives of the entire country.

Here's the story: I recently vacationed with my lovely wife in Italy. We had a fantastic time, of course, loving every bit of Italian history and culture and people. To get there and back, we flew Air France. Part of that trek was a layover in Paris - Chuck De Gaulle Airport. We booked our flight home to return from Rome to Paris, Paris to Chicago on a Monday. A month or so after booking the flight (on I received a call from AF stating that they were no longer offering the Monday flight from Paris to Chicago; our flight home would be delayed 24 hours. Their offer, over the phone, was that they'd put us up in a hotel in Paris for the night and we'd simply fly home the same time the next day. Well sure, I said, happy to add 12 hours in Paris to the vacation. I knew we'd be stuck at some airport Holiday Inn, but big deal. So the French-accented woman on the other end of the phone said to me: just go to the Air France Transfer Desk at the airport and they'll arrange everything for you. I said: can you email me something so I have some sort of confirmation? She said: oh, don't worry about that, you're all set in the system. A month later or so, I had to call Air France to update our passport information. A different French-accented woman on the other line, so again, I ask: is there something you can email me as a confirmation for the hotel. Again: no, no, I see it here, it's in the system.

And so now here we are at the Air France Transfer Desk. A brief 20-minute wait in line and now it's our turn: Hi, I'm so-and-so and here's my story and which way do I go to my hotel, and isn't everything wonderful? And here is the lovely Air France representative, typing, typing, typing, calling someone on the phone, typing, typing, typing, finally acknowledging our existence (insert your own snooty French-woman accent): No, eet eez not possible. Thees flight on Monday does not exeest. I know it doesn't exist, that's why you're putting us up at a hotel becuase you cancelled it. No, eet ees not our fault. Thees flight never exeested. REALLY??? Is that right? That's fascinating, because that's the fucking flight I booked with before two separate Air Fucking France representatives assured me that I was in the fucking system and they knew that eet fucking eexseested. And some such words.

And so now the lovely Air France Transfer Desk Representative is going to the back office to speak with her supervisor. And the lovely Air France Transfer Desk Representative is gone for a solid 15 minutes. I'm not exaggerating, honestly. We were sure that she'd come back wiping croissant crumbs from her snot-nose after having taken her break. Meanwhile, smoke was fuming from my ears, I'm certain.

Oh, here she comes. Finally. And here she sits. And here she is typing. And here she is still typing and she still hasn't said anything to us. Still typing. Typing. Still no words. She hasn't even looked at us. Typing. SO CAN YOU PLEASE TELL US WHAT IS GOING ON? We have zee hotel for you now. Oh, well, eur-fucking-reka. Now, here we go, here's the apology and the offer for the upgrade to first class and maybe even the ticket voucher for our next trip. And more typing. And another phone call. And more typing. And one more phone call. And more typing. And finally, OK, here eez zee voucher for zee hotel, call zees number to have them pick you up. What??? Who have you been on the phone with??? Why don't you pick the phone back up and call them to pick us up? And more typing. And the phone call. And then, OK, zhere eez a shuttle bus right that way.

My turn: I'm sure you're a very nice person and all, but this is ridiculous. You've had us standing here now for over an hour after I was assured by TWO separate Air France representatives that all I had to do was come to the Transfer Desk and you'd take care of everything. That I was in the system. And now I stand here after you essentially call me a liar, that my flight never existed, and I see NO effort on the part of Air France to keep me, my family, or my friends as customers. NO attempt to alleviate the tension I'm feeling towards your organization. Why don't you go get your supervisor?

Same spiel to the supervisor. Her response? It was a mistake on the website where you bought the tickets. !!!!! I bought the damn tickets on Is that not a part of Air France? Are you not essentially blaming yourself??? Head-shaking No. Me again: I see Air France making absolutely no effort to keep me and my family and everyone I know as customers. SURELY, there are first class seats available on our flight home. Head-shaking No. Eet eez not possible. Really? Because you also told me that it wasn't possible that you would reserve a hotel for me and here I stand with a hotel voucher that you just handed me. Head-shaking No. Eet eez not possible. Really. Point-blank: you're not going to offer anything to keep me as a customer. Again, a head-shaking No.

Fascinating. Anti-customer service. Even the chicks that work in the double-wide at the 700 Sacramento tow lot give more of a shit about me than Air France.

And so now my request, a real-life boycott: please, for the love of all that is good, NEVER FLY AIR FRANCE, or if you're like me, any of
its partners at SkyTeam, which includes ten airlines (Aeroflot, Aeromexico, Alitalia, Continental Airlines, CSA Czech Airlines, Delta Air Lines, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Korean Air and Northwest Airlines).

Now where are my damn Freedom Fries?


Senor Juevos said...

Fantastic. F the French. I wish some of them didn't exeeeest. Maybe zey weel all smoke zemselves to death. Bitches.

P.S. GREAT tow yard reference, since i STILL have a car at 700 W. Sacramento.

Champ said...

Dude, that is fucked up. I don't know how to respond to that.

Except to say that a locksmith left me for dead when I locked myself out of my car in the freezing woods 2 weeks ago.

But I think I'd pick that over flying Air France.