THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE READ MY DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.
I have a friend that does not put up with bad customer service. He always tries to courteously deal with the problem at a local level. However, if there is no resolution, he does not hesitate to escalate the matter to the very top.
When he lived abroad, he flew back and forth from London to DC for most holidays. Unfortunately, on one instance, his flight was delayed, and his plane took off more than three hours later than the initial departure time.
Entitled to Compensation
According to EU Regulation 261/2004, passengers are entitled to compensation of $260 (€250) for inter-EU flights of 930 miles or less, $416 (€400) for flights between 930 and 1,860 miles, and $625 (€600) for other journeys if they are departing from or traveling to an EU member state.
There is an exemption in the regulation that states if the delay is caused by an extraordinary circumstance, such as bad weather or crew strikes, that they will not be required to compensate their customers.
Since my friend was aware of the regulation, he politely requested his compensation at the customer service counter once he landed. The airline employee promptly told him that the airline did not adhere to that policy. Prepared for this response, he shared the regulation with them. He indicated their non-compliance since this was not an airline policy, but an EU regulation that they could not opt out of.
The employee stood firm and once again repeated that they did not adhere to this policy. While most people would have become angry or upset, my friend calmly thanked the employee and left.
Contacting the CEO
While he was hailing a cab back to his place, he started searching for the email addresses of the top executives that worked for that airline. In no time, he obtained the CEO’s email address. He sent him a detailed email with all of the pertinent information outlining his claim.
The next day, he woke up to a prompt apology from the CEO along with assurance that he would receive his compensation. The CEO also assured that the company would conduct customer training around this issue to prevent future inconveniences in a similar manner. On top of that, for his inconvenience, the CEO offered him elite status with that airline.
So I’m sure you are thinking, this is a bit extreme. You are right, but I have to tell you, it works 99% of the time. About once a year, my friend goes through this process after receiving atrocious service, and he BCC’s me on the email he writes to the CEO. I always chuckle thinking, good luck with this one. Within a week, my friend notifies me of a resolution in his favor with perks that I never would have imagined.
Our Terrible Photo Shoot Experience
Why did I tell you about my friend? Well, I recently ran into some awful customer service that made my blood boil. My wife and I decided to get family portraits done with our extended family just before Christmas. It was my wife’s birthday as well, so we thought this would be a nice way to have everyone together. We set up the appointment weeks in advance and were told to show up on time in order to start promptly. We were told that we should expect to be there around 1 hour, 1.5 hours at the most.
When we arrived, we were told to wait for a “few minutes” as they were running behind. We waited, but those minutes turned into over an hour. Whenever one of us would get up to ask how much longer it would take, we kept receiving the “minutes” response. Had we realized it would be over an hour wait, we would have gone out to eat or even back home. Our appointment was at 4:10pm, so by 5:30pm, we were starting to get really hungry and agitated. The employees just kept blaming “corporate” for always double-booking appointments.
We had purposefully booked the appointment right before our dinner reservations so that we could all celebrate afterwards. Needless to say, we missed our reservations. We didn’t even get started with the process until after 5:30pm. After the photo shoot, we were utterly exhausted and starving. Before we left, we had to go through all the photos taken and select our favorites. We did so very quickly as we were eager to leave that place as soon as possible. The exit sign was never so alluring.
Seeking Resolution In-Store
When my wife spoke with a manager about our frustrations, the manager responded with, “How do you think we feel?” I’m sure those employees felt as terrible as we did, but how did that response remedy the initial complaint?
My wife went back to the portrait studio to pick up the pictures a couple weeks later. We couldn’t believe the quality of our materials. Some of the pictures had a strange red hue to them, making our faces look sunburned. Additionally, many of the photos were crooked and even a bit blurry.
Trust me when I say that I won’t ever step foot into another portrait studio until scouring online reviews. A 2.5-star online rating is never promising.
Contacting the CEO
Needless to say, meeting with the store manager yielded very poor results. As my anger was starting to get the best of me, I asked my friend if he could help find the CEO’s email address in order to help resolve our issues.
We found the CEO’s name but were unsure of the email address. I crafted up an email with the events that transpired, and then I sent it. I actually had to send it six times as the first five email addresses bounced back before I finally found the correct one. Quick side note: sometimes you have to play around with the email address like “John.Smith”, “J.Smith”, or “JSmith” before you hit on the right combination. Within 24 hours, I had a response from the CEO apologizing for the tepid customer service and offering a substantial refund.
If it wasn’t for my friend, I would have never thought about emailing the CEO. Of course, my preference is to work things out on the lower level in a civil manner, but when all else fails, it’s nice to know that there is another, typically successful, option.
So readers tell me, have you ever emailed a CEO? What was their response? If not, have you ever thought about it? Share your responses below.