My day with Delta

I feel about Delta Air Lines approximately the way I feel about the Delta variant. It’s far from the worst thing on earth, but life would be better without it.

Over the weekend I received my monthly credit card bill with double charges from Delta for two tickets to Washington, D.C. next month. Delta canceled our original flight from Minneapolis to D.C. and put us on a later flight. We accepted Delta’s emailed invitation to modify the reservation for the Minneapolis leg using their application. We chose an earlier flight the same day and, to my chagrin, got billed for the round-trip tickets a second time.

Incidentally, this is the second time in the past two months that we have had a double billing issue with Delta. We disputed a double charge with American Express the first time around. Delta denied our claim and maintained that the charge was proper. We appealed Delta’s denial as instructed by American Express, which ultimately reversed the charge when Delta caved.

I called my credit card issuer to dispute this double charge as well on Saturday, but I wanted to resolve it with Delta myself. It is not possible to reach Delta through its so-called “customer service” number. I tried on Saturday and again on Sunday. On Sunday I was advised by Delta’s automated system that there would be a 7-and-a-half hour wait. Now that’s what I call customer service.

I couldn’t tell if Delta had sold us four tickets or if they had simply billed us twice for the same tickets. I guessed it was the former rather than the latter. If so, there was still time to cancel two reservations and argue about fees later. (It proved to be the latter.)

I didn’t want to wait to resolve the issue via the credit card company when it might be too late to fix it, so I went out to the airport to connect with a Delta agent on Sunday. The sun was shining. It was a beautiful day. This was not the way I wanted to kill the afternoon. Parking at the airport is time-consuming all by itself and it turned out that Sunday was a big day at the airport. The place was packed.

Delta’s special “agent help” line was also packed — lengthy and slow. Most travelers were there to check oversize bags or make arrangements for their animals. Delta had three agents providing the help, but the service to each customer took an inordinate amount of time. The line was moving incredibly slowly.

I couldn’t help overhearing the woman directly behind me in line talking on her cell phone. Delta refused to check her bag for a reason that she didn’t understand. She had been told that her ticket didn’t allow it. She was anxiously explaining that she needed immediate help. It looked like she was going to miss her flight.

I had no flight to catch or deadline to meet. When she got off the call I invited her to move ahead of me in line. Waiting for the line to move, I complained to her about Delta’s “customer service,” referring to the seven-hour wait that had prompted my visit to the airport.

She told me she had been on the phone with Delta “customer service” via an 800-number for passengers at the airport. She gave me the number and told me I would get through after a five-minute hold. If I had done her a good deed by giving her my spot in line, she returned it in spades.

I called the secret 800-number while standing in line. I got through to Lisa before I reached the front of the special “agent help” line at the airport.

Lisa sounded like she was having a bad day. She didn’t have a kind word or palatable explanation for my plight. It can’t be pleasant to work in “customer service” for Delta. She saw the problem, however, and set to work to fix it. Over half an hour later, she told me she had resolved the issue and voided the duplicate charges.

This morning I received a customer service survey from Delta. The first question asked how likely I was to recommend Delta to friends. Is this some kind of a joke? Not bloody likely. Rather, I am highly likely to recommend against it if you have a reasonable alternative.

In the explanation for my rating I asked if any Delta executive had ever availed himself of Delta’s “customer service.” If so, I wonder how they can offer a customer service number with a seven-hour wait time. In addition to recommending against flying Delta, I would like the whole wide world to know how pitiful Delta’s “customer service” is.

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