Sunday, August 5, 2007

Criminal Profiing Topic of the Day: Gerald Grinstein, The Great Satan of Delta Airlines

Delta: The Devil in Disguise

I will start with a disclaimer: until flying for the first time with Delta, I have been a fan of the airline industry. I travel a lot and I am not a whiner when it comes to weather and airport security. No one can help bad weather and airline security really isn’t such a big deal. In order not to get all bent out of shape, I do my part to be a good customer. I arrive early for my flights, usually more than thirty minutes before the recommended time. This allows for a sizable cushion for long lines and far off gates. I usually amble through the airport, smile my way through security, and then toddle over to the bar near my gate and have a bloody Mary. I buy newspapers to read and always have along a good book. It does not bother me that I have to spend a little extra time waiting; it saves me from having to panic as I watch the minutes run out if the airport is crowded or I have to have my carry-on luggage sifted through.

I bring my own food on the plane. Often I bring such good stuff I make the other passengers jealous. I brought two large pizzas on the last flight (my kids love New York pizza) and I enjoyed a couple slices while en route. When I flew home from Beijing, my daughter and I brought food from our favorite Chinese restaurant on board. We feasted on incredibly wonderful dishes while we watched those around us eating microwaved crap. Why more people just don’t bring their own food, I will never understand. Compared to the cost of travel in general, forking out a few more dollars for a good lunch one can enjoy while flying, hardly seems a big deal. This way, if there is an unpreventable delay and food is in short supply aboard the plane, one always has a stock of food to fall back on. I never go hungry on a flight.

I also bring lots of stuff to keep me busy and something warm to keep from freezing. I am pretty much the perfect passenger.

So, why am I about to skewer Delta? Because they damned well deserve it. There is no excuse for treating customers so abominably for a mistake of Delta’s (or possible planned fraudulent action -yes, fraud – the explanation coming up). And, as usual in the land of corporate giants, there is next to nothing the consumer can do about a company like Delta except refuse to use them again, which I can guarantee you, will be true in my case. Here is the short explanation ::laughing hysterically:: list of my Delta abuse as I experienced it:

Wed August 1: Arrive at JFK from Atlanta to find no luggage. Lost my evening in NYC trying to get answers. I was told the luggage would be sent over to the hotel after the next flight arrived from Atlanta at midnight. I was given a phone number to call to check on this and I also had them write down that, if, for some reason the luggage failed to arrive that night, to then send the luggage to my home in Maryland as I was flying out in the morning.

Thurs August 2 – Called that phone number all night but no one answered. Luggage did not arrive at hotel. Went on air without my suit. Flew home to Maryland in the afternoon. Called that number repeatedly and finally talked to someone. Asked them to be sure to contact Mumbai, India because I was guessing my luggage was never taken off the plane to JFK and it was going on to Mumbai. I was told there was no way I could know that and probably the luggage was in Birmingham, Alabama where my flight originated. I was also told the luggage may have been taken off because the plane was overweight. I was told that instead of losing money by taking customers off the plane, they fly the customers to their destination and then say their luggage was “accidentally” misplaced. I call this fraud as when I pay for a ticket, I am buying a space for myself and my luggage with expectations we are both arriving at the same time. This apparently is a dirty secret of the airline industry.

Fri August 3: I call all day and finally someone answers the phone at 5 PM and tells me the luggage will arrive at my Maryland home in the morning. I was offered no explanation or apology.

Sat August 4: The luggage does not arrive in the morning. I call the number and get a woman who tells me that all she knows is my luggage was coming in on a flight from Mumbai, India. I guess I wasn’t so wrong after all. She can’t tell me when I will see that luggage and is extremely rude to me. I reiterate that I am in Maryland and want to see the bag is routed properly. She continues to be nasty and tells me she will call me back within a few minutes when she finds out more information and, if I want, I can call her until 5 PM when her shift ends. I wait two hours and call back. The woman has already left for the day. I get another nasty human. I ask to speak to the supervisor. I am told to leave a number and he will call me back when he gets out of his meeting in five minutes. I wait one hour. I call back. I get a new abuser and I am told there is no supervisor there. This nasty creep says he has no idea where my luggage is and I should call the 800 number and not JFK. I was never told this previously. I ask for the number and he hangs up. I find it on the back of the luggage info which I never noticed because the original clerk wrote down the JFK phone number on the front and told me to deal with them. I also found a website to track luggage.

I call the 800 number. I am told the luggage is on route to NYC. I ask the woman why since I have repeatedly told Delta that I left NYC on Thursday morning. She doesn’t know why. I ask to speak to the supervisor. She is an equal rude idiot. She calls JFK and tells me she can’t get in touch with anyone, too bad. I call JFK myself yet again and get yet another person. She tells me not to worry; the bag is in the car and on its way to the Hilton in NYC. I asked her why it is going to the Hilton since I am not there. She checks the computer and lo, and behold, there is my Maryland address along with the NYC address with the note that I have not been in NYC for two days. She tells me she will have the bag brought back and sent down to DC. It will be there within about six hours, by 10 PM. 10 PM comes and goes and I check the computer listing and it now says my bag will be delivered between 10PM Saturday night and 10 AM Sunday morning; at least the address now says Maryland.

Yep, 10 AM comes and just at that time I get my first call from Delta who kindly wants to let me know they have the bag in Washington DC and it will be to my house by 4 PM. I am not holding my breath.

No one I talked to at Delta baggage sympathized with my plight. No one at Delta baggage apologized for Delta’s behavior. Everyone lied to me. Everyone told me that they were not lying and that no one at Delta lied to me. Everyone told me they were being nice to me and trying to help. Get back, Satan! I can recognize evil when I see and hear it.

So, what is wrong with these people? Does Delta make them into the devil incarnate or do they just hire the minions to do their dirty work? I don’t have a problem with mistakes (considering the mass of luggage they deal with and the craziness of dealing with all those flights and such). But, I do object to being treated like crap, being lied to, and manipulated. I object to Delta taking no responsibility for their behavior. I object to not receiving a full refund and compensation for my lost time, replacement purchases, and emotional suffering from their nasty treatment. If I were in a restaurant, I would refuse to pay the bill if I didn’t receive the dinner I expected and was treated rudely. I think Delta (and any airline) should have to fully compensate their customers if they do not provide the service paid for (whether due to mishandling or outright fraud).

So, Gerald Grinstein, CEO of this miserable excuse for an airline also known as Delta, what explanation do you have for accepting or encouraging such horrible employee behavior? If the minions you control are the little satans, does that make you the Great Satan?

As a criminal profiler, I would have to say yes.

Criminal Profiler Pat Brown
P.S. I finally got my luggage. It looked like it had been mauled. My tennis shoes and several Hindi music CDs were gone. Guess I was absolutely right that the bag went to Mumbai. Really, folks, I don't object to my bag going to India, but if it is going, I want to go with it.


Ronni said...

Tell them off! this is a good start.

Criminal Profiler Pat Brown said...

I would like to make them all take a time out and stand in the corner!