One of the great things about the internets is that you can avoid human contact when it comes to doing mundane things like buying plane tickets. Its just so much easier to be able to look at your own computer screen and see all the flight options, prices, and seats than having someone have to communicate all this information via a bad phone connection. When I do have to call client service people, I am not looking for a fight, because generally I find these people are trying to be helpful,but often it is less satisfying than an electronic commerce experience.
The other day I was attempting to buy plane tickets on Lan Airlines. Lan is a Chilean airlines that we use when we can because they are much more reliable when it comes to scheduled departures than a local airlines that will remain nameless. In the past, in fact less than a month ago, we were able to buy tickets for a domestic flight on the local Lan Argentine website. Made reservations as Arggie residents, purchased with a US credit card, checked in online, no problems.
Before I even made this new reservation, I was already aggravated by the process I had been through to get our accommodations for this trip, which is another long story of stupid customer service. So needless to say, I was looking forward to smooth transaction online.
It wasn’t meant to be. I had successfully made the reservation, imputing six peoples worth of names, frequent flyer numbers, DNI numbers, birth dates and any and all personal data that could be asked for. When I tried to pay for the tickets, the screen went blank except for the words”<< payment error>>”. I was stricken in horror as to how was I going to be able to go back to the page that had the passenger information intact…I saw my only option was the back key on the browser and not surprisingly I ended up at the “welcome” page. So stupid me goes through the whole ten minute procedure again, only to get the <<payment error>> message again. I have to call. First I called the Argentine Lan.com sales office, and they told me if I am using a US credit card then Iwould have to use the US site. (which must be a new procedure, but they lead me to believe its always been this way and I am just a moron.) So I called the US Lan.com and they told me that if we are Argentine residents we have to book our tickets on the Argentine website. So since I have only US credit cards I was told I needed to change my reservation using US Passport numbers. I said, OK lets do that then. I was then told because I called Lan.com and not regular Lan sales, I will need to call another number he cant possibly forward me to. So I hang up and start over with a surly person who at one point when I was struggling to find one of the kids passport numbers amongst 12 passports (we each must carry two because our visa for Argentina is in an expired one) and 6 DNI books, said “maybe you can call back when you are ready…”. And I should have called back because it got uglier from there. I think bullet points would tell the rest of the story much better.
- After lots of chastising of my apparent lack of clarity in communicating names and number we finally get to the paying part, yeah!!
- First he asked me if my card is a debit or credit card and I said both, because it is. He said that’s impossible and asked me what it says on the card and I said both, he said impossible and I asked him to please try to process it with this card.
- Then he asked what is the bank name on the card and I said [bank name here] and he said its not on his list. I reassured him it is a legitimate financial institution and could he please try to process it with this card.
- He told me it is my responsibility to be able to tell him the name of the bank that issued my credit card…
- I told him ” I have been messing (or similar word, not sure) around with this reservation for six hours and I would very much like to buy these tickets, now.”
- He said “that if you are going to continue to talk to me using profanities, I will hang up on you” I respond, bewildered, “what profanity did I use that has offended you,” because I honestly did’nt know (and still don’t), I am pretty sure I didn’t use a really nasty curse word…
- He said “YOU know what you said!” and I reply laughingly because it has now gotten so silly stupid, “I really don’t, please tell me..”
- He said, “you are trying to trick me into saying the profanity and get me into trouble!”
In the meantime there were hungry children moving in on me and a quick conclusion to this was becoming a necessity for everyone.
“May I speak to someone else, please.”
“You can call back”
So now I am really pissed, “What is your name?”
“I gave you my name at the beginning of the call”
“Can I have it again”
Totally and utterly defeated, “I am going to give you another credit card its and its from Chase bank”
His response “JPMorganChase?”
Several minutes later I have purchased my tickets. He asked me “Is there anything else I can do for you Mrs. O’Connell?”
I think it would have been wise to say no, but I couldn’t help myself ” Was the word I used that you didn’t like screwing or fucking or mes…”