jetBlue Just Blew It


jetBlue just tripped over a dollar to pick up a dime.

Here's the deal. I'm flying to Boston next month. While there are a bunch of other airlines that offer direct flights to Boston and have a much shorter actual 'trip time', I bought a ticket on jetBlue. You see, I used to fiy to NY all the time on jetBlue where their hub is and flying on jetBlue feels something like the home team.

I just got off of the phone with jetBlue customer service. It was an example of complete mistrust and obfuscation which surprised me more than a little. You see, I loved jetBlue...

But I'm not loving jetBlue right now.

You see, when I booked my flight last night I used their online system (good) and made a mistake in booking the date for my return (bad). I'm going to Boston for the weekend and accidently booked by return flight a month later in August instead of the 4 days I was looking for.

Of course their site has a lot of bookings and almost no one makes an error like this. But any UI designer who looks at their site could see that it's absolutly possible since the length of the trip is never revealed except for the flight dates. (I"m arguing that they could put in a little fading header that tells you how long your trip is for.) If' I'd see anywhere that my trip was scheduled for 35 days I'd have immediately know there was an issue. (I could make a simple change to the jetBlue UI that would solve this problem for everyone within a day.)

Today when I looked at my emailed itinerary I immediately spotted the problem and went online to change my ticket. They have a $100 change fee which I paid thinking I'd give them a call and that surely they'd waive that. After all, it wasn't a change I was asking for, it was the ticket I wanted in the first place. It was less than 24 hours and the flight wasn't for a month.

But no.

In speaking to the customer service rep who 'called' a manager. I was informed that I had only a 4 hour window to make any changes and that after that, there was nothing anyone could do. You see, no one at jetBlue customer service has the 'authority' to refuse this fee. It was company policy that they couldn't actually do anything.

What kind of a company has a customer service department that can't service customers?

I was instructed that my 'only recourse' was to submit feedback on their web site. That's it. Evidently they wouldn't even be entering it as a note. I couldn't even talk to the manager. I was just informed what she supposedly said.

Look, I run customer service for Sendside and deal with customers all of the time. I know unreasonable when I hear it. But asking for a change fee to be waived when it's obvious you made a mistake is not unreasonable.

Evidently jetBlue doesn't trust their own employees enough to make any decisions, at least until you get somewhere past the 'Manager' level. That's sad, and indicative of a company that doesn't really value customer service. Customer service should allow the people in the trenches making decisions. jetBlue just became another airline in my view.

I'll cease to sing the jetBlue song. I won't book with them if there's a shorter trip. And I won't give them any preference at all when having all of our corporate travel booked.

So jetBlue will make an additional $100 from me, but they're losing so much more.