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Archive for August, 2008

Did Delta kill their online support because of me?

Monday, August 25th, 2008

This is a follow up to my recent post about Delta Airline’s Customer Hating Policies. I went back to today–Ileave for my trip in a day or two and decided I’d make a last-ditch effort to use my apparently worthless 140,000+ Delta Skymiles. Much to my surprise, it looks like the website no longer offers the “helpful” online chat feature with Customer Service that they once offered.

Of course, this now means that I’ll have to call. But the details of a call are more difficult to post on my blog (very conveeeeeenient…). Maybe I’ll figure something out. WordPress seems to have a feature that allows me to embed audio…

Delta Hates Its Customers… and its Customer Service Reps know it

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

The poor Delta reps have a terrible job. Their company has customer-hating policies and the reps have to deal with it. Here’s my most recent online “chat” with one. No attempt to defend the customer-hating policies at all.

Note: During your chat session, Delta agents may be able to view your transactions. Additionally, chat conversations are recorded and monitored by Delta Air Lines.
Please wait while we contact the next available agent…

You are now speaking with Malcolm!
Hi! My name is Malcolm. How may I help you?
joel : Hi Malcom
joel : i don’t understand the Skymiles program
joel : can you help? What’s the goal of Skymiles?
joel : are you still there?
Malcolm: Hi Joel! Please see the following page to check out all the cool benefits to being a SkyMiles member.
Malcolm has sent you a web page.
Please click on the following link to view it:

joel : OK, yah, i’ve been there
joel : i was poking around while you were typing
joel : great, i have a lot of miles
joel : 140,000
joel : looks like i can do some cool stuff
joel : indeed, i just bought an expensive tickets… two, actually.
joel : man, it’s going to be nice… i want to use my miles to upgrade
joel : can you help me?
Malcolm: Please have a look on the following application to book Award Ticket Reservations, to check the miles requirement and availability of SkyMiles award seats on as per your convenience.

Malcolm has sent you a web page.
Please click on the following link to view it:
Award Ticket

joel : one sec…
Malcolm: May I have your confirmation number?
joel : sure, that would be great
joel : because the website doesn’t seem to be working
joel : it’s <confirmation number redacted>

joel : $1900 per ticket (!)
joel : two tickets
joel : lots of miles to upgrade…
joel : but i’ve been a good customer
joel : so i’ve got ’em

Malcolm: I am sorry Joel; your ticket is not eligible for upgrades using miles, as you have booked your tickets in K and T class in coach. Generally, fares booked in Y, B or M class in coach; can be upgraded using our SkyMiles mileage upgrade awards.
joel : so $1900 is not enough to spend on a ticket
joel : just for the privilige to spend more, via miles?
joel : for a customer who has 140,000 miles?
joel : hmmm, i don’t really understand
joel : doesn’t feel like a “cool benefit”
joel : feels like i’ve been duped, if i understand you correctly
joel : does that sound about right?
joel : or am i misunderstanding something?
Malcolm: Joel, all classes are not upgradeable using miles. Only tickets booked in Y, B or M class can be upgraded using miles.

joel : i think i understand. even though i’ve been a histoically good customer (enough to accumulate 140,000 miles), i’m not actually entitled to use any of my “thank you” from Delta unless i spend much much more
joel : c’,mon, malcom. Doesn’t feel quite like i’m loved by Delta, does it?
Malcolm: Can I help you with anything else today?
joel : please
joel : do employees there understand that the stock value of Delta puts the company value at under $3B while Southwest airlines is valued by the stock market at nearly $12B (four times as much)? Do they think, maybe, it’s because of policies like these?
joel : that the PAYING CUSTOMERS dispise the company?
joel : i’m curious if they’re aware of that
joel : and if they may want to reconsider the policy

joel : we’ll call them “customer-hating policies”
joel : i think you have a tough job
joel : defending terrible policies
joel : it’s actually an impossible job
joel : a thankless one
Malcolm: I�m sorry Joel, but I need to end this chat. Please get back to us with any further questions.
joel : ok
joel : goodnight
Malcolm left the chat.
Your chat has ended.��

I hope you enjoyed reading that as much as I enjoyed participating in it. The difference between great companies and terrible ones is particularly pronounced in the airline industry, I think, and I take some joy in illustrating why people should NOT fly Delta and let the cruel arm of capitalism claim this poorly-run company.

Have a great weekend.

Is Microsoft Money dead?

Saturday, August 16th, 2008

Later, I’ll write a more philosophical blog about online financial services, like But this is actually a legitimate question–I think Microsoft might be killing MS Money.

I’m currently using Money 2006 and, based on my installation date, it’s now telling me that my online services are about to expire (starting Sept 1) and that I need to upgrade. But clicking on the Upgrade link does nothing.

So I figured I’d just go buy a copy of the new version. Here’s where it gets strange: the Company Store is Sold Out. (As a former Microsoft employee and paying Alumni member, I have limited access to the Microsoft Company Store–a nice little perk that lets me buy a limited amount of Microsoft software at a discount).

It’s very strange for the company store website to show a product as Out Of Stock. So I sent them an email asking about it. They tell me (quoted):

—–Original Message—–
From: Microsoft Company Store
Sent: Tuesday, August 12, 2008 5:25 PM
To: ‘joel grossman’
Subject: RE: Microsoft Money? ~259719

It is actually discontinued, and we are sold out so will not be receiving
any more.

Thank you,
Microsoft Company Store

I ask for clarification. They say:

We have not been told if it’s being replaced with anything new.

Thank you,
Microsoft Company Store

Does anyone out there know? Could Microsoft really kill the product (has it been that much of a failure? I like it!)? What happens to those of us using the software that is apparently about to expire??