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Reporting a truly awful, possibly criminal, experience with Southwest support

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I'm reporting what has been a truly awful experience with Southwest, that may even enter into extortion and fraud territory. My wife used the Southwest app to book a flight for her mother. She entered her mother's name and information, confirmed that was what she had put in on the confirmation screen on the app, and the app then booked it in my wife's short name (not her proper legal name on her various IDs) instead of her mother's. My wife noticed this on the confirmation/itinerary that was sent. She immediately contacted online chat support, explained the situation, and a few minutes later was told it was taken care of. About a week ago, she got the "your trip is coming up" email and noticed that it was still in her name instead of her mothers.

We then entered phone support hell. Her first call, I don't have the name of the agent she talked to, she was told that since if it had been booked under the wrong name, then she'd need to have cancelled it within 24h for a refund and then rebooked, and that now at most SWA would do a credit in the same name--which, since it wasn't the name on her ID, may have made it completely unusable to her, as well. When my wife pointed this out, she was essentially told "too bad, not our problem". After that call had ended, she was upset and told me the situation, and I got involved.

We called back, and I talked to the person on the line, a Tia. This agent repeatedly escalated the call by threatening to end the call if I didn't stop behavior I wasn't actually engaged in. I managed to get the call transferred to someone else (since SWA supposedly doesn't have supervisors in their call centers, according to these agents, so I couldn't talk to one). This was Kevin. Kevin repeatedly blamed my wife for the problem (remember--the SWA app submitted the wrong info) and stated that we should have contacted them within 24h to fix it (we did) and that it would have been "fixed" by a cancellation, refund, and repurchase (how are we to know the arcana of SWA's internal policies and procedures?), and she'd have received an email when those things were done. (Again, how are we to know this and know we should be looking for that? We've never had this be an issue before when booking on the website or phone!) I did finally manage to get the corporate headquarters phone number from him, but as they were already closed for the day, it had to wait a couple more days (with the flight time ticking ever closer) before we had time to call again.

The next call was slightly more productive, although I forgot to write down this agent's name, which is unfortunate as they were the only SWA person who actually seemed to do a good job in this whole mess. They caught that the app had submitted all the other information (such as my mother in law's date of birth) correctly, and only messed up the name--and they realized that my wife wouldn't have put in her name and her mother's DOB, and that this was actually pretty damning evidence that it was just like we said, that the app had submitted the wrong name. They at least got an exception made to the "credit only in the exact name" policy so we could cancel the ticket and use the credit towards a ticket with the correct name--but at $200 more. They were completely unwilling/unable to do anything around that. And so, we were over the barrel, either spending the extra money and getting the ticket, or forfeiting the original money and not having the ticket. (This is the extortion part, with the fraud part being that the issue didn't get fixed when we contacted your support within your policy timeframes, and were told it was fixed when it wasn't, and then were told too bad after that.) We spent the extra to get the trip fixed, so that we weren't scrambling to get my wife's mother back to see her sisters and dealing with even more aggrigation and frustration on that. However, this was still not satisfactory, so I asked to be escalated to someone with the authority to fix this.

I am currently working a stint on 3rd shift doing training for a team at the call center I work at, so I explained very explicitly that there were times during the day that were ok to call and I expected to be awake and not at work (between 8:30 and 10 AM AZ time, and after 5pm AZ time), and between those times during the day I expected to be asleep and did not want to be called. I was called back at 3pm AZ time and awakened. The person who called, Blake, did confirm that the notes about the callback timeframes were on there; he had just ignored them. He was an "executive office customer relations supervisor" and supposedly had authority to do something about this (which I had also explicitly said was a requirement on the callback--there was no point talking to someone else with no ability to actually fix the problem), but he was unwilling. He stated basically that they had already made one exception to SWA policies by issuing the credit in the first place, and would not make another.

I never could get a reason why that would have been so horrible, for there to be a double-exception, particularly in a case like this: to fix repeated mistakes on the SWA end, and where SWA agents had clearly confirmed that there was evidence to back up our statements of what happened. Blake also engaged in "victim blaming", as Kevin had previously, repeating that we should have somehow known the arcanum of SWA procedures and caught that it wasn't being handled correctly on that first contact, when my wife made the horrible mistake of trusting the SWA employee who said it had been fixed. I work for a tech company, in their call center. I do not understand the complete lack of interest in finding out if the app maybe has a bug, nor the complete unwillingness to fix the problem the app and chat support team created.

Southwest, please do the right thing. My wife and I have operated in good faith throughout this process, and do not feel we can say the same of your company's actions. At this point we feel like we've had our time and $200 stolen, due to repeated problems and mistakes in your company's software/systems/actions, and that your company thinks that is completely ok. This is not OK. Please have someone make this right.

4 REPLIES 4
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Re: Reporting a truly awful, possibly criminal, experience with Southwest support

Rising Star

@baltham I'm another Southwest customer so not able direclty help but hopefully the community here of other customers can help with some ideas.

 

The Southwest Customer Relations Department is my understanding of where escalactions go but I don't see them specifically referenced in your note.  Just in case you haven't talked with them they are available via Twitter (@Southwestair) and by phone at 1-855-234-4654.  The Twitter team is pretty fast so if you are able to connect via direct message that may be the best starting point.

 

Assuming you've already talked with Customer Relations then the next step I'd take if I were in your shoes is to put everything in writing, either by email or by snail mail.  Both contact options are available using the "Contact Us" link at the bottom of the forum pages.  I think you're requesting a refund of $200, but I'm not sure.  State up front what you think is the best resolution.  Putting everything in writing will give you a permanent record while also giving Southwest the opportunity to research and get back to you with a measured response.

 

Hopefully this helps.  I'm literally on the phone with another airline now (international travel) dealing with a flight cancellation and it's definitely frustrating.


Customer | Home airport DCA
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Re: Reporting a truly awful, possibly criminal, experience with Southwest support

Top Contributor

I suspect a phone auto-fill that went horribly wrong, but regardless, it's an ugly situation. Most airlines (including Southwest) will give you a full cash refund if you cancel within 24 hours of booking. If you see any issues with a reservation within that time period it's generally best to cancel and rebook. Doesn't help this time, but could make life easier in the future.

 

--TheMiddleSeat

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Re: Reporting a truly awful, possibly criminal, experience with Southwest support

Top Contributor

@TheMiddleSeat wrote:

I suspect a phone auto-fill that went horribly wrong, but regardless, it's an ugly situation. Most airlines (including Southwest) will give you a full cash refund if you cancel within 24 hours of booking. If you see any issues with a reservation within that time period it's generally best to cancel and rebook. Doesn't help this time, but could make life easier in the future.

 

--TheMiddleSeat


The "full refund within 24 hours" is actually a federal law and not a Southwest policy.

 

The autofil themiddleseat referred to is that the website will automatically input the name of the person who logged in. 

 

Sorry to hear of your difficulties. I'm sure the experience has been quite maddening. 

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Re: Reporting a truly awful, possibly criminal, experience with Southwest support

Top Contributor

The 24 hour legislation is not an across the board full refund, but it's too complicated to bother explaining here, just be aware other airlines might have slightly different policies. Thankfully Southwest keeps it simple. And the autofill could be a function of the phone, not just based on who was logged into the app. Again, not a simple across the board answer to this.

 

--TheMiddleSeat