Wednesday, April 2, 2014

United Airlines Complaint - How United Stole $1500 From Me!

United Airlines Complaint - United Stole $1500 From Me!

This is a complaint log with United Airlines and how the airline stole $1500 from me. As you may or may not be aware, United Airlines offer an EMAIL-ONLY Customer Complaint Service. That means, no angry phone calls, no knocking on their door, nothing! You have to express your anger, frustration, feelings and all those emotions within an email or postal mail. You can also leave a voice mail, but don't expect a response! I feel they simply offer this as a means to meet certain business criteria (ISO/CMMI) expected from the company to meet various quality standards.
Not that is out of the way, here is my complaint log...

1. On the 21st August 2013, I submitted the below complaint to United Airlines. I sent two copies by postal mail and left a voice mail on the Post-travel feedback line (as a phone number for complaint does not exist). I also used the United website feedback page and submitted a third copy online. The complaint addresses I used (and had to dig deep for) were...

Customer Care
United Airlines, Inc.
900 Grand Plaza Drive NHCCR
Houston, TX 77067-4323

Customer Relations
United Airlines
PO Box 66100
Chicago, IL 60666

Post-travel feedback line (voice mail inbox)

Original Letter of Complaint
Sean G

Date: 21st August 2013

MileagePlus Number: XXXXXXXXX
Reservation Number: XXXXXX

To whom it may concern,

On the 29th of July 2012, I booked a roundtrip flight to Las Vegas from London Heathrow Airport. My flight was due to return back to London on the 11th of August 2012 to complete my two week vacation. On the 11th of August, in Las Vegas, the morning of my return flight, I called United and asked what my options were with postponing my return flight until a later date. I was actually told by a representative that this couldn't be done because I booked through a travel agency. I argued this fact, and they proceeded to help me with my issue. I was told by the same representative that the ONLY option would need to pay a change fee to change my return flight to a different date. I didn't know at the time that I was actually able to postpone my reservation by up to a year until I decide on a date I would like to fly back.

Given this advice, I paid an unnecessary fee of £96 GBP (~$150 USD) as I was almost certain that I would not be returning on this new date. It simply provided me time to arrange a definite date to complete my roundtrip. After paying the change fee, my new return date was August 25th 2012... Low and behold, and not surprisingly, this date was no longer feasible to complete my roundtrip. I proceeded to call United on the morning of August 25th 2012 and arrange a different flight back to London. I was told by this representative that I was actually able to put my reservation on hold for a year starting August 25th 2012 (The new return date of my flight after paying the change fee). I wish I was given this advice earlier! On March 13th 2013, I called United to ask some questions with regards to my return flight. My plans had changed and I first asked if I could be refunded. I was told this was not possible. I also asked if I could use this flight credit towards a different flight completely (I.e. USA to Spain for example). I was told I had to complete my roundtrip back to London Heathrow only before July 29th 2013. So that's two sets of conflicting information now. I argued what the original representative told me when I called on August 25th 2012. She simply said "Well that's wrong. I'm sorry you were given incorrect advice", Great. I asked to speak to a supervisor. I waited on the line for just over 18 minutes, and then hung up. I don't believe it takes that long to talk to somebody who could explain and clear matters up! This is an absolute disgrace!

On March 14th 2013, I called United again with the same request as above. I would like somebody to explain why I had until the 29th of July to book my flight back to London, instead of August 25th 2013. I was told that despite the change process and paying the change fee, "the original date of the booking is taken by the computer". So I was given incorrect advice when I called on August 25th 2012? Who knows what to believe anymore! I asked another question while I was still on the line. My question states "If book my return flight to complete my roundtrip before July 29th, can I book the flight for a later date, travelling back on December 11th 2013 for example". I was told that this was not a problem by the representative. She said that as long as I book the flight before the deadline, it would be fine.

After the phone conversation on March 14th 2013, I made many plans with family, friends and spent a great deal of time arranging my affairs with regards to this piece of information. My wife even signed up to the MileagePlus Explorer Credit Card (XXXXXXXX) so we could use the introductory miles to fly together in December. It wasn't until later that I realised that this was completely incorrect. Do advisors really lack the simple training it requires to inform customers of their options? Do you think about the effect it has on customers by providing them with completely false information? This is completely outrageous!

On the 22nd of July 7:45am PST, I called United to book my return flight back to London, completing my roundtrip. I was informed by the representative that I actually had until August 25th to book my flight as I had already paid the change fee and changed my reservation. I spent around five minutes explaining my situation and the fact that many United representatives had given me incorrect advice. I told him that I explicitly do not want to attempt to make this booking in August, only to be told that the 29th of July was the deadline. He was reassuring and explained the situation. I asked to speak with his supervisor as I was very hesitant to call back in August with no options available. After much hesitation, he unwillingly told me to wait on the line. I waited around 15 minutes and still no answer. Awful! I didn't want to call back and explain the whole process again; I was very busy at the time and took his advice as truth. Understandably (and completely unnecessarily!) I was keeping a rigorous call log as a security precaution by this point! I called United on the 20th of August 2013 3:45am PST, a clear 5 days in advance of the deadline, to complete the booking. Low and behold my worst fears became apparent. The representative told me that I could not make my booking as July 29th 2013 was my deadline and I had missed it. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! I asked to speak to her supervisor immediately, this was absolutely ridiculous!!!! Around seven minutes later, I actually was able to speak with somebody in a position of authority. Christopher (Agent ID: FW) explained that July 29th was indeed my deadline but he was willing to look into exemptions and asked me for my intended date of travel. I said around December 10th 2013. He told me to wait on the line. After two further minutes he returned and told me that this was not possible. I would have to travel before August 25th 2013. He told me to visit the United website and offered no further assistance on the matter. I hung up the phone and very angrily proceeded to take this matter further.

My wife and a mutual friend were sitting next to me for the entirety of these events as we were planning to make flight arrangements together. They are both willing to testify to the complete accuracy of these events. At the moment, I have a flight valued at £939.79 GBP ($1473.12 USD) which I am unable to use due to the incompetency and ill-trained customer service representatives at United. I have also paid an unnecessary change fee of £96 GBP (~$150 USD) due to further incompetency. As previously stated, my wife also applied for the MileagePlus Explorer Card due to the sole reason that I had existing credit with United and we could benefit from flying together.

I am demanding a full investigation into all of these events whereby a suitable resolution is provided. I expect correspondence within 14 days of the date stated at the top of this letter.

Strong Regards,

Sean G

2. I never actually received a response from either postal mail copy or the voice mail. I did, however, receive an email response on the 6th of September 2013. I received a response from a United Customer Care representative: Mary Ulander ( by email...

On Fri, Sep 6, 2013 at 7:39 AM, wrote:
Dear Mr. Greasley:

Thank you for your patience. I have just reviewed your recent experience that resulted in disappointment with our reservations information regarding your ticket.

The behavior you described is not reflective of our commitment to providing our customers the highest level of service. I apologize for the negative impression this situation created. We intend to provide a high-quality experience, tailored to meet the individual needs of our passengers.

Based on your comments, we did not meet your expectations, and I regret you were not satisfied with the service provided. Your feedback will be used in future coaching and training as we continue to improve our service. As a gesture of goodwill I am crediting your account 4,000 miles to post within 10 days. For additional concerns please contact Reservations.

We appreciate your business and look forward to welcoming you on board a future United Airlines flight.


Mary Ulander

Customer Care

3. If you are familiar with air miles, you will know that 4,000 miles gets you a trip to the local grocery store (Plus taxes and fees, of course!). I was out by £900 GBP (~$1500), as you can imagine, I was very annoyed! I did not receive a postal response, a phone call, simply this short email. As this is an EMAIL ONLY facing customer service center, one cannot simply express their annoyance enough! I responded with the following message...

to customercare


I assume that this is not the end of the matter? I say this because I still have a ~£900GBP flight that I would actually LIKE TO FLY ON! I don't care about the 400 miles, I would like to fly on the flight I was promised. I will not lose £900GBP over something that United is responsible for.

I would like a full response WITH REGARDS TO MY COMPLAINT, not a very poor excuse, ignoring the issue at hand and some small points as change.

Please reply as your earliest convenience,



4. No response... So I tried again....

to customercare
I'm still waiting for my response, I can only assume you are still looking into this?



5. Almost immediately (I can only assume United were not looking into this), United responded with this email...
Sep 6

to me
Dear Mr. Greasley:

Thank you for your prompt reply.

I regret you were unable to use your ticket within its validity period. Expired documents have no value and cannot be reissued or extended. You have one year from the date the ticket is issued to use the ticket. When tickets are not used within the validity period, the tickets are archived and are no longer available in our reservation system.

I noticed you purchased your ticket through a travel agency. Travel agents are responsible for advising ticket policies.

I am sorry that we are unable to extend the validity of your ticket.

We appreciate your business and look forward to welcoming you on board a future United Airlines flight.


Mary Ulander

Customer Care

6. So, Mary concludes that given the lousy advice from the United Customer Service representatives, there is nothing they can do, I will not receive my $1500 back because that is the rule! So what about exceptional circumstances as I was lied to? and given incorrect advice? I still hadn't forgotten about those lousy 4,00 miles! I wrote...

to customercare

You gave me 4,000 miles for a flight I would have otherwise taken worth at least 30,000 miles. It is actually an insult and I am ASKING for your manager to look into this.

If you do not refer me to your manager directly then I will take this matter along with your name to a higher point of authority



7. So I asked to speak to the manager. I asked Mary Ulander directly, as it was clear we were getting nowhere with the issue at hand. Mary came back with this...

to me
Dear Mr. Greasley:

As we have addressed your concerns and already provided you information to support our decision, we have nothing else to add. It seems we have reached an impasse. We at United wish you the best and hope to someday regain your confidence.


Mary Ulander

Customer Care

8. An "impasse".... Wow! So I have been denied access to Mary Ulander's manager/superior and my issues have still not been addressed. I was given 4,000 miles as a "gesture of goodwill" which I clearly stated I did not want. So what happens now? I send a complaint about the complaint team? My wife and I responded with this...

to customercare
Please direct this message the department supervisor or manager:


As your employees have left me no acceptable alternative, it appears I'll have to take matters into my own hands. I've compiled a vast amount of evidence to file suit against United including the audio recordings from the phone conversations mentioned in my original complaint as well as all correspondence between United's customer service representatives and myself. I've spoken with a lawyer who is more than happy to take my case and says that, given the current standings of United's customer service ratings (as reported by surveyed consumers nationwide) and the evidence I've collected, a successful lawsuit is definitely plausible. He's advised that I do not bother attempting further correspondence with United HOWEVER I would prefer not to deal with the hassle of filing suit, hiring a lawyer, appearing in court, discontinuing business with an airline I've flown with for years, having to take my business elsewhere, and further tarnishing United Airlines' name if there's any chance that a person of authority in your company is willing to come to a reasonable and just solution so that neither I nor United will suffer any further loss, financially or otherwise.

As my issue still stands: I do NOT believe it is unfair of me to expect to be able to take a flight I've paid for, particularly after being told by numerous United employees (including supervisors) that I would be able to do so in the time frame I was attempting to. Not only am I shocked and appalled at the lack of concern United has shown towards the poor training of its representatives or inconsistencies in information those representatives are providing to its customers but I feel the way United has failed to take responsibility for such actions and attempts to weasel out of putting its wrongdoings right let alone show any concern for the loss the company is forcing its customers to suffer clearly negates everything United claims to be - from mission statements to empty promises printed within the in-flight magazines. I want to be proven wrong and to be shown something other than disappointment.

I'm sure it is not much expense on United's part to free one seat on a flight - especially one that's already been paid for - in order to not only avoid a lawsuit we both know the company cannot afford but also to provide the quality of customer service the company preaches that they strive so hard for and claim to go so far out of their way to provide.

I hope that, unlike my last several emails, this request for remuneration won't fall on deaf ears or be brushed off with another impersonal, generic response but that we can actually handle the issue at hand professionally and come to some terms of agreement. I appreciate your time and hope to receive some positive news from your end as well as be able to continue business with United in the future.

Thank you,

Sean G

9. As of today, I have received no response at all. My original complaint has been completely disregarded by United. I'm sure it's been marked as "complete" in their system, but I am VERY UNHAPPY. As frequent flyers and MileagePlus members, this was an absolute disgrace to us. Given our patronage over the years, United really just does not give a ****

Message To United

You can reach me at, I am still waiting for your response from my complaint I submitted last year. In the meantime, I am sharing my experiences with your airline as I fear for anybody else in my situation.

See our other blog posts on:

Blog Updates
As of the 1st of April 2014, United has not responded.

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