I’m sure by now most of us have seen The Consumerist story about a United ticket agent that decided it was time to take a break instead of helping someone trying to get to their dying mother. I don’t want to get too far into this, but I do have a few thoughts.
First of all, my condolences to Mike and his girlfriend for their loss, and unfortunately I don’t doubt that the ticket agent was utmost unhelpful. The agent in this instance could really use some retraining regardless of whether or not she was dealing with a customer that had a dying relative.
At the same time some crucial details are missing and we’ve only heard one side of the story, so I don’t think it’s fair to draw too many conclusions. It’s also important to consider just how many people travel daily with special circumstances.
Anyway, what I’m more interested in is the complaint letter that Mike wrote to Glenn Tilton, United’s CEO. It’s a perfect example of sensationalist writing that’s perfect for The Consumerist, but otherwise would get thrown in the trash right away, had it not received so much media attention. Heck, I didn’t even read the whole letter the first time around, since I lost interest after a few paragraphs. I wrote a post a while back about writing complaint letters, and Mike’s letter in this case violates nearly every one of the “rules” I follow.
What are my issues with his letter? First, it’s too damn long. He could have just as easily written his complaint in a single paragraph. The reason it’s too long is because it’s filled with nothing but emotion. Yes, this is an extremely sad event, but those circumstances are outside of United’s control. What was within United’s control, however, were the actions of the agent, and those can easily be summarized by sticking to the facts. As much as I’m not a fan of Glenn Tilton, this is not a case in which you take a “you” attitude and basically blame it on him.