United Airlines Customer Service Blues

Given the much more serious problems others have had with United Airlines, my problem was trivial: the United Airlines website didn’t recognize that I own the United Mileage Plus credit card, for which I pay an annual fee, and therefore didn’t give me the privileges for which I had paid. So, I emailed United customer service hoping that someone could fix the problem. Instead I got suggested solutions to problems I didn’t have. Was I communicating with human beings or with a poorly-programmed chat bot?  Here are our email exchanges.

Message:   

Something seems wrong with my MileagePlus Explorer information on United. I don’t know if the problem lies with Chase or United.   

  1. I did not receive by club passes this year (Chase says it will send out 2 cards to make up for the error).   

2. When I log onto United, I see a message stating that I qualify for 70,000 miles if I sign up for the MileagePlus Explorer card. Your website doesn’t seem to recognize that I already have the card.   

3. When I search for award travel, I am only offered X super saver fares. I do not have access to XN class to which I believe my Explorer card entitles me.   

[Holders of United’s credit card can book reward travel on more flights than can frequent flier members who do not hold the card. These additional flights are XN class.]

However, the miles earned from my Explorer card do post to my frequent flyer account each month.   

[At least something worked as it should.]

 Regards,
Jack Quinn   

United’s first response:

Dear Mr. Quinn:   

Thanks for taking the time to write to us.   

 Please be advised that the 70,000 bonus miles promotion is available for targeted members that [sic] previously doesn’t [sic] have a MileagePlus Explorer card. Please contact Chase customer service at 800-537-7783 for further clarification of the promtion. [sic]

[It apparently did not strike Mr. Mungcal as odd that the United website was targeting me to sign up for a card that I already owned.]

Meanwhile, please allow up to four weeks for your United Club passes to arrive after your credit card anniversary date.  Club passes are not replaced if lost or stolen.   

[The anniversary date had passed months earlier.]

These passes allow one person, one-time access to any United Club location (subject to space availability) but don’t include access to affiliated lounges.  All persons age two and older require a pass.  In addition, all persons under 18 must be accompanied by an adult 18 years or older.   

On the other hand, please contact United reservations at 800-864-8331 for assistance with award travel reservations.   

We appreciate you taking the time to contact us.

Regards,
Michael Mungcal
MileagePlus® Service Center

We appreciate your participation in the MileagePlus program and your support of United and our partners. We look forward to serving your travel needs again in the near future. For MileagePlus program information, please visit www.mileageplus.com .

I wrote back.

You avoided the problem. Why does you system not recognize me ad a United Mileage Plus member? Should I just cancel the question, because you refuse to look into the problem?  

Why am I not getting the benefits the card entitles me to?  

 Jack Quinn  

And United answered.

Dear Mr. Quinn:

Thanks for your reply.

I apologize for the confusion, but we’re unable to assist with the questions regarding your bonus miles earned from your MileagePlus credit application. For assistance, please call the phone number on the back of your credit card or 800-537-7783.

[What? Where did she get the idea that I was asking about bonus miles I had earned? I had mentioned nothing of the sort.]

In regards to receiving United Club passes, please allow up to four weeks for your United Club passes to arrive after your credit card anniversary date. Club passes are not replaced if lost or stolen.

If you haven’t received the passes by then, we’d be happy to process a replacement request to be sent to your profile address.

[Why was she telling me to wait for a date that was already months in the past?]

Please sign into your account and make changes as needed. Keep in mind, if the address on file is not a residence, you must add the name of the business, organization or institution on the first line of the address. Moreover, we’re unable to send the passes if the address is outside the U.S. or PO Box.

Once completed, please reply to this e-mail and we’ll request a replacement in your behalf.

Meanwhile, please be advised that since fares and availability are subject to change at any time and require direct input from the customer, reservations can’t be booked via e-mail.  Please know, the MileagePlus Service Center doesn’t handle revenue or award reservations.  All reservation inquiries should be directed to United Reservations. You may call United Reservations at 800-864-8331.

[Where did she get the idea that I was trying to book a reservation by email?]

We appreciate you taking the time to contact us.

Regards,
Lady Danelle Calot
MileagePlus® Service Center

We appreciate your participation in the MileagePlus program and your support of United and our partners. We look forward to serving your travel needs again in the near future. For MileagePlus program information, please visit www.mileageplus.com .