Tuesday, June 23, 2015

How important do you have to be for anyone to care?

I've come to what I hope is the end of (my side of) a hell of an odyssey. My friend, super-talented artist, and occasional collaborator Ginger Hoesly trekked from Illinois to D.C. to attend a friend's graduation. She was supposed to be home Saturday -- but while I was attending the masquerade at Anime Mid-Atlantic, I got a buzz from her informing me that her flight had been cancelled and she was being put up in a hotel.

Fast-forward to Sunday afternoon. By this point, I've left the con early to come fetch her from Arlington because she's had multiple flights cancelled and had to pay out of pocket for her own hotel room. My thinking was maybe she could get a flight out of my local airport (as there was nothing for a couple days out of where she was), and in the meantime she'd be with a friend and not paying for an expensive hotel room. Southwest booked her a Monday evening flight.

Monday morning, not long after we both woke up, she shouted me over to the guest room -- Southwest had cancelled that flight, too. I sat with her as she spoke with customer service... or, rather, as she listened to customer service telling her to be quiet whenever she'd attempt to explain what was up. They offered to book her a flight, then said 'Whoops it's gone' and offered her a much later one. We finally just decided between us to book her an early Tuesday flight on a different airline.

When I talked about this on Facebook, someone asked if she'd called them out on social media. Here's where things get wonky.

That's what she did Saturday night.

You would think they would say something. But come Monday morning, not a peep. In my frustration, I toss out something far less useful on our way to lunch.

I'm not expecting to get anything from this. I'm just frustrated and annoyed and I want my friends to know that this is a thing that happened.

Less than an hour later:

So hang on. You've jerked my friend around and she's out several hundred because of you and you won't give her the time of day, but I get an answer in less than an hour?

My only guess is they looked at my Twitter profile (which lists that I work for a large convention and have work available on Steam and Crunchyroll) and decided I was important enough that I could potentially heck them up.

Which, for the record, I am not. But that's beside the point.

Ginger commented to me only half-jokingly that if she were Jared Padalecki, she'd have no issue getting at least a word of apology out of them. And for what it's worth, they did finally take notice of her and are in negotiations to give her something better by way of refunds/vouchers for her trouble. It took two days and a few flight cancellations but she did eventually get talked to.

But from one social media dork to another, Southwest Airlines' Social Media Person -- don't do that.

Poor customer service will eventually goof you up bad. I mean yeah, if you piss off a Supernachos actor or someone with a major social media presence, you are gonna catch backlash faster. And if you fix a goof-up for one of said people, all their fans will see it. But absolutely everyone is important. Absolutely everyone. You don't just fly important people around. You're Southwest. People fly you because you are cheap and you get them from Point A to Point B. You are a godsend to freelancers and college students.

I've flown Southwest. I don't do it often because most of my flights anymore are international so it's a non-issue. But I have flown Southwest. And I like them. But it sends a message when the common man's airline won't respond to the common man. Okay, they responded eventually, but the fact that they spoke to me before her was not okay. I will happily be my friends' champion if I gotta be, but I shouldn't have to be.

I'm not posting this as a way to shame Southwest. As I said, they did finally get in touch with her, and last I checked things are being resolved in her favour. But if you are a social media person, look at this and learn. Do not play favourites. Everyone is important. That's what your job is: to connect with everyone.

Meanwhile, I'm gonna microwave some store-brand turkey sausage before I clean my tiny cheapass townhome and wonder about my social media presence.