United Airlines disconnects its complaints telephone number

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United Airlines has heard you. It has decided that it's high time it stopped using India-based call centers. As of the end of this month, dissatisfied customers will no longer be forced to contend with a call center in Bangalore or in Mexico.

Yes, United is through with it. That's because it's canning its customer complaints line altogether.

From now on, if you have a complaint with the doddering airline (a distinct possibility), you'll have to get out your poison pen. Starting in March, it will be disconnecting its customer complaints line and will only accept correspondence by letter or by e-mail. Call the airline's toll-free line to complain, and you'll be given an address to use. The airline will still take your money by phone, but not your guff. The 165 Indians and Mexicans once paid to deal with customer dissatisfaction are being sent to the unemployment line.
United defended the erection of its new stonewall by claiming that studies showed that customers tended to be most satisfied when their complaints were dealt with in writing. Studies? Really? The airline that brilliantly locked in fuel prices at their peak rate has orchestrated "studies" that, conveniently, justify systematic procrastination in dealing with customers' issues?

Not that the outsourced operators had much to offer complainers anyway. These reps rarely offer much help beyond profusely apologizing for their employer's lousy service -- a woeful condition not exclusive to United. But now that uselessness will not be assigned to offshore employees. At the very least, once again Americans will be paid to be useless to customers.

Facebook, which already operates under a letter-only complaints policy, recently cost a member's friend $1,200 by allowing a written plea for help to go ignored for days. As companies cut their payrolls, they naturally will receive more complaints about declining service. And the more companies trim the staff assigned to fend off legitimate beefs, the longer consumers are going to be left holding the bag until our financial grievances are solved.
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