The Bartering Begins: Excerpts from a third letter to United Airlines

. . .I wrote the due complaint letters to your company, in response to which I received a letter and a 150 dollar travel voucher. The letter was conciliatory and kind, but the voucher was an almost insulting offering. 150 dollars is, first of all, not even enough money to purchase a ticket to Charlotte, NC, located a mere hour-and-a-half drive from where I live, were I so inclined; furthermore, having spoken to others who have complained to airlines on other occasions, I’ve come to the conclusion that this type of voucher is a standard offering to any airline-related complaint, regardless of the legitimacy of the complaint. I do not believe I am biased in submitting to you that my concerns in this instance are of somewhat greater significance than a protest that the beef tips pro-offered during the flight had a decided air of mystery meat about them.

As far as I’m concerned, the airline reneged on a deal, and the best possible way to soothe my troubled brow, thus allowing us to resume an uncomplicated relationship, is if I am offered a voucher that is actually useful for travel—preferably one that would allow me to return to Turkey to recoup the near-week I lost.

I know this request may make it seem as though I’m out for all I can get—but were that the case, I would have made such demands as a first-class Spring Break trip to Cancun, a shipment of Godiva chocolates, and a pony. As it is, I’m asking for exactly what I wanted the first time, and would have obtained had I not been poorly served by the airline; I would even be willing to make such a concession as to take a seat in the cargo hold, if such action were possible.  My demand is not at all intended to be swiping crusts of bread from the mouths of United’s babies; you could, for example, recoup the money fairly easily by refusing to offer vouchers to three or four of your entirely unreasonable customers (those sanguine enough to have anticipated edible food on their flights, for example); this offers the double advantage of giving you that sense of getting your own back that I believe must be a desire latent within the breast of every customer service representative (having once been one myself).

United, I have always tried to be a very good customer. I put my seat back and tray table in an upright position before every take-off and landing, I don’t smoke in the lavatory, and I have never taken the life jacket from under my seat, however sorely I’ve been tempted. I even watch the flight attendant when she shows me how to buckle my seat belt and put the little yellow mask over my face before administering oxygen to those around me who are unable to perform this crucial duty—I think it only the polite thing to do.

I won’t say I’m a perfect customer, but I’m certainly a pleasant and exceedingly forgiving customer. If I feel that I am treated fairly by United, it shall instantly be as though this little speed bump on the road to love never occurred.  I shall boast about your ways to all who will listen, like any unreasonable grandmother with pictures of her grandchildren close at hand. If I am not so treated, I’m afraid we shall have to have an excruciatingly awkward public break-up.

Certain of my friends have (only half-jokingly) urged me to threaten to sue. You and I both know this would never get past any judge of any mental alacrity (though one may well wonder what sort of said alacrity can be ascribed to a judicial system that would demand damages from a fast food restaurant which produces fat customers). The court of public opinion, on the other hand, is swiftly swayed—and from what I understand, it is at this moment poised in my balance.

Thank you for your time.



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