I never did find P.J. O'Rourke's book last night. I was looking for "All The Troubles In The World" which I read in Galapagos six years ago, but it has gone missing. Or I gave it to someone else. Since I read that bizarre juxtaposition of Al Gore and Daffy Duck yesterday, I was trying to recall an exact quote from P.J. describing our then-Vice-Prez, but while funny, it ended up sounding a touch spiteful and mean. So instead:
"Never wear anything that panics the cat."
-- P. J. O'Rourke
Speaking of which, The Alien's vet called yesterday afternoon to say that the remaining tests have all come back negative. So she's perfectly fine, except for the parts of her that aren't. Dr. C. suggested that I take her to an opthamologist for her eye. *sigh*
I've been ranting quite a bit lately. I would apologize, but hey, it's your choice to read this - whoever you are - so perhaps I'll just warn you in advance and you may make your own informed, adult decision about whether or not to follow me down the slippery slope.
So - BE WARNED. A rant follows. Subject: American Airlines Dot Com. Note the distinction between American Airlines and AA.com. Especially important because the irony is that my ultimate frustration and rant about AA.com is due to the fact that I cannot send them a simple e-mail to commend the performance of one of their [real, live] employees!
Brief boiled down history: I have tickets for a trip I am taking and I wanted to see if I had a seat assignment. Easy, neh? So I log onto the AA site last night to find a phone number so I could call them. IT - IS - IMPOSSIBLY - SLOW. I figure it's because my modem at home is much slower than work, so I'll wait and try again in the morning.
In the office bright and early. Log onto the site and it is just as slow as last night. I work my way through the impossibly slow-loading pages to find the contact information screen so I can get a phone number. It says:
"We're sorry, but your previous session on our site has timed out, or you've tried to use a bookmark from a previous visit to aa.com.
Because our site is built dynamically, most of our pages can't be bookmarked. We have also configured our site to time out after a certain period of inactivity as a security precaution.
Please go to our Home Page to continue your visit with us. You will need to login to access many of our advanced features."
Back to square one. I wend my way through the endless bog that is AA.com and finally get the "Contact American Airlines" screen. It says:
"Welcome to the help center. Please choose a method to contact us."
I select: "Contact AA - Obtain contact information and send us questions or comments." [Click.] Voila! I have 26 options from which to choose, all of which result in the following:
I give up and dig through my desk to find my old Aadvantage Membership card and call the toll-free Reservations number. There is a minimal amount of recorded voice interface, most of which uses a voice recognition system, and after a couple of info bits I find myself speaking to a real person. I explain my question and she transfers me to the International department and I speak with Michelle. Michelle already has my account and reservations up on her screen as my call arrives, so I do not need to repeat the information I gave to the fake voice. She tells me which legs do not have assigned seats, finds appropriate seats on those legs, suggests that she take my passport information so I don't have to do it at the airport, and puts in my frequent flier number. She was quick, courteous and thoughtful.
I understand how thankless a job it is that these people do. If someone is contacting them, there is usually a problem - not the recipe for a polite, coherent conversation. When I find someone in a service industry that I think has done a really good job, I like to let their company know about it. So I type up a quick e-mail saying how much I appreciated Michelle's work and venture back onto AA.com in search of an e-mail address this time.
After ten minutes of fruitless searching, I decide to send my e-mail to "firstname.lastname@example.org". Most commercial websites have an inbox for the name "info", and if not, most websites in general have a command that forwards any e-mails adressed to non-specified names at their address to a default address. Mine does: any e-mail sent to diddakoi.com will go to my default. You can send an e-mail to Alien@diddakoi.com and it will turn up.
[Go ahead, try it.]
Ah, but that American Airlines - they're too tricky for me! My e-mail bounces. I try sending it to their parent company, AMR Corp - no luck. I decide to log into my Aadvantage account to see if I get some other options, but I have my old temporary password, so I have to request a new one. I do and they give me a new temporary one, with which I log in.
Say! A new menu! And one that includes the magic option: "E-mail Aadvantage." [Click.]
"For security purposes, you must be logged in with a valid 4-digit PIN to access this application. Alpha PINs may not be used. Your numeric PIN should arrive by mail/post within 7-10 days."
You cannot e-mail American without having your permanent password which they will MAIL to you. Kind of going against the whole automated interaction cost-savings concept I believe. I give up. Well, no, actually, I found an e-mail address on the Yahoo! profile for AMR Corp.: "email@example.com". So I sent it to them - it hasn't bounced yet. I also found their home office address in Fort Worth, TX. I think I'll print out my bounced e-mails and mail them. To the Chairman, Donald Carty.
~ ~ ~
Quote du jour:
"There is only one boss. The customer.
And he can fire everybody in the
company from the chairman on down,
simply by spending his money somewhere else."
-- Sam Walton (1918 - 1992)
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