Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Spirit of Industry

Apparently Countrywide's Angelo Mozilo isn't the only corporate executive to have difficulty with the "reply all" feature of e-mail. "Ben Baldanza from Spirit Encourages Awful Customer Service..." describes a regrettable exchange involving a disgruntled customer dealing with the super-low cost airline, which is best known for markets aggressively through direct e-mail blasts that offer unbelievable double-digit prices on airfares. It's no wonder that Spirit leads the industry with complaints per capita, according to USA Today, given a CEO who sends the following message back to the customer:

Please respond, Pasquale, but we owe him nothing as far as I'm concerned. Let him tell the world how bad we are. He's never flown us before anyway and will be back when we save him a penny.

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Blogger Jardinero1 said...

This is counter-intuitive but I don't believe that the "reply all" was a faux pas. I am quite certain that Baldanza deliberately hit "reply all" to effectively end the matter, right then and there, for all parties concerned. Spirit does not represent to offer anything but low prices, I think he was re-iterating that. From their website:

"Spirit Airlines' ULCC (Ultra Low Cost Carrier) approach liberates customers from being forced into paying for services they do not desire or use. When customers are seeking the best value in travel they can choose a low fare at and select the services and options appropriate for their travel needs. Spirits ultra low cost model driven from numerous efficiencies, new aircraft, advanced technology and dedicated staff allows the airline to take this approach offering savings to millions of customers in The Caribbean, Latin American and The United States."

No mention is made of polite service or getting you there on time.

The airline industry has been a cut-throat, commoditized business ever since Carter deregulated the industry in the seventies. Airlines that continued to focus on service have either languished in and out of bankruptcy, AMR, UAL, et al or disappeared altogether. Thirty years of history after deregulation has shown that Baldanza is most likely correct. Most passengers will be right back just to save a penny.

Spirit is a privately held company that has managed to stay profitable since 1980. I suppose that they are doing something right.

9:49 AM  

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