A Delta customer has requested basic service. Instead, a delirious twilight zone


Technically unstable?

(A screenshot of a Delta ad)

Chris Matyszczyk/Screenshot

I admit that I collected them.

There seem to be so many stories of airline customer service that go beyond the norm and to a place that Franz Kafka would dismiss as grossly absurd.

Not so long ago, it was the story of the Delta customer who tried to ask a simple question by SMS. This involved using Fast Track Security at Heathrow Airport.

One of the airline’s replies was: “I’m sorry, but it’s about things [sic] not come with Delta tickets.”

Today, however, we come together to hear another story of customer service begotten by misfortune. Curiously, this also involves Delta, an airline that has managed to tarnish its image lately at the level of manly senators.

What is the answer? Pass.

This time the Delta customer was Techdirtis Mike Masnick. It was also a simple motivation. He was looking at his Delta app and wanted to find his boarding pass.

Surely easy for customer service, this one. There must even be some kind of automated response, you might be wondering. Then again, you might also wonder how the airlines fell into their current state of withered witterings.

Masnick did what many savvy customers would do. He took to Twitter to ask the question, thinking it might also help others in his situation. Where, oh Delta, could he find his boarding pass on the app?

In return, he received this: “Hi! My name is Cara with Delta. Please private message me using the link provided to continue our conversation.”

This is a regular response from many companies. They prefer to wash their imperfect laundry in private.

I really hope you’re sitting down, though, and not Cara’s friend with Delta. Or, indeed, with anyone responsible for Delta customer service.

You see, Delta’s response via a private message on Twitter was: “Thank you for contacting Delta Air Lines. We are now serving our social customers through our secure messaging service.”

Masnick kindly observed, “So @Delta’s response to me asking how the hell do I find my boarding pass is to tell me to contact them via DM, at which point they send an autoresponder which they no longer use DMs, but you have to go to their website to message them another way.”

Ah, maybe the DM service was canceled at the last minute due to a lack of staff.

Secure in its lack of usefulness.

But you’ll be pleased to know that Delta’s secure messaging service is a technological marvel.

Why, to Masnick’s “I’m trying to find my boarding pass, and it doesn’t appear anywhere I can find it,” replied Delta’s secure messaging service: “You can get your boarding pass when you check in on the Fly Delta app or via Delta.com.”

Also: Delta Air Lines just made a callous admission that customers might find infuriating

I can only dream that the next post was one of the helpful ones Was this answer helpful to you? Kind of things.

In essence, however, it was the kind of virtual assistance that could be described as virtually useless.

Here, more than one technology was used – an app, Twitter and a secure messaging service. None were remotely helpful. All were, in fact, markedly aggravating. All of this demonstrates some extremely clear implications.

First, the airline laid off too many good customer service people, and now it can’t get them back — and, maybe, hire someone else who’s trained enough to know what they’re doing.

And second, please don’t tell me that customer service technology, populated by robots that are supposed to know and understand everything, is anything but a cruel joke played on customers for Botworld’s personal enjoyment.

Eventually, Masnick says he figured out how to get his boarding pass on his own. Would you believe in re-registering again?

There’s little hope that such encounters will go away anytime soon, especially as airlines will soon be pleading for recession and, who knows, will start laying off some of the people they’ve just hired.

Yet, if the smallest and simplest customer questions cannot be answered without this otherworldly level, how can passengers expect anything resembling airline customer service?

Oh, what am I saying? They don’t even think it exists anymore.

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