A recruiter asked me to fly from Philadelphia to L.A. in 36 hours. He was in L.A. from China on a business trip. I immediately went online and bought a non-refundable ticket on US Airways for $1,500, three times more than most domestic flights I take. 15 minutes later, the recruiter contacted me to say that he had given me the wrong day and that I needed to be in L.A. the next morning.
Since I needed to leave for the airport within a few hours, and I had not yet received a confirmation email from the US Airways website, I went ahead and purchased another $1,500 ticket on US Airways thinking they would allow an exception to the non-refundable ticket policy in this case.
I wanted to take care of the refund right away. I called the customer service hotline immediately and asked to speak to a manager. The manager said that it was my fault that I purchased the second ticket without calling them and she was adamantly sticking to their non-refundable ticket policy. She would not refund me my money. Her one offer, which I considered unacceptable, was to give me the $1,500 credit on one domestic, roundtrip, flight. Most domestic flights that I take are closer to $500 roundtrip so I would be losing a lot of money with this option. Given the fact that it was already very late and I needed to get up early to make my flight, I collected her information and decided to call back after my interview.
After my interview, I called US Airways and discovered that the customer service representative (CSR) would not connect me to a manager again because a manager had already reviewed my case the day before. The CSR was abrasive and unforgiving, so I did what Professor Diamond suggests — I hung up and called again. I got a different CSR and this time my approach was softer. She was sympathetic to my circumstance and I explained to her how much better I felt just to have someone hear my story.
The lessons I learned from Professor Stuart Diamond provided me with the skills and techniques to know how to ask the following questions:
• “I am a loyal Star Alliance member. Do you see in your records that I have purchased 5 US Airway tickets in the past 12 months?” (Her response: “yes”)
• “Does your company value my business?” (“yes”)
• “Does my flight history demonstrate loyalty to US Airways?” (“yes”)
• “Would you also agree that my purchasing 2 tickets within 30 minutes shows loyalty to your company?” (“yes”)
• “If I am showing your airline such loyalty, how is US Airways showing me any loyalty in this case?”
• “I agree in retrospect that I have made a mistake in purchasing these two tickets, however, are you telling me it’s in your company’s policy to profit off of your customer’s mistakes?”
I thanked her for listening. She forwarded me to a manager for review. The manager and I worked out a solution that met both of our interests. I am now allowed to use the $1,500 credit on any international flight with any of their partner carriers. She also waived any change fees. Because I was interviewing in China, this was a great solution because I could use the full value.
Thanks to Professor Diamond… I can use my negotiation skills to get more!-Joshua Chen, Louis Vuitton (China), Leather Goods Merchandiser, Wharton 2010
This is an excellent example of the use of course tools. Being persistent, not getting rattled, remaining calm, making personal connections, keeping your eye on the goal. Congratulations! -SD