A few posts ago I told you about my plans to practice WWMD (What Would McQueen Do?) for a while. I was going to see if I could use the power of hubris to improve my life – I would discover if behaving like a gaping asshole with a deep, abiding sense of unwarranted entitlement would help me get all the things I want.
So far, it’s not going great, but not for a lack of will – I simply haven’t seen that many people. Just as a mugger requires a victim, hubristic assholery cannot exist in a vacuum – it requires the presence of people to be manifest. Without ears to hear, feelings to hurt, or sensibilities to offend, a jagoff trying to get his way without the benefit of an audience is little more than a tree falling in the forest.
Moreover, premeditated hubris requires a transaction of some sort – party y wants you to provide them with x, which you’ll give so long as they meet your unrealistic demands. So far, not a single person has needed something from me – not clients, not friends…no one. In fact, this month has made it apparent that were I to die tomorrow, it would be several days before anyone noticed, and only because the smell reached the hallway.
The closest I’ve come to using hubris involves a tiff I’m having with Air Canada’s loyalt program, Aeroplan, and currently I think I’m on the losing end of the exchange. It involves my efforts to redeem travel points for a trip to see my mom on her birthday – booking the flight was so excruciating that I thought of sending a Flaming Bag of Shit to the staffers at Aeroplan. Instead, I thought a well-worded letter would be appropriate – I figured telling someone in the politest terms possible to go fuck themselves would provoke a more meaningful reaction then flying off the handle and going full-Osbourne-Family on them. However, I’m now wondering if I shouldn’t have turned up the McQueen and unleashed the full, four-letter-worded force of my hubris. Read below and and tell me what you think:
This is probably the first time I’ve written a letter to complain about a service provider, but my experience using Aeroplan in the last few days has been so singularly infuriating, I felt it behooved me to write. I hope I can take some comfort in knowing this letter will be read, and lessons or corrections may be applied from it.
Starting this past Sunday, I attempted to book a flight using my Aeroplan points. This round trip was to proceed from Toronto to Calgary in mid-March. I chose two particular flights, for which I would have required 45,000 points.
However, when I tried to reserve those flights, I could not – the site would either time out and I’d be forced to log in again, or I would get an error message reading “due to an error on our part, we cannot process your request.” I may’ve attempted to do this at least 5 times before I received a final error message that said your site was down for maintenance. I then tried to call your contact centre, only to find it closed – perhaps for the best, since I wasn’t sure if I would be able to exclude expletives from my conversation with any of your operators.
This pattern continued for the next several days, the only exception being that I made more attempts to call your contact centre, only to wait for periods of up to an hour. Oftentimes life would intervene, as in I would actually have to live – go to appointments, visit the bathroom, sleep, feed myself, etc – and I’d be compelled to hang up. At the end of one those interminable waits, I finally reached an operator, who either couldn’t hear me or felt I’d failed to respond quickly enough, as she said hello then disconnected our call before I’d said a word. Additional efforts to reach an operator proved fruitless, so in desperation I returned to the website, where I was finally able to make a reservation. In all, the process took five days, by which time the points required to book the flight had more than doubled to 95 000.
This is the first instance in my life as a consumer where substandard service has ended up costing me more than simply time and aggravation. It’s been enough for me to reconsider my flight choices when making future travel plans – whereas before I would make Air Canada one of my primary carriers (ed: writer’s embellishment), based on this experience I believe I’ll consider others first in the future.
Perhaps Aeroplan recognizes that people have few options when it comes to traveling domestically, and from a cost benefit perspective there’s little point in providing better service. Personally, I think it’s not enough to simply offer travelers a rewards incentive program – it should also feel rewarding to use it, if only a little bit. That Aeroplan clients must feel grateful for even that little bit is a sad reflection on the quality of your service. I hope the irony of a loyalty program that inspires disloyalty serves to give you pause, and motivates you to make some highly necessary changes.
So…too nice? Not enough McQueen in there? Lemme know what you think…