Customer screwage like this starts at the top, and in this case the top is CEO Ben Baldanza, who has never had much time for the people who make it possible for him to get a paycheck. This was documented a few years ago in Baldanza’s response to a customer email. The customers had written what has been characterized as a “long but polite” letter asking for a $376.84 refund to cover a trip ruined by a three-hour delay to their Spirit Airlines flight. In an email meant instructing a staffer how to respond Baldanza wrote: “Please respond, Pasquale, but we owe him nothing. 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. “
The icing on this particular pile of crap was the “spin” the company’s head of communications tried to put on things: “No, we really don’t believe we have anything to apologize for regarding Ben’s e-mail. I can tell you that Ben cares enormously about our customers and our customer service. Ben said what is exactly true: that we don’t owe the customer anything. People can and do post whatever they would like on the Internet. But it cannot alter your adherence to your company policy or your procedures.”
The campaign was pulled last week after taking heavy fire from rape prevention groups who said it belittled the experience of male rape survivors while at the same time managing to be offensive to women. Now that’s the kind of twofer you don’t see every day!
While these are very good and valid criticisms, there is one question no one is asking: What the BLEEP does this have to do with getting people to buy tickets on your airline?
Air New Zealand claimed it ended the campaign because it had been “overwhelmed” by the number of entries. Right. You’re stopping it because it’s successful. Right. I hope they fly better than they lie.