I am SO upset with Southwest Airlines!!

The email I just sent them complaining… Hope they REALLY are not becoming another American or United Airlines!

I just had the most disappointing experience with booking anything on SW ever. Yesterday, I called 1-800-435-9792 to cancel my hotel stay in San Diego over the weekend (confirmation number #777388792). I was told I had to call Southwest Vacations to cancel it. When I called yesterday they were closed already. This morning I spoke with them and they told me I had to talk to the hotels department, they also told me that often at Southwest they give the wrong phone to call in these matters.

Today I call 1-800-545-4489 to cancel it. It takes 30 minutes for the agent to find my reservation (she alluded that it was because it was under Manuel Hernandez Paredes, and I told her only Manuel Hernandez -only my 1st last name, however I also gave her my reservation number and that seemed to not help).

She told me I’d be charged a one night penalty, because it was the policy of the hotel. I complained about this being unfair when I have been attempting to contact Southwest to take care of this since 48 hours before checking into the hotel and have been given wrong numbers and the run-around, and now I am being made to pay for something I should not be responsible for.

I asked for her supervisor (Wendy) and she was respectful but not helpful at all. I explained to her that the hotel reservation confirmation email I received had no numbers to call to cancel the reservation so I could have not known the right number to call in the first place (it’s not outrageous that I called the main 1-800 Southwest number) and to that she replied that all the contact phone numbers are clearly listed on the web site.

That made me very upset! Because this is not even clear to Southwest employees that route people’s calls ROUTINELY to the wrong places (as told to me by the Southwest Vacations person). How is it supposed to be clear to me, as a customer?

I told her to escalate the issue. Southwest should pick up this penalty not me, if it is the hotel policy to cancel the reservation at this stage. If I get charged the final penalty and this does not get picked up by Southwest, I will use up the rest of my miles and make sure neither I nor anyone in my team of 6 does any business travel (and I won’t do any personal travel either) using Southwest from this point on.

I will too be sad to see that Southwest is becoming another United or American Airlines, airlines that I dread to fly with!

Thanks.

Tips from a Q-Tip

This week was packed with lessons… you go through life swabbing your ears like nothing and then one day… PUFF! You are taught a huge lesson by nothing more than a Q-Tip! Here are the tips I learned from this unlikely teacher this week:

     

  • Never… I mean NEVER, stick a Q-Tip inside your ear canal: it happened to me and it can happen to you -you can find yourself trying to scare off a fly and accidentally push the q-tip inside your ear.

 

Eardrum rupture

  • Flying with a ruptured eardrum is not as dangerous you may think. The reason is that pressure change due to air travel pushes in on the eardrum. But when there is a hole in it, the pressure on both sides is equal, so there is no need for you to compensate as you go up or down.
  • Corollary: when you DO compensate, you feel “air” oozing out of your ear… very weird sensation, I have to admit.
  • A perforated eardrum causes temporary (partial) hearing loss: know when you go into a pool and you come out with water “stuck” in your ear, how your hearing is sort of muffled? That is exactly how I hear now from my right ear. The difference is that I cannot get rid of the water and hear OK again. I need to wait about six weeks for the eardrum to heal.

After my appointment with the ENT yesterday, I have confirmed in a month and a half hearing should be restored, as long as I keep my right ear dry and clean. Still, I don’t recommend this experience to anyone… it sucks… a lot! 🙁

5 ways to improve your newsletter

1) All email newsletter platforms give you some kind of reporting. We use Constant Contact. Check into the data for your reports. See how your Open Rates and Click Rates compare to market averages. Open rates should be at least somewhere around 10-20% (i.e. this percentage of your messages that didn’t bounce should be opened if the subject line appeals to them). Click rates should be somewhere around 15% too (i.e. this is the percentage of your opened messages that got clicked on, with each click counting towards it).

2) If you are seeing a low Open rate, try playing with the subject line: avoid things like “Our newsletter – August 2011” in favor of things like “Learn why it pays off to do XYZ”, i.e. include something that will make more people want to open the email, such as including a reference of what they can expect inside. Think action verbs, teasers, things that will prompt an action, not things that are descriptive.

3) If you are seeing a low Click rate, try working with the content. If you have too much content on the newsletter, it will likely not be all read, but it will still likely take you very long to put together. People’s attention span typically won’t go beyond a minute or so per email, so keep it short (test it yourself: read it and see how long it takes you). This is an example of a newsletter (ours) that is intentionally not too long.

4) A very good way to reduce the amount of content you include in a newsletter is to blog about it and LINK to it from the newsletter, instead of including all the content in the newsletter. It will make for an easier-to-skim piece too, which will likely engage people until the end of the newsletter.

5) Another way to reduce the amount of content you include in a newsletter is to send more frequent (though I would recommend against more frequent than weekly) newsletters, with less content each.

What pieces of advice you have for people wanting to improve their newsletters?