It Never Hurts to Ask

It never hurts to ask for a discount.

On my recent LA trip, as soon as we hit 10,000 feet or whatever the minimum is to turn on your electronics during a flight, I powered up my computer, plugged in to the outlet between the seats, and bought the Internet package for $12.95. For 5 hours of not being bored on a flight, it seemed to be worth the price.

I did some blog work, wrote a few emails, and checked some sports scores. But about an hour in, I realized that my battery wasn’t charging. The outlet I had been using was broken. I tried fiddling with it but got no results. So I turned down the brightness on my computer really low and enjoyed the last few drops before having to power down.

Big bummer. Of course, on Virgin America, you get satellite TV, so I was able to keep busy enough and I took a short nap to pass the time. But I really would have loved a few more hours of being able to do something productive.

When I got home from my trip, I called Virgin America to see if they could do anything about it. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask and that I would be able to get back my $12.95, if nothing else.

Well, the first person I spoke to was pretty understanding. I explained that I chose their airline because I would be able to use their services, and when one of those goes out, I am clearly disappointed. He agreed that the situation kind of sucked for me, and offered a $25 credit toward a future flight. I asked if that’s all he could do, and after a few minutes I got the point that I wasn’t going to get any more money from him, but he did transfer me to the Internet department.

After explaining the situation to them, they checked my history to see that I used the Internet for a little while then not at all for the last 3 hours of flight. So the customer service representative offered me a code to use the next time I flew Virgin. Worth another $12.95.

In total, I got back $37.95. Not bad, but it’s not cash. The reason it doesn’t matter to me is that Virgin America has done right by me and has helped resolve the situation quickly and in a way that alleviated any concerns. I know I’ll be flying with them again, and I’ll just use my credit then!

Of course, this is an honor code thing, so I could complain about the same issue each time I fly, but this is a warning to you all not to abuse your new knowledge. If you do, karma will come back to bite you. But if you ever feel wronged, it never hurts to ask!

In fact, I feel better about flying Virgin now than I did before because I know if something goes wrong, they’ll be there to help me out.

Readers, when you feel you deserve something for less than exceptional service, do you ask for some discount or partial refund?

12 Responses to It Never Hurts to Ask

  1. leslie says:

    Grammatical issue: “The reason it doesn’t to me is that”

    Anyway, if you were able to use the Internet for all 5 hours, you feel you would be productive enough to justify $13? I wouldn’t. I can write blog posts and emails without being connected to the Internet. I don’t do anything important enough (personal or work-wise) that can’t wait 5 hours to be sent out. I actually like being the freeing feeling of being disconnected.

    • Daniel says:

      @leslie, Yah, but that $13 is really $10 after I write it off as a business expense. And 5 hours doing one thing would make me go crazy, I can barely sit still for 10 minutes.

      I would definitely pay $2 for an hour of Internet usage, and a lot of the blogging stuff I do is through email, so I need to be connected for a certain portion of it. The actual post writing is one of the last time consuming parts of blogging for me.

  2. I think the first guy did enough. Why did you feel like you deserved more when they already gave you $25? (to account for a $13 problem)

    • Daniel says:

      @Kevin McKee, Well, it wasn’t just the $13 I wanted back. I love flights that come with wifi capabilities. My flight back was Southwest and I was bored out of my mind. $13 made up for barely using the service, $25 for the inconvenience of taking a flight and not getting what I paid for.

      • ira says:

        I agree with Daniel. The $12.95 should simply be refunded because they didn’t supply the service. But that doesn’t account for the inconvenience and disappointment at not having a service that you anticipated.

        Also, it’s not just for Karma that you should be honest. Sounds like they were able to verify your usage. So, if they see you really did use the service for a significant period of time, they’d catch on.

  3. Rosey says:

    Sometimes I will let things go, and other times I will speak up. It just depends on the situation for me. We had stroller wheels damaged on a flight once (you don’t check a stroller until it’s time to board) and waited in an atrociously long customer service line at the airport to let them know what had happened. We didn’t get a stroller to use for the trip (which would have been great) but we got a handful of points to use toward future travel. Like you, I was pleased that they would do something, and didn’t veto them from any future flight plans.

    I totally understand the disappointment you expressed. It’s more like a mindset…you have it in your mind that you’re going to get ‘X’ amount of work done and then it’s stripped from you, and you know you’ve lost something, even if it isn’t tangible. You deserved the free Internet for your next trip. Kudos for speaking up.

  4. krantcents says:

    I think you did the right thing and so did the airline. The real test of a company is when something goes wrong and how they handle it.

    • Daniel says:

      @krantcents, It’s true, so many times companies get defensive and refuse to rectify the situation, which just angers customers and doesn’t solve the problem. By manning up, they come out ahead in the end.

  5. My post today is on a similar subject, lol. I called my homeowners insurance company and just asked for help and a 20 minute call saved me about $100. :-)

    I’m glad they did right by you. I personally don’t fly enough to use credits, but if you do, getting triple is great!!!

  6. It depends on the level of disappointment I experience. I find that smart companies are willing to give credits because they realize the lifetime value of a customer is worth more than what it will cost them when a frustrated customer tells their friends and family about a bad experience. Recently,my husband and his hotel shuttle driver were locked out of the hotel shuttle van for 30 minutes in freezing cold temperatures. When he got to the hotel, they didn’t offer him an upgraded room or anything. He’s already prepared the letter to corporate to explain his situation but was disappointed that the local hotel didn’t step up immediately with some credit for his inconvenience. Personally, that would have been one of those times I pitched a fit!

  7. Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter says:

    I believe in quality assurance and that companies need to know when they are falling short. It only helps them improve. I would definitely make a point of letting a company know if I was unsatisfied and see what they could do for me. I should be important as a customer and I like to know that my money is well spent. If a company is not willing to compensate me for less than ideal service then I usually never return for their services.

    • Daniel says:

      @Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter, There really is a huge difference between companies that can handle these issues and the ones that ignore them or deny responsibility. I love the ones who admit their mistakes and make them better.

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