3 sweet lies you should thank a company for

Ollyy/Shutterstock
Ollyy/Shutterstock
As far as rejection letters go, the one I almost never use is unfailingly polite.

It’s apologetic. It blames a “system” in which the deck is stacked against you, the consumer, for my failure to accept a case. And it offers several other options, including small-claims court or a credit-card dispute, as possible alternatives.

But a few weeks ago on this site, I confessed that I hate using the rejection letter when someone turns to me for help as a consumer advocate.
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Is your complaint being “form lettered”? Here are three ways to tell

Anaken/Shutterstock
Anaken/Shutterstock
It was just a matter of time before corporations created the perfect form letter, capable of fooling a veteran consumer advocate. Or you.

You know what I’m talking about: those emails that say “we’re sorry you feel that way,” but offering you nothing for a customer-service failure.

Spotting a form letter used to be super easy, which was helpful, because you could quickly appeal the boilerplate rejection to a supervisor. In the early days of email, when low-level agents didn’t understand the difference between text and HTML, you could actually see the cut-and-paste responses, because they were rendered in a different font. You knew you were being fed a line.

Now? Not so much.
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Is anyone really listening to your TSA complaints?

Champion Studio/Shutterstock
Champion Studio/Shutterstock
With only a few weeks left to leave your comments about the TSA’s controversial passenger screening methods, here’s a question worth asking: Is anyone listening?

If you said, “not really,” then maybe you know Theresa Putkey, a consultant from Vancouver. She had a run-in with a TSA agent recently after trying to opt out of a full-body scan, and sent a complaint letter to the agency assigned to protect America’s transportation systems.

Here’s the form response from the TSA:
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Ridiculous or not? Form letters that fail

I‘ve waged a long and lonely campaign against mindless form letters sent to customers by uncaring corporations.

It looks like I finally have some company.
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You said it: Virgin America is “thinking outside the box”

I‘ve written about Virgin America several times in the recent past, and have even had a chance to fly with it.

Despite the occasional glitch, I think it would be fair to call me a fan of the airline.

I’m not alone. Here’s a note from reader Jeff Allen. He works for an engineering firm in Boston, and decided to give Virgin America a try for his weekly commutes to LAX.

“I fly a lot,” he says. “These folks at Virgin seem to have figured some stuff out that is really interesting.”
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Rejected? Enjoy the art, but you can still appeal

If you’ve recently been the unlucky recipient of a rejection letter from your airline, hotel or car rental company, you’re in good company. The travel industry appears to be sending out more form letters than ever.

I know, because my blog is the travel industry equivalent of the “Wall of Shame” to which high school seniors pin their college rejection letters. Every day, travelers click on my site to admire the latest pre-written “no” from a company. There’s no shortage of material.
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How do you get an airline to keep its promises?

plane landingLast summer, Jennifer Patronis’ father suffered a massive aneurysm and stroke. She immediately booked a round-trip ticket from Athens to Cleveland on Delta Air Lines to be with him. Three months later, he died, leaving her with an unexpected problem: How to get back to Greece, where she lived.

Despite a verbal promise that it would waive its ticket change fee, Delta wanted another $700 for her return flight. That’s over and above the $1,000 she spent on the roundtrip ticket.

Far be it from me to argue with an an airline when it comes to change fees and fare differentials. But a promise is a promise, right?
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