“If we make an exception for you, we will have to do it for everybody else”

All David Weaver wants is a little reason.

He’s not getting any from Spirit Airlines.

OK, you can stop giggling now. Spirit is really trying to shed its customer-hating image, and as you’ll see in a minute, it came tantalizingly close to helping Weaver. At least it responded promptly.

But it responded with the wrong answer, devoid of reason or logic.

Weaver had booked flights from Detroit to New York on Spirit this summer for his daughters. He later canceled their flights.

“When I went online today, I discovered my cancellation fee would be $301, and I would receive a $124 credit,” he says. “This is not acceptable.”

Weaver called Spirit and spoke with “someone in the Philippines” who couldn’t help. Next, he was transferred to a representative in a U.S. call center, who tried to help, but couldn’t. The rep suggested he send Spirit an email.

“I am pleading for financial relief here,” he says.

Time out. I agree with Weaver. Taking $301 from the value of the ticket is highway robbery. Spirit is just sticking it to him. He wants a more reasonable credit than the one he’s getting.

Here’s how it responded:

I sincerely apologize for the difficulty you’ve experienced while trying to contact our Reservations team. Guided by your feedback, we are taking the steps necessary to continually improve our operation.

Customers who initiate a cancellation after 24 hours of booking, to their non-refundable reservations will not receive a refund, but rather, cancellation charges will be assessed, per passenger, and a reservation credit will be created for the remainder, if applicable. I have included the direct link for our Modification/Cancellation Policy your convenience, please see the link below.

https://customersupport.spirit.com/hc/en-us/articles/202097076-How-can-I-change-or-cancel-my-reservation-

At Spirit, we provide consistent service for all customers, which means that we don’t discount or waive charges. Any exceptions we make means we have to raise fares for everyone else to cover these costs, which we don’t want to do.

Thank you for contacting Spirit Support team. Have a great day ahead!

That’s what we in the advocacy business like to call “throwing the book in your face.”

But wait! There’s more! Spirit also used the first logical fallacy. Did you notice the incorrect “If/then” statement?

“Any exceptions we make means we have to raise fares for everyone else to cover these costs, which we don’t want to do.”

Really?

Offering him a more generous credit would force Spirit to raise its fares?

But Spirit already has his money; he’s just asking to use the credit. What’s more, the claim that letting him use money he’s already given Spirit would have a financial impact on the airline is laughable.

Further, the claim assumes Spirit is in control of its own fares. It is not; we, the passengers, control its rates by buying tickets when they are priced correctly.

Here’s how Weaver responded:

While I appreciate your prompt reply, I do not agree or accept your policy. Rather, I expect a credit far greater than the one I see.

Your corporate rationale that allowing me this exception will raise costs for other travelers carries no weight with me. Please respond accordingly.

And here’s what Spirit had to say:

Thanks for your continued correspondence with Spirit Support team.

I’m really sorry that you’re dissatisfied with our response. All of our customers are equally important; if we make an exception for you, we will have to do it for everybody else.

Our position remains unchanged. I know this isn’t what you wanted to hear but there is nothing else I can do regarding this issue.

Thank you and have a great week ahead.

Ah, there’s another logical fallacy. Do you see it?

“If we make an exception for you, we will have to do it for everybody else.”

That’s what’s known as a “slippery slope” argument, a logical fallacy.

Here’s how it works: In order to show that one scenario is unacceptable, a sequence of increasingly unacceptable events are shown to follow from it. Slippery slope arguments are not legitimate uses of an “If/then” operator, according to the logic experts.

In this particular case, Spirit is arguing that it would have to waive the credit rules for everyone if it did so for Weaver. But that assumes everyone would ask for the rules to be bent and that everyone’s situation was identical to Weaver’s. Both are unlikely.

Weaver then appealed to one of Spirit’s customer service managers. He heard back within two hours.

“A person named Carlos — no last name — called me,” he says. “He was condescending, and at times, rude. I wanted to remind him I was the customer, but the conversation did not end well.”

Well, credit Spirit for addressing his complaint quickly. The logical fallacies and rude answers? No points for that, my friends.

There’s a bigger issue here. How often do companies use false logic to persuade passengers that their policies, and the enforcement of their policies, is right? How often do we let them?

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