It’s not about the money

By | June 16, 2009

I’ve been pilloried by many commenters on this blog and others for threatening to sue Continental over what happened to my daughter.  You know, “This is what’s wrong with our society,” “People who think that a lawsuit is the right answer to every slight are scum,” stuff like that.

The thing is, I never said I was going to sue Continental.  I never intended to sue Continental.  I have no plans to sue Continental.  I even said as much on camera in one of the interviews I gave yesterday.

Other commenters have accused me of trying to make a “profit” off of Continental’s “simple mistake.”  Notwithstanding the fact that what went wrong yesterday was a lot more than a “simple mistake,” I am not, in fact, in any position to profit from the demands I’ve made of Continental.

I’ve told Continental that that I expected them to:

  1. refund my daughter’s entire round-trip fare; and
  2. put my daughter and my in-laws in first class when they fly to Boston in two weeks, to give them a nice experience to make up for the negative experience they had yesterday.

My in-laws paid for my daughter’s ticket, so if Continental refunds her fare, the money goes to them, not to me.  I won’t make a cent.

I also won’t make a cent from Continental putting my daughter and in-laws in first class, and frankly, it probably won’t cost Continental anything either.  It’s rather unlikely that first class on their flight will be filled with people who paid to be there; it rarely is.

Several people have claimed that when I said the airline was going to end up reimbursing a lot more than the $75 unaccompanied minor fee by the time I was through with them, that proved that I was planning on suing.  These people need to understand that a lawsuit is only one of many ways to compel a company to do the right thing when they make a mistake.  Another one, for example, is shining light on the company’s actions on the Internet and in the news media until they realize that it is in their best interest to at least pretend that they care about what happened.

I don’t like frivolous lawsuits anymore than any of the people commenting on what I’m doing.  Like many of them, I believe that our society is overly litigious, and that many of the lawsuits that wend their way through our legal system are absurd.

The people who are accusing me of being part of the problem might want to try reading a bit more carefully and avoiding jumping to conclusions and making unfounded accusations.

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12 thoughts on “It’s not about the money

  1. Pingback: UMNRs – Unaccompanied Minors | Flight Wisdom

  2. Heidi

    Losing luggage is one thing. But losing children? I’d certainly hesitate now before letting my kids fly to Florida by themselves as I’ve been considering. If airline employees can’t be trusted to put a kid on the right plane, how can you be sure they’ll be put into the right hands at the other end? In any case, I don’t think this girl’s father is asking for too much from the airline. At the very least it is the MINIMUM the airline should have OFFERED. He should not have to DEMAND such basic common sense restitution. Good luck!

    Reply
  3. jik Post author

    If her daughter is embarassed, how is that Jonathan’s fault, and not the fault of the airline that caused the situation?

    As much as I hate to argue with someone who is supporting me :-), if indeed my daughter were embarrassed by the publicity surrounding what happened to her, then that would indeed be my fault, since I would have chosen to publicize it despite the increased pain for her.

    But she hasn’t been embarrassed by the publicity, so this is about as relevant as how many angels can fit on the head of a pin.

    Reply
  4. Rob

    KB,

    If her daughter is embarassed, how is that Jonathan’s fault, and not the fault of the airline that caused the situation?

    Reply
  5. Katya Gardner

    I had an, um, discussion with my husband last night about this kerfuffle, he (who has not taken the time to familiarize himself with your blog) insists that the only viable option here is a 2.3 million dollar lawsuit, because corporations can’t afford to do the right thing, less they admit liability and open themselves to… lawsuits. Yes, he’s a pessimist about the way society currently functions.

    It may please you to know that I was in complete “roll my eyes” mode during this rant, because, Jonathan, I have faith that you are more than capable of following this through to a rational, just, community-appropriate resolution.

    Which, yes, does involve Continental “making up” for their failure to deliver services. This is not punitive, in my mind–it’s just the right thing for them to do.

    Reply
  6. jik Post author

    Here is my question, you said that what you asked for was, and in bold, capitalized print “MINIMUM” that you would accept. Then you went on to say that Continental should offer you much more, that doesn’t sound like you just want this matter resolved?

    As I’ve said before, I’m giving Continental the opportunity to make themselves coming out of this looking better than they have so far.

    The best way for them to do that is by offering me more than the minimum I asked for. They know that, and I know that. If you want to understand why, read the book Customer Satisfaction Is Worthless, Customer Loyalty Is Priceless by Jeffrey Gittomer.

    If they have given you everything you’ve asked for, why are you still demanding more?

    Why do you think they’ve given me everything that I’ve asked for? In fact, I didn’t hear from them until an hour ago about what they were willing to offer, long after I posted the article above to my blog. I will post separately about that.

    How is Continental supposed to know what you want if you don’t tell them?

    That’s just it. Giving the customer exactly what they demand may earn customer satisfaction but will never earn customer loyalty. And if Continental just can’t figure out what to offer me over and above my minimum demands, then, well, they’re simply hopeless.

    Reply
  7. KB

    Here is my question, you said that what you asked for was, and in bold, capitalized print “MINIMUM” that you would accept. Then you went on to say that Continental should offer you much more, that doesn’t sound like you just want this matter resolved?

    If they have given you everything you’ve asked for, why are you still demanding more? I don’t think that coming out smelling better than you went in with is really right. I certainly have a daughter and feel just as freaked at the thought of what you went through as anyone else, but you already put together your list of what your demands were, you said they agreed, and you’re still trying to rile up the media, demand more, etc. How is Continental supposed to know what you want if you don’t tell them? Apparently you told them but it is still not good enough.
    It is starting to sound like this has become your opportunity to cash in on your poor daughter’s ordeal. Have you stopped and asked your daughter how she feels about all of the kids in her school knowing she went through this and if she is in the slightest bit embarrassed that her picture is being splashed all over National news?

    Reply
  8. Anna

    I stil can’t believe this happened. And I think you are handling it very well. I’d still be in shock, even after learning the kid is ok.

    Reply
  9. Kelly

    You haven’t said or done anything I wouldn’t have done myself if an airline violated several security measures to fly my child to the wrong location and then proceeded to lose track of him. A lot of people who blame the victim don’t actually read the entire story, let alone understand why the airline is at fault because it’s soooooooooo much easier to just blame the victim for getting in that situation in the first place. If it was their child/pet/loved one who was lost in NJ due to an airline failing in more ways than one, they wouldn’t be so passive as to think that an apology is a “fair” resolution.

    Reply
  10. Leesa

    Hi Jik,

    I awoke to your mug on the news this morning, scary :-)

    When I first heard the story of the little girl on the wrong flight and not knowing where she was for 45 minutes. My heart went out to the family. As a parent, I could understand the stress and worry.

    As your friend and former manager, I know that you are an honorable person and I think the actions you suggested Continental take seem to me reasonable and what any reputable airline would do at a bare minimum, given the situation.

    If someone is asked to give up their sit on a flight, the airline gives them $400 in free airfare for a future flight. Asking to be refunded and fly first class seems like an easy good will act.

    I’m glad everyone is safe.

    -Leesa

    Reply
  11. Nate

    Here here! Now, to be fair, when I read your original post about getting your in-laws and daughter on first class back to Boston… I didn’t realize it was just an *upgrade* to first class from their already-purchased tickets. Not that 2 extra plane tickets is a big deal either, but upgrading someone to first class is really the least they can do. They do that if your plane is late, for god’s sake, it’s the least they can do if they misplace your child by a few states.

    Reply

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