I wondered why I got an email from US Air, which we haven't flown in months, with "Oops" in the subject line. 

Really? You're taking back a measly 1,000 miles? From someone who wouldn't have used them anyway based on their flight history? It's a thousand miles! It's not like there's an affinity program in the world that gives you much, if anything for 1,000 miles. So what if it tipped some people over the line into a free flight or other reward? It's like a penny.

Yes, yes. There are orders of magnitude here. But taking back such a small gift makes USAir look cheap in addition to confused over who gets which bonuses, apparently. To make matters worse, I hadn't even read the email they sent giving me the miles in the first place!

Of course it's good to acknowledge your mistakes and correct costly errors. But there's a way to do it right:

  • If they'd had some fun with the apology, maybe taking the miles back wouldn't seem so chincy.
  • If they'd even acknowledged it might seem cheap, but here are the potential costs (and we're trying to keep prices low), then it might not have seemed so rash to snatch the miles back.
  • But just saying your sorry and thanking me for understanding doesn't cut it.

Next time you realize an error that requires a public correction, remember this tale and look for ways to fix the problem without creating additional ones.

Speaking of poor customer service, I never did get my problem with Little Brown & Co. resolved. *Sigh*

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