...on principle I figured, why the hell not try [asking].
I've been meaning to recount another asking to you. Last Christmas a big snowstorm derailed my flight plans by a few days. I finally made it to the gate in DC when yet another delay meant I would either a) have eight minutes to make a connecting flight or b) be stuck overnight at O'Hare. But United's Best Employee Ever got me a ticket on a direct flight from a neighboring airport. One very expensive cab ride later, I was boarding a plane. In my jubilant state, I hadn't thought to ask Mr. Best Employee for a voucher or coupon toward the cab ride. But once I reached my final destination, I thought, why not? So I wrote United a long, colorful account of my experience, thanking Mr. Best Employee by name, and kindly asking for any sort of compensation.It worked! They gave me a $250 voucher toward a ticket.Fast forward to last week. I'm about to buy a ticket with the voucher but want to call my mom to check something quickly. When I click "Continue," the price that I had to pay jumped from $14 to $32. I was miffed, but I was still getting a plane ticket to NYC for the same price as a bus ticket. So I tried to let it go.But I couldn't. And I thought, can I strike gold twice? I sent another e-mail, beginning and ending with a huge thank you for the voucher. But I also added that I didn't think it was fair that the exact same seat doubled in price over the span of 5 minutes. I recognize that my argument wasn't nearly as compelling as last time's, but on principle I figured, why the hell not try. If I look ungrateful or cheap, so be it. And on the off chance that United did actually give me the money back, well, I'd fly exclusively United.I did receive an e-mail from United, but all it said was that my itinerary had been updated. I checked. The times were all the same, but unfortunately, so was my credit card statement.But the whole thing was a revelation. As you know, retail and money askings are the most difficult for me. But this time, I, the consumer, felt jilted.I knew it was a long shot and I'm not surprised that they haven't obliged, especially considering that I had the voucher. But I did what I could. Nevertheless, I wouldn't have minded a response, even if it said, "Well, a large group of middle-schoolers suddenly decided Labor Day was the best time to have a history lesson on Ellis Island, so tickets for that flight were in higher demand, hence the price increase."
I milked the first situation for all its worth -- crippling snowstorm, holiday spirit and the lonely girl who just wants to reach her family. It was a compelling story and I kept the tone light. The second one was less narrative and more straightforward. Maybe plain old unfairness isn't reason enough for them to give me the refund. Do you think it conveys a sense of entitlement? Is it too demanding? Do I come off sounding whiny? Like I'm throwing an e-mail tantrum? Did the fact that I had a voucher and still paid hundreds less than the actual price negate any right I had to complain?
I'd be interested to hear your/readers' thoughts...
As for the second letter -- it does come across as demanding, or more curt and businesslike, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. You did thank them and acknowledge how awesome their first response was. Here's what I like most about it: you took the risk. You tried. So what if it didn't work. You felt you were owed an explanation (at least that, if not the price difference as well) and you decided that your feeling is worth something: action. That's tremendously courageous. Over time you can work on figuring out what style to use for every situation and if there are ways to ask that don't leave you feeling insecure about your approach. But above all, it's fantastic you asked, not once but twice. It's great you felt your needs weren't being met. It's great you tried to resolve that.