Spirit Airlines was in hot water last week after it refused to refund the airfare of a veteran with terminal cancer who explained his situation and tried to cancel a trip.
Jerry Meekins, a 76-year-old veteran, went public after the airline refused him a refund, the Huffington Post reported. Even after the fact, it came forward with this statement:
We receive many requests for refunds every day for similar situations. It wouldn’t be fair to bend policy for one and not all. We will not make customers who follow the rules pay for those who don’t. It’s just not fair.
By the time CEO Ben Baldanza came forward to say he’d refund the ticket, the damage had been done. In its latest PR crisis, Spirit was viewed as unforgiving and cold.
The company got in trouble for sticking to its guns, and flexibility is key when dealing with these situations, says author Ron Kaufman, who wrote Uplifting Service: The Proven Path to Delighting Your Customers, Colleagues, and Everyone Else You Meet,
“When any company receives a complaint, it essentially has two choices. One, treat the complaining customer like he’s a pain in the neck,” Kaufman says. “Or two, appreciate each complaining customer and use the complaint as an opportunity to improve.”
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