United Airlines: unable to fix a seatbelt.

This is a story of how United Airlines stranded me in Chicago, I missed my grandfather's funeral, and then United refused to give me a refund.

On Friday, July 20th I left on a 12:05 PM flight to Chicago O'Hare airport, connecting to Savannah for a 7:20 departure. Upon landing around 6:15 in Chicago, we found out our Savannah flight was delayed until 9:15. That delay continued to push back by 20 minute intervals until 12:15 AM, when all waiting passengers were informed a broken co-pilot seatbelt was causing United to cancel our flight. Since we had been delayed so long, all other flights to Savannah and surrounding areas had left and no direct flight to Savannah would happen until Sunday, July 22nd. After a painful hour and a half with a ticketing agent, it was confirmed that no flight to any airport on any airline would get me to my grandfather's funeral at 11 AM the next morning and the flight United was offering me to Savannah would land after my scheduled departure back home to San Francisco (so of course that would not work as a viable option.)

Thus began my journey into trying to get a refund for the trip: From 1 to 2 AM on Saturday morning, I talked to two agents from the US office of United Air - first Regina (badge V053975) and then Karen (badge V036998) - they explained to me that if they refunded my $1500 ticket, they would have to cancel my return flight home from Chicago to San Francisco (leaving 9 AM on Saturday, July 21st.) They said that if I called back upon landing at noon on Saturday, they would process my refund. As you can imagine, I was worried that United would refuse, once my trip had been completed, and they promised that would not be the case.

I'm sure you know what's coming.

On Saturday afternoon, I spoke to Dinanath Matkari (badge V032651) - I was placed on hold for over 40 minutes before reaching him and the agent I spoke to before him would not give me his name or badge number and told me my hold time would be "somewhere between 2 minutes and forever." Dinanath explained to me that he was Reservations and all the people I had spoken to were in that department and Customer Care and Refunds only worked 8-6 PM, Monday through Friday. I had to call back then. He also explained that since he was not changing my ticket at all, there would be no record he spoke to me (hence why I took his badge number.) He told me no customer service person in the US worked other than 8-6 PM on weekdays, so I could talk to no one until Monday.

On Monday (today) I called back and spoke to another man oversees who called himself Laurence. He placed me on hold for over 50 minutes, told me he would only offer me a refund for the part of the ticket I didn't use because I *did* fly somewhere, after all. Finally, he came back and said he talked to his supervisor (Paulo Gozos - his badge number was allegedly U8, I'm not sure why it was not the same standard as the others I spoke to. Laurence claimed his badge was XL.) Paulo agreed to refund my ticket, but I did not receive a confirmation number that this will happen and won't receive an email that they are processing the refund for 7 to 10 days - and after that confirmation comes, it will take up to TWO MONTHS to refund my money back to my credit card.

I'm not sure what's worst: The fact that United had a plane in its main hub and they were unable to fix a seatbelt, the fact that it took them almost 7 hours to inform customers of this fact, the fact they were unable to rebook anyone in a timely manner to where they needed to go, or the fact that it took three phone calls, over three hours on wait, and will take two months to refund my money for an epic failure of a flight. In addition to all of this, I never got to say good bye to my grandfather.

I've tried to reach out via phone and email and Twitter to United but have never received a reply from anyone in a Customer Service role - apparently, United lets Reservations take care of everything and they are not at all equipped to handle Customer Service issues.

The money is one huge problem as to why I'm writing you, and the treatment of customers secondary, but the pressing question to me is: If a seatbelt can do all this, how in god's name can we trust any of their engines? Who works for United, and from Customer Service up to technicans, why are there clearly no proper procedures and training programs in place?

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