Column: Everybody’s got a complaint |

Column: Everybody’s got a complaint

by staff

When you order the Sourdough Jack, you’re supposed to get the Millennium Jack antenna ball, right?

That’s what I was thinking while I sat in my car at the drive-up window. But I didn’t have my Millennium Jack antenna ball, and it was starting to tick me off.

No big deal, I told myself. Who cares if I get a stupid ball that advertises a fast-food chain? I’m not gonna put it on my antenna, anyway.

Still. They said on TV that I’d get one. But I didn’t.

The voice on the other end of the little box said they would have some more Millennium Jack antenna balls tomorrow. But when I got to the window, she said the manager had just told her they wouldn’t be getting any more.

“Can I talk to the manager?” I asked.

“The manager isn’t here,” she replied.

“Then how did you just talk to the manager?” I wondered.

“Would you like to talk to somebody else?” she said.

I wanted to talk to Jack. So I jotted down the toll-free number and left with my Sourdough Jack burgers.

Everybody has a complaint. By one estimate, U.S. residents will gripe 1.43 billion times this year to the businesses they deal with.

Some are small, like my Millennium Jack antenna balls, and some are large, like the items people lose on airlines.

Yeah, the airlines lose luggage. But sometimes they lose parents, too.

Lufthansa Airlines lost an elderly mother on her way from Cairo to Dallas via Frankfurt. The airlines had rebooked her out of Frankfurt on a flight to Chicago, but neglected to connect her to Dallas. Mom wandered around O’Hare Airport for 10 hours while her daughter waited frantically in Dallas.

Another elderly couple was supposed to go from Moscow to Miami on Air France. When the flight was delayed, the airline sent them to Paris for a connecting flight – a flight that had, unfortunately, already departed. As far as the couple’s children know, they’re still wandering around Paris.

In both cases, the passengers spoke little English (or French, for that matter). Not that it makes any difference in an airport, since nobody can understand what they’re saying over the PA system anyway.

(Except in St. Louis. If you’ve been to St. Louis, lately, they have the best announcements at Lambert International. I heard this one a couple of weeks ago: “Mr. Johnson, Mr. Johnson. Your wife will be unable to pick you up because the babysitter failed to show and she can’t find the car seat.” Swear to God.)

I know about these airline problems because I was checking out the latest innovation on the Internet. Called, it’s the place you go to air your gripes about anything and everything.

Launched in December, takes your complaint, forwards it to the company and – best of all – posts it for everybody to read.

The first thing I did was check to see if anybody had complained about the Nevada Appeal. Not yet. They’re still doing that the old-fashioned way. Like the guy who suggested this week that the best way to improve our service would be to “put the (expletive) newspaper on the (expletive) porch.”

Can’t argue with that.

eComplaints does have lots of gripes about other businesses, though, and it’s a guilty pleasure to sift through a few of them. You find out that no matter how bad you’ve got it, somebody else is even madder.

Here’s somebody who had a computer problem with Gateway:

“I tracked the time it took me to resolve this: 17 phone calls, 12 hours of phone time (mostly on hold), five messages left unreturned, three promises to call me back which were not kept.”

Another person bought a phone at Wal-Mart without a manual:

“The Sony cordless phone is missing a manual. They want $5 for it, they call the manual a ‘part.’ Pretty lousy and pretty cheap in my opinion.”

The Top 10 complaint-getters on eComplaints are all airlines. No. 1? American Airlines.

Gee, I can’t understand that. On our recent trip, all American Airlines did was cancel two flights, postpone another one so that my wife and I missed a connection, fail to book us on another airline so that we could actually get back to Reno (after assuring us they had), and offer us instead a four-hour bus ride.

We have complained the old-fashioned way. We haven’t heard back yet.

But I am happy to note that I’m the proud owner of two Millennium Jack antenna balls, along with a nice note and two coupons for free sandwiches.

I never did get to talk to Jack, though.