OK, Complain … But Be Nice.
Did you know that it is not uncommon for companies in the travel business—and that includes airlines, cruise lines, hotels, rental car companies, and all the rest—to blacklist customers who complain too often or too heatedly?
I sure didn’t. But, according to travel ombudsman, Christopher Elliot, blacklisting is becoming more common as travelers become more and more resentful of paying more for poor service.
The most common reason why someone winds up on a company’s blacklist is because they lose their temper when things go wrong. If there’s yelling and screaming, especially if there’s profanity, or if someone later says he felt threatened, it could very well be that the airline will simply refuse to sell that person a ticket on any of their future flights. The airline’s rationale is pretty simple: this guy is a jerk and a troublemaker, so let him fly with someone else.
Shortly after my partner and I opened our advertising agency in Honolulu, we blacklisted one of our own clients, a very successful art gallery located smack in the middle of Waikiki. They did a lot of advertising and were our biggest client at the time. Of course, they knew that and they took advantage of my partner, Alan, who serviced that account.
They would often call and demand that he drop everything and come over to the gallery immediately for an important meeting. Alan would dutifully reorganize his day and rush over to the gallery only to find that the owner and the marketing person (the woman who had called him) were “in an important meeting”. So Alan would sit and twiddle his thumbs for 45 minutes or an hour before finally being told that his client had to leave the building for a lunch engagement.
Finally, Alan and I decided we’d had enough and the agency fired the client. That just never happened and they were shocked. They even promised to be good if we’d take them back. Nope. People and clients don’t change. They stayed fired.
There’s a sequel to that little story: a couple of years later, the gallery was busted for selling “original” prints supposedly done by a world-famous artist. In fact, they were fakes the gallery had printed and the owner and his second-in-command went to jail.