AN EVIL ALLIANCE MEMBER
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The following material includes letters I received from various readers who were critical of the contents of my web pages. A brief summary of common criticisms is also available in the FAQ.

For further background, be sure to read the first critical letter we receieved as well as its almost identical copy.

Contents

  1. Premier Executive takes issue
  2. Ridiculous, arrogant, uncooperative fools
  3. Disgusted with business travelers
  4. Business traveler's problems get resolved
  5. Air travel has its ups and downs
  6. A United employee takes exception
  7. False Assumptions Challenged
  8. Consumer expectations

All editor's comments are in colored italics

Premier Executive takes issue
from: Lanny Roff Fri, 27 Jun 1997 12:44:14 +0000

I am not writing to defend United Airlines. I am a Premier Executive as are many of those who complain on your pages. I have had both extremely unpleasant and very pleasurable flights with United and accept that that is the way of things in travel. I am writing however, to let you know how I feel about your pages, you and this less than honorable means you are using to press a rediculous complaint.

I first ran across you page (actually it was only a letter then) last year (I think) and remember thinking then that you were taking your complaint to a rather ludicrous degree. I thought however, that the situation was between you and United Airlines.

First, I agree, that using the web as a forum for voicing a complaint is not an initial course of action I would recommend or endorse. I also readily admit that my experience with United pales in comparison to some of the others that are posted on my web pages (I state this right on the main page). However, regardless of whether or not you feel that my complaint was a ridiculous one, I hope you will agree that if any passenger feels disserviced by an airline, and takes the time to write an earnest letter of complaint, offering some suggestions for improvement, then they deserve to have that letter read and taken seriously. In my case, it was clear that after two attempts to elicit a serious reply from United, the letter-writing approach had failed. At that point, I felt that the public had a right to know about United's attitude towards its customers.

I returned to you page while surfing today to see it had grown into a much expanded forum. I have to admit that I wonder of the value of the page. If, as you say United continues to ignore the complaints posted there and you are having no impact on their service or profit margin, it would seem that all this is rather pointless. Unless, of course, the reason behind the page is to simply provide a pressure valve for travellers, in which case I see some modicum of value to your "hobby" (your word I think.)

Obviously, I have no way to gage the impact of my web pages on United's profits or service. However, the success of the Untied site in attracting the attention of UAL management, as well as encouragement from several UAL employees, urging me to continue the efforts, would seem to indicate that there is a point. Even if UAL management does not make efforts to improve, at the very least, the letters posted on my web pages are read seriously by a number of UAL employees.

I would like however, to point out something I beleive to be disingenuous on your part. While reading the exchange in "Criticisms" between you and a United employee I read your story re the difference between the way you were treated by United and by Sony. I thought, "Maybe he has a point?" Then I ran across your address which is:

Dr. Jeremy R. Cooperstock
Sony Computer Science Laboratory
Takanawa Muse Building 3F
3-14-13 Higashi-Gotanda, Shinagawa-ku
Tokyo, 141, Japan

I do believe an ethics committee may rule that you have a vested interest in making SONY look good. I am not accusing you of any impropriety here, I am simply pointing out that there is an appearance of dingenuosness (is that a word?) on your part.

I'm afraid that you may have missed the link to the full text of the letter from which that excerpt was culled (please see http://www.untied.com/site/pilot.html). I was responding to a United pilot's charge that "ONE THING I WOULD NEVER DO IF I FOUND A CRAPPY PRODUCT FROM SONY WOULD BE TO PRINT A PAGE ON THE NET DESCRIBING HOW BAD YOUR COMPANY IS." Throughout my web pages, I make no effort to hide the fact that I am presently working for Sony. Indeed, there is a link to my home page at Sony CSL at the bottom of every page in the Untied site. Incidentally, I am only here as a visiting researcher for one year.

One other point. Having re-read you original complaint and the "form letter" (again your words) reply. I am now convinced that United apologized appropriately for their misservices to you and your companion. I think the offer of $200.00 voucher more than compensated for the relatively minor inconvenience you experienced on your return flight from Hawaii.

The "voucher was a sufficient apology" argument just doesn't hold water. Almost any letter of complaint written to the airlines (yes, all of the major airlines engage in this practice) will receive the same "compensation" in return. These vouchers are really little more than an incentive to the letter writer to be a repeat customer, urging them to spend thousands of dollars more on the airline to which they were complaining. At any rate, in the case of our own travel plans for the coming year, the vouchers were completely useless.

As to the outward trip you described in which you blame United for delaying a flight and not getting you on another, I believe you are not completely without some culpability here. I any regard, there was no damage done to you, you made your trip on schedule. You simply seem upset that you had to change your travel plans to do so and think that United was less than helpful. I can't tell you how many times that has happened to me, on United and on other airlines. The solution is to pay attention and take some responsibility for yourself not relying on the airlines to look out for you.

I'm curious as to how you reached this conclusion. A few lines later, you imply that the solution is to take responsibility for yourself. Once again, I hope you will agree that neither of the following possibilities are reasonable expectations to place on travelers:

Naturally, travelers should take some initiative where appropriate, but under these circumstances, failing to obey the instructions of airline personnel, who are supposedly there because they have been trained to do their jobs, is not going to solve any problems.

Reasonable people, with genuine motives and a willingness to compromise can often find amicable solutions to any problem. You sir are overboard and United is neither better nor worse than any other airline in the world.

I am certainly willing to compromise, and do not believe I have made any unreasonable demands on United. I simply asked them for an apology and they repeatedly refused. As for your assertion that United is neither better nor worse than any other airline in the world, I am glad that this is far from the truth. Domestically, United has one of the worst records for safety, on-time performance, mishandled baggage, and overall service (please see http://www.untied.com/ual/stats/). Internationally, when one considers the performance of most European and Southeast Asian airlines, United is a disgrace.

I hope I have addressed your concerns. If there is anything further you wish to discuss, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Ridiculous, arrogant, uncooperative fools
Sat, 21 Jun 1997 14:03:52 -0400

My stepfather works for United. He's on his 31st year and like many, many Americans really dislikes his job, but he works hard. He has taken one sick day this year for the first time in several years.

I personally have flown 20 to 30 times in the last four years. Flying this much gives us plenty of opportunity to learn the ropes and become a seasoned traveller, but even more you see the way other people fly. The majority of the people flying out there are ridiculous, arrogant, unco-operative fools. There are people who refuse to sit down when it's time to leave the gate because they don't like their seat. There are people who check-in last minute because they don't realize the rush hour traffic that is there every day is going to delay their trip to the airport. There are people who are rude to the check-in agents, the fight attendants and everyone else around them because they think they are the only ones worthy of attention on a flight of at least a hundred people.

The people who work at United are doing everything they can to make the flights move as efficiently as possible. Please consider what they're dealing with. Where I work, I deal with maybe 20 people at the most and I can get very irritable compensating for their stupidity. If I had to multiply the number of peop le I came in contact with by at least five, and on top of that put it all in an airport or plane, I'd go crazy. So before complaining about the service you receive from United, step back and look at what you're doing.

Thanks for sending your comments to the Untied web site. I agree with you that there are many less-than-polite travelers who make the jobs of airline employees quite difficult, but I do not accept this as a blanket excuse for the behaviour of United Airlines towards its passengers, described in the stories I have posted from other readers. If I have a bad day at work, I certainly would not use this as a justification to be rude to others.

By the way, your characterization of the bulk of travelers as "ridiculous, arrogant, unco-operative fools" is precisely how many passengers feel they have been treated, undeservedly, by United. This disdain for the source of UA's revenue, as reflected in such comments, is still being demonstrated all too frequently. Interestingly, this attitude is supposedly what Mr. Greenwald is trying to counter with United's recent advertising campaign, with little evidence of real change in company policy.

I note that United has many fine employees with highly professional attitudes but unfortunately, the callous disregard shown by UA management, customer relations, and a number of other employees toward the public, tarnishes the reputation these fine people uphold.

Many of us are still waiting for apologies from the airline you proudly support, after paying a lot of money and subsequently being mistreated. One couple is still waiting for their lost luggage claim, which they filed four times, to be acknowledged (see the "story of the week"). If the rest of UA shared your stepfather's work ethic, these situations would have all been quickly resolved, or in many cases, never have occured at all.

Disgusted with business travelers
Fri, 6 Jun 1997 18:48:54 -0400
from: Marty Trujillo of Westminster, CA

I have no complaint to register against United. I use their service frequently, and have found them to be no better nor worse than the other major carriers.

I would like to say that I am absolutely disgusted with business travelers. I think they are the lowliest, rudest, most disgusting subclass of humans in existence. You strike me as one of the most bitter I have yet encountered, and this page is fairly typical of the sort of low-level, unprofessional, and vindictive behavior I have come to expect from them.

Really, these people think because they use the service a lot that they are entitled to some treatment other than what the rest of us receive. Their self-importance and lack of concern for anyone other than themselves is appalling.

By the way, I have no connection with United. Good luck travelling with Reno Air or Southwest, or whomever else you choose. I'm sure they will treat you like the God you think you are.

Thanks for sending your comments to my "Untied" web site. I'm glad to hear that you haven't had any of the unpleasant experiences such as those that grace the various postings from other readers. You seem to have some animosity toward business travelers, and that is certainly your right. I should point out that over 90% of my own air travel is not for business, but I don't think that your reason for flying should influence the treatment you expect or receive from the airline. Also, more than half of the complaint letters I receive from other former United passengers are from those who were not travelling on business.

Thank you also for your kind wishes with respect to my future travels on other airlines. I do not expect to be treated like a god when I fly, but rather, to receive a basic level of service and be shown a reasonable amount of respect that any paying passenger deserves. If you read through some of the experiences of other United passengers, you may find that this service and respect is often (as United now admits in their own advertisements) sadly lacking.

Thank you for your response. I do have animosity toward business travelers: I am one, and I am absolutely appalled at their attitude, their arrogance, and their actions with regard to airline employees. To me, they epitomize rudeness and self-importance.

Whether you recognize it or not, your site and sites like yours feed this self-importance. Airline travel is difficult enough without the added pressure of consumers "ganging up" on airlines. You are catering to this "consumer is always correct" nonsense without even realizing it. I have had complaints with United, but I have alerted them and they have been accommodating. An overwhelming number of my flights with them pass without incident and many of them are downright enjoyable.

I think your complaint is with the deregulation of air travel. Taking away the common carrier responsibility has resulted in planes that are crowded, noisy, not as safe as they should be, and crammed to the T's with business travelers who grind their teeth throughout the flight because they couldn't upgraded to first class. Yet, it has been my experience that this is consistent with every airline; that was my point.

Picking on the poor over-worked and under-appreciated United employee because mistakes are being made is not an approach I endorse. Creating an entire website to mock those same employees is, to me, inconsiderate and uncivil.

First, I don't share your view that business travelers somehow represent the worst of humanity. Throughout my own travels and maintaining the Untied web site, I have encountered many polite and modest business passengers, just as I have encountered rude and arrogant holiday travelers, and, as I make clear on the "If you work for United" page, just as I have corresponded with several competent and professional United employees.

In response to your claim that my site "feed[s] this self-importance" of business travelers, I note that apart from the occasional criticism such as yours, the mail I receive from former United passengers does not reflect self-importance, but rather a sense of frustration, disappointment, and betrayal (especially from the "loyal" customers), almost without exception. Interestingly, the few writers who display rudeness and an attitude of self-importance tend to be those who take exception to my web site, without having understood its origins and purpose.

Allow me to address two misconceptions you seem to hold, while clarifying my motivation for maintaining the Untied web site:

You are catering to this "consumer is always correct" nonsense

No, the consumer is not always correct. I receive many letters to which my reply is along the lines of, "that wasn't United's fault." For those passengers, I suspect I provide far more satisfactory feedback than United's customer relations department, as I address their concerns individually, and do so promptly. Keep in mind that I do this as a hobby in my spare time.

I think your complaint is with the deregulation of air travel.

No, my complaint is not with the deregulation of air travel. I believe that companies should treat their customers with respect regardless of the level of governmental control over the industry.

What I find entirely unacceptable, is that unlike your own positive experiences, in which you "alerted them [of your complaint] and they have been accommodating" some passengers who take the time to write an earnest letter of complaint to United, offering suggestions for improvement, receive an inappropriate form letter reply several months later, or sometimes, no reply at all. In my own case, I had to send a follow-up note to solicit a reply, and the form letter that finally reached me two months later indicated that my complaint had not even been read. I don't know what you think of such conduct, but even the United employees with whom I have corresponded agree that this treatment was completely unprofessional.

Picking on the poor over-worked and under-appreciated United employee because mistakes are being made is not an approach I endorse.

An honest mistake once in a while is quite understandable. However, when "mistakes" are made with regular frequency, they become a problem that warrants attention. In our own experience with United, we were subjected to misinformation, incompetence, and rudeness on several occasions both during our trip, and afterwards. What troubles me more than the "mistakes" themselves, is United's consistent refusal to address them constructively. Let's face it -- having a team of lawyers send a threatening letter to the University of Toronto, urging them to shut down my web page, is not an effective way to improve a company's customer service. The entire history is of course documented at www.untied.com/site/history.shtml.

Creating an entire website to mock those same employees is, to me, inconsiderate and uncivil.

The purpose of my web site is most certainly not to mock United employees (please read the "if you work for United" section), but rather, to provide:

  1. a service for prospective passengers by alerting them to United Airlines' attitude towards its customers
  2. a forum for past passengers to voice their complaints, in the hopes that United will pay attention and act appropriately to respond to them

The most recent "story of the week" featured in my web pages is a perfect example of this second point. I am presenting United with an opportunity to act responsibly and reimburse these passengers for their lost baggage, after three previous attempts through normal channels failed to elicit anything more than a brush-off.

Regards,

Jeremy Cooperstock
Maintainer, Untied web site

Business traveler's problems get resolved
Thu, 29 May 1997 22:36:31 -0400
from: Tom of San Francisco

I think you guys have nothing else better to do. I am a frequent business traveler - fly over 100,000 miles a year. I am only fly on United. I do have to admit they do make mistakes sometimes, so do other major airlines in this country. Whennever there is a problem, I either ask to talk to a station manager or write to customer service. My problems usually solve when I speak to station managers. Only few times I couldn't resolve the problems with them, I wrote to United customer service. I got reply in about 2 weeks and with a apology letter and $200 travel voucher. I think you should have a section on your web page for someone who have something good to say about United. After all, like you said, it is a free speech country.

Thanks for your comments about United Airlines. I'm glad to hear that you have had better luck getting your problems resolved than the many posters on my web site. As I readily admit, other airlines have problems too, and many passengers have enjoyable experiences flying with United. However, a good deal of passengers have been treated with utter disregard by UAL rather than being shown the same respect as you were.

As for your suggestion about having a section for people who wish to compliment United, I do have a "criticisms" page for people who take exception to the contents of the Untied site. Of course, that is really what the www.ual.com pages are for. However, if United agrees to set up a section of their site for people to post complaints, and makes efforts to resolve these in a timely manner, then I would be happy to reciprocate. Yes, it is a "free speech country," although United opted for legal threats in an attempt to silence me, rather than engage in a constructive dialogue.

Air travel has its ups and downs
Thu, 20 Mar 1997 08:51:14 -0800

Sounds like you have too much time on your hands. Air travel is not an exact science as the public likes to think that planes should leave and arrive exactly at the time specified. Do you write letters to the Dept of Transportation if their is a traffic jam due to construction? The only thing that i see happened to you on your flight was that the precious wool dress has a crease in it other than that you went from point A to B in a timely manner. Thats what you paid for air transportation. Don't think it was anything else other than that.

Thanks for your letter. In response to your points, I think you are making an overly strong assumption about the expectations of "the public" with respect to on-time flight schedules. While nobody enjoys waiting two hours for a delayed departure, I suspect that just about anybody who has taken a few flights in their life accepts such delays as an inherent inconvenience associated with this form of travel.

However, to answer your criticism, I am afraid that you missed the entire point of my web pages. While my initial letter to the airline complained about their lack of coordination in rerouting passengers, not announcing a critical flight delay in English, not being able to satisfy seating reservations made weeks in advance, upgrading late arrival and standby passengers over others who had already been inconvienced, and mishandling of a garment bag, the web pages resulted from United's lack of concern for customer relations in replying (or as the case may be, *not replying*) to my letter. Since then, the many other letters I received from other former United passengers (some of them posted) indicated that rude treatment from United personnel is in fact quite common. That rudeness is something for which we certainly did not pay.

And hypothetically, if I were stuck in a traffic jam due to construction and asked a road crew worker if there were any alternate routes I could take, and he in turn punctured my car tire, yes, I would probably write a letter to the department of transportation.

A United employee takes exception
Sat, 1 Mar 1997 09:37:16 -0500 (EST)

Dear Mr. Cooperstock

I am an employ of United Airlines and I felt compelled to address your concern with our customer service.

1) Yes, you were disserviced, however I can't believe that you would spend so much of your time on the Internet bashing my company. As an employee owner I take offense to your comments.

I'm sorry that you take offense to my comments. If you have some suggestions as to how I could better elicit a satisfactory reply from your company to my initial letter of June 13, 1996, please let me know. Along with the dozens of other dissatisfied customers whose letters I have posted on my web site, I would be very happy to find an avenue by which to have my grievances addressed.

As I stated several times, I would be very happy to update both my opinion of United Airlines as well as these Web pages, if your company finds the time to apologize with something more than a form letter.

2) Have you never been inconvenienced by your local grocery store or one of your utility companies or a credit card company or had bad service at a restaurant or hotel? Why not have a sight to bash them as well??? Why are singling out my company?

Of course I have received bad service from other companies. The difference, as I explained in my letter to one of your pilots is in the way these other companies responded to a polite criticism of their poor service. I include the relevant paragraph below:

... let me take this opportunity to illustrate a significant difference in the treatment that Sony and United Airlines show their respective customers. Approximately nine years ago, I purchased a Sony walkman that, after half a year, began exhibiting some audio problems in the right channel. I brought in the unit for repair under warranty, but the problem resurfaced shortly thereafter. After a second repair, I left Canada to spend a year abroad, and again, the repair proved to be insufficient. By now, however, the warranty period had expired, and I was required to pay for the third repair. Furthermore, because the required part was not in stock, I had to wait an additional month before the unit was returned to me. I wrote a letter to Sony, explaining my frustration, and not only did they send me a prompt reply with a full reimbursement for the repair, they also included an additional replacement part in case it was ever needed in the future. While this experience does not necessarily speak well of authorized Sony repair centers, it says a great deal about the respect that the company shows to its customers.

3) We posted record profits in 1996 and were voted as having the best mileage plus program, the best trans Atlantic carrier and several other prestigious awards. If we were so bad, I doubt that we would have been honored in this way.

Yes, I am aware of these awards. Other readers of my web pages, as well as the many other passengers who have shared similar experiences as the ones described, are no doubt incredulous that United continues to earn enormous profits and be so honored. However, as the word spreads of your company's callous disregard for its passengers, I expect that either United's profits will drop, or your airline will be forced to change its attitude.

4) Quite frankly, it's a shame that you waste your time being so negative about this Mr. Cooperstock. Nothing is perfect in this life.

Quite true, nothing is perfect. However, I believe that there are minimal standards of service that we are all entitled to expect when spending several thousand dollars on air travel. Since it's relevant, allow me to repeat a section from my reply to another individual:

Actually, I am in general a very happy person and have almost always been satisfied with the service received during my air travel. However, like most human beings, I tend to get upset when people treat me rudely and then damage my personal property.

[In reply to: "If you could channel your negative energy into helping others this world would be a much better place."]

That is exactly what I am trying to do through these web pages. After the lack of a serious reply to my two polite letters to United, it soon became obvious that this airline had little concern for its passengers. I have already heard from a good many other passengers who are sorry that they didn't read my web pages before choosing an airline. Those who did (like the recent January 21 letter indicates) will hopefully enjoy a pleasant flight rather than suffering.

I have been quite gratified to receive notes from other United employees, stating that there is no excuse for the poor service we received during our travels and agreeing that United's reply to our letters was unsatisfactory. If you believe otherwise, that is certainly your right.

False Assumptions Challenged
July 23, 1997

As a United employee I do appreciate reading criticisms of my company. We cannot possibly improve if we cannot hear from our customers. I do, however, feel obligated to respond to some of the completely false assumptions many passengers make.

Thank you for your comments. Unfortunately, like the customer service representatives who failed to read the letters we had sent them you too have completely missed the points raised by the postings contained at the Untied site.

You may be addressing the assumptions that some passengers make, but this is irrelevant to anything posted at my site. If UAL is serious about improving, might I suggest that it starts by:

Although you have avoided addressing any of the serious issues raised in my web site, preferring instead to deny that UAL could be at fault, allow me to reply to your points, very briefly:

1. Other airlines do not experience delays.

It just happens to be that United's on-time performance is improving every month. We happen to operate hubs in cities which tend to experience a higher-share of air traffic control flow delays than other carriers. This problem is esspecially tough on us at our SFO, LAX, and ORD...

Nowhere in my web site does anyone state that other airlines do not experience delays. On the contrary, we acknowledge that United is improving in this regard, but that it is still ranked poorly.

2. Safety

Safety at all times and in all things. It is our corporate moto and is the most most important aspect of our company. Our pilot's receive the best training the industry has the offer. Our Denver flight training facility has more simulators and technological aids than any other...

While it may be your corporate motto, the FAA-compiled statistics do not support any assertion that United is doing well compared to the other airlines. Please read the Prospective Passengers page.

3. We cancel flight for loads.

Three weeks before your scheduled flight we decide which specific aircraft will fly the route. The decision is based on maintenance and other schedules. When we cancel a flight it puts this very detailed plan in limbo and costs us much more than the canceled flight. To put it short, we do not cancel flights for poor flight loads...

Once again, this information is very interesting, but your simple denial of the problem seems to be untrue. Although you may wish me to believe that Mr. Austin is lying in his description of the conversations he had with both a UAL gate agent and supervisor, given United's track record in this regard, I see no reason to doubt his account.

4. Mileage Plus

Mileage Plus is one of the most generous frequent flier-programs in the industry. Just look at our enrollment numbers and you will see that it is also the most popular. Upgrades are a perk that we enjoy...

Nowhere in my web site does anyone question the enrollment numbers or the quality of your Mileage Plus program. The issues dealt with under "Premier Class and Frequent Flyer" are the proposed reductions to the award structure, the remaining "economy-comfort" seats in business class, various incidences of passengers denied their upgrade seat, and general rudeness and incompetence the frequent flyers have been shown.

5. Uncomfortable seating.

United is replacing every seat on every plane. Fly on one of our new A319's, A320's or 777's and in all classes of service we offer a new type of seat. We are the only airline to have adjustable ... For the passenger of flight 863, we are installing new connoissuer class seat on all of our wide-body aircraft with lumbar supports and new leg rests. We have one of the largest fleets, so the change will take a few months.

Until the change is completed, what is United doing for those passengers, such as your Mileage Plus customer 00131-899-696, who paid business class fare on flight 862 (not 863) and was treated to an experience that would be considered substandard in economy? At any rate, I think many more passengers would agree that a cosmetic makeover of your planes is less important than an accompanying improvement in your attitude towards customers.

Note: Since then, this matter has been resolved. Of course, many other problems remain outstanding.

In closing, please understand that we do not intentionally try to frustrate travelers. I will never make an excuse for a rude employee-because there is no excuse. Yet, I feel that this page is full of stories written on false assumtions. United is Rising to meet your expectations and the changes will not happen overnight...

Although some readers have reported the existence of a deliberate effort to frustrate travelers (on the part of flight attendants who are trying to force management to the bargaining table), this remains an unsupported claim for now. More to the point, though, you feel that the stories reported on my web site are based on "false assumptions" but have done nothing to correct these, beyond dishing out more of the tired, UAL company line. Please read what your pilots have to say about the new hollow ad campaign vs. paying attention to the criticisms leveled against your company in my web pages.

Regards,
Jeremy Cooperstock
Maintainer, Untied web site

What should consumers expect from big companies?
Thu, 19 Dec 1996 09:09:06 -0800 (PST)

Jeremy, my purpose in responding to your WEB site, is to let you know that I have browsed your WEB page, and have a few points to bounce back off of you.

Please understand that I have flown United only once (to and from Chicago from Vancouver). However, while I was moved away from the bulkhead, it was on behalf of a lady with two children, and United had moved me to an emergency exit seat with more leg room. While I am not sure if there was a passenger that was displaced as a result of this move, I did appreciate their tact and diligent effort to give me something "better" than I had before the move.

I am concerned of one thing, though. No doubt, you would agree we all make mistakes. Perhaps they may be in friendship, marriage or in a work situation. For example, I have called Sony Canada on a number of occasions, looking to purchase several commercial grade TVs and VCRs. Not one of my calls have been responded to.

My point is this: Just as you have left United for the poor service you received, perhaps I should leave Sony for the LACK of service I have received. After all, if your sales people do not respond to my interest in commercial grade AV equipment, how will you treat me after I make a purchase?

I totally agree. If I called a division of Sony several times for information concerning a potential product purchase and they failed to respond to my satisfaction, I would not hesitate a moment to take my business elsewhere.

Please forgive me if I sound combative, as you probably understand, this world needs better service and less attitude. And, I certainly will not try to convince you to fly United (as I really could care less; after all I plan to continue), I do want to point out that you are weilding a double-edged sword.

How so? I make no excuses for poor treatment of customers, regardless of whether it be from an airline or an electronics manufacturer, and regardless of whether the customer has or has not already paid for the service/product.

Perhaps Sony would be so generous as to give me hundreds of dollars off my pending purchases as opposed to me going elsewhere.

I'm not sure what you are insinuating. I asked United for an apology, not hundreds of dollars off my next flight. They refused.