This weekend my husband and I were traveling home from Canada where we were visiting a relative with health issues. Maybe it was our frame of mind – preoccupied – but nothing seemed to go right. We couldn’t find the car rental return and by the time we did find it, we were running late. We tried to check-in at the kiosk for our flight, but the machine wasn’t working either. We jumped on line to check in, hoping we would find a friendly face.

“You missed the cutoff by seven minutes,” the agent chirped. She was smiling, but insistent. My husband pointed out that we had to stand on line to wait because the airline’s equipment failed us. The smile now gone, the agent began to explain the reasons for the rules, almost as if reading it from the company's manual. She wasn’t rude. In fact, was calm and insistent as she swiped my credit card for $300 in change fees to get on a later flight.  My husband groaned his disappointment at her lack of interest in our plight.

As I walked away, she protested to me, saying, “You can’t say I wasn’t polite!” But, of course, that wasn’t the point. We were in the wrong. We were late. But what we were looking for was some customer service, some help, maybe even some assistance. What we got was a robot reading cue cards.

Strangely, we went to customer service near the gate and were put on our original flight. So, we ended up paying $300 for nothing. Like most consumers, I didn’t write a letter to complain. But it’s not likely we will fly with that airline again. All of which makes me think that customer service is a thing of the past. Voting with your dollars is the only real recourse!