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Airline
UAL - United Airlines
united-com

$6,300 worth of photographic equipment stolen on a United Airlines flight.

STUNNING COMPENSATION OFFER: $50.43 and a 'travel voucher'!

The following is a factual account as posted on Facebook of a United Airlines flight taken on October 10th, 2102 from Washington, Dulles airport, to Denver, Colorado.

Read the story here or go to the corresponding Facebook post here.

As the overhead bins were full on a flight from Washington-Dulles yesterday, I gave my bag to an agent and received a 'receipt' - number UA-9016334394 in case a United CEO with blood in his veins is looking in and trying to listen to us, LOL.

It wasn't a green tag situation, but a hand-written carbon copy by a gate agent, and was checked all the way through to Grand junction via Denver.

It didn't arrive on my GJT flight, so I reported it expecting the bag to be on the first flight this morning. Note that the agent found the bag was listed on her computer and in Denver, and not missing.

However, it hasn't shown up on any of the FOUR flights thus far today, and now they're saying that they can't locate the bag, but won't say they lost it either.

I went to the airport and met one flight in the hopes as one does, but was joined in the 'baggage lost' line by quite a number of other folk who had just arrived from Denver. Interesting.

OK, I'll 'fess up. My bag contained items totaling $5,000 plus, and I'll be claiming that plus emotional stress, time and more if the bag isn't returned with the contents intact.

My guess is that United/United Express have a 'rogue' employee - or employees - probably in baggage, at the Denver airport, and is why I'll be reporting all the items as stolen to the Denver police tonight.

I've done over 300,000 miles with United since the early nineties, but the last two years of mis-treatment and new charges have led me to adopt a policy of 'the lowest price wins' when it comes to air travel.

Update on October 15th, 2012 . . .

UPDATE: 5 full days have passed, so it's file a claim time. However, I expect a battle, and they'll most certainly get one from me. The adverse publicity will cost them much more than the $5,000 value of my 'stolen' photography equipment.

I have spoken to a supervisor by the name of Matash in India twice, who promised me he'd call with updates every day. Needless to say he/United Airlines hasn't . . . and won't of course.  [he didn't]

United should investigate employees at the Denver airport, and install CCTV in presently unmonitored areas. They'll soon find the culprit/s, or if I have my way, the Denver police will shortly do the job for me.

If United think I will just go away and give up the fight THEY ARE WRONG.

Update on November 29th, 2012 . . .

UPDATE for those of you following this story:

1: Matash, a 'United airlines supervisor', never called as promised.

2: On second thoughts the employees at Washington Dulles should be monitored as it occurs to us that my bag might not have even
been on my flight. Did anyone at United look at CCTV footage prior to my flight leaving that day?

It's theft, pure and simple, and any business will continue to lose massive amounts of revenue if client trust is compromised.

3: A claim was FedEx'd on November the 21st. No word yet, but I'll keep you posted.

I had estimated that the theft cost me camera equipment to the value of $5,000. Well, I was off the mark as it amounted to $6,300.97 USD, and much of that was the 'devalued/used equipment' estimate, not my original purchase cost.

The theft comes with additional costs, i.e. . . .
• The time spent finding replacements and ordering them
• The shipping cost of the replacements
• The accumulated hours spent with United agents on the telephone in pursuit of the stolen bag
• The impact on our clients, and their decision whether or whether not to travel with us again, when we’re running a photography tour without a camera
• The huge amount of time taken to gather receipts and fill out forms for this claim
• . . . and so on, and so on

More to follow.

Update on February 17th, 2012 . . .

UPDATE for those of you following the stolen bag of photographic equipment story:

I received a call in January from an agent who stated that that she was 'looking for my bag'.

This is quite laughable as it was not 'lost' as it had plenty of ID both e
xternally and internally. Nope it was STOLEN, and I am out of pocket to the tune of $6,300 plus.

The agent added that it will take another 2 months before the compensation claim is decided.

So, October to March, no photo gear, hours spent writing claims including long lists of equipment, loss of business and much, much more.

You know, I don't want United's maximum $3000-ish compensation, I want to be FULLY compensated.

The impact on my business is far more than the $6,300 worth of equipment, so United, I'll see you in court in Boise, Idaho.

Sure, you have a bright lawyer who will cost you a bundle, but I have determination and an infinite desire to see justice prevail.

It's a black and white issue, and I doubt very much your lawyer will convince the judge to see gray.

Update on March the 7th, 2013 . . .

UPDATE: It is now FIVE WHOLE MONTHS since my camera gear was stolen, and still nothing from United.

Methinks that they think I will say, "Oh well, this is better nothing" when their decision is made regarding compensation.

That is just not going to
happen, and I'm just as fire about this injustice as I was 5 months ago.

Suing United in Boise, Idaho is destined to be a positive experience.

Update on March the 8th, 2013 . . .

UPDATE: I wrote to the United Airlines CEO Jeff Smisek a couple days ago, and received the following reply from United customer care . . .

"Dear Mr. Baker: Thank you for contacting United Airlines.

Our corporate offices received your e-mail and have forward
ed it to me for handling. Mr. Smisek does spend time reading letters and talking to customers; however, because of the magnitude of his responsibilities as CEO of United, he has placed me in a position to respond to your concerns and communicate your comments to the appropriate departments.

Mr. Baker, I have read your e-mail and I am very sorry to learn about the entire situation you have encountered due the loss of your carry-on bag. I realize how frustrating and stressful this has been for you.

I apologize for the negative impression this situation has created. You have every right to expect your baggage to travel with you and arrive on time. Please be assured we do understand your concerns, and they have been documented for review and appropriate internal action.

I have also contacted our Baggage Resolution director, which has informed me that your case will be handled immediately. Mr. Baker, you should be receiving confirmation from our Baggage Resolutions Desk within 3-5 business days.

For any questions regarding your baggage claim, please contact The System Tracing and Claims Center phone number at 800-335-2247.

My apology cannot erase what happened, but I hope it helps to know we take your concerns very seriously. It is never our intent to inconvenience our passengers, and I am very sorry your valid expectations were not met. We appreciate the time you took to share your thoughts with us and the opportunity to apologize for the inconveniences.

Mr. Baker, please know that your business and goodwill are never taken for granted. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

With kind regards, L*****a R***s, Corporate Customer Care Manager"

Of course, "Mr. Baker, you should be receiving confirmation from our Baggage Resolutions Desk within 3-5 business days." could mean anything, i.e. in 5 days they'll tell me they're looking into my case.

Seeing as this has dragged on for FIVE MONTHS it would behoove them RESOLVE the issue within FIVE DAYS, right?

Update on March the 18th . . .

UPDATE: Having not heard from United within the promised 5 business day period, I sent a follow-up email to United Customer Care, and Jeff Smisek, the United CEO.

Shortly after came United's/Continental's decision via snail mail. You will NOT believe
this . . .

A check for $53.43 USD, and a travel voucher for $1,600 USD! This is an outrage, an insult, and FURTHER THEFT in our opinion.

When I'm slapped in the face I fight back.

It's not just the $6,300.97 USD loss, but the time and effort chasing United all these months such as . . .

:: The time spent finding replacements and ordering them
:: The shipping cost of the replacements
:: The accumulated hours spent with United agents on the telephone in pursuit of the stolen bag
:: The impact on our clients, and their decision whether or whether not to travel with us again, when we’re running a photography tour without a camera
:: The huge amount of time taken to gather receipts and fill out forms for this claim . . . and so on, and so on.

A conservative estimate is that I have spent an estimated $72,000 USD flying with United since 1998, probably more. Do you think I'll fly them again, or continue to recommend United/Continental to our clients? [we're in the travel business and run our own tours] Yes, that was an easy guess.

Do the math, because they haven't.

So, what message does that said to prospective United/Continental clients? This . . . if they lose your bag you're likely to get zero compensation.

If for a $6,300.97 USD loss I receive no more than a $50.43 check and a travel voucher for $1,600, what chance does anyone else have of being treated with respect by United/Continental?

Lastly, if you think the travel voucher is generous . . . IT IS NOT.

As there is invariably an empty seat or two on every flight, I'd be filling one of those with zero cost to United/Continental. On top of that, if I were to actually use the travel voucher they'd give me the worst itinerary possible, i.e. traveling to say England, they'd route me via Phoenix, Houston, Atlanta, Amsterdam and onto Heathrow in seats United couldn't originally sell.

They do this habitually when you use your hard-earned miles in case you weren't aware of it. A 'normal' itinerary would be via Denver, or Seattle or Chicago to Heathrow.

Stay away from United Airlines if you value not only your photographic equipment, but anything you just happen to own and want to take with you.

Once again, to see the entire Facebook post with responses from Facebook posters go here.

See additional United Airlines feedback here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
 

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KEYWORDS
United Airlines
UAL
Jeff Smisek
Airline theft
Airport thefts
Passenger property stolen
United Airlines sucks
United CEO Jeff Smisek: jeff.smisek@united.com
 

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