["One ringy-dingy...two ringy-dingies ... six thousand ringy-dingies ..."]
From the hilariously unuseful United Airlines Web site today on one aspect of the continuing disruptions caused by the merging of computer systems early this month with the former Continental Airlines (emphasis mine):
"Our Contact Centers are currently experiencing extraordinarily high call volumes. In some cases hold times exceed an hour, and you may be prompted to try your call at another time. We are working to improve this service level and apologize for any inconvenience this may cause."
United knew there would be problems with the computer switchover because every other merged airline has had them when it merged computer systems. United's problems started on March 3, when it flipped the switch, and continue today and will continue tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow ....
Still, United sent its crack PR guy out during the first day of disruptions to assure the gullible in the media that all was going quite well -- when all was manifestly not going well at all.
More than two weeks later, I'm hearing almost hourly from people who have missed connections and gotten stranded, who are unable to get mileage and other status systems to work for them, and who are unable to get through to United on customer service lines. In some cases, I am being told, hold times exceed three hours.
Here's a case study (attention Harvard Business School) in how not to handle PR during a period of problems.