Avoid Long Hold Times On The Phone – New Things You Can Do Via Twitter/Chat
Shawn recently shared about a trick he uses when facing long hold times on the phone. But what if I don’t want to wait on hold? What if I want to send off a message and just let someone resolve it “whenever”? It’s not an emergency, so this should work–right? Luckily, banks, airlines, travel agencies and more are expanding the number of services they’re handling online through chat reps. This way, they’re trying to reduce those long hold times and also reduce the number of people who need to call. Here are some things I’ve accomplished online recently that weren’t possible before.
Cancel Flights Via Twitter
I recently cancelled flights via direct message on Twitter. Even better: I did this not once but twice. I did it with two different companies. One is a third-party agency and one is an airline. One was an award booking and one a cash fare. Here’s how I got the cancellations done without fees.
I had an award booking via Alaska Airlines to fly from Los Angeles to Tokyo. Our booking went via Xi’an, China on Hainan Airlines. After the press about Hainan’s financial problems and wondering whether they’d survive the coronavirus impact, I gave it a month. Yesterday, I checked to see if this flight still exists. It doesn’t.
Since the Olympics aren’t happening in Japan this Summer anyway, we wanted to get out of this ticket without paying a cancellation fee. This was the perfect opportunity to tell Alaska Airlines that the flight doesn’t exist, asking them to cancel without a fee.
I gathered some screen shots, info, and then sent a secure message on Twitter. I told Alaska Airlines the flight doesn’t exist, I don’t like the new options (more connections, longer travel time) and asked them to confirm the flight doesn’t exist. Once they confirmed, I asked for a cancellation without fee. At the end, the chat agent even reminded me to stay inside and stay healthy.
Back in October, I saw eDreams had a mistake fare from Brazil to Cabo Verde, the island country off the west coast of Africa. For $349 round-trip in economy, I was excited to check out TACV Cabo Verde Airlines. With the current coronavirus outbreak, I was looking for a way out of this flight. I emailed the airline directly to ask about cancellations, since they’re offering waivers but only on flights booked directly with them.
Surprisingly, the airline told me the no longer serve Salvador, the city in Brazil I’d booked from. They told me I need to contact eDreams to rebook via another city. This became my perfect opportunity to cancel without a fee, since the flight no longer exists. (Why eDreams or TACV never told me this route was suspended 2 months ago is another issue)
eDreams appears overwhelmed with the amount of inquiries they’re getting. I sent a private message and got no reply. A week later, I tweeted at them. 4 days later, I got a message saying someone will reply in 7 days. 10 days later, I replied to them again. Without any further correspondence, I magically got my refund 3 days later.
Downgrade American Express Card Via Chat
The annual fee rolled around on my wife’s American Express Delta Gold Card. We weren’t interested in keeping it / paying the fee and just wanted to downgrade. We’re attempting to reduce the amount of annual fees we pay this year, so we weren’t seeking a retention offer. We also didn’t want to close the card, since my wife is already getting the Amex pop-up message on everything. We wanted to downgrade to the no-fee Delta Blue Card to try to get the best of everything.
When we called, we got the “sorry for long hold times” message from Amex. The pre-recorded greeting said to try using the automated phone system or chat to do things. I’d also seen reports of others downgrading cards without talking to anyone. We fired up the Amex chat and mentioned the long hold times on the phone. We asked about downgrading.
Without batting an eye, the chat rep gave us a disclosure and then confirmed the downgrade. Easy as pie.
Close CitiBusiness Card Via Chat
After the success with the Amex chat, my next stop was Citi. Since American Airlines shut down my wife’s and my accounts, we had no interest in keeping our AA co-branded cards from Barclays and Citi. Firstly, we wouldn’t have kept this card anyway. Secondly, we aren’t going to pay a fee to keep a card where we can’t redeem the points earned from it.
It took 4 attempts to get a chat rep with Citi. Wait times on the phone were ridiculous, but so were chat wait times. The first time, I spaced out and let Citi log me out for inactivity. The 2nd time, I couldn’t keep waiting and had to give up after 30 minutes. The third time, the rep came when I’d made a bathroom run. The agent closed the chat when I didn’t respond.
This time, I clicked around while doing other work online. However, I spent over 2 hours waiting for a chat rep. In this one, we were better off waiting for the long hold times on the phone. That being said, we finally were able to close my wife’s CitiBusiness AAdvantage Card.
Final Thoughts On Avoiding Long Hold Times
Long hold times are a part of life right now. Everyone is changing, cancelling, or inquiring about travel plans. People are contacting banks to talk about their financial situations while off work. If you can accomplish something online, especially something that’s not an emergency and lets you just “send and forget” a message, this is awesome. Chat reps are presently empowered to do things online you couldn’t do online before the COVID-19 pandemic. I did these 4 things online this week that wouldn’t have been possible 2 months ago. What have you done online recently that wasn’t previously possible but is now?