What would you do? Part 1

This post is for those service-minded folks out there who look at situations all day long and say, “there’s a better way to handle that.”  Here’s your chance to make at least one situation better!

While traveling recently, my wife and I encountered a less than stellar example of customer service.  I will explain the situation, then you tell us what YOU would do! (I’ll share the real ending in a later post).

Here’s the situation:

You are a gate agent at a small regional airport.  The flight you are working that day is about to leave early (seriously – EARLY), and you will be starting the boarding process within the next 5 minutes.  Two passengers approach with 4 cups of coffee, or so it appears.

The couple shows you the contents of the cups, which is NOT coffee.  It was SUPPOSED to be coffee out of a vending machine in the gate area.  (Brief side note: we know not to expect gourmet coffee from a machine, but last time I checked neither coffee nor hot chocolate were clear.)  The couple spent $1 on each cup, three of them are un-drinkable.  Because you are the only person even slightly resembling an employee in the accessible area, they are coming to you for a resolution.

Now you have to decide what to do.  You know that you and your company have nothing to do with the vending machines or the quality of their products.  You have no way to give a refund or offer compensation.

Additionally, the people who are responsible for this machine work in the restaurant, which is outside of the secure gate area and on the other end of the terminal.  To make matters worse, you have no way to contact them.


As the gate agent, what would YOU do?  Leave a comment with your thoughts.

5 thoughts on “What would you do? Part 1

  1. I think I would just give them three dollars to solve their problem and count my losses or see if I could get refunded later once I could get in touch with the people in charge of the coffee machine.

  2. Pingback: What would you do? Revealed! « LeaderTips

  3. If I were the gate agent, I would let the couple know that we would take care of them on the plane. I would then load the plane as normal and then ask one of the flight attendants to offer the couple some complimentary beverages on the plane. That seems to be a simple solution to me because i would think that the airline already has a process in place for recovery on the flight. As you stated, it is not the airline’s fault, but the airline definitely should make it right for the couple because it is an opportunity to shine. If you don’t recover their issue, you may lose a customer in the future. If you make it right, you probably won a customer for life.

    • Chris,

      Thanks for sharing! Honestly your solution is not one that I would have thought of, but I think it’s a great idea. That would have at least showed some caring, and I agree, would have created loyalty for life.

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