Comic relief - courtesy of customer service

I like WestJet - they're a bright entrepreneurial company flying Boeings and they do pretty well at it.
Written by Paul Murphy, Contributor on
After spending all week on benchmarks and the Mactel disaster, I need some comic relief. Be warned, however, that you should feel distinctly bad about yourself if you do laugh - at least, I laughed until it hurt and then felt very guilty for doing it.

On the "socially redeeming content" side, think of this bit illustrating what happens when the software we provide gets used by the uncaring and spend a microsecond or so contemplating what this means for how we design and control software.

I like WestJet - they're a bright entrepreneurial company flying Boeings and they do pretty well at it, but here's what happened when I used one of their customer friendly web site services. Specifically, I tried to use the flight tracker software on their website back on February 5/06 to see when a flight from Kelona to Hamilton was expected to land. It's about a 4.5 hour flight but flight tracker assured me that it had left on schedule at 10:25 Sunday morning and would land in Hamilton 00:15 on Tuesday -since that's about 32 hours too long I used their contact form to send this note:


Flight tracker reports that 716/554 from Kelona to Hamilton will leave Kelona at 10:25AM Feb 5/06 and land in Hamilton at 00:15 AM on Feb 7th.

Gosh, I hope you serve more than snacks...

To see a tiff of this download http://www.winface.com/wj.tiff

As it turns out, the error ocurred because the flight doesn't exist as specified - it lands at Toronto's main airport instead of Hamilton - but it's a problem with their software no matter how you slice it.

So why am I having trouble typing? Because I'm still laughing at the response this drew:


Although WestJet has never provided meals, we have always given complimentary snacks and beverages onboard all of our flights. As we have grown and now offer flights which are longer in duration we have embarked on a new venture; our Buy-on-Board service. This offers sandwiches and upgraded snacks on 70% of our routings over two hours and twenty minutes in length. Guests can view this menu and the prices by visiting us online at www.westjet.com, selecting "The Experience" and then the "Buy on Board" option. Also, guests are more than welcome to bring food of their choice onboard with them.

I hope I have been able to address your concern. Thank you for visiting us online.


Customer Care Service Specialist
Date: 2/8/2006 9:53:58 AM Replied By: feedback@westjet.com

Sadly this stuff is way too common (I get a regular Sun newsletter addressed to "Dear: You already have me registered:") and really somewhat outside IT's normal span of control - but maybe we should all be getting more excited about finding ways to head this stuff off -like not using an inadequate attempt at an expert system to let the uncaring and illiterate paste in silly responses to customer questions.

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