I said I would keep you posted. So here's what I got from them shortly after sending my prior letter.
Dear Mr. Swiniarski,
On behalf of US Airways and the entire Customer Relations team, please accept our sincere apology for the travel difficulties you experienced. Your concerns have been thoroughly documented and your comments have been shared with the appropriate management teams to help us improve our service.
To convey our apologies we have authorized two $250 Electronic Travel With Us Vouchers as a gesture of goodwill, in hopes you will allow US Airways another opportunity to regain your confidence. Your E-TUV is valid toward the purchase of travel on US Airways or America West Airlines. Please be advised the E-TUV is not valid with Internet bookings. The E-TUV must be redeemed one year from the date of this letter. In addition, please take a moment to read the terms and conditions below [...]
Doesn't this make you feel all warm and fuzzy? Why, US Airways actually cares about us. This little e-mail has all the warmth and sincerity of the recorded message, "your call is very important to us." Of course, you must admire the absolute chutzpah of the person who first thought up this idea:
ROB: Hey, the biggest untapped market for airline passengers are. . . get this. . . pissed off airline passengers! Follow me here. Let's respond to customer complaints by giving people coupons for money off ANOTHER FLIGHT! We shut the poor bastard up, and we sell another ticket!
PHIL: Rob, you're a genius, I'm making you the new VP in charge of customer relations.
Needless to say, I'm not particularly enamored with the idea of "allowing US Airways another opportunity to regain my confidence," especially as our use of air travel amounts to once every seven years or so. So I've sent them another letter (e-mail) that I reproduce here for your edification:
To whom it may concern,
To recap our complaint with US Airways: You canceled our flight for no good reason, your employees lied repeatedly about our ability to get back to Cleveland, and after several hours of a hellish runaround in the Philadelphia International airport, you gave us no choice but to rent a car and pay for our own hotel room, and to add one final insult, you damaged our luggage and sent it to us 48 hours late despite many assurances that it would be on the next flight. This entire episode has cost us $900 out-of-pocket, including a ticket we never actually got to use.
Now, in response to this abject abuse of your customers, you offer us two $250 "vouchers" that we can apply to an attempt to relive the horrible experience you put us through. Frankly, this proposed compensation is not commensurate with the fact that we are out-of-pocket $900, a good chunk of which WE paid YOU for the unused ticket. Even if you raised the "value" of these vouchers to $450 each, you are still responding to actual monetary losses with a phantom coupon that costs you nothing, is non-transferable, and has no intrinsic value. To add insult to injury, your supposed compensation literally forces us to use your services within the next twelve months if we want any compensation at all. This is unacceptable.
I will repeat my request from my prior letter. I want you to reimburse us financially for the expenses we incurred. I want you to reimburse us with actual money, not with "vouchers", "coupons", "miles" or any other instrument that requires a business transaction with US Airways beyond the cashing of a check.
I expect you to send us a check for the full $900 by August 19th, or I will consider other options by which to achieve satisfaction from you.