Airline Customer Service and Tap Dance: A love story

The following events are completely true. They took place from January 4, 2009 to January 8, 2009. I had just finished teaching master classes at a convention in Mobile, AL, and I was returning home to NYC.  

January 4, 2009
Location: Sheraton Hotel, Mobile, AL

8:40 am: My alarm goes off, I wake up and hit snooze.   
8:48 am: Again the alarm, this time I’m up and I shower.  
9:15am: Catch the shuttle to the airport.
9:38 am: Pass through security. 
9:52 am: Attempt to board the plane when the flight attendant stops me. The conversation goes as follows:

      Attendant: “You can’t carry that bag on, sir. There is no more room.”
      Mike: “But...” (My bag is taken and thrown with everyone else’s luggage into the bowels of the plane)

10:08 am: Take off. Suddenly I remember my laptop is packed in that bag.
10:08:30 am: I realize there is nothing I can do but sit back and pray.  
1:08 pm:  We arrive in NYC. I retrieve my bag and decide to wait until I get home to check my fate.
2:15 pm: I open up my bag and the screen of my laptop is smashed to bits. I choke back tears. 
2:42 pm: I visit the computer repair shop. The conversation goes as follows:

      Mike: "My computer screen was smashed on a flight. How much does a new screen cost?”
      Repair man: “For your model computer, it will be $800.”
      Mike: “Wow.”
      Repair man: “Do you have the warranty?”
      Mike: “Yes.”
      Repair man: “In that case, it will be $1,200. We can only use Apple parts if it’s under warranty, and they are more expensive.”
      Mike: “Wow. Here is my credit card number.”
      Repair man: “Shouldn’t the airline pay for this if they broke it?”
      Mike: “Hmmm...?”

4:35 pm: I phone airline customer service, I press 1, then 1 again, then 1 again, then 0 and hold for a representative.
4:43 pm: Jefferson Starship’s “We Built This City” plays as I hold. Finally, a Customer Service rep cuts in, and the conversation goes as follows:

      Customer Service: “How may I help you?”
      Mike: “You broke my computer on a flight and I’d like you to pay for its repair.”
      Customer Service: “We don’t cover for electronics in checked baggage, sir.”
      Mike: “But I didn’t check my bag. It was grabbed from me and put under the plane.”
      Customer Service: “We don’t cover electronics in checked baggage, sir.”
      Mike: “But I didn’t check my bag!!!”
      Customer Service: “We don’t cover electronics in checked baggage, sir.”
      Mike: “May I please speak to your supervisor?”
      Customer Service: “We don’t cover electronics in checked baggage, sir. Please hold.”

4:50 pm: “Marconi plays the mamba. Listen to the radio. Don’t you remember? We built this city. We built this city on—“ The Supervisor gets on the phone. The conversation goes as follows:

      Mike: “Hello, I KNOW you don’t cover for electronics in checked baggage, BUT I didn’t check my bag. It was taken from me and put under the plane and it was smashed.”
      Manager: “Ok, you already know our policy but if you want, you can fill out the following claim forms and email them to me today and I’ll review your case when I get a chance.”
      Mike: “Thank you. You’ll have them in 30 minutes.”

5:20 pm: Email sent from Mike Schulster to Customer Service Supervisor:

      Subject: Spoke today regarding broken computer

      Dear Customer Service Supervisor,

      Thank you for listening to my story and agreeing to review my case. The appropriate forms are attached and I look forward to speaking with you further to resolve the matter.

      Mike Schulster
      Creator, Revolution The Show

January 5, 2009

9:55 am: Email reply from Customer Service Supervisor to Mike Schulster:

      Subject: Re: Spoke today regarding broken computer

      Dear Mike,

      I saw on your electronic signature that you are a dancer. I visited the website for your show and I was blown away! My whole family consists of tap dancers and tap dance enthusiasts. Is your show ever coming to Minnesota!?! I need everyone I know to come see it! I can’t tell you how much I respect that you have followed your dreams. The show looks amazing and good luck with everything!

      Also, Should I send the check for $1200 out today or should we wait to see if it costs more to fix your computer?

      Name Withheld
      Customer Service Supervisor
      Airline’s Name Withheld


January 8, 2009

3:42 pm: I receive a check for $1,200. Dance, in my life, continues to pay off. Amazing.

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