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American Airlines

AA worker fired for responding to customer's complaint

Nov 09, 2009

The worker, known only as “Mr X”, was responding to a blog post from a disgruntled customer, Dustin Curtis.

The row highlights the problems the web can create for companies, after Mr Curtis's complaint and the subsequent furore became an internet sensation: the Google search "dustin curtis american airlines" returns 63,000 results.

Mr Curtis, an American web designer, was unimpressed by his experience using the the website, and made that clear in a lengthy open letter to the company on his blog, complete with a suggested redesign of the homepage (see the gallery above), saying he would be “ashamed” of the site.

He also suggested that they fire their design team.

Mr X, a web designer, responded to the letter, saying in a long email that Mr Curtis was "so very right" about the problems of the website, but that it was less to do with staff incompetence and more to do with the internal culture of the airline.

Mr X also told Mr Curtis that they were improving the website, but that it was a slow process.

By speaking to Mr Curtis, however, Mr X was in breach of a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) he had signed with AA, barring him from revealing sensitive information.

According to Mr Curtis, after bosses at American Airlines became aware of Mr X's response, they searched through their email database, found his identity and fired him for a breach of the NDA.

Mr Curtis says he is "horrified" at Mr X's treatment. He said on his blog: "AA fired Mr X because he cared. They fired him because he cared enough to reach out to a dissatisfied customer and help clear the company's name in the best way he could."

But a spokesman for AA rejected Mr Curtis’s claims about the website, pointing out that “more than 90 per cent of AA customers rate as ‘good’ or ‘excellent.’”

Spokesman Stacey Frantz said that nonetheless they were looking to improve the site: “We constantly receive feedback on the site. Like Mr Curtis’s input, we value and consider all of the opinions we receive.”

AA worker fired for responding to customer's complaint
How the American Airlines website looks now / Image via American Airlines


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