An airline took my things out of the passenger compartment before the flight and did not ask whose they were - left them behind at the gate. They admitted such and after a few months of persistence, agreed to pay me for both the taken items ($475) and to come to United to do a customer satisfaction training for them. This was in lieu of paying me $16,275 for my time spent on the claim. I have recorded conversations (my state permits one-party consent) agreeing to both the $475 and payment of a fee for doing training. On a separate conversation with my Chief Results Officer the United employee agreed to $5,000 for the training. After stalling "I'm busy" for a month, the United Director said we wouldn't be doing the training and that he never made any such agreement. Following is part of the recorded phone conversation:United: I absolutely would love to have you come in to Houston, and possibly the off-shore site, and I would love to have you come in and slap us upside the head and wake us up to the fact of how we need to return to giving customers action vs. giving customers empty promises. I think that would be a great idea.United: I'm sure you have a website. Can you send me your website and we can work up a schedule to have you come in?Me: Yes.United: Okay, Let me send you out the check for the payment for the replacement items, okay, and I'll arrange with your assistant to have you come in and spend some time with us here in Houston and then we'll set up a payment for your services. Would that work?Me: YesUnited: That's fantastic.[end of transcript]Other conversations with my Chief Results Officer and other emails confirm that the only thing left to do was set a date.I have been calling United every day since, requesting that they follow through on the agreement. Friday I got a cease and desist letter from their attorneys, claiming that any further contact would be considered harassment, and that I was probably in violation of US Code and state laws regarding extortion because I said I was taking my story to the internet (I did not say I would not take it to the internet if they followed through on the agreement, only that because they have chosen to reneg on our agreement, that I would take my true story public.Part of the mix - they "closed" this case three separate times. The first time without giving me any compesnation. The second time the gave me a $300 travel certificate - I told them that was not sufficient and did not accept it. And the third time they agreed to the $475 and the training fee. They sent me the $475 check a month ago. I did not cash it and continued to pursue the training as part of the agreement. I am continugint to pursue it even thought they are once again, for the third time, claiming the case is closed.Do they have any grounds at all for claiming harassment because I keep calling them and asking in a civil and cordial manner to follow through on our agreement (no swearing, no yelling, etc.)? And do they have any grounds for claiming extortion because I am planning to take my story public?
Country relating to Question: United States
State (if USA): Colorado
Escalated it all the way up to the VP of Customer Experience who is the one who got the Director of Baggage to call me and offer the $475 and the training fee. I have sent them transcripts of the recorded conversation and emails verifying the agreement.
First, just because your state is a one party consent state, you also have to make sure the state where the other party is a one party consent state as well, since the laws of both states applies to the recording of a phone conversation and if the other party is in a two party consent state, then even if you are in a one party state the two party consent law overrides the one party consent.Second, legally all the airline is liable for by law is the value of the property that was taken/lost. There is no legal basis for your time involved in pursuing payment for the loss I am afraid and I am sure their legal team has already advised them of this. Third, any oral agreement, recorded or not on tape, is not enforceable pursuant to the statute of frauds. The Statute of Frauds states that agreements of this nature must be in writing to be enforceable and binding. Thus, while you have a personal principle that you are pursuing, legally it would not be something you would be able to enforce in court I am afraid and this is the reason they are now telling you that you are committing extortion. The threat to take an action to force someone to do something they are not legally bound to do may indeed be considered extortion.
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Very helpful - last quick shot on this.Yes, both states are one-party consent states. Please take a quick look at the email strings below and see if it possibly supports having the agreement in writing. I agree that they have no legal obligation until such time that they agree to enter in to one. They agreed verbally to pay me the $475 in the same recorded conversation they agreed to pay me for training - there was no written contract for either and they followed through on one. Does following through on half the verbal agreement imply any responsibility to follow through on the other half?Second - we have a string of emails below that put things in writing supporting the recorded conversation. Anything in here that might possibly put us in the arena of at least a POSSIBLE agreement, since this is in writing and confirms that transcript? Thanks for your help. Your answers to this should do it. See string belowBest,TomFrom: Chief Results OfficerSent: Tuesday, April 03, 2012 1:49 PMTo: BrianSubject: Speaking EngagementImportance: High Hello Brian. It was a pleasure to speak with you earlier today regarding having Tom come speak with your Leadership regarding Customer Service. We spoke about Tom and I flying in the morning of the training and out again the same day for a 2-3 hour meeting with 7-8 people from your leadership team. You offered payment of $5,000 to Tom for this training. You seemed to like the topic: "the diversity of the company culture after the merger" and how we can get everyone on the same page when it comes to dealing with customer relations issues. I know that you prefer to have this training on a Tuesday mid-May or early June. In order of preference, we are available on May 8, May 15 or May 22nd. Please let me know what date would work best for you and thanks again for this wonderful opportunity. I look forward to your reply. xxChief Results OfficerRESPONSE A WEEK LATERFrom: Brian Sent: Wednesday, April 11, 2012 9:34 AMTo: Subject: Re: Training Hi XX,Thanks for your messages. I'm sorry that I haven't responded earlier. I have been in a marathon of meetings this week and traveling quite a bit. One we have decided on a price I will need to run this up the hill for approvals before we can establish some date options.Thanks very much.BrianOUR RESPONSE:From: Chief Results OfficerSubject: RE: TrainingDate: April 11, 2012 9:47:25 AM MDTTo: BrianCc: TomHello Brian and thanks so much for the reply. When we spoke last Tuesday, April 3rd, I originally mentioned the fee of $10,000 for a presentation to your Leadership Team. You then told me that amount would not be in the budget, but offered to pay Chuck $5,000 for such a training. Above is the email that I sent April 3 that summarized our phone conversation and the possible dates. Can you tell me when we can expect to hear back from you on the approval and a date? Thanks!RESPONSE:From: BrianSubject: TrainingDate: April 13, 2012 4:47:49 PM MDTTo: TomHi Tom, Sorry for not having an answer so quickly. I have to request approvals for a training expense of this type. I will let you know as soon as I can. Thanks.BrianWE EMAILED TWO OTHER INQUIRIES THAT WENT UNRESPONDED TO. OUR 4/26 RESPONSE:From: TomSent: Thursday, April 26, 2012 9:03 AMTo: MartinCc: BrianSubject: Re: TrainingImportance: High Brian, I'm confused by the lack of resolution since March 31 regarding our agreement to come to xxxx and share some customer service stories and principles with you and your staff. It has been almost a month since we agreed to do this. Following are a few of the things you shared with me in our first conversation that led me to believe we would have something nailed down by now:Brian: "I'll arrange with your assistant to have you come in and spend some time with us here in Houston and then we'll set up a payment for your services. Would that work? [Yes] Brian: "Fanstastic." Any chance we can get this on the books by tomorrow? I do believe our time together will be transformative for your staff or I would just take the money and run. Let me know what will work. Best,TomTHEIR RESPONSE:From: BrianSubject: TrainingDate: April 30, 2012 7:37:37 AM MDTTo: Tom Cc: MartinDear XXXXX, Good morning. Thank you for your message. In response to some of the recent customer feedback, our internal training department is developing soft skills training for all front line customer service employees to address the challenges we face through integration. I’m sure you can appreciate the importance of providing a consistent message, so we will await this training roll-out for our team members. Thank you for your training invitation. Perhaps our two companies will find a way to partner together in the future. During your travels on United, please don’t hesitate to contact me so that we can ensure that your travel plans go smoothly. We wish you all the best in your future endeavors. Sincerely,Brian
There is no contract formed when they kept saying that he had to get approval for this type of agreement and he never said that they approved this deal with you teaching any class for any price. In fact, you were the only one in your emails who mentioned any price or agreement and that is not sufficient to form any contract here I am afraid. The difference between the agreement to pay you $475 and the class is that they actually had a legal duty to pay you for the property they caused you to lose and they followed through on that duty and they had no legal duty to pay you to teach a class and told you over and over in the emails that they had no authority to approve it.
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