Aug 18

Steven Slater, The Reality Show

Today's guest post is by Julie Farin

JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater has become the latest media magnet due to his dramatic  “take this job and shove it” exit from Flight 1052 at New York’s JFK airport last week, following Airplane-exit his public obscenity-filled rant involving a rude passenger who allegedly injured him while retrieving her carry-on baggage from the overhead bin (ignoring Slater’s instructions to remain seated).

Just 48 hours after this well-publicized incident, the social media was all a-Twitter and divided. There were those who called Slater a hero, a man who should have been applauded for fulfilling every disrespected working person’s fantasy.  Others thought him more of a zero, whose actions were reckless and dangerous.  JetBlue, on the other hand, suspended the 28-year airline veteran and two days later issued a light-hearted statement on their company blog basically announcing that they couldn’t comment on the situation due to the ongoing investigation.

I am surprised that JetBlue did not swiftly issue a statement apologizing for their employee’s rogue behavior (right or wrong, there were 100 witnesses who heard his eff-ing tirade over the PA system) while they collected all the facts.  This was the airline’s opportunity to reiterate how seriously they consider the safety of their passengers and their employees, instead of treating Slater’s public meltdown as somewhat of a joke, as the tone of their statement seemed to suggest. 

Clearly, this man was beyond stressed and frustrated by having to deal with the bad behavior of ill-mannered passengers day after day.  But, as they say, it comes with the territory of a job that deals with the public. Perhaps JetBlue should mandate stress-management seminars for flight attendants as part of its on-going training (if it hasn’t already).  For the record, I recently traveled on JetBlue round-trip from JFK to San Diego, and it was a wonderful experience.  In fact, I plan on flying JetBlue again next month.

Regardless, Mr. Slater has become an overnight celebrity with all the traditional and social media attention (buy your "Save Steven” t-shirts here!)    And it now seems that he has hit the publicity mother lode:  Hollywood publicist Howard Bragman has announced he is representing Slater, losing no time fielding offers for book deals, endorsements, and reality TV shows.

Hey, if the Jersey Shore cast’s antics can be celebrated on TV, why not a harried flight attendant? 

Julie Farin is a Public Relations professional based in New York with expertise in TV, entertainment, magazine publishing, and the media in general.  She is a news and information junkie, Godfather aficionado, and proud to admit that John Lennon is her favorite Beatle.

Jul 30

My card. My pain in the ass.

Today's guest post is by Peppercommer Dandy Stevenson.

I hate cilantro and American Express. I’m rather good at avoiding cilantro but as an authorized
American-express-logo agent for Peppercom’s accounts, I am doomed to suffer the slings and arrows of this once premier and user friendly company.  Once upon a time, AmEx did have clout and lived up to its reputation of having responsive,  intelligent and capable customer service representatives who understood how to deliver and assure that cardholder issues were handled properly.

That was then, this is now. No matter if I call to transfer points to an airline account, respond to a suspicious charge inquiry or attempt to find out if a local office has Rubles, as soon as I hear “Thank you for calling American Express, with whom do I have the pleasure of speaking?” my stomach locks up and my eyes bleed.

My latest romp thru the AmEx Circle of Hell involved reporting a lost card and requesting a placement. I clickety-clicked thru their maelstrom of options, answering mindless questions (Recording: “I see you are requesting to report a lost card. If you are not sure press your nose, if you have blue eyes enter your phone number…”) and finally connected with a 'Customer Service Specialist' half-way around the globe. We were then on to the perfunctory introductions to hear “And how are you today Ms. Stevenson?”  (Don’t waste my time pretending to care while you finish filing your nails. I am tired of waiting. I want help. I want it now.)

But of course assistance still eluded me as I was passed from one subterranean being to the next, which, of course required my recounting the situation each time. I will spare you the gory details, but suffice it to say that after teeth grinding delays and mindless prattle I was finally told the new card would be shipped immediately, for delivery the very next day.

Not.

After downing a fifth of bourbon to prepare for yet another AmEx frustration-fest I called on the third day to report that we had not received the card.  Guess what? Someone with the brains of a toaster announced to me that he had located my request but didn’t have verification of completion. Huh? Oh… Just like the Seinfeld car rental episode: “You know how to take a reservation, you just don’t know how to keep it.”  I wanted to jump through the phone, look this idiot in the eye and ask if he REALLY expected me to find that acceptable.

On day four we finally received replacement card.

I canceled my personal AmEx, which I’d had since 1980. For now, at least, that will have to be retribution enough.