Friday, May 10, 2013

That winning Spirit

The fact that Spirit Airlines recently changed their customer service number from toll-free to a 'traditional' line doesn't surprise me.  It's cheaper to use traditional lines rather than toll-free for a company and Spirit is all about running on the cheap.  Whether or not you like them, it's a profitable business model for them, and enough people seem to be utilizing their services to get from point A to point B to keep them flying so they're going to be around for a while.

What did surprise me was the following:

Spirit Airlines dumps toll-free number to 'better assist you'. Tim Winship, Yahoo!
Want to call Spirit Airlines? Chat up a friendly res agent? Maybe change a flight date or time?

You'll search long and hard on the airline's website to find a phone number. And when you do—I finally tracked it down by following the links to "How do I change a reservation?"—you probably won't recognize the initial three numbers in 801-401-2222.

Is that yet another variant of the 800 code used for toll-free numbers?

There's nothing toll-free about it—801 is the area code for the Wasatch Front in northern Utah, specifically Davis, Morgan, Salt Lake, and Weber counties.

It seems odd that Spirit selected a rather obscure location for their line, one that keeps the appearance of being toll-free. Not only that, but it doesn't appear that they're doing much to inform customers that this is not a toll-free call, and that they'll be paying the phone company to contact Spirit, even if it's to correct an error on the airline's part.

Is it coincidence that they chose a number that's similar to the toll-free option? Possibly. 

Is it possible that they made the change and were hoping no-one noticed by keeping it so close to the 800- option people are used to?  Who knows?

I'm not accusing Spirit of deliberately trying to deceive customers.  I have no knowledge of the thought process that went into changing the number as they did.  All I'm saying is that the number they ultimately did choose, in my mind, opens them up to an awful lot of questions. Unfortunately, you have to call them long-distance to get an answer to any of these questions.  Given Spirit's attitude toward customer service, I do think it's very possible they hope this change means that you won't contact them at all.

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