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The cost of refunding a disgruntled customer’s luggage fee after you make them change flights? $5.
Trying to shut the customer up with a travel voucher. $200
Ruining your reputation by ignoring bloggers. Priceless.

Spirit Airline’s reputation is about to take what could become a very costly hit over a $5 customer fee and a callous response from the CEO (left) who accidentally hit “reply to all” when responding to a customer complaint. The details are here, and here, and here.
Story in a nutshell: Blogger Alex Rudoff vented on his blog about his Spirit Flight being cancelled. That Post, Do Not Fly Spirit Airlines, is now in the number three and four spot s of Google searches on Spirit Airlines and other blog posts are working their way to the top.
Among the 100+ comments on Rudoff’s post was a link to an email received by a Florida couple whose flight to see a concert was delayed so long that they missed the concert. They wanted the airline to pay for their concert tickets, hotel room, parking and other fees, beyond the $200 in travel vouchers Spirit offered them. Their story would be funny, if it were not true.

Note to Spirit – if i am complaining about your lousy service, don’t offer me more of it! Refund my money and offer me a future discount. Doh. Here’s the email they got:

From: Ben Baldanza (Spirit CEO)[]
Sent: Monday, August 20, 2007 1:02 PM
To: (removed by alex), Christy; Martin (removed by alex); Tony (removed by alex); John (removed by alex); Pasquale (removed by alex)
Subject: Re: Complaint
Please respond, Pasquale, but we owe him nothing as far as I’m concerned. Let him tell the world how bad we are. He’s never flown us before anyway and will be back when we save him a penny.

As if that wasn’t enough:

“We wouldn’t respond to a blog post,” said spokeswoman Alison Russell, who noted that their original tickets cost a little more than $35 each and they turned down the offer of $100 in travel vouchers. “This goes back to the larger question of the veracity of everything you read on Internet blogs. Our customer service is great.”

And I’m Queen Elizabeth.
“All we would really like is an apology at this point,” Christy Boswell said. “Regardless of if our request was out of line or not, they should still treat their customers with respect.”
If you were my client, Mr. Baldanza, I’d have you make a video with your “we hate blogs” spokesperson – for your site, YouTube, and a new We’re Sorry Facebook group — apologizing for the screwup and promising to listen to your customers. But here’s the hard part — then you have to listen to your customers.
Ok folks, what would you do if Spirit was your PR client?
via a Twitter post from Mack Collier