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Our Policy, Your Problem

October 29, 2009

   Every day we meet people who give us the shaft.  They use the words “it’s against our policy”.  I have never been much for policy.  The thought that always comes to my head when someone mentions a “policy” is, “well that’s stupid, why would you mindlessly follow a policy? And, if we were reasonable people, why would we need it?”  Policies make people shut down and not think.  We have tons of American workers who don’t think anymore.  They just follow the policy so that if something does go wrong, they can just blame someone else.  It is a pass-the-buck society that we live in.  The problem with that is by reducing everything to the execution of policy, you forget people.  I am going to limit my focus to “Airline Policy” in this blog, however, it applies across the board from business relationships to personal relationships.

  Have you ever been on a flight where they tell your carry-on bag is “overweight” and therefore you need to take some of the weight out of the bag and carry it?  It’s policy on several international flights.  The policy says that a carry on bag should only be 7 kilos (14 pounds) or exactly what a computer, cords and bag weigh!  So they have you carry it separate and sometimes will even tell you to not put it back into the bag, yet carry it on the plane.  Ok, I know most people do not have a Ph.D., but if it is all still going on the same plane with me, doesn’t it together weigh exactly the same? So why annoy me?  It’s policy!

  Now in the US, they charge extra for bags; everyone except for the airline that actually makes money (Southwest Airlines).  So what everyone does is to carry all their luggage onto the plane in two to three or even four carry-on bags.  And surprise, surprise… it doesn’t fit on the plane.  So they have to take an additional 10-15 minutes to load it under the plane for free.   They said they charge for bags because the excess weight burns more fuel.  Well, if people just carry everything on board and your plane get’s delayed, aren’t you losing more money.  So why do it?  It’s policy!

  Don’t even get me started on trying to split a can of coke between four people.  It’s policy!

  If I get into the TSA procedures I am going to have a nervous breakdown, so I am not even going there.  It’s all just policy!  They are invented by a few “smart guys” in a room somewhere and forced to be applied by workers who have been trained to follow policy.  You don’t even have to think, just make sure you follow the policy; that way, if something does go wrong you can blame someone else. 

  Are policies important?  I think so; they can actually assist workers to have consistency in dealing with people. They could create better efficiencies.   Many policies are created in a reaction to a problem which came up, or an abuse of a situation.  But the collection of more and more policies is not the answer.  Even Jesus severely scolded the Pharisees because they took the law of God and then added their own rules (i.e. policies).  They created policies so bizarre it is almost impossible to follow them.  This is what Jesus was against.  They followed policies, not God.  They didn’t have a living and dynamic relationship with God.

  Ok, back to the airlines. Specifically, American Airlines.  Do you know what they did to my bag?  My bad that I paid $50 to check (I had two flights).  Pictures are worth a thousand words…

My bag

LAX to DFW to CLT to the Dumpster

  Do you know what they said about my bag? “I am sorry, it’s policy.” I got the shaft! 

   Two flights later, on another airline, another bag was broken.  This bag only cost me $20 to check.  The other bag was already in the dumpster.  A wheel was cracked (i.e. not rolling) and the handle broken off and the straps that I tied around it were gone.  I approached an unsuspecting employee and showed him.  He politely had a look at it.  Then he said the painful words… “our policy is to not to fix this.” Then he continued, “BUT LET ME TALK TO MY SUPERVISOR.”  Five minutes later, people won out over policy.  They gave me a brand new, better than the old, replacement bag. Thanks United Airlines! You are now my favorite US based airline. On that same flight they also gave me a bigger seat (which the policy says I would need to pay extra for).  When you take time to care about people, you will make a difference in people’s lives and their relationship to you. They will actually like you!

   It seems so many employees have forgotten about people and live for simply fulfilling policies.  If policies lead to injustice:  Break the policy. If policies lead to broken relationships: Break the policy. Policies are only someone’s idea.  Don’t forget about people.  Someday you are going to need people, and you better have some friends around.

   “Our Policy, Your Problem.”  My solution, my blog!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Beth Ward permalink
    October 30, 2009 3:08 pm

    Glad to hear you had a positive run-in with United.

    I love SW airlines for lots of reasons.
    Two checked bags for free.
    No monetary penalty for changes to reservations (they apply the full amount to the new ticket price and you either pay the difference or receive a credit).
    When you call them there’s an option to receive a call-back instead of waiting on hold with their voicemail system.
    Snacks and drinks every flight.
    Humorous flight announcements.

  2. Bryan Furr permalink
    November 3, 2009 12:54 am

    Why not layer yourself with all the clothes and not check a bag and pay the extra fees? Wear five each of underwear, shirts, pants, pairs of socks. The planes are always cold anyway, you’ll be nice and comfy with the extra layers and save $25 and wear and tear on your luggage!

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