United is Turning Customer Care Over to Their Lawyer (No, Really, They Are, I’m Not Even Kidding)

The Wall Street Journal covers executive changes at United. (HT: Reid F.)

Jeff Foland, United’s Executive Vice President of Marketing, Technology, and Strategy, leaves for Hertz where he becomes Senior Executive Vice President and reports to former United President John Tague.

Foland ran United’s MileagePlus program, and had been Vice President of sales, previously.

As for what this means over at Hertz?

Mr. Foland has decided to join Hertz “to optimize our many current and untapped revenue opportunities.

I genuinely don’t know what that means, but it doesn’t seem like something I’d like.

Here’s the re-shuffle over at United:

  • Jim Compton (vice chairman and chief revenue officer) takes over marketing, loyalty, and digital. So Tom O’Toole, who has run MileagePlus as Senior Vice President of Marketing, will report to Compton (and become Chief Marketing Officer).
  • United’s General Counsel takes over customer care and customer experience.
  • United’s CFO John Rainey takes over strategy.

Strategy is going to be run by the numbers guy who said United’s elites were over-entitled.

And ‘customer care’ will be managed by United’s lawyer.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Probably makes sense to have the general counsel in charge of it. They pretty much are just copying everything Delta does anyway, gotta make sure it’s not plagiarism.

  2. I’m sure this is an interim move as they’re likely in negotiation with someone from SkyPesos to fill the job. Really at this point, could it get any worse at UA anyway? Don’t answer that.

  3. United can just sue all of their customers into being profitable…untapped revenue stream!

  4. Gary, you are always bagging on United. Well here’s one for you. Booked 4 last minute FIRST CLASS tickets using AA miles on a US Air flight that was cancelled due to mechanical. US Air put us on a Delta flight in COACH, 5 hours later, sitting nowhere near each other, and arriving at our warm destination at 1:30am, too late to enjoy our beach hotel. What did AA give us? ONE $100 voucher apiece! REALLY!? I got no answer from AAdvantage customer care about getting some miles back into my account. At least the difference between F and coach. Nothing. Not. One. Word. AA sucks rocks. UA rocks. So there.

  5. They should turn Customer Care over to somebody else – that’s for sure. Might as well be the lawyers.

    According to their Intranet site, UAL’s internal measure of total customer satisfaction for the month of December was 20%….worse yet, their “goal” for this metric was 32%…! I guess you could say they are exceeding their goal of failing to satisfy more than two-thirds of their customers.

    United could well afford to turn over everything, not just Customer Care, to someone who understands both goal-setting and execution, as they are clearly failing remarkably at both.

  6. @LDV you should certainly followup for the difference in miles. And I think, while I’m pretty happy with AAdvantage, you’ll also see me pretty critical of US Airways.

  7. Reason #47 not to fly UA. WTF?

    I have never worked in corporate America. I have not had a job in 20+ years where I had to serve customers. BUT EVEN I KNOW THAT UA IS NUTS IN HOW THEY VIEW THEIR CUSTOMERS AND CUSTOMER SERVICE.

  8. On December 20th 2014, I was scheduled to fly United Airlines flight PQJ4KR. When I got to the airport to check in, I was told my flight was running two hours late. I explained to the United Airlines Agent that I had to be in San Jose California by 11:30 am to pick up a rental car, otherwise I was going to loose the car. The reason why it was so important to get the rental car, was I had to immediately drive twelve hours to Oregon to meet my family for Christmas and the flight was planned and booked over a month ago on November 16th, around getting the rental car at a one way drop off point. The agent offered no alternative suggestions. When I got to the terminal, I had told another United Airlines Agent the urgency of getting to San Jose on time by 11:09 am, my original flight arrival. She looked into my connecting flight to Houston and stated I only had ten minutes to catch my flight because the flight was running two hours late and if I missed my connecting flight, I wouldn’t get into San Jose until 5:30 pm. I told her that was completely out of the question and what could she do to get me another flight with United Airlines so I could arrive to San Jose on time in order not to loose my rental car. The United Airlines Agent booked me on an American Airlines flight that was boarding within minutes. The American Airlines flight had a delay for their connecting flight and I still did not arrive in San Jose California until 5:30 pm, loosing my rental car and destroying my planned vacation to see my family for Christmas.

    I tried to resolve this issue by asking the Untied Airlines Agent in the terminal at MSY Airport that I needed to file a complaint, The agent informed me a had call United Airlines Customer Service to file a complaint. In between my connecting flight that same day, I called to file a complaint. I was informed by United Airlines Customer Service Department the complaint was successfully filed and I would be hearing back from them in regard to the compensation. I had requested a full refund for my flight in the amount of $655.20, and the lost car rental fees I had pre-paid for in the amount of $322.31, totaling $977.51. I had included the cost of the car rental because I had called ahead when I found out Untied Airlines was going to get me into San Jose late. The car rental company could not hold my reservation due to the season and my rental agreement; I lost my rental car and $322.31 for the pre-paid cost. This complaint with United Airlines was filed on December 20th 2014 and has been over six weeks. I have not heard anything back from the company in regard to compensation. I will be filling a complaint with DOT and The Better Business Bureau.

    I have flown with United Airlines for years and I have always had a positive experience. I would like to continue flying with United Airlines and I would expect their company would follow their commitment of proving excellent customer service. I want a fair compensation in the amount of $977.51 in a refund on my credit card, or a voucher so I can continue flying with United Airlines.

  9. Mr. Leff, I am United Airlines customer and I have been beat up by United’s Customer Service and its employees. Please advise Theresa Steffy to stop sending me BS policy statements, when I can not talk to anyone who can speak clear and understandable English. I have been treated very unfair.I am writing to your help.

  10. Bunch of whiny -ass entitled frequent flyers again today. JUST GO BUY FULL FARE REFUNDABLE FIRST CLASS TICKETS . It solves most problems.
    And , come on , give me a break about the car rental. I don’t think any car rental companies are part of an airline alliance. I’ve never had my luggage through -checked to the trunk of my rental car…but it’s actually a good idea.
    Yeah, this is my typical condescending joke post except for the car rental thing. You want consequential damages for the car rental you prepaid?
    I’m sorry about you missing your family , but doesn’t one of Gary’s cards give a discount on Netjets?

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