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Oh, American Airlines. Duane Clark. He’s been one of yours. He's provided unique insight into customer-posted complaints or topics including the U.S. military, the eldery or disabled, and even death. Some might construe some of those comments as nasty. He's even got some commentary about Alec Baldwin and that little incident. It seems Clark's got a lot to say, and has - to your own customers. It's answer time, AA: The guy you say isn't yours, the one who responds to consumer complaints, has been identified in a May 26 Facebook post that places user Duane Clark's input “within AA”. Eagle Flight attendant Heather Marie Schneider has already been confirmed. And then there's a Flight Attendant based out of Chicago, by the name of Kyle Farrell - who appears on a Master Seniority List along with identification number. It's been asked, if the one whom has appeared on your Facebook wall space with a matching name, works for you. There were some changes after that question by Wacktrap.com. We know an answer. Please provide your own.
Consumers continue to allege that company employees are being used on the AA wall space or infiltrating the airline’s Facebook wall in customer complaints. Numerous accounts have been named by consumers. According to the company, no employees are allowed to post on the public social media space. And, yet, a Facebook post from just weeks ago - in the attached screenshot - says it’s not true.
June 6, 2012: American Airlines social media department chooses to issue public statement for the account of Duane Clark: “While Duane is a frequent traveler and contributor to our Facebook community, he’s not an AA employee, therefore, his thoughts are his own.” Or maybe his thoughts aren’t entirely his own. Who knows. But a May 26 Facebook post places Duane Clark or his input “within AA”.
Customers have suspected it’s been going on – employees posing as consumers or ‘frequent flyers’ when posting to the American Airlines fan page on Facebook. The allegations continue to pour in on the social media space. One may stand a bit taller than the rest. The account of Duane Clark probably ranks among the more frequently accused, in a multitude of accounts accused by consumers of acting on behalf of the company, related or tied to the company. It’s hard to say why Clark considered responding to that May 26 public post. But he did. Perhaps women can be a downfall.
Someone wanted input. The ‘call to action’ was actually made via the American Airlines company wall itself: “Hey Duane Clark, you there?” If Duane Clark was just the average consumer, efforts to grab his attention via a company’s brand page or wall wouldn’t make a lot of sense. If someone knew a message was virtually guaranteed to be seen – by, say, someone who works for a company – it would.
The May 26, 2012, Facebook post to the American Airlines wall space came from ‘ConNEXTions’. It might’ve been a wiser connection for Duane Clark to bypass. The question: “Wanted to engage you in a conversation and get your opinion. See my profile picture? Well, how about a similar shoe for the females within AA? I have a contract with another major airline to be ink’d early next week... I already put feelers out at AA but would love any discussion.” At that point he’d only been named. But Duane Clark confirmed through the smiling, sunny profile picture that accompanies what have been less-than-kind remarks made to consumers. His words: “They look nice but appear to be horribly uncomfortable.” It’s not the words from Clark that matter. It’s the reference, to “within AA,” that does.
It seems Duane Clark has lied – and it would make it appear someone else is lying. Like a company.
Why would American Airlines possibly prefer customer complaints to stay off its public wall space on Facebook? Duane Clark may put it best in his May 11 Facebook conversation with a consumer: “You asked the world on a public blog. Private conversations are best served via e-mail.” Strangely, that seems to be a similar message to the one that continues to be conveyed by American Airlines itself: the company’s request from customers for private messages.
One “Duane Clark” arguably bashes complaining customers online, present on a virtually daily basis. He’s not alone. Wacktrap has already confirmed Flight Attendant “Heather Marie Schneider” has also been involved while working for American Eagle. Wacktrap.com has asked about one “Kyle Farrell” in Chicago who posted what seems to be a screenshot of an airline’s internal reservations system – the guy who has an identical name to an American Eagle Flight Attendant based out of Chicago’s O’ Hare Airport on a December 2011 Master Seniority List.
Social media is supposed to be about dialogue. And there has been a lot of dialogue going on, in the American Airlines social media space dubbed a ‘fan page’ or wall. But perhaps it’s not coming from exactly the sources that consumers believe.
If a company wanted to boot customers off its social media space – or shut them up – making the public experience as terrible or insulting as possible just might be an effective method. Why would any business ever want – or strive to -- frustrate, infuriate, embarrass or even humiliate its own customers? It just might chase them away quicker. Maybe it’s similar to how Kyle Farrell so eloquently phrased his public thought, June 8, 2010: “You’d think if those who complained here [the American Airlines fan page on Facebook] realized that nobody ever agreed with, supported, or sympathized with their ridiculous complaints… they would just go away.”
Near mid-April, 2012, a woman identifying herself as a journalist came ‘knocking’ on the company’s Facebook wall for stories -- requesting AA customer experiences. Duane Clark was the first on scene to respond. “And your story is?,” asked Clark. He never got a reply to that thread. But here’s one: It involves the world’s third-largest airline, more than one employee, and the idea that consumers may be subject to bashing or harassing on the company’s wall space on Facebook. And this story involves the man who asked about another.
Duane Clark seems to have some serious knowledge about the airline industry – apparent in written form alone. He frequently refers to plane passengers as “pax” on the AA Facebook wall, expresses knowledge of things like airports or airline terminals, monitors or cancellations, American Airlines telephone or contact numbers, gates, weather conditions or flight delays, and even stuff like a plane’s cargo hold – and what goes on in that space. Just days ago in June, after an AA customer (Wissenbach) posted photos on the company’s Facebook wall reflecting broken liquor bottles transported by the airline, Duane Clark asked the passenger: “Ya ever been in a cargo hold?” Most travelers probably haven’t. Perhaps someone has. “During flights, bags move… the larger, overweight bags, the same ones your fellow passengers just HAD to take along, end up on top of your bag,” said Clark. “Got the picture? Buy something while traveling? Ship it, problem solved. Next.” Yeah. The picture is clear.
Clark seems to know about a lot of stuff travel-related. June 4, Duane Clark told a customer (Ford Earnhardt) who complained that passengers had been waiting for a pilot to show, that “Pilots didn’t show up to due to mandatory rest required by FAA.” It’s intimate knowledge. And it wasn’t posed as a possibility. And it might seem a bit weird for the average person to know so much about the air travel industry including current events. It may seem less odd to know there’s reason. Duane Clark doesn’t seem to be the average person. Or even simply a seasoned, frequent flyer.
June 6, a customer (Cannings) took to the AA wall on Facebook to try to find help with a problem regarding the airline. “It is obviously a problem with AA customer service and not functioning to help the customer.” Retorted Duane Clark: “I have no problems with AA.” He hadn’t identified himself as an employee of American Airlines. Maybe it was the offering of so many telephone numbers that led the customer to view Clark as part of the company: “Telling me I am not familiar with CoC or that as an employee of AA you do not have an issue with AA has not progressed the problem,” the customer responded. Claimed Clark: “I’m not an AA employee, but I do fly a lot.” He may fly a lot but that first part – well, it appears to be a lie.
There’s sarcasm. And then there’s the serious – or even hurtful. Duane Clark may be described adept at both when it comes to the written wod. When a customer (Tolomei) voiced a wish, in late April 2012, that American Airlines “crew members could air grievances outside of the job” – after, the passenger says, “a flight attendant randomly decides not to fly the plane back to LAX” airport and meaning passengers could miss their connections -- Duane Clark had a response for the post appearing on the AA wall of Facebook: “FAs [flight attendants] don’t fly planes.” It may not be funny coming from the average fellow consumer. It’s probably far from funny coming from an employee. And customers may find it even less humorous to be instructed to calm down when trying to find aid in the American Airlines social media space.
It was about six weeks when a customer (Esposito) posted about a baggage problem, and what the consumer said was a lie. Clark’s input: “take a chill pill.” It’s close to the same advice Duane Clark offered up to another consumer the month prior, near mid-April. After an AA passenger (Bullen) was upset over what he says took more than one hour to park a plane from the airline, the ‘fix’ offered up by Duane Clark was similar: “Not all gates accommodate all planes. Take a chill pill.” And sometimes responses from Clark are even briefer, but equally clear. When an American Airlines customer (Biddle) complained in April: “you make excuses and blame your customers when you guys are clearly in the wrong,” Clark’s retort was simple but maybe no less infuriating for an upset consumer. The posted response: “*rolls eyes*.” Another customer who posted about waiting on a credit voucher from nearly one year ago, stating he’d spoken to AA supervisors and written to the airline’s passenger refund center four times without response, also got a response from Duane Clark. They were simple. “I guess it’s a ‘no,’ offered Clark on May 5. And at the end of April 2012, Clark tells another customer (Kalinoski) who voiced a complaint about a broken seat on a long, international flight to Japan to “have a cocktail and stop whining.” But if Duane Clark can be considered sarcastic or passive-aggressive in remarks to customers, neither matches another realm. Some might consider his interaction with customers to be downright nasty.
Duane Clark has made hundreds and hundreds of posts to the American Airlines wall on Facebook. He’s often on the company fan page daily, if not throughout the day – responding to multiple complaints posted by consumers. Few topics seem off-limits for Clark, including the United States military, the elderly or disabled, or even death. It was just in early May that a woman voiced concern over American Airlines’ treatment of a young mother, also a member of the U.S. military. (Fraley-Kleinman) posted that her daughter-in-law had been instructed by the airline to check a stroller while other passengers with strollers were allowed through security with them. And, she said, that item as well as luggage, were charged for by the airline – in what she says was an ignoring, by AA, of military paper orders.
In 2011, active-duty military traveling with proper identification and military orders became exempt from new baggage fees charged on three major airlines including American. The official version of American Airlines actually responded to the complaint, stating that it’s not the airline’s policy to charge for a stroller when traveling with a child and additionally citing the company’s specific baggage procedure pertaining to service men and women. The thread of conversation on AA’s wall also got a visit from someone else after the post from AA’s social media department. The words of Duane Clark carried a very different message: “Playing the military trump card, I see.” In fact Clark had even more to say.
“Ya know… last I heard [United States] Military is still voluntary… and why aren’t you pitching for the men and women who serve the country as police, fire, secret service, FBI, county and state police, federal marshals… to name a few. Why not free stuff for all those people?,” said Clark on the AA wall space. ‘Free stuff’. The airline, with American in its name, has an employee talking about ‘free stuff’ – charge-free baggage -- as it pertains to the men and women who dedicate their lives for our citizens’ freedoms and safety.
Yes, American Airlines – it looks bad. Very, very bad. Maybe because it is.
Duane Clark apparently feels free to chime in on other sensitive topics, like the elderly or disabled. When a customer (Randell) experienced a problem with American Airlines, with what she said was her elderly and disabled mother in a wheelchair, the post to the AA wall sparked an April 17 reply from Clark. Or, actually, two: “Why aren’t you traveling with mom?,” asked Duane Clark. His follow-up: “I’d never let my 87-year-old mother fly alone. So neither the daughter or son bothered to fly with mom and help her… Precious.”
If a snide remark over a post about a customer’s elderly or disabled parent, and perception of American Airlines’ service, isn’t bad enough, try death or cancer. Clark has no problem tackling that arena either. In an April 19 post to American Airlines on Facebook -- where a customer conveyed, “You need to care more for passengers and their situations (especially when my aunt died of cancer on Thanksgiving weekend in 2007)!,-- Clark has an unbelievable return. His input: “2007? Talk about holding a grudge. Time to move on.”
Duane Clark can apparently cover most topics. In late April 2012, when a customer (Longstockings) complained of stolen or missing items from baggage, Clark has someone to blame – and it’s not the airline. According to Clark, “TSA is the thief.” responded Duane Clark. According to AA, it wanted a private message. It’s a request that seems to be a recurring theme with the official version of American Airlines’ social media department. The repeated message to customers – send it privately. Or maybe better said, keep it out of the public sphere.
Celebrities are not left behind – at least not one. Alec Baldwin may not be too surprised by much regarding American Airlines. ”I’m hoping Baldwin [will be] getting the boot… a reminder to the other elitist pax [passengers] that can’t shut their fones [cell phones] off,” said Duane Clark via AA’s Facebook fan page on December 7. But Clark has more to say on the Baldwin subject. After a customer (Simon) dubbed the scenario or the airline’s actions “vindictive” and “not an appealing quality for an American icon,” Duane Clark had a December 8 comment for the consumer: “It’s not your plane, follow the rules or don’t fly.” Maybe the guy with commentary on death and travel carries a bit of resentment himself – toward passengers he deems “elitist”. Or passengers.
American Airlines has denied it. And Duane Clark has denied it. Over and over. Less than two months ago on April 16, 2012, after being accused yet again of being an airline employee related to American Airlines, Clark stated: “I don’t work for a carrier. I just fly a lot.” It’s not the first time Duane Clark has been accused of employee status: Roughly one week later on April 25, another consumer (Garcia) accused Clark of an AA tie or employment. Clark asked that customer if he’d “ever heard of monitors” and had some input: “be an adult and… stop blaming AA because you’re too lazy to get up and look [at a monitor].” When the customer responded by saying, “I’m pretty sure you work with AA,” Duane Clark claimed: “I don’t work for AA, everyone, except, you know, to check the monitors.”
Clark’s defended himself time and again on the American Airlines fan page – when customers have suspected and actually accused him, and others, of AA employment. But the most descriptive may be his May 11, 2012 rebuttal: When a customer (Varasteh) says, “American Airlines, I’m wondering if any of these the 6, 7 people (who relentlessly bash all the critical comments) are being rewarded in any form by AA? Because it is very preposterous to assume they’re just some ‘devoted fans’ of American Airlines!” Indeed. In that May 11 Facebook thread, Clark claims: “I’m not getting a thing but am always open to free-bee’s.” But another part of his response may be best: “We’re excellent multi-taskers. Btw, did it ever dawn on you, we don’t support AA, maybe we just don’t support you.” And maybe that last statement by Clark is more accurate.
On December 21, 2011, Facebook user posted about how content on the AA fan page on Facebook makes him “laugh so hard it hurts” – adding, “I really want to thank AA and everybody else for a great [company Facebook wall] page.” Maybe customers find it less funny: “You’re an American Airlines employee and you think it’s hilarious that customers have had horrible experiences with AA?,” asked a consumer (Marciniec). The Duane Clark, December 22, response: “*rolls eyes* at Deb.” But maybe the most pertinent question: “ How is this allowed by AA? Their employees now allowed to taunt and laugh at customers?” ‘Allowed’ might be one interpretation – and potentially bad enough. Employed by, for any reason like harassing or chasing customers off of a social media space, may be another. Duane Clark is not alone.
A certain number of points can make a circle, American Airlines.
Heather Marie Schneider has already been identified as an employee who was actively involved on the AA fan page. The FA didn’t point the finger at herself. Another Facebook user aided in that public identification, outing Schneider as the American Eagle FA on-board a flight. Schneider may not be simply an FA. Discussion of leather seats seems to indicate possibility of the Eagle employee’s assignment to an upper section, like Business or First Class. She’s the American Eagle FA who called one consumer a “tool” on the American Airlines Facebook space in May 2010. And she’s the flight attendant who apparently fished through a complaining consumer’s Facebook profile -- to discover his place of employment before making fun of him, or trying to embarrass the consumer, via the public space. In a double-team effort with one Kyle Farrell, Schneider publicly announced about a customer, in March 2010: “He lives in Boston, and works for GEEK SQUAD! What do you expect?” And that brings up what seems to be a related topic: Kyle Farrell.
The guy who’s “Friends” with Heather Marie Schneider has been a bit more quiet since Wacktrap.com asked, “Is One Social Media Wall About to Break? Consumers Allege American Airlines Employees Infiltrate Facebook Fan Page Customer Complaints.” The Farrell who frequented AA’s fan page had one of the more anonymous Facebook user IDs, ending in digits -- until recently. The Kyle Farrell on Facebook is now dubbed “One Mile of Runway.” Perhaps possibilities like “American762” were unavailable. What hasn’t changed is that, despite the virtual disappearance of Schneider and Farrell from American Airlines fan page activity, the airline still hasn’t spoken.
The time has come, American Airlines, to speak. Two employees have been identified. Is the Kyle Farrell who posted a screenshot of what appears to be an internal, airline reservation system – and whom shares the same geographical locale as the man appearing on your master seniority list for American Eagle flight attendants -- your employee, AA?