Hopper's Ai Flop
Updated: Jan 21, 2020
Ever tried to change your flight or cancel a trip after paying for the "no questions asked" insurance. I recently purchased a flight through Hopper. I bought the $18 cancel for any reason insurance in case there were changes to my itinerary. Lucky to get the insurance, as there was a change of plans, and I needed to alter my flight. I went on Hopper and clicked to my itinerary to look for a way to change or cancel the flight. There is text "change or cancel a flight," although the text is not hyperlinked to a customer service page to actually change or cancel the flight. Hopper offers cheaper fares to its users by providing non-refundable flights from its airlines. Hopper offers insurance protection to its users through the insurance provider AON.
Frustrated with not being able to access the cancel for anytime link to customer service directly, I googled how to cancel a flight on Hopper. Google pointed me in the right direction to contact Hopper's customer service chat. To cancel a trip on Hopper, you must engage their Artificial Intelligence system to funnel your concerns to the right people to help. All great in theory, AI will triage user issues to dispatch physical respondents to assist in customer needs. People working with machines can provide great synergy for user experience, however, not with Hopper. I submitted an inquiry to Hopper's AI to help cancel my flight. We went through the necessary exchange of questions and answered to determine my needs. The AI placed me in que for a physical Hopper employee to make changes in Hopper's database.
After the pleasant exchange of seamless conversation with artificial intelligence, the following message said, "Ok! Your request has been sent to our support team, and they should be in touch with you later today via chat. Feel free to close the app in the meantime - an email will be sent to you as well if you're not available to chat at the moment. :)". As an extremely A-type personality, this cliff-hanging response was not satisfying. For decades, customers have been able to call a company on the phone to dispute charges, initiate a change order, or cancel. Unsatisfied with the response time from Hopper's chatbot, I searched the internet for Hopper's phone number. Google came back with nothing.
Unconvinced, I kept searching high and low on Hopper's website and online. I even called AON, the insurance provider that Hopper uses for its flight protection insurance. I got a representative from AON on the phone and asked him what Hopper's phone number is so I can call them. The gentleman responded that Hopper does not have a contact phone number. What?! Credit card statement! Every credit card purchase has a phone number on the statement to dispute charges. I logged into my credit card account and to my surprise, no phone number. Appalled and extremely frustrated at this point, having spent a considerable amount of my day trying to cancel the flight before the flight date, I left it alone and waited for a response from the open chat with Hopper.
How long are we supposed to wait to cancel a flight if the deadline is 24-hours before the flight time? Minutes, hours, days? I had to wait over 36 hours to receive a chat response from Hopper to cancel a flight! I am not sure I would have been able to receive a refund if I waited any longer.
When the person responded to my claim,
Hopper: Indicated that they would not be able to help me cancel this flight as it is non-refundable. "I'm sorry about that. :("
Sad face, really?! That is not the emoji I am feeling right now. I proceeded to inform the person that,
Me: "I have purchased the cancel any time insurance and to please cancel my flight."
Hopper: "Let me take a look, and I'll get back to you :D"
30 MINUTES LATER
Hopper: "Hi again! Sorry about that! I do see that you opted for the CFAR protection while booking"
Finally, after two days of battling chatbots and human bots, I was able to cancel my flight. The human bots are surely doing a disservice to the Artificial Intelligent chatbots. Hopefully, Hopper will be able to trust their AI to make alterations to their active database instead of relying on humans to make the changes manually. Automation will serve Hopper well in the future, although they are currently experiencing a rough transition.