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Originally published Tuesday, February 10, 2009 at 3:10 PM

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United Airlines to stop taking complaints by phone

United Airlines will stop taking complaints by phone — most customers will need to send a letter or e-mail instead — and India call center will be closed.

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United Airlines is dropping an Indian customer call center that took compliments or complaints after a flight, telling customers to send a letter or e-mail instead.

The nation's third-largest airline told workers on Tuesday that it would stop publishing its customer relations phone number, which will be turned off altogether at the end of April.

United spokeswoman Robin Urbanski said the airline is able to respond better to customers who write, since they often include more detail, making it possible to provide a more specific response. "We did a lot of research, we looked into it, and people who e-mail or write us are more satisfied with our responses," she said.

Phone reservations agents in Chicago and Honolulu will be cross-trained to respond to written customer feedback, too. That will keep 165 jobs in those two centers, she said. No changes are planned at United's third reservation center, in Detroit, which handles United's largest customers and will continue to take phone calls (including after-flight responses) from such customers.

Urbanski said the new arrangement would be "cost-neutral" versus having the calls answered in India.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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