An optimist might see these automated compensation offers as a genuine effort by companies to improve their customer service. After all, what could be better than touching down at your destination, firing up your iPhone and finding a letter of apology from your airline before you have to ask for anything? Or boarding a ship and finding that the cruise line had already tried to remedy your problem?

But a cynic might view this as just the latest in a long series of initiatives to streamline and automate functions that used to be handled by a real person, in an attempt to offer customers the least possible compensation when something goes wrong.

At a time like this, say experts, it's more important than ever to evaluate the merits of your grievance and to appeal your case to the right person.

Get the full story at The Seattle Times