The One Time Exception is Slowly Returning

Many companies have been forced to accede to customer demands which are normally not part of their policies once the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic swept around the world and forced millions of people to stay in their homes — and that includes companies within the travel industry, who have extended expiration dates on points as well as elite status levels…

The One Time Exception is Slowly Returning

…but I have been noticing a slow return of the “one-time exception” — you know, through which the customer service person is letting you know that even though what you want is against the policiy set forth by the company, they are being generous enough to grant you an exception and give to you what you are seeking…

…however, do not expect it to happen again. You had your one shot at getting what you wanted fulfilled — supposedly, anyway.

One time exceptions may include getting miles and elite status credit which you earned on a flight — but the flight was more than six months ago — as one of numerous examples: “Ma’am, normally we would not give you this credit; but I spoke to my supervisor, and she is willing to make an exception and offer to fulfill your request just this once.”

Sometimes the phrase “one-time exception” is clearly repeated during the telephone call — the phrase can also be used via social media — just to ensure that you are listening with fair warning in the event that you attempt to have that request fulfilled again.

If you are the customer, do you bow on your knees and kiss the earth, gratefully thankful that you received your one-time exception — or do you feel like the customer service representative is being condescending to you?


Companies tend to give customer service representatives some leeway in granting a request — which may not be a part of company policy; or conflicts with the rules which govern the source of the request…

…but of course, companies understandably do not want to condition customers to think that they can bypass the rules every time there is an issue or a conflict; so as to lend some good will and not lose a customer, you are told “I will grant you a one-time exception” by the customer service representative or manager; and usually have the issue resolved in your favor. Some companies do tend to firmly adhere to their policies and rules and deny a request no matter what if it is granted a second time.

Ultimately, that one-time exception is better than nothing at all — but I would prefer if a company did not adhere so strictly to corporate policies to the point that they are perceived as unfriendly to the customer. Still, you get a better chance at having your request fulfilled than by not asking at all.

Have you encountered being told that you are being given a “one-time exception” — and have you noticed that phrase is increasingly being used in recent weeks? If so, please post your thoughts and experiences in the Comments section below.

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

2 thoughts on “The One Time Exception is Slowly Returning”

  1. Boston says:

    I do think its a very condescending phrase, and its been around for decades. Most company policies are a disservice to customers or meant to create so much red tape and related aggravation that people will not be able to take advantage of any benefit. Also most consumer interactions are adhesion contracts where consumers really do not have a similar or really any negotiating power. So yes its just a phrase that corporations use to scof at their customers. While corporations get richer, get government wellfair and bail outs, the plite of the consumer on Main street continues to suffer and degrade over decades.

  2. NB_ga says:

    I guess I am the exception here… while I, too, find these “just this one time” situations to be extremely condescending, I tend to err on the side of not allowing them. It is unfair to all of those who did the right thing and followed the rules the first time around. I tend not to subscribe to the squeaky wheel theory myself. If a company is reasonably open to giving in on an issue to all who call or write to complain, it would serve them better to just have a more generous policy on the front end.

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