I travel a lot. Both domestically and internationally. Whenever I fly a new carrier, I check their luggage restrictions and do my very best to ensure I don’t have additional charges.
So imagine my dismay when a companion and I flew EasyJet the other day. We had carefully calculated how many bags and weight we’d have to pre-purchase and dutifully went to their web page to purchase the extras on the day of the flight.
Why was this important? If we pre-purchased the extra bag and weight, we’d be charged $15/bag vs $41 at the airport. Plus, we’d need to purchase a extra weight (they charge you for the bag separately from the weight — go figure). Online, it’s $5/kg; at the airport it’s $16/kg.
So it was critical we purchase the extras ahead of time, as at the airport we’d be paying $242.11 vs only $73.62 online, a $168.49 difference!
There was only one gigantic problem — their site was not allowing us to make the purchase. I called their customer service line and eventually got a nice guy who was ham stringed to help. His system, too, wouldn’t allow him to enter the pre-purchase. He had no idea when the system would be working again, perhaps not until our flight had departed.
I asked him for options. He said to explain the situation to the ticket agent at the airport and see what s/he could do. He agreed to note our reservation when the system was back up so the agent could see we’d tried in vain.
At the airport, the ticket agent was also a nice guy. But he said he couldn’t override the airport pricing. He brainstormed our options, but none of them were viable other than paying the higher fee and then requesting a refund. Reluctantly, we agreed as it was the only way to get on the flight.
After the flight, we tried to resolve this with their customer service department. After being on hold for hours and continually being cut off, we resorted to email. Shortly, this response came:
“Unfortunately I am unable to reimburse as this charge was made by the airport staff and we are not liable to reimburse this. Also the luggage charge is a non refundable fee. You can however claim this amount from your travel insurer and I will be more than happy to issue you with an insurance letter. The insurance letter is charged at an amount of $16.00 and this can also be claimed from your insurer.”
So, they refuse to take any responsibility for their system being down *and* they want to charge us for a letter to try to get reimbursed from travel insurance? Such arrogance and true disregard for their customers. We, their customers, were being punished for their technical problems. This is wrong, wrong, wrong.
We objected to this treatment and a few days later got a response that we would be getting a $100 refund.
Good for the refund, but no explanation of why $100 instead of $168.49? Why would they not refund the full amount due instead of an arbitrary amount? We emailed demanding an explanation, but none came.
How can a company continue to operate with such horrible customer service? With policies that are arbitrarily applied with no explanation to the customer? With no allowance to override something that is clearly wrong and due to the company’s problems? How can this company continue to be in business that makes the customer literally pay for it’s breakdowns?
This is wrong.
But it is a chance for you to use this story to examine your own internal customer policies.
- What do you do when your system is down and your customers can’t get the discounted pricing due to them?
- Do you lock your systems so your well-meaning customer service reps can’t override what is clearly wrong pricing?
- Are you reps responding to email fully trained so they 1) understand the problems when described and 2) escalate it before telling a customer there’s nothing they can do?
- If you issue only a partial refund, do your reps explain fully why? Do you offer them someone to contact if they aren’t satisfied?
If your policies are similar to EasyJet’s, I encourage you to either change them, or look for a new job, as your employer won’t be in business long.