Ok now we’re pissed off. We’ve heard of ridiculous stories about companies refusing to give customers refunds but this is one of the BEST. If you’ve ever had to go through the pain of dealing with airline companies…no, wait…budget airline companies, then you may be able to somewhat identify with this situation. Some people just found out just how ridiculous the demands can get before they can get a refund.
One of our employees just had the worst conversation of his life with a customer service officer. Here’s an idea of how the conversation went. It’s a little long but this should give you an idea of how frustrating it was:
Other golden nuggets during the conversation were phrases such as “I just don’t like travelling in the day time. I need to take a flight at night where there is no sunlight.” (obviously a sarcastic response to the ridiculous demands being made). No response from Jetstar yet.
Here’s another customer who (we’re assuming) was on the same flight and had the same thing happen to her:
“Hi Miss X, we realise this is very unfortunate and…” blah blah blah.
To paraphrase an often used call for action, NO MONEY NO TALK (perhaps we could coin a new acronym?). You can see that both customers ended up booking a more expensive flight with another airline.
To Set The Record Straight
Before you start thinking we’ve suddenly become the Incredible Hulk and burst into some irrational financial rage, here are some things we need to point out:
We understand that with a smaller fleet, budget airline carriers may be more prone to having to reschedule flights. That is fine. What is not okay is rescheduling the flight, presumably being unable to contact the affected parties (there is really no excuse in this day and age. Send a damn pigeon if you have to), and then expecting people to just automatically being able to make it.
This is perhaps a timely reminder to not just ignore that e-itinerary that the airlines email to you.
Refund and Compensation Policy
This is a tough cookie for budget airlines. We’re sure they have to deal with plenty of demands for refunds, and this is where certain terms and conditions are reasonable to enforce by the book, such as passengers attempting to cancel or reschedule their own flights. We understand the whole “you get what you pay for” thing, but in this instance, we’re required to justify why we can’t or don’t want to take a flight on a work day??!
Think about this situation in another way – what if, just as an example, a devious airline decided to intermittently shift their flights around (in a manner infrequent enough such that it didn’t affect normal business) to some kind of inconvenient timing and then refuse refunds for anyone who couldn’t make it?
The answer is: TIO BEH PIO! (Hokkien for strike lottery)
Also, as you saw above, both passengers ended up booking a different flight on another carrier (for the exact same dates as their original Jetstar booking). In a situation like this, where the inconvenience was essentially forced upon them, shouldn’t the customer have the right to some automatic form of compensation? Even something like the airline offering to cover 50% of the additional cost (within reason) would be a drop in the ocean of goodwill that would go miles further to improve both customer satisfaction and brand loyalty than some stupid “I’m so sorry (but I don’t want to help you financially)” speech.
The entire MoneySmart office was already starting to make a joke out of how long the conversation was going on for, until we realised that our poor Timothy wasn’t the only one who had an extended romantic conversation with multiple customer service officers. If he had to escalate it any further, he may have been able to speak to the Jetstar CEO by the end of the day.
What these companies need to learn – is that while policies and procedures are necessary and important, in certain given situations, flexibility isn’t such a bad thing. It is the onus of the company to train their employees to discern this and if not, to redirect the matter to someone who can make a decision as soon as possible. Simply regurgitating, “Sorry, it’s our company policy…” is a surefire way to lose a customer.
At The End of The Day…
When you’re flying on a budget airline, it’s not that you have an issue bringing extra luggage on to the plane.
You ARE the luggage.
Editor’s Note: Jetstar has called and clarified the matter with us, narrowing it down to a miscommunication in terms of the proper process for case handling on the part of the Customer Service Officer. We hope none of you have to suffer the same experience in the future because of this.
Have you had a similar nightmarish experience dealing with budget airlines? We want to hear them.
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