I am a customer care advocate and a firm believer that “when you give, you will then receive” as I wrote about in a previous article “Why I Love Amazon.com”. I firmly believe that, particularly in todays economical climate, you have to do all that is in your power to assure that your customers are happy and feel cared for so that they will come back to you in their time of need. It takes special care to build a customer base, and even more care to maintain it! There are a number of great examples like Amazon.com, Tony Hsieh’s Zapos, and even Apple Computer that really make you feel secure in their service. There will always be mistakes made, but then that is the reason you need a Customer Care service that can, in a sense, play as a back up to those who may have had a rough day and who may make mistakes. Customer Care should be there to listen to you with great patience and do all that is in their power to right a wrong. However, I recently had an experience that hit close to home that truly takes the cake! British based budget airlines EasyJet denied boarding to my three little ladies without any assistance, left them to fend for themselves and even made them buy 3 new tickets when two of them actually had perfectly valid tickets.
I naturally blew a fuse when told the story and encouraged my daughter to write to customer care to ask for the refund of the tickets, but was amazed (and shocked) by the letters that she received in response, which were basically form letters letting her know how they were “sorry for the inconvenience caused”, but that there would be no refund. They went on to justify the actions of their Rome ground crew. Well, the refund will eventually come as thank God there does exist Government European Union Aviation Laws and so I am not so worried about this. I am more worried that there should exist a company that would think that they can treat human beings, and strand 3 girls in this way and then try to justify doing so! Here is their story:
While traveling recently in Italy from Milan to Rome my daughters ages 27 and 16 and granddaughter 2 years old had a rather unpleasant experience while boarding their return flight back to Milan after their visit in Rome. Their outbound flight went smooth without any hitches. They were at the boarding gate for their inbound flight in plenty of time to board and were called for priority boarding since they were traveling with a child. After having checked in on their way into the aircraft another agent calls them back to ask why they had only two tickets. My daughter explained that her daughter was 2 years old and that she was included on her ticket. They were then simply asked to “step aside”, and so they took a seat. When no one came back to communicate with her, she then asked what she should do and was told that a supervisor would be coming. Once the Supervisor showed up, she basically ignored them and proceeded to finish the check in and boarding of the flight and they closed the gate! They had no idea that they were going to have to miss the flight, no option was given my 16 year daughter to take that flight, they were fully trusting that the crew had their best interest in mind. But, sad to say this was not the case!
When my daughter decided to get up and ask this supervisor when they would be allowed to board the plane she was told that they had “missed the flight” due to the fact that my granddaughter was OVER two years old. Here you have a confused lady with a child and her younger sister stranded at the airport in Rome, and they have what are two “valid” tickets and a child that is now found to be too old for the ticket that she purchased. The lady basically left her there and went on about her business elsewhere!
They then go down stairs to the information desk and ask what to do. The poor fellow there, not knowing the whole story, told them they had to pay 100 Euros per passenger for having “missed their flight”! She then explained that they had been there in plenty of time to get the flight but the reason they were not allowed to board was due to the child’s age. They were then told that they would have to wait 2 days for seats and ended up having to buy all three tickets AGAIN! The price for these tickets was the equivalent of what they had originally spent on a round trip fare! Even if they had to be re-booked, it was annoying enough but acceptable, but to pay out money for all three tickets a second time at doupble the price, that is in any way you look at it, dishonest business practice!
One employee, and the only one that really deserves to hold his position, offered to call the HQ or someone “higher up” to see if he could honor their existing tickets. Well, sad to say, the problem obviously seems to be more of a company cancer, this “higher up” refused to honor the tickets, and in confidence said, as they were told, (and I quote) “if they don’t like the way they are being handled then they can fly with another airlines!” OMG! Seems this “gent” might be better off working for another airlines (or in the long unemployment line)!
I encouraged my daughter to write their Customer Care service which is posted online, as certainly (I thought) they would take care of this problem supervisor and refund her second tickets. After my daughter received two answers basically telling her that she could not get her money back, I had enough and wrote them myself suggesting alternative ideas of how this could have been handled. Sad to say, it seems that this company has an overall policy to “not care” and limited vocabulary “sorry for the inconvenience caused”. My daughters are left to claim their passenger rights under CAA European law under 261/2004 which will take its time, but it is shameful that it would have to come to this. I am not as worried about the refund as much as I am with how they treat their customers and how other young mothers and potentially single mothers could be stranded that way without any place to go! However more should be done to assure that EasyJet not take advantage of people, if you have had bad experiences with EasyJet, write me a note as there are things that can be done to rectify and take action.
I realize that there are thousands of persons who have had no problem with this airlines, they got through without a hitch, but the very fact that this is a situation that will most likely be repeated to single moms, elderly, and people who don’t tend to go digging into the “rules and regulations” pages for the fine print and become victimized and taken advantage of, it is scary. There are so very many unemployed airline workers who had to be laid off due to the lack of business in the airline industry, it seems that it would be necessary for EasyJet to “clean house” and call in some of these possibly more qualified unemployed people who might actually care for their customers, otherwise it would be better, in my opinion, should this be the way they “care” for their customers, that they the close up shop entirely.
I don’t know about you, but as for me and my family, we will never try to “save” using EasyJet ever again. It is a far too expensive of a “bargain”! I appreciate the many readers who have passed through reading this, and have since seen that this is just one tiny case of thousands. It has become more apparent to me that by acting as they have with many of you who have complained via Facebook on their site that EasyJet used this lack of transparency to earn additional money by forcing additional ticket purchases. This is a dishonest business practice and punishable by law. It is important to take action against this, I look forward to hearing from you! Thank you for sharing, retweeting, and posting! Keep up the campaign!