Fighting with computers

Computers are not always friendly.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Getting a ticket to Oulu


I have to visit Raahe (near Oulu, Finland) in September and the EU is quite stingy about ticket cost (unless you are a politician which I am not). Our staff wanted to get it done for not more than 650 Euros. Most airlines either do not fly to that destination or charge you more than 1000 Euros. Time to put some of my vacation time to the task of saving some of that taxpayers' hard-earned money.

The old fashion way of using a brick and mortar travel agency seemed to be a no go, as I am still waiting for a quote from them. Expedia or Travelocity had served me well in the past but it is unclear if you can get a ticket from them if you are based in Spain.

A local e-company, rumbo.es provided a very nice price of 476 EUR, but when I tried to complete the check-out it gave me an error. It was also unclear whether I would need to go to baggage claim when changing airline or not. It was time to give them a call (or more).

First call: All our representatives are busy, line hung-up. (Nice customer service)
Ok. maybe I can send them an email. I did it, but I'm still waiting for their answer.
Second call: The call got through, I asked them if I could check-in my baggage only once to pick it up at the destination. The answer was: "Perhaps, but you better call the airlines". (Not very helpful).
Third call: "I'm afraid there is a problem as I am getting an error message on checkout", after providing them the data of my trip I was told that "Sorry Sir but our system works with an offline database and the price offered cannot be granted at the moment, would you like to pay around 1000 EUR and get it fixed?". (I declined).

Ok, so it seems they offer what they cannot deliver. Well, the point is that it is not only the cost what it is at stake as I do not want to arrive to my destination at 1:30am (even worse because Oulu still 50 miles away from Raahe).

Just in case, I phoned to Air France to ask them about their baggage policy for trips combined with other companies (SAS in my case) but a direct answer was not provided.

So I get back to Travelocity website where I learn that they are affiliated with lastminute.com in Spain (probably it is the other way around). So I did my search one more time and, again, I was pleasantly surprised with exactly the same route as before for a similar cost. As the previous deal was not possible at the moment, I thought this one will end up being broken somewhere in my checkout process. However it did work out. However, I was asked to provide the shipping address in a, somehow, odd way and I was not sure they will try to ship to the exact address they printed on-screen (which was not ok), so I gave them a call to sort it out. All their representatives were busy at the moment and I should call them later. Tired, I tried email with these e-company and to my surprise it was answered and I was assured they will ship to the right address no matter what they show on-screen (provided you entered the right data, which I did).

So I ordered the ticket just to realise, later on, that I might not be at home during their delivery window. So I email them again to ask delivery has to be done in hand, which it was. I guess the delivery guy will have to visit my home several times.

It only took me three hours to get my ticket. And, because I did it in my vacation time, it cost the EU nothing and it saved around 500 EUR. Not bad. Next time I want to have my share!!

Update:
Wow!! these guys are fast: In less than 24h I've got my ticket delivered to my home. Not a bad service.

And just in case you are wondering ... the address label was like the one on their web I complained about. The regular postman won't deliver to that but it seems they have properly trained their own delivery service to handle that weird address label scheme. I still think they could do something to avoid some customer anxiety because of that.

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