Fighting with computers

Computers are not always friendly.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A painful lesson

I bought some cheap airline tickets over the weekend for a family trip. I was asked to provide not only the names of the passengers but also their ID number,gender,title and birth-date. Quite annoying but I guess that might be of some use.

This morning I've got the tickets delivered from the online company and my son discovers there is an error in his lastname. I email the the seller to ask for a fix as, though there is yet enough time left, I do not want to procastinate about this.

My email gets answered quite fast but the directions given are somehow confusing: I should cancel the ticket and I should buy a new one. This approach in itself has two problems: On one hand being the tickets non-refundable cancelling means losing all the money (so I do no see any advantage for cancelling such a ticket) and paying, again, for the same ticket just to get your lastname fixed. But secondly, there is a chance of not getting the same schedule on sale in this second attempt of buying the ticket.

The fact that all the data provided, ID number, birth-date, first name and gender the same should be quite a proof that we are not requesting a name change but only fixing an error yet it seemed not be a point good enough for them.

On the other hand, if we fail to get a new ticket with the same schedule we will be forced to cancel our three other tickets (getting nothing in return too).

So here is the lesson, triple check the names on the ticket reservation before clicking Ok. Failing to do this can cost you your holidays (besides enriching some bastards).

Quite frustrated I moved on and I bought a new ticket for my son. Now the deal is 25% more expensive and my mood has decreased several notches.

Update: Among other things I did, I contacted with the customer service department of the airline I was flying with (Swiss). In an unexpected twist of events (it should not be that rare customer service is actually doing something for the client) the airline sided with me, understood my point and, even better, decided to do something about it. Next morning I got a call from the online company I bought the tickets from asking me to return the wrong ticket for a refund (as I have bought a second ticket just to clear a mistake on the lastname).

I am yet waiting for the new ticket to arrive but now I feel that at least some companies still have some moral grounds.

Update2: I've got the fixed ticket, but no news about my refund yet.

Update3:
I've got my money back!!! Though this whole thing should never happened I still felt it like a small achievement. I think this company is yet missing a revenue opportunity, as consumers are going to be willing to pay some money to get their problem fixed. At least I was. While their current approach is generating no revenue and real bad publicity, so bad I prevented myself to even mention what company I dealt with (yeah, you guess it right, "bastards" is not the company name). However, you already know that Swiss company did the right thing for me.

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