The Worst Customer Service I Have Ever Received- And I’m Mad As Hell

Too-Big-To-Fail-Funny-Tshirt300Is this the most bizarre story you’ve heard about screwing up a customer ‘Moment of Truth?’ It’s the worst customer service experience I have ever had. How can such a famous brand get it so wrong? Your views?

CMO Andy is passionate about a lot of things: Zero Moments Of Dissatisfaction is one one them, a nice twist on the ‘Moments Of Truth’ concept. If he had hair, he’d pull it out hearing this story.

I was booked to leave on a Tuesday on a flight to Singapore. Four days later, I’d meet ‘important others’ (flying from Sydney that day) at Singapore airport to fly together to Europe, returning to Sydney together a couple of weeks later. Then, a problem. The day before I was due to fly, one of my ‘important others’ fell sick. Full-on flu. Bed-ridden. I needed to be there for the next four key days to help ready all for the trip. I called the airline. “I won’t make the Sydney to Singapore flight. I don’t want any refund, no worries. In fact, I will book a new and separate flight with your airline Sydney to Singapore four days later so I can make the Singapore-Europe connection/leg of my original ticket. Okay?” Their answer rocked me:

No! No! No! And one more time…NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If I missed the Sydney to Singapore flight…. even though I had a sick family member, and I’d alerted them I would miss the flight, and confirmed I’d be there for the rest of the legs to Europe and back, and had asked for no recompense, and was going to buy a brand new one way ticket on their fricken airline Sydney to Singapore four days later… well, then I’d be classified a ‘no show’ and my ENTIRE return trip to Europe would be cancelled.

My travel agent did an awesome job. Spoke to the airline’s head office. Spent hours trying to rationalise with them. The response: NO! NO! NO! They would not let me miss that leg and buy a separate, fresh ticket for that sector four days later. It broke their rules based on the type of ticket I’d bought. This was MADNESS!!!! Surely it made zero difference to them except they got an extra $1,000 from me, and a vacant paid-for-seat a few days earlier.

LISTEN, YOU IDIOT CUSTOMER! NO! NO! NO! The only way I could do it was a) take the flight to Singapore, then buy an immediate return flight to Sydney, then buy another flight back to Singapore four days later, and then the rest of my ‘to Europe and back’ already-paid-for-flight would be safe. Or, b) forgo the $4,000 ticket I’d already paid for, and buy a brand new ticket to Europe and back four days later but oh, the flights are fully booked except FIRST CLASS.

Bottomline- I had to take that original flight to Singapore. No option or the entire trip for my ‘important others’, and me, would have likely fallen through. My unwell ‘important other’ had to do all the hard yards in the preparations during the final four days alone. I am beside myself with bewilderment and frustration. How can a leading organisation in a highly competitive field treat a customer like this?

Customers talk. Customers share. Social media is real. Word-of-mouth is important. Customers have power. CMO Andy says it all. ZERO MOMENTS OF DISSATISFACTION. And the biggest moment of truth of all is when the customer is in trouble and needs help. How you react then shapes your entire future relationship. (And I wasn’t asking for anything- just to give them more money!)

So now I am going to ‘out’ that airline, and encourage you NEVER to fly with it. Also, spread this story far and wide. Here’s the name……..Wait for it…dum de de dum….. Actually, the service on board is great, the staff work so hard, and they’ve upgraded me three times in five flights, so I just can’t bring myself to do it. Their systems suck. But their staff and on board service is pretty damned good. I’ll give them another go. Can’t help myself.

Nevertheless- here’s the point. Deliver outstanding customer service- always. Sweat moments of truth. Remember wise CMO Andy- ZERO MOMENTS OF DISSATISFACTION. I shake my head in wonder at how this airline gets it so wrong. Crazy. Just madness. Now – pass the retsina, please. I need to calm down a bit…..


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22 Responses to The Worst Customer Service I Have Ever Received- And I’m Mad As Hell

  1. Jaqui Lane July 8, 2015 at 10:47 am #

    Chris, I think you should ‘out them’ and let them know. How else are they ever going to be dragged in to changing their customer service…and you have more clout than most people. Think of all your followers that don’t have your exposure, i.e. the general customer.

    • Chris Savage July 9, 2015 at 7:30 pm #

      Thanks Jaqui. I know. I wanted to. Then I flew that flight to Singapore and they had upgraded me and the service was just great. And then the flight to Europe was also great. The staff did a fantastic job. So I just can’t do it. Chris

  2. Jim July 8, 2015 at 10:52 am #

    I think international air travel needs the ‘disruptor’ that domestic and other industries have had from either low cost or digital. It will come and when it does. . .

    • Chris Savage July 9, 2015 at 7:30 pm #

      Agree, Jim.

  3. Suzie Batten July 8, 2015 at 10:56 am #

    How infuriating.I hate bad customer service and I give suppliers hell when I get it. I could add a couple of beauties to this story. Have you thought about writing to the CEO? You’d be amazed what results that can bring.
    Hope you have a wonderful trip now that you’re there

    • Chris Savage July 9, 2015 at 7:29 pm #

      Thanks Suzie. Chris

  4. Don Anderson July 8, 2015 at 11:43 am #

    This smacks of the front line staff being hamstrung by a dumb policy – probably put in place by some senior bozo who has not spoken to a customer in some time.
    This is why companies that are genuinely interested in customer service excellence, heavily involve their front line staff in the formulation of all customer facing policies and procedures.
    Most front line staff (with the odd exception) are usually great people, genuinely motivated to do the right thing by the customer, and often they do an outstanding job in spite of their bosses best efforts to make their job impossible.

    • Chris Savage July 9, 2015 at 7:29 pm #

      Agree, Don. The companies let down their staff with this madness.

  5. Patrick looram July 8, 2015 at 11:52 am #

    This is the kind of service I’ve come to expect from Airlines, Banks and Telcos. And you are right, it seems like there is never any specific person to be angry with. The staff you deal with can be great and just as trapped as you in some Kafka-esque nightmare. Seems like an opportunity for someone….

    • Chris Savage July 9, 2015 at 7:29 pm #

      Yes indeed Patrick- there is an opportunity in there somewhere! Chris

  6. Scott July 8, 2015 at 2:33 pm #

    C’mon Chris, don’t leave us hanging! NAME AND SHAME!!!!

    • Chris Savage July 9, 2015 at 7:28 pm #

      Soon, Scott!

  7. Penny July 8, 2015 at 3:35 pm #

    I agree w Scott – name and shame!!!! It better not be Qantas???

    • Chris Savage July 9, 2015 at 7:18 pm #

      Penny- was not Qantas! Chris

  8. John July 8, 2015 at 4:15 pm #

    i get why you wouldn’t want to name the airline, but it kind of goes against the purpose of your message of “customers talk and social media is real’ if you don’t. Without publicly calling them on it they’ll never know the power of social and couldn’t care less

    • Chris Savage July 9, 2015 at 7:17 pm #

      John- agree entirely- I origianlly named them….then changed my mind once I had enjoyed two great flights. Too many hard working frontline staff. Too much positive intent at the customer face-to-face level. Chris

  9. Lindy July 8, 2015 at 9:48 pm #

    Oh my word Chris, what a nightmare! I had a bad experience with a prominent car dealership this week, their answers were also no, can’t and ‘sorry’… nothing freaks me out more than the word ‘No’… I think it is because I always try do my best for others. Luckily for me, after hinting that I think the next time our company needs to add to our fleet, we would have to seriously consider going with another brand, did their ‘No’ turn to ‘Yes’. Why do we need to threaten people to get service nowadays?

    • Chris Savage July 9, 2015 at 7:17 pm #

      Thanks Lindy- fair point!

  10. Zac Jacobs July 9, 2015 at 10:27 am #

    It’s all too familiar – but it does remind me of being in a poor relationship where the partner keeps giving you gifts to make up. Eventually the goodwill diminishes. I do have one tip – use a service like Momondo, which allows you to book separate legs on different airlines. And to filter out airlines.

    • Chris Savage July 9, 2015 at 7:16 pm #

      Thanks Zac- good tip. I’l try it. Have not previously heard of Momondo. Chris

  11. Dan July 9, 2015 at 1:15 pm #

    I had the exact same issue last month. The airline said it was an aviation regulation requirement not a specific airline policy..

    • Chris Savage July 9, 2015 at 7:16 pm #

      Thanks Dan. Maybe it is a safety thing? Chris

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