Friday, September 08, 2006

Shame on you Flight Centre

This article outlines a sorry story about bad service and a company not willing to pay for their mistakes.

2 comments:

John McGuinness said...

Just thought I'd post our response here also:

Hi Craig,

Your matter has now been discussed at length within our organisation, and while I can’t offer you the answer you want, I can certainly explain exactly how we have reached our conclusions, and offer further explanations to some of the questions you have posed. I have also posted this on your blog, and the other blogs that have been looking at this issue.

It’s very easy in blogs to portray a company as obstinate and heartless, but we have a very good track record of doing our utmost to solve any problem encountered by our clients – as you will appreciate, in the extremely competitive environment that is international travel, every client you have is one you try your best to keep.

But in this case we have assessed all of the evidence presented, including me personally contacting some of the people you have listed in your email, and have still come to the same conclusion – our agent would never have offered you indefinite validity on an overseas ticket.

The main reason for this are:

1. Tickets never have indefinite validity. This is one of the fundamental rules of air travel, and something our agents are trained in and reminded of on an ongoing basis. It would be just too high a liability for airlines to issue tickets such as this. In fact I can think of no tickets for services that have indefinite validity. Imagine cashing in an airfare bought in the early 1990’s for current air travel.

2. You had a complicated itinerary (hence the cost):

Outbound: Christchurch-Auckland-LA-Munich-Bratislava
Return: Bratislava-Munich-LA-Seattle-LA-Auckland-Christchurch

This is a very extensive return journey to book for an indefinite stay, something that would have been impossible to organise for indefinite travel, as you would have had to secure all these different legs to line up as indefinite.

3. You are a good client, you were spending a large amount of money with our agent whether buying one way or return, she would quickly have to take responsibility for her comments when you inevitably wanted to take up the return journey, and above all she is a well-respected and honest part of our team. Why, then, would she even consider ‘shafting’ you?


The evidence you have provided is circumstantial at best, and in a case of ‘he said, she said’, we, like any other organisation, will back our people when we are convinced our team member is genuine and the evidence compelling. She could not have said this by mistake, and the fact that not only would she not mislead you, but there would also be no real benefit from misleading you, speaks for itself.

Yes, we understand from the references you have provided that you felt you may not return. In this light, we strongly believe that you have either misheard or misjudged the terms of your tickets, thinking there would be some way to extend you tickets indefinitely. Again, it is extremely unfortunate, but there is no way to extend these tickets - we have exhausted every avenue over the past three months in searching for a way.

I apologise for bringing in the possibility of legal action, it was unnecessary, and a full and comprehensive answer should have always be the first port of call. This is the first time we have had to deal with a problem within a blog, and our response left much to be desired. I realise this will continue to be an ongoing debate within the blogosphere, but I offer anyone the chance to contact me and discuss this matter, as we want to keep our lines of communication open.

We have received a great deal of negative feedback (towards the individual concerned in particular) from the many people who have viewed this blog and the blogs that have now linked to it without offering our full side of the story. It is also our assessment that our company has already suffered a loss of business more than the costs of the refund, and will continue to suffer adverse effects from the posts. But we simply can’t pay off everyone who threatens our people with a high profile, negative blogging campaign. We will instead proactively discuss these points within whatever medium they come up, including this and any other blogs that have these threads, on a case by case basis. We would of course prefer the old method of conflict resolution, but we are quickly learning to adapt in this brave new world.

This is our point of view in a nutshell, and I hope you can understand that unless new and compelling evidence presents itself, it will not change. We would appreciate it if you could also remove the names and contact details of other participants in this dialogue; anyone wanting clarification or to make a further point is welcome to contact me on john.mcguinness@flightcentre.co.nz.

Yours sincerely,


John McGuinness
Communications Manager
Flight Centre (NZ) Ltd

Craig Mackintosh said...

Hi all - for the sake of ‘centralisation’, my response to John is posted on my site:

http://www.wildimages.eu/blog/?p=260#comments

Regards, Craig.