More Joy of Flying…Air Canada…customer service at its worst
Well I’m finally back home from Boston, and I gotta say: it’s good to be home. As I mentioned in my previous post, my biggest problem with travel is all the stress around it; making connections, customs, security, luggage. Whoda thunk that we get to add another stressor: shitty customer service. For a very descriptive account of how NOT to treat customers, read Duane‘s account of “Air Can’t ada” throwing their monopolist weight around on us.
Now, I’ve done a tankload of flying in my time. Enough that i’ve had delays, cancellations, had an engine blow up during taxi once, had to dump fuel to land once and spent more hours in airports than I care to remember. I understand…shit happens. Weather happens, mechanical happens and other things happen. But what usually also happens is the airline shows a little empathy (and once in a while even sympathy), and is able to soothe my anger before it explodes. Usually they take care of you and if they can’t take care of you, they at least try to appear that they’re trying. Not Air Canada. They’re a monopoly now if you need to go to most places, and they make sure you know it.
Duane mentions the whole “You’re toast” thing and the way it riled everyone up. What he doesn’t mention is that when the guy came out to tell us he’s happy to take our money to upgrade us, after we held chris back from pummeling him into oblivion a couple of us had a fairly long chat with the guy. As I said, I’ve done a shitload of flying in my time…I’ve been Air Canada Elite (over 60 flight legs in a calendar year) many times and I tend to be somewhat zen about things beyond my control. But this situation was special. The guy actually tells us that “this is my job; any passengers I see are upset and frustrated.” So…why aggravate the situation by saying “you’re toast” and not give any more than that??? He tells us he tries to save people who can still make their flights and sometimes gets hurried in those situations. I can understand that. But even in a hurry, show a bit more empathy than just bellowing out “you’re toast”. Apologize, tell us you need to save the ones you can and that you’ll take care of us as soon as that’s done. Rob actually expressed this directly to the guy while we were talking. And this is when I actually got really pissed…the guy got all insincere then. He’s like “you’re right, maybe I should spin it different”, but I could see he really didn’t give a rats ass…he just wanted to get us to give him money.
When we were talking to him outside the service area he kept talking in circles. He would say something, and I would say “well if that’s the case then let’s do this” and then he would blame it on someone else or something else. It was like he would only give us information if we asked a direct question related to it. It was brutally frustrating…specially after the amount of travel time we had just had, the fact that we’d all been on our feet for 3 days straight and were, frankly, five cranky, tired guys.
At the end of the day, the whole issue really comes down to ownership and caring about your customer’s plight. If, in Boston, the airline had managed our expectations and said there was a chance we would miss, we could have made an informed decision then. If, knowing that we would be a bit late, they could have held the LAST FLIGHT OF THE NIGHT for 15 minutes, they would have gained themselves 10 (there were other people than the five of us in the same plight) loyal customers instead of 10 who will never voluntarily fly Air Canada again. If they had made accomodations in the customs line to get us through more quickly, we would not necessarily have realized and become more loyal, but we wouldn’t be as angry and anti- air canada as we are now. And finally If the guy had spoken with a bit of empathy rather than being a jerk, if he had taken a moment to think about what the people in that line were thinking at that moment rather than just brushing us off as done, maybe we’d have been frustrated, but we would have reacted in a less aggressive manner.
The story actually even gets a little bit worse. So after making us pay for a hotel room in Toronto (thereby basically saying that even tho the weather wasn’t their fault, it’s ours) for 3 or less hours’ sleep, I had it figured that I’d grab a pillow on the flight back and sleep for that…5 hours on a plane, although not all that restful, would still be better than three. I had a window seat and a pillow would have made for a nice comfy little nap. But nooooo… Air Canada believes that their customers should have to PAY FOR THE USE OF A FREAKING 4 DOLLAR PILLOW! So instead of having a happy customer or a few, they now have 90 pillows taking up space in the overhead bin and at least one really pissed off former customer. Now, the 2 bux for the pillow in and of itself is really no big deal. But the principle of this, after the treatment we recieved the night before…well let’s just say I’m not planning on using AC again unless I totally have to. I will make an extra leg on my flight before I’ll use them again. I’ll go to abbotsford and take west jet. Such a little thing, and it was the straw that broke this camels back.
Buhbye now, Air Canada, and best of luck to you in the future. I will be sending a letter to Robert Milton, but I don’t expect any love; one of the joys of monopolistic ventures is their lack of need to give a shit.