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Anonymous7 Aug 2013
Long story short – I booked someone onto a BA return flight in Club, he didn’t take the return leg so I called BA to ascertain if a refund can be offered (the guy taking the flight asked me to do this on his behalf).
I call the number, punch in the right digits then get an automated “We are experiencing a large volume of calls right now, please go online to ba.com or call back later.” Click – end of call.
Really? Every time I call any of these large organisations (not particular to airlines) I get the “we are experiencing a high volume of calls at the moment” automated woman, but only twice has the call ended in an abrupt cut off.
I also had to call Emirates about a booking and an overnight stay in between flights in Dubai, call was answered quickly and my query satisfied with no issues.
I await with baited breath (I hope you can detect sarcasm from my written word) criticism about my having the temerity to report my findings (from yesterday) about 2 different airlines on a travel related forum.
*Edited to add: I just reminded myself to call them again, got exactly the same response of “we’re busy go to the website – click”. The website can’t help.7 Aug 2013
Any company that does not make it easy for you to speak with a person and discuss their services with paying or potential customers is not worthy of custom in my book.7 Aug 2013
BA are not alone is asking customers to call back when they are busy.
Whenever I hear a robot asking me to call back, I always think how lucky that company must be to have the confidence that its customers will call back..7 Aug 2013
MartynSinclair – 07/08/2013 14:11 GMT
BA are not alone is asking customers to call back when they are busy.
Agree entirely Martyn, another example just this weekend was when I online chatted with BT – took forever to get someone on the other side of the screen, when I did they offered me a ‘call back by the sales team’ on Monday. I am still waiting.
The reason for my call? I am being offered my line rental & broadband significantly cheaper with no install costs from SKY – so I was offering BT the opportunity to match the price and retain my custom (I’ve been with BT since forever).
Net result – I’m changing broadband supplier.7 Aug 2013
@ AllOverTheGaff – 07/08/2013 14:57 GMT
Hmm, had a not dissimilar experience with THY Turkish a few months back when it proved necessary to unravel some travel plans and seek refunds. After a merry-go round between what was ostensibly the LHR ticket desk and then the international call centre, with waits along the way, I was then directed to pitch up in person to a THY ticket office which then turned into another circus performance.
What I learned was that booking a ticket on-line is the easiest thing in the world. Cancelling and seeking refunds involves pulling teeth. We did finally get refunded though.
Thinking back, we also had to cancel BA and Olympic bookings and both were a doddle in comparison. We had no wait on the BAEC call centre number and it wasn’t a wet Wednesday in February when we rang.7 Aug 2013
AOTG – which “colour” line are you calling?
As a lowly blue I have had this automated answer and the dreaded click which I find so blooming rude several times, so now what we do is call the DH’s higher level BAEC line, and it is a different matter. Answered straight away and very helpful. So as the DH rarely knows, or pays scant attention as to how we get from A to B and what we need to book or change, he initially makes the call and then hands over to me to get it all sorted out. Data protection and all that.
Last time was only last week when I had to change our travel plans and “we” did it via the call centre. They couldn’t have been nicer or more helpful and infact the chap I was dealing with gave me his name and ext number if I needed to call back for any further changes or to book any additional services. And he waived some of the fees for using the call centre instead of doing everything online – I liked him! 🙂7 Aug 2013
I didn’t think of calling their exec club, thanks!
Just done so as the person I booked with is a Gold member, alas I was again thwarted. I explained that this chap hadn’t taken his flight, but I had booked and paid for it, I explained this several times to be told that due to data protection she couldn’t tell me this incredibly sensitive information. I have his DOB, his passport details, his exec club number, his flight reference and indeed, it was my email address used in the booking – it was simply impossible for her to tell me that the flight was or was not refundable – I didn’t want to know how much, I didn’t want to know anything else at all amen. Just is it or is it not worth him calling for a refund.
So, I’ve emailed the chap and unhelpfully told him that I can’t help him because BA don’t seem to grasp the whole customer services thing. Undoubtedly when he calls they will tell him they have to speak to the credit card holder – eg – me.
Bizarre and hugely frustrating.8 Aug 2013
It’s easy to blame Data Protection laws, and I agree with you that they are infuriating, especially when applied by whaat seem like dumb idiots.
But in most cases the people on the other end of the call are not idiots, and are just as aware that the response they are required to give is a complete nonsense. The problem is that management does not give them any freedom or autonomy to decide otherwise. The staff are ordered on pain of dismissal or at the very least serious disciplining to answer as they do.
And the reason for this is that management themselves face draconian punishment if they slip up. To divulge protected data to the wrong person is deemed by the courts to be a Very Serious Offence, subject to criminal not civil sanctions (translation: management face not just fines, which of course the company can meet, but custodial sentences, which the company cannot).
If you were at risk of going to jail because you gave your staff freedom to use their common sense and they didn’t, and got it wrong – would you still give the staff that freedom, or would you order them to give the safe, unhelpful reply?
Oh, and why have the courts adopted this draconian approach? Because Parliament told them to and put it in the law. So in summary we have the data protection laws we do, and the unhelpful responses that flow from them, because we the people are so uptight and wound up about our secrecy that we force Parliament to legislate in this way.
Or we could all grow up. But sadly there are enough people who demand their rights be protected regardless of the cost that this won’t happen.8 Aug 2013
I’ve now lost count of the amount of times I have asked, “can you explain to me how this compromises data protection”?
I’ve gone on to speak to superiors too, only to get the same BS. It simply infuriates me, remember Little Britain’s “computer says no”? That’s all I hear as they whittle on about Data Protection.
The main frustration to me is that if this fare IS refundable, they must, by law, speak to ME to get my credit card details to exact the refund…..and I wasn’t asking her to actually implement this, only to confirm if it WAS or WAS NOT refundable, I still find myself perplexed as to how this information is protected by the act.8 Aug 2013
I live with the Data Protection Act and the inconsistencies between companies on a daily basis and quite frankly, however stupid it all is, I just get on and live with it. One example of how absolutely ridiculous things have got is one particular ID certificate where it is necessary to complete someone’s date of birth in THREE different boxes. I have learnt you will not win with call centres – the operatives are only doing what they are told to do.
If you try and pre-empt the daft line of questioning, DONT, because if you answer a question before it is asked, the call centre must ask a different question… example, giving your date of birth before being asked. Some call centres require 2 pieces of sensitive information others require 3!
Regarding AOTG’s attempts to get information; I often have a situation where I need to speak to BA ticket office, over the weekend, when I am in BKK and need to alter a ticket – only the UK call centre can do it.
I just give my brother my details and credit card and ask him to do it on my behalf. My view is that its MY INFORMATION and I give permission to him to make the call and change the ticket….
Not entirely correct protocol, but when needs must, there is always a solution…8 Aug 2013
AOTG – you may have to set up a conference call with you and your friend speaking to the BAEC Gold line at the same time! Could you do this easily? Is there any clue on the ticket that it might be refundable? A booking code or something you could tell TimFitzgeraldTC on here, and he may be able to tell you without specific personal details if the ticket would be refundable.
I don’t know, I’m just throwing ideas into the ring here.
Edited to add: I was going to suggest, naughtily, as MS did to pretend to be your friend but didn’t think that would work as you would have the issue with the credit card being in a different name.8 Aug 2013
It does seem as if you have run into a particularly mindless application of the “say nothing” rule.
But I am interested that your friend flew the first leg when you paid for the ticket. This is risky – airlines reserve the right to ask to see the credit card the flight was bought with before allowing you to board (another stupid rule, in my view, but as well to be aware of it – BT have run several stories and threads on people denied boarding because they fell foul of it).8 Aug 2013