I’m ever so British when it comes to complaining. I could sit through the most dreadful meal in a restaurant, with the most appalling service, and yet when asked if everything is alright, I will likely smile and nod. I’ll pay my bill. I’ll leave quietly. But I most certainly will ‘express my dissatisfaction’. My expression of dissatisfaction typically takes one of three forms. In its most mild form, I simply take my business elsewhere. If I am seriously irked, then I move on to stage two and leave a review on social media. This is a pretty effective tool, especially when the type of business has plenty of competition – a restaurant, hotel or physical product for example. I often research places I’m going to and read reviews first. Same goes with my electrical purchases.
The third and final final stage of my expression of dissatisfaction, when the first two ploys have failed to sate my thirst for revenge or recompense, is a formal letter of complaint. British Airways keep telling us that they are the worlds favourite airline. I must beg to differ, and I have written to explain exactly why this is. At the beginning of March, the Beast from the East blew in from Siberia, blanketing most of the UK in the white stuff. Alas, as the storm arrived, Mrs P’s mother needed to depart from London Heathrow. A two hour drive away, in normal circumstances. Given the weather forecast, it seemed unlikely it would be just the two hours. Given that a Code Red had been issued, rendering car insurances invalid if driven in the wild, wintry conditions, I thought I’d see what British Airways were advising its customers before departing for the airport. Because I didn’t particularly want to depart for the airport. And on their homepage…
Well by golly, was I pleased to see that. It seemed pretty clear cut to me. Just give them a ring and I could rebook the mother-in-law for a flight later in the month. We weren’t overly fussed when. We were possibly the most flexible rebookers they’d have callling. So I called Opodo, the ticket agent we used, to see what we could do. It turned out that they knew nothing about this rebooking malarky and wanted to charge us the standard rebooking cost of nearly £500. I was unimpressed. But left it there, and called British Airways themselves. Who knew nothing about this rebooking malarky and wanted to charge us the standard rebooking cost of nearly £500.
What to do? I let the good chap know that this information is plastered across the homepage of his company. He didn’t seem interested. So I read it out for him, word for word. His level of interest did not seem to change. I suggested that he might look into it for it. What with his being employed in the customer service industry, it might not be entirely amiss if he at least made an attempt. But again, I failed to pique his interest. So we loaded the mother-in-law into the car and off we went.
The drive there was a difficult, but relatively safe three hour journey. It was the return leg that turned into an Arctic Odyssey. Six very trying hours. Unlike the rear wheel drive Merc, I made it up the hills. Going down hill was a little trickier. Twice, in the absence of functioning brakes, I had to steer into the verge to use snow drifts as a means of stopping. Not ideal. But it worked. I managed to get home that evening, and for that I’m grateful. Just minutes behind me on the last part of the drive, two lorries collided and condemned everyone behind them to spending a night on the A31, till the army dug them out in the morning.
It was a slightly traumatic drive that, according to BA’s information, should have been entirely unnecessary. I’d really like to know what exactly what wrong. It would be nice to have a proper apology. And whilst I’ll neither demand nor expect any recompense, a goodwill gesture in these circumstances is the hallmark of a decent, modern customer-oriented business. We’ll see….