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British Airways - a masterclass in losing customer loyalty

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RogerS

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Not surprisingly BA have been cancelling a lot of flights. The thing is that they are supposed to offer a full refund. Clearly given the sheer numbers this is putting a severe dent in their cash-flow (what there is left of it). So they are doing everything possible to make it impossible to claim the refund.

They removed the ability from their website. They push you in the direction of claiming a voucher - which is not the same thing. Ties you into flying with BA and has a 12 month time-limit.

The telephone numbers they provide are unmanned. After the initial IVR script, the line drops.

Responses on Twitter try and push you towards the voucher route.

Thing is their beef is with the Government and whether or not they (and other airlines) will get any bail-out. Not with their customers.
 

sunnybob

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Youre leaning against an open door here;
After over 20 years of flying with BA by choice (enough to be an executive club member), it all changed about 4 years ago. First the hot food was replaced with sandwiches, then the sandwiches went away and everything had to be bought.
Then the seats got smaller and more uncomfortable.
last year was the final straw, when having booked an extra leg room seat as usual I got on the plane and found that it wasnt.

In fact it was even smaller than a standard seat, and the stewards seat was tight up against giving me less room than the average cattle truck.
No mistake, advertised as extra room, no apologies, no refunds, and the staff have also become surly in the extreme.
I now fly norwegian, or even easy jet, and for some reason easy jet staff are the most pleasant I have come across.
This crisis aside, I wont be flying BA again.
 

Blackswanwood

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It's no different with any airline at the moment Roger.

They are short staffed due to lockdowns in various jurisdictions (BA do quite a bit out of India). Normally I am quite scathing of BA's general customer service ethic but on this occasion I can see two sides to it.

Cheers
 

RogerS

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Blackswanwood":1o54v3gi said:
It's no different with any airline at the moment Roger.

They are short staffed due to lockdowns in various jurisdictions (BA do quite a bit out of India). Normally I am quite scathing of BA's general customer service ethic but on this occasion I can see two sides to it.

Cheers
The two sides are (1) Govt bail-out ? (2) honouring their legal obligations.

There is no reason why they can't re-instate the ability to claim a refund on their website.

There is no reason why they are obfuscating the issue and trying to 'con' people into accepting a voucher.
 

Droogs

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there are 2 reasons
1 they dissuade you from getting your money and take a no cost (to them) voucher that will probably lapse - free money

2 your money stays in their account creating interest for them as long as possible
 

Blackswanwood

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I'm not disputing anything you say about the shabby customer experience Roger - the other side that I am referring to is that if they don't have the people in work to answer the phones they cannot pull a rabbit out of a hat.

Claiming a refund on a website very often is not a straight through process. The form is completed and then the repayment is manually processed. There are clever things that can be done with RPA but if their IT is outsourced they may be in a queue to get this done.

Just to reiterate - I agree with you that they may not be doing enough - all I am doing is highlighting the very practical problem that many organisations are dealing with.
 

RogerS

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Blackswanwood":11685bdv said:
I'm not disputing anything you say about the shabby customer experience Roger - the other side that I am referring to is that if they don't have the people in work to answer the phones they cannot pull a rabbit out of a hat.

Claiming a refund on a website very often is not a straight through process. The form is completed and then the repayment is manually processed. There are clever things that can be done with RPA but if their IT is outsourced they may be in a queue to get this done.

Just to reiterate - I agree with you that they may not be doing enough - all I am doing is highlighting the very practical problem that many organisations are dealing with.
There is almost zero IT involvement. They had it on their website already and the processes behind it. They've now taken it off their website.

I appreciate that there will be a manual delay. But that can be managed by highlighting on the website that refunds should take no longer than x days.

Without too much effort, they could do what other companies do in these situations. All the heavy lifting is done with the existing systems. But they front-load that system with a very simple 'waiting room' system into which all the refund claims go. That way, customers can look into the queue and see themselves moving up ..albeit slowly..but that's OK....the human psyche likes to see some activity. That requires a very minimal IT requirement.
 

RogerS

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sunnybob":2wuj369b said:
Youre leaning against an open door here;
After over 20 years of flying with BA by choice (enough to be an executive club member), it all changed about 4 years ago. First the hot food was replaced with sandwiches, then the sandwiches went away and everything had to be bought.
Then the seats got smaller and more uncomfortable.
last year was the final straw, when having booked an extra leg room seat as usual I got on the plane and found that it wasnt.

In fact it was even smaller than a standard seat, and the stewards seat was tight up against giving me less room than the average cattle truck.
No mistake, advertised as extra room, no apologies, no refunds, and the staff have also become surly in the extreme.
I now fly norwegian, or even easy jet, and for some reason easy jet staff are the most pleasant I have come across.
This crisis aside, I wont be flying BA again.
I like flying BA and have no issues at all with the level of service. Always had very pleasant and helpful cabin crew. If I fly down from Newcastle to LHR, I see little point in needing any food or drink TBH because the flight is so short. Ditto even slightly longer flights to destinations in France, Italy etc. Lengthening the flight to, say, Greece then woo.hoo....who cares..I'm going on holiday...just keep giving me beer ! Longhaul - we use our Avios and fly Club....what's not to like :D Always had above and beyond treatment from the cabin crew. Treat them right and they will return the compliment.
 

AES

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Like other posters here RogerS, I can see both sides.

But make no mistake, virtually ALL airlines will do the best they possibly can to slow down and delay refund payments (both to spare their cash flow out, AND it must be said, in the hope that at least some people will just get bored and go away).

Make no mistake, after this is over, you're going to see a lot of airline failures, bankruptcies, takeovers, and mergers, AND a lot of aircraft being prematurely returned to Lessors - world wide.

I.e. just the same as in many other industries all over.

While I really DO have every sympathy for "small" businesses (and for example wish affected members here all the best) "just because" a company has a "name" doesn't mean they're not going to be in deep doo-doo soon - if not already. Whether or not people like BA (just an example) are going to manage to tread the fine line between loosing previously loyal customers and just remaining alive remains to be seen.

I for one am VERY glad that flying is no longer "my business".
 

selectortone

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Send them a registered letter claiming the refund.

Edited to add:

Address it to the CEO, marked 'Private and Confidential'. That's how I cancelled my Virgin TV contract after being faffed about by them continually.
 

Terry - Somerset

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One unknown is the value of advance ticket payments sitting on the BA balance sheet effectively funding day to day operations in more normal times.

Even if they have put most staff on furlough, and mothballed their aircraft, they are still spending money on rents, aircraft lease payments, overheads etc.

Until they have a government bail-out, they will simply delay or avoid paying out any money as this would likely push them over the edge into bankruptcy.

If that happens the average ticket holder may find themselves towards the bottom of the creditor list after HMRC, banks, lease companies, landlords etc. They will likely get nothing and the UK will lose another major business.

The best bet may be to alert your travel insurance company (if you are insured) to the possibility of a claim if BA don't meet their obligations. Easily said - but insurers can go bust as well.......
 

mbartlett99

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Afraid its not just BA. I've just had three Delta flghts cancelled - no email/text and an hour on the phone to get a refund.

Don't know about shorthaul but transatlantic BA or American are the way forward. Delta's passive aggressive bs is really testing my patience.
 

lurker

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Ryanair treats its customers better than ba.
Vowed ten years ago never to use them again.

Who owns them these days?
 

AES

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Last time I "looked" BA owns themselves - through a holding company called IAG ("International Airline Group") which also owns others including Iberia (Spain) and no doubt others. Easy enough to get the up to date info though, I'm not exactly "current".
 

D_W

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Customer loyalty isn't an ethical principle, it's a business plan (advertising). Made to get something out of you rather than give something to you as stated.

It's no surprise that it disappears when it's not profitable. In an up market, it's profitable to advertise toward customers. In a down market, it's profitable to drop the customers and lobby the government.

The airlines are doing the same thing here - they operate claiming status as a for-profit public utility of sorts, and lobby to increase their size even when the market doesn't demand it. A huge public soak. They're looking for about the same amount of money that they spent buying back their own stock (presumably because it benefits them and their management to concentrate shares to keep the share value high).
 

Inspector

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Curious if your credit card companies cancel payments when a service or goods can't be provided? They can and do here as far as I know. Never personally had to try though. Call them up and ask.

Pete
 

Richard_C

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British Airways. Formed by merging BEA and BOAC, making it one of the world's biggest and best airlines. You could be in some horrid noisy hot city, have a rotten trip to the airport but once you sat down on a BA flight and heard the words "Good evening, welcome to BA flight ....." you were already home. Even the BA call sign - Speedbird - conjured up some pride. For years BA was my favourite airline, but not any more.

Faced with competition in Europe from the budget carriers, and worldwide from the Middle East and Asian carriers, they chose to go downmarket - to compete on price alone. Every refit meant more rows of seats, every year something was carved off the service - no tea and coffee on short haul, no breakfast on sub 7 hour flights, ever less and cheaper food (my son flew to Korea, 11 hours, BA and back Asiana, arrived hungry after minimal service, got home well fed and happy, 'BA - never again'). We went to NZ 2 years ago on what might be our last long haul trip (age not Covid) - treated ourselves to business class as a last hurrah for 2 x 12 hours each way. Cathay Pacific via HK - wow, excellent in every way. I'm a bit of an airplane nerd. On the A350, BA put 56 seats in business class in the same space the Cathay put 34, and they charge about 30% more. Why fly "the worlds favourite airline" when almost everybody else does a better job for the passenger?

I went to Krakow last year, choosing BA from Heathrow over budget from Stansted. I dislike the self-loading cattle walk across the tarmac. Heathrow was fine, but BA don't pay to use the gates in Krakow any more, you bus and walk, or just walk, easyryanair style. BA aren't worse than them, just no better. They are a budget airline with a mix of sharp practices, least you can do service and a fancy paint job on the tail. Their only assets are T5 and a lot of slots at Heathrow which gives them something of a monopoly on some routes that need transfers. Willie Walsh and his cost-cutters have ruined a great brand.

So now, instead of supporting my 'national airline' which is of course owned by spanish based IAG, and not wanting to accidentally get on a Vueling codeshare, its my last resort choice, not my first. They have made their choices - low cost low service high density seating - I have made mine.

I'm not surprised they have trouble processing refunds. Lack of capacity or lack of will?

Anyway, shouldn't it be the Spanish Government bailing them out if anyone does?

BA rant over. Time to get back to worrying about bigger things ....

(rants are a wonderful distraction as long as it isn't personal)
 

RogerS

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Richard_C":p5mohqp3 said:
... Why fly "the worlds favourite airline" when almost everybody else does a better job for the passenger?
....
When you've got enough Avios and a Companion Voucher simply by using your Amex card to fly Club around the World, Club to JFK and Concorde back, Club to India and back twice, Club to Japan and back twice....

Works for me :D
 

doctor Bob

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I stopped flying BA, when I thought I had been dished up a rather sad looking grated red leicester cheese sandwich.

On first bite I realised it was a grated carrot sandwich ............ FFS I had never ever contemplated making such a thing, why would the "worlds favourite airline" dish that shiite up.
 
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