Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Letter to Opodo

Dear Sir/Madam

In February I booked flights from Heathrow to Bangkok International Airport and back, also booking connecting flights to Phuket and back at around the same time - all to take place within the dates 1st April 2005 to 17th April 2005.

Last Thursday afternoon (24th March) I was contacted by a lady from Opodo called Lisa who left a message on my answerphone informing me that my flight from Bangkok to Phuket, at 10.50am on the 4th April had been cancelled and could I ring back to discuss whether a change to 1700 would be good, or alternatively a change to another airline.

That change is not good, convenient or anything. Apart from a pain. But then it could be dealt with.

I called back straight away on Thursday afternoon, the person I spoke to couldn't get hold of someone in Lisa's department and promised that I would be called back later that day.

The following day, Good Friday arrived. I, seemingly along with the rest of the Great Britain population, departed on a weekend break - with the vast majority of them seemingly going my way too. I decided to take my holiday details with me so that I could be informed about any specifics if contacted by Opodo. I rang again on the way there in the afternoon, and got the seemingly standard response.

"I can't get through to the GDS? team, someone will call you back today"

'Does this team exist' I wondered to myself.

Easter Saturday arrived and whilst taking a leisurely, if rainy walk around Holt in Norfolk I thought I'd break off to ring Opodo again. After being cut off (I'm sure it was a mistake), I rang back and again, no-one from GDS was available to talk to me, and even if they could, the airline would be closed till Tuesday so could not confirm any changes till then apparently. Nice job if you can get it. I wondered who was flying the planes. Not my problem.

"You'll forgive me if I don't place much faith in the fact that I'll be getting a phone call back from you do you? I've been told that before. You do promise it will happen don't you?" I said to the person on the end who promised lots, but delivered very little. Can you detect a theme? It turns out he had no intention of arranging a call back.

Tuesday arrived. During this period of time thousands of years ago Jesus Christ was crucified, stuck behind a rock, then arose from the dead before tucking into a load of Easter eggs - if you believe that kind of thing. A bit of an inconvenience I'm sure you'd agree, but in the present day Opodo can't seem to find sufficient motivation to call a customer back, when they promised. I reckon Jesus ought to come and work at your place for a weekend - he'd certainly shake things up a bit there.

I rang again on Tuesday afternoon, exasperatedly explained to the poor person on the other end what had happened, and what was going to happen, i.e, that we were going to get this sorted there and then. Amazingly this secret password got me through to the mythical GDS team (do only angry customers get through?) who crushed my enthusiasm immediately by saying that he could do nothing till 12 midday the following day (today), which was when Lisa came in and that he would call me back at 1pm at the latest once he had spoken to her.

Tell me. Is there a buck passing course that you good people at Opodo have to go on? I bet the people on the GDS team all passed with top marks - you must be very proud.

He also said he was doing all manner of impressive sounding things like putting notes on my account that only he and the airline could see. But ultimately they all proved futile and 'all talk' as the time is now 4pm and I still have had no phone call. I'd put money on me not getting one until I actually ring too.

Today is Wednesday, it is the afternoon. I leave my home at 6am on Friday morning (38 hours from now) to depart on a holiday, on which I'm not sure whether I actually have a connecting flight or not - even though I booked one. The worrying thing is that I don't think the good people at Opodo can tell me whether I have or not either, or at least are wondering whether they can be bothered to tell me.

I have people picking me at Phuket airport at the time the original flight is due to land. I can't tell them anything. They're going to be very disappointed when I'm not there, not as disappointed as me though - but I guess they'll shrug their shoulders and smile, as seems to be the Thai way of dealing with problems.

I'm not Thai though. And I won't be feeling like smiling - I can assure you of that.

I'd love to hear your excuses - but frankly I can't be arsed. And I don't want to hear some out of breath operator call me back within minutes of you receiving this email and pull all sorts of reasons and lies out of thin air about how they've been trying to sort it out for the last week - when the real reason is that it's taken me to complain before someone can actually be bothered to get something done.

You should be ashamed of your service. If you could be bothered.

Sort it out. Now.

Update - Thursday morning: I have now sent the following letter on to them.

Dear Sir/Madam

You may recall that I sent you this letter yesterday at around 4.30pm.

I'd just like to remind you that it is in fact a letter of complaint and complaints traditionally require a some sort of action before the complainant dies of old age.

Should I expect too see some solution today, or am I better transferring that hope onto something more achievable, like world peace for instance?

Yours Faithfully