Thursday, May 12, 2005

I'm O-podo sorry about all this...

You may like to read about this in chronological order. If you do then try: here, here, here, here, here, oh and not forgetting here. Although I suspect that most of you, if not all, are as sick to the back teeth as I am about it. There are more than I realised too.

You can either read on, or take the day off - go on, feel free. I'll see those of you that abstain tomorrow, where hopefully I may have reverted back to more inane ramblings about spiders and shit.

One more for now though,

Trot on:

11th May 2005
Katie Powell
Opodo Limited
PO Box 6589
LE1 3ZZ.

Dear Ms Powell

Thank you for your letter dated 29th April. It’s strange that it didn’t arrive at my house until the 10th May. I’m getting used to things happening with Opodo a week after they should have happened. I’m beginning to believe that Opodo is located in its own little time zone where it’s a week later than the rest of the world. Which would actually explain quite a lot.

Anyway, the other strange thing is that the letter also seems to be a page short, or even two. The page(s) that are missing are, I presume, the one(s) where it actually answers the questions that I posed.

Or maybe I didn’t make it clear that they were questions. So I’ll take the liberty of asking them again. For ease of understanding I’ll start them all with ‘Why’, so you can be in no doubt that they are questions and as such, need answering:

1) Why was it that the first time I knew that I wasn’t booked on a flight that Opodo said I was booked on, was when I tried to check in for the flight, at an airport in a foreign country? I know what the airline did – I want to know why YOUR COMPANY didn’t contact me straight away to save me the hassle of travelling all the way to the airport for the flight that your company knew I wasn’t booked on 3 days before.

2) Why is it that your company didn’t arrange for me to be put on another flight, when you realised that I wasn’t booked on the flight that you told me I was booked on, the same 3 days before? Why was it left to me to take time out of my holiday to sort something I’d paid you to do?

3) Why as a result, was I then left to wander around the airline desks at the previously mentioned ‘airport in a foreign country’ on my holiday asking them in my ‘pigeon Thai’ whether they would mind checking whether I happened to be booked on any of their flights that day? When I’d paid Opodo some time prior to do all this for me.

4) Why it is that your internal procedures are so lax that it took until an hour before I boarded a plane on my holiday to sort out the above problem with a further flight on said holiday that was initially highlighted over a week prior, taking this long simply because an operator was ‘off sick’? Being the sole reason, to anyone in possession of a brain, for the entire catalogue of cock ups.

5) Why it is that no-one else could have dealt with the issue that ‘buck-passing’ Amanda left on my answer phone whilst in the air on a Friday, essentially saying that there wasn’t much else that could be done about my flight, because she wasn’t back in work till the following. Monday? Does only one person work at Opodo? Do you close for the weekend?

6) 6) Why have you effectively charged me for the privilege of running around Bangkok airport, wasting almost a day of my holiday in the process, clearing up the remnants of your inability to manage a flight booking? It would have been less hassle to turn up on spec whilst naked.

Shall I answer them for you? Well from the looks of it your internal procedures are shot to pieces. Easy. And I don’t even work there. These are just some examples of this off the top of my head:

* No-one else was able to call me in the absence of an operator being off sick,
* No-one else was able to deal with a cancelled flight because an operator was off for the weekend, and
* No-one was blessed with the initiative to think that I might need to be contacted when it turns out that I wasn’t booked on a flight you told me I was booked on, whilst in a foreign country.

You should be imagining me shouting now.

And I’m sure I could think of more examples, which I’d tell you if I could be certain that I wasn’t wasting my time on a company that takes consumers money in exchange for old rope, before ducking out of the consequences when the questions get a bit too difficult to understand.

So after that you can see why I’d prefer the answers rather than compensation if it’s all the same to you, as the latter would require me to risk going through all this again by using a £50 compensation flight voucher on a company with ‘previous’ when it comes to crap service.

Maybe the missing page(s) didn’t answer my questions at all, maybe instead there was just a paragraph which said something along the lines of: “We’re really sorry Mr Watski, our procedures failed, please forgive us”. That would be nice. I’d be happy with that. But I’d guess that the likelihood of you admitting what we both know happened is even less likely than the likelihood of actually getting some answers.

I’ve read your letter Ms Powell, I’ve read it a couple of times. I have even held it up to the light to see if there are any hidden words. But as many times as I read it, look at it upside down or translate it into Swahili, I still can’t seem to see any answers at all to my letter of the 19th April 2005. Maybe you could point them out to me if they’re there as I’m obviously missing something.

Yes you tell me that the airline ‘did this’ and the airline ‘did that’, as I guess airlines are always doing – but it’s the way that your department handled the aftermath of the airline’s changes that I’m really interested in the detail of, as I guess your CEO would be too if he’s truly consumer focussed. I’m interested because that is the part that has inconvenienced me the most. It can’t be coincidence that you got it wrong on almost EVERY step of the way.

You also say that you understand my frustrations. You haven’t got a clue. Otherwise you’d help me in getting to the bottom of the reasons for your company seriously inconveniencing me on my holiday. I would be willing to meet you to discuss the answers to these questions if you so wish.

I’m not interested in compensation Ms Powell and frankly I’m offended that you think its compensation and not answers that will bring this matter to an end. I am a paying customer after all, lest you forget.

It’s not difficult Ms Powell. In fact it’s quite easy.

Mr Watski

PS. Mr Vincent, I’ve copied you in on this in the hope that your intervention might at least start getting me some answers as to why I was set adrift on the other side of the world. I’m also interested in your observations as to how you would feel if all the above had happened to you and your family. Not that I think for one minute that they would happen to the erstwhile CEO of a travel company, at least not his own travel company anyway.

PPS. Thank you for the contact details of IATA, I had already taken the liberty of contacting them after seeing their logo on your literature – they actually seem to be of less use than your company, which is a remarkable achievement in itself. They should be congratulated. It must have taken years of practice.

I am unsure why you promote the fact to consumers that you are affiliated to the IATA in your livery, when the only people that seem to benefit from being affiliated are the members themselves. From what I can gather the IATA is nothing more than a Travel agents talking shop which gives accreditation out over coffee, but ultimately serves no end benefit to consumers whatsoever.

Simon Vincent – CEO Opodo