Cathay Pacific – you have lost a customer
I have always been a Cathay Pacific fan – well maybe not always. There was a time when the Cathay stewardesses didn’t treat women business travellers with the same respect and decorum as they did the male traveller and that used to annoy the hell out of me. But either the number of women business travellers have increased over time thus forcing a change in the attitude of stewardesses or the CX training has focused on bringing about this positive change. Anyway, suffice it to say that I was until recently a very satisfied Cathay Pacific customer.
So what happened to change all that? Well, this time when I was traveling to San Francisco I decided to fly Cathay Pacific. Since I had some frequent flyer miles available I upgraded myself on the outgoing sector to business class. I enjoyed the comfort so much that on the return journey I went online to the Cathay Pacific site to upgrade the return journey although I had to pay a little for the upgrade. Sound simple? I thought so. Apparently it wasn’t.
The upgrade wasn’t reflected in my online booking so I asked my brother who lives in Hong Kong to talk to CX and find out why the change was not reflected. In response to this they checked and told him that it was done.
A happy ending you would think. No it wasn’t – it was the beginning of a nightmare. Apparently what CX had done was that instead of upgrading me on the sector they had issued a new business class ticket and charged me for it. How or why was this done, you might ask. Well, when I checked with CX on landing in Hong Kong, I was informed that I should never have used the online mechanism for the upgrade. Isn’t that what it is there for, I asked? I was told quite rudely that passengers were not expected to use the service – that it only resulted in messing up things. And because my brother had made the call as a follow up, they said the instructions had been duplicated resulting in two tickets (Economy & Business) being valid on the same day, on the same flight, same passenger name, same Passport number, same Marco Polo Club number instead of a simple upgrade from Economy to Business.
Whereas I can understand that mistakes happen, the rudeness and total inflexibility with which the Cathay Pacific team dealt with the problem at Chep Lap Kwok airport – the counter staff as well as the Supervisor – put me off traveling CX. I thought that the customer was always right. In this case the deaf ears of the airline staff proved that customer service is not of any importance to what used to be one of the best airlines in the world. It’s really sad. To win a customer takes a lot of effort but to lose them it takes but a moment of rudeness. Has Cathay Pacific forgotten that as a customer, I have a choice of many airlines and that my satisfaction or otherwise with their service can influence my decision and the decision of many people in my network?
Since they were aware that I could use only one ticket on that flight from SFO to Hong Kong to Karachi, wouldn’t it have been easier to accept the mistake of their online system & staff, and refund the economy portion? They would have lost nothing by doing that and would have in fact gained the gratitude and loyalty of an existing customer.
This happened to me last June and only now have I been able to write about it. That shows how upset I was and have been since then. I didn’t even want to think about it. CX turned what had been a wonderful business trip to San Francisco and personal stopover in Hong Kong into a frustrating and annoying experience. I didn’t expect this of you Cathay Pacific.