Charles Howden

April 4, 2007

Too much too ask?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Charles @ 5:11 pm

This weekend was the first time I have used Ryanair. I was curious when I started because through the previous week, anytime I mentioned Ryanair, I was met with variations of “Ryanair? I hate them”, “Ryanair? I’ll never fly with them”, “**** Ryanair”. With an intro like that, I couldn’t, not be curious.

I had been warned that 15kg weight allowance for checked-in luggage might be a problem. I packed sparingly, in a heavy case, and when I arrived near the check in, I looked for some scales to check the weight so that if my bag was overweight, I might move some of it to my hand luggage. On checking in, however I tried to gently let my bag down with a supporting index finger, the scales still read 18kg. A moderately friendly to warming telling off and we escaped a surcharge and onto the plane with the help (or not) of cabin crew who looked more interested in chewing their gum, than in smiling at us and making us feel at home, and off we went.

Coming home and my bag had gained a couple of kilos so I paid a surcharge of €24. Ouch, though I hadn’t been charged on the way out, so probably, despite the irritation, all-square.

On the plane and my round of drinks challenged the amount of available change. “I’ll owe you £3.00”, Ok by me, I don’t need it right now. Half an hour later and the drinks trolley passed me going in the opposite direction having finished its journey up and down the aisle. No change. Five minutes later and a member of the cabin staff walked up the aisle with what looked like a plastic mug of cash takings. No takings. My travelling partner asked if I really was expecting my change to be returned. Actually I was.

After an hour, my customer service project was outliving its interest. When another member of the cabin staff walked past I took the opportunity of asking “I think your drinks trolley owes me £3.00” “I’ll go and check” was the polite reply. I was hopeful. Half an hour later, with the tangible feelings of a flight in descent mode and I was becoming less hopeful. I was in luck as another member of staff walked past. “Your drinks trolley left owing me £3.00, I have already asked one of your colleagues to find it for me. What do I need to do to get my money back?” “Oh let me find it for you” pause “Just wait a minute”. So I did. In fact I waited seven, when a different member of the crew came walking down the aisle jangling change. “I think that’s probably mine” I volunteered, offering my upturned palm. Without a word he gave me £3.00 and walked off.

People forget, things get overlooked, stuff happens for sure. In life, what generally puts these situations right, is ¬an apology, an acknowledgement, a recognition of an inconvenience caused. Too much to ask? Apparently, for the team of that Ryanair flight, yes it was.

I’m not in the “Ryanair? I hate them” camp, life’s too short. I am in the “Ryanair, I’ll fly with someone else first if I can” camp. And that is my point. Manners are not just a matter of human decency. They are an essential part of customer service which companies ignore at their peril.

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