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COMPLAINT: KLM request they stop sending me advertising

 
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  #1  
Old Dec 3, 2011, 8:11 AM
uksimon88 uksimon88 is offline
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Kent. UK
Posts: 4

Some years ago I went on a short holiday to Japan. During that holiday my mother sadly died. I had a fixed, and unchangeable ticket for a later date with KLM and I asked the KLM Tokyo office if there was anything I could do to return home as soon as possible explaining to them the sad event I had just experienced. I explained my understanding the restrictions that were attached to my ticket but I was on limited funds and asked for some consideration. They flatly refused to accept this saying I could not use this ticket, in anyway and there was nothing they could do to help other than to offer a single ticket home at the full fare (a substantial amount of money). I suggested, as a compromise, that I would go to the Airport and wait standby and if there was an empty seat perhaps I could travel, again this was refused and there was no compassion or understanding of my plight, in fact the way I was spoken to was cold, arrogant and rude. I purchased another ticket via Virgin Atlantic that was almost half the price offered by KLM and returned home for my motherís funeral.
When complaining to KLM customer care (?) in London they were very unsympathetic and even suggested that this was my fault as I did not have any travel insurance, as a further excuse they stated only business class seats were available, (even though Tokyo offered to sell me full fare economy). As a way of a cheap and heartless olive branch KLM London offered to return the unused portion of the ticket (the return fare) but, only providing I supply a copy of my Motherís Death Certificate proving my mother actually died. From that moment I requested KLM to cease all advertising to me, I closed my frequent flyer account and requested they donate all my air miles to the President and CEO of KLM.
Advertising did stop, until recently when it has started again into my email account, and rather frequent. Do I have the right to take action to stop this? Any suggestions welcome.
Thank you
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  #2  
Old Dec 3, 2011, 9:34 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Shropshire, England
Posts: 3,197

You are entitled to have your record removed in it's entirity from their database. Asking them not to send you advertising is a bit ambiguous, but if you did this in writing and they are not complying, this is a breach of the Data Protection Act. You should write to them again formally advising them that you have previously requested to be removed from their database and that you are now receiving mail from them and advise them if this continues you will report the matter to the Information Commissioner. Contact the Information Commissioner:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire SK9 5AF
Tel: 0303 123 1113 (or 01625 545745 if you would prefer not to call an Ď03í number, or +44 1625 545745 if calling from overseas)
Fax: 01625 524510

The attempt's of airlines to gouge people, at a time of crisis, is sickening.
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  #3  
Old Dec 3, 2011, 10:27 AM
uksimon88 uksimon88 is offline
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Kent. UK
Posts: 4

Many thanks Jim for your advice. I did in fact send the original request formerly by mail, perhaps I should re-send with an attachment advising what you have suggested.
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  #4  
Old Dec 5, 2011, 12:53 AM
BKK_FLYER BKK_FLYER is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
Posts: 42

Hi,

First and foremost sympathies for your loss..

Speaking to how you say it was handled, I will say that it appears- only from what you've written and without the benefit of seeing your tickets fare rules and the like, that the airline did act in accordance with their posted and disclosed policy.

Could they have shown empathy? Absolutely.. but I also think that there's some element of equality to be spoken to.. I will tell you from an airlines point of view, once we start to make exceptions to rule, it can and often does become a "you did it for X, why not me?" situation.. and since in many cases we can't make it a flat blanket policy, the decision is made to simply say no. Is this the right way to address it? I don't think so.. but I also recognize the issues with running a business who conducts so many transactions and the need for some level of consistency in rule and application thereof.

I do however, think that all things considered your offered solution of going standby would have been one I'd have approved.. Sure, it was probably off-book, but I think it would be the best win-win for everyone..

As to the notion that agents were cold, unsympathetic, rude or the like.. None of us were there to hear who said what to whom and how.. but I will say that this absolutely does happen from time to time.. but .. I also know that for some people not getting the answer they want, hope or expect, can be perceived, rightly or wrongly, as rude or unsympathetic.. To me it's not so much as WHAT'S said that makes it rude or the like, its HOW it it's said.

When I speak to a passenger I am very careful that I'm not perceived as being unsympathetic but on the other-side of the spectrum, not patronizing either.. it's a fine line... but i do think that there's a difference between the notions of "didn't get what I wanted" and "was rude about it"... Rude is not acceptable... period.. and that goes for both parties..

As to the issue of being told about insurance.. I think I know where the agent was thinking or trying to going with that.. but I think that at that moment it's not the right time or place to bring it up..

Yes, in many travel cases having insurance would have helped mitigate the issue, but I generally don't like to bring up the fact that you (the passenger) don't have it due to the exact reason you describe-- it's commonly see as an attack-the-victim issue.. There's a right time to talk about it, but right then and there when your in the thick of it with the passenger isn't it.
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  #5  
Old Dec 5, 2011, 9:14 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Shropshire, England
Posts: 3,197

Hi BKK,
Welcome to the forum. I agree with much of what you say and it is certainly the case that travellers need to insure themselves against this kind of eventuality. However, there are a number of options the airline could take to help in circumstances such as this.

First, a death in the immediate family is clearly a highly distressing event. As soon as an agent is notified by the passenger this has occurred, it should perhaps be passed to a supervisor. Crass "advice" to buy insurance is insensitive and unnecessary.

Second, the airline could have a policy which charges for a new ticket for example, which will be refunded when the passenger is able to send a copy of the death certificate. This would protect the airline from fraud, but at least recognise the needs of the passenger.

We seem to have developed a tendancy for any compassion or discretion to be applied and as we do so, we become a less caring and empathetic society. I hope and expect that individuals will act in a compassionate way to people in crisis... I would hope that our corporate citizens would do the same.
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  #6  
Old Dec 5, 2011, 12:23 PM
BKK_FLYER BKK_FLYER is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
Posts: 42

Hi,

Jim, I agree that there is a lot of things that CAN be done (and I say to differentiate from what MUST be done-- can is discretionary, must means required) in these situations..

As I mentioned earlier, I think you and I are of the same general mindset that bringing up insurance-- at that point-- would generally not be a productive thing to do.. I would liken it to the notion that your house is on fire.. you call the fire department/brigade.. they show up and rather than turn on the water, they ask you if you had or have insurance.. at that specific point in time, with the house on active fire, is not the right time to be asking about that..

Kind of the same way.. Yes, there is a valid point to be made about having insurance.. but to bring it up right then and there I think could be seen in a bad light (as it appears the OP has taken it) but I also think, without the benefit of being there to see/hear the conversation, that the INTENT was not one of disrespect, intentionally designed to be insensitive or the like..

This does not negate how the OP felt about or viewed it, only that in my mind, there is somewhat a difference between someone who asks or does things FULL WELL knowing they will be seen as such, versus someone who simply did so based on bad timing or the like.

My only other take away is this.. and it's not a reflection to the OP or the like.. I will say that there IS a minority percentage-- and again, yes it IS a small percentage-- of the population out there who does actively seek to abuse (that's knowingly and with malice) these kinds of discretionary waivers.

I've seen first hand examples of a person who claimed a variety of emergencies-- only to see that they've flown the very next day or otherwise, even after their stated emergency required their presence on the ground.

I've been in more than my share of meetings where things like this-- an optional wavier policy-- were discussed and the issue of "how do we administer this?" question is raised.. and commonly the issue of since a few have/are/do abuse it, how do we address this? is asked.. and the (unfortunate) answer is in many cases, to simply say no to all..

I don't personally think this is the right way to deal with it.. since we all know it not EVERYONE who is abusing it, but I can also cede that it is important to root out those who are abusing it... and sometimes the overall easier way to be consistent in the matter is to simply say no.

Travel Safe,
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  #7  
Old Dec 5, 2011, 1:06 PM
uksimon88 uksimon88 is offline
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Kent. UK
Posts: 4

Hello BKK

The ticket I had was very restricted, it was non refundable, and allowed no date or route changes, I totally understood this and realised this would be a problem from the offset in trying to return home earlier, that is why I tried to negotiate with KLM to see if there was a way around this restriction without having to purchase a brand new ticket. Yes I should have had insurance for that trip as I usually do, but on this occassion I simply did not have insurance and therefore at the mercy of an airline agent that would not budge. I have a lengthy experience flying with most of the major airlines around the world for both personal and business travel and I have catalogue of stories to tell, some will make you fall off your chair and others will possibly cause that mouthful of morning coffee to come out flying all over your poor computer screen.
But of those many experiences nothing could have prepared me for the lack of compassion shown here and the coldness of the response I received. I totally understand that airlines have their rules and restrictions and the reasons these are in place, but when you have a passenger that is not "demanding" to get on a flight, but while explaining his plight he is trying to work with the airline to find a solution to get on a flight back home then I think there is little room for supporting this cold customer care.
Forgive the negative but there was a way KLM could have helped me here they just could not be bothered to see past "their' ticketing rules and regulations, it is a plain and as simple as that. For an airline to hide behind these rules and restrictions at a time such as this, is in my mind unforgivable, hence my wish to have nothing to do with that airline ever again.
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Old Dec 5, 2011, 1:37 PM
BKK_FLYER BKK_FLYER is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
Posts: 42

Hi,

UK, I give you a lot of credit for being able to see the greater story.. a lot of people can't or won't see that their is a larger story in play..

I agree that over the years the airlines have progressively done away with staffs' ability to do what I call "waivers and favors"... some say it's because this created a revenue drop-- and I'm sure to some extent this was true as in most all cases the waiver is from a fee and the favor avoids a fee.. and in other cases the waivers and favors were abused..

but here's my larger take away... I don't agree that the better answer is just to take it away from everyone.. Why not drill down to actually SEE who (staff) are abusing it and deal with those people-- there won't be all that many of them.. or make the policy more clear... and deal with those select few who then choose not to adhere to them.. but in the end, give your people on the front line some ability to solve problems so that we can create what I call win-win outcomes..

I see nothing wrong with that... Airlines are not charities.. we operate for a profit.. and that's the way is should be.. we have shareholders who have put us their assets in the expectation we maximum returns on their invested capital.. so to that end, as a general notion I support consistent adherence to policy.. One common 'gripe' I hear fairly often is "why did they do it in X city but not city Y?" or inconsistency..

BUT.. I also think that there ARE times--- such as yours where it's an overall net win for everyone for a reasonable, well thought out, and justified exception were to be made.. again, look for a win-win... but I also think that we (airlines) have to be judicious in the discretion of this and use it only when it's truly warranted.
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  #9  
Old Dec 5, 2011, 3:25 PM
uksimon88 uksimon88 is offline
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Kent. UK
Posts: 4

BKK...
I think all this comes down to is good old fashioned common sense.....Go to a restaurant and have cause to complain, steak not cooked the right way, order took too long, whatever.. The manager comes over and says here's a couple of drinks on the house, you will never ever remember what you complained about, but .... You will not stop talking about that restaurant.

Year's ago there were airlines that had that mentality, pity most have lost it.
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  #10  
Old Dec 5, 2011, 3:38 PM
BKK_FLYER BKK_FLYER is offline
Airline Employee (NOT OFFICIAL REP)
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
Posts: 42

Uk,

On this we agree... The other thing I've notes over the years is what I call compensation creep.. back "in the day" passengers requests for compensation were, IMHO, far more realistic and in line with terms of what the problem was.. and back in the day, I, as a front-line management person back then, to sign-off on that kind of stuff with little other needed input..

Today, I find far too commonly what I like the call the "2 first" demand.. or two free round/return trip tickets, and in First Class.. I kid you not, I hear this with all to disturbingly regularity for events that are not even in the most remote way even close to that in terms of reasonable compensation levels..

and the unfortunate by-product of this can be an agents or passengers unwillingness to negotiate to a more reasonable level or compensation or the passenger viewing us, and our denial of their 2-first demand, as being rude, hostile or the like... and/or the agent seeing the passenger as just another gold-digger... both viewpoints do nothing to enhance our working relationship.

Last edited by BKK_FLYER; Dec 5, 2011 at 3:40 PM.
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