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COMPLAINT: No Customer Service on Virgin Australia

 
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Old Dec 29, 2014, 3:59 AM
Lily Lily is offline
 
Join Date: Dec 2014
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Who hates getting on an airplane? Youíre going somewhere fun, getting away, different scene, exciting, fun, lots of reasons to feel good, but when did it get to be a pain in the backside to get there? Remember the old days, people were nice to you, gave you lots of little miniature things, like toothbrush, and tiny toothpaste in a tube. Back in the day, even the food was fun, and edible. You got snacks that were free, even an hour flight they managed to get to you twice with drinks.

I used to love to fly, even coach. Iíd go to Bali 2 or 3 times a year, load up on tons of great stuff, huge, weird wood carvings that actual caused chronic back problems for a good friend who carried them home for me on one occasion, but the point being that you could actually carry them home on the plane. We all got home safely, there were no hassles from the air lines, the tickets were cheap, the meals were edible, you went on a plane trip, and no one complained about anything. It was in the days before the Internet and you had to write real letters if you were ****** off about something, but there were no biggies, the airlines wanted to make us happy and comfortable and we were happy to be given what was real customer service.

Oh how I wish for those days again, I miss being smiled at genuinely and ground staff really caring that I had a good flight.

I flew Virgin Australia back to L.A. the other day; my first point of contact at check in was pretty little miss Stephanie. Youíve all met a pretty little miss Stephanie. Super young, super perky, super pretty, not a hair out of place, and all smiles, dressed in red, looked like she had just stepped out of a television commercial for Virgin Airlines, the kind of girl you could imagine Richard Branson hooking up with in real life. Perfect till she saw that I was a whole 1.4 lbs. overweight on the luggage scale. Can you imagine, I dared to weigh in 1.4 lb. overweight? Damn that extra pack of underwear I decided to buy just because it was so cute and so cheap Ė if I did not remove it, pretty little miss Stephanie was going to charge me $150! Mia culpa, I had a second bag, which they did allow, but that was a whole 1lb. overweight too, so I had to take a book out that I had no intention of reading on the plane. Whew, now I was just underweight on both bags. In all the excitement of not having to pay an extra $300, as I could carry on the 2 items I was forced to remove from my bag, I forgot the stupidity of the whole exercise. Wasnít I going to carry all of this onto the same plane anyway, so the weight onto the flight would be the same? I just got to keep $300 in my wallet instead of donating it to poor Mr. Richard Branson, who Iím sure could do without that extra bottle of French red, anyway. Seriously, why hassle passengers, if the stuff is going onto the plane anyway, but in a different bag? Seriously, I want to know!

I really think airlines would be much happier if the passengers just bought their tickets and didnít show up. Or do they really enjoy just making us sweat over the small stuff? Why bother to advertise, train lots of pretty little miss Stephanies, and call it customer service, when it is really training Ďto make life easier for airlinesí, customer service has nothing to do with it any more.

I have flown a lot, I have over 500,000 miles on United alone and almost that much on American, but this time, Virgin lured me with a lower price, and I thought, what the heck, without remembering why I had let my old Virgin miles expire without even putting up a fight to keep them.

Gosh darn but those pretty red uniforms look good, and everyone is so attractive and young, and eager and oh so happy, but it isnít because they want to serve you better, it because it is all about them! All those rules and regulations they know off by heart and have been so well schooled in, what passengers are allowed to do, what passengers are not allowed to do, how passengers need to behave and how to make us fit into their little boxes no matter who or what we wanted or needed.

Now I must disclose here, in the name of honesty that I have become accustomed to flying Business and First Class, and you donít get the kind of torture they save up and inflict on cattle class as Coach is so often and so aptly named, but it is not that I am comparing, I am just sharing my cattle class experience here, and I donít mean the tiny seats and discomfort of sitting for 14 hours in the middle seat, Iím talking about how you get treated before you even get to your seat. The Business and First Class stories are completely different and for another day. Iím just venting about how I was treated on my last trip from Melbourne to L.A. So before I leave that oh so wonderful memory of Business and First Class, just let me say, I really believe that unless you are sitting in Business or First Class, they really donít give a damn if you ever fly with them again.

To start with the adherence to strict luggage guidelines is at first just annoying, but when they start getting you to remove anything over a single pound in overweight it is ridiculous and annoying becomes infuriating when they threaten to charge you $150. The stuff is all traveling with you on the same flight, but all of a sudden your ticket price starts rising because you have packed an extra koala bear as a gift. So you start repacking your suitcase in the middle of the airport, with a line behind you, and the pretty, perfectly manicured and made up young little thing has no idea that the plane is carrying the exact same weight now, but you as a passenger no longer feel happy or excited to be going on their damn plane because for no real reason, no good reason, and no really practical reason you have had to open your bags to the world and rummage around repacking. Godís truth there was no more than a pound extra in each of my bags Ė but what if there had been 5 lbs. more, is that any reason to hassle and make me feel less than a welcome passenger already paying over $1,600 to even be on your stupid airplane?

I mentioned that I travelled a lot, well some of those trips I just had carry on, no checked luggage, and I noticed there were people like that around me too. People carry a lot less than allowed, as well as a lot more, doesnít it all equal out???? It used to when I felt comfortable flying. It used to when I felt like you really wanted me to fly with you. Weíre not talking 2 extra suitcases or commercial luggage, we are talking regular folks with friends and family they may want to bring gifts to, we are talking about extra clothes to make you feel good, clothes that may weigh more in winter than in summer, come on Virgin Airlines, when did rules and regulations become less negotiable that court settlements??? Isnít your boss Richard Branson an Ďout of the boxí type of guy that hates rules and regulations? You have those great big yellow and black Ďheavyí tags, the baggage handlers are not that precious, and have lifted a lot more than 23 lbs. before, especially when there are also some 10 and 15 lb. bags in there too. And if itís a sneaky way of getting more money for the airlines because you get to charge extra, shame on you! Not making customers feel warm and fuzzy about flying you again, it just sucks getting onto your plane, no matter how cute or smiley all your pretty little miss Stephanies are. Train them to be attuned to customer needs and expectations, not how to explain the rules in 3 different ways, which really translates to we donít care what you, our customers want, this is how we the airline want to do it, so you have to understand us, we donít need to understand you, you can go fly another airline. Iím telling you folks, no more pleasure in flying Virgin.

Now if all that isnít bad enough, they come up with more ways to torture you and spoil your experience with them. Remember my friend that brought my wooden Buddha back from Bali for me? It must have weighed 20 lb. on its own. Well, no such friends today. Brand new rule, your carry on has to be less than 7 lbs. and it has to be weighed. Now they really get you, check it in for $150 more or lose it! Seriously, new rule on Virgin Australia, so if you want to take your computer, book to read and all those other heavy and vital things that go in your carry on, wheeled case that makes it easier to schlep through the airport, now I was forced to pay $150 to put it in cargo or leave it.

Another bottle of French Champagne for Mr. Branson, and you are left with no good will for the flight attendants about to serve you for 14 hours on board your flight. No sorry, new rule we didnít tell you about, we will not charge you this time, oh no, that would be too much like actually providing a service for the customer, or something that used to be called customer service, this is just about our rules, our regulations, you canít get a refund on your ticket, you need to do as we tell you, you need to pay what we tell you, nothing you can do now, hahaha, just get into that cattle car and sit still for 14 hours and donít give us an excuse to bump you off the flight. Seriously, how many more ways will Virgin find to make my trip any worse before I have even gotten onto the plane???

Well let me tell you. Iím on an international flight, going to an international destination, but pretty little miss Stephanie doesnít think it is important to tell me that I need to go to the Domestic terminal to fly to Sydney first, she is happy for me to wander all the way over to the international terminal in the other building, and wait till I have gone through the whole security check thing, and waited in that great big long customs line, which requires wandering through miles of extra miles that wind round and round the huge hall, and get to the customs woman who takes a half hour staring at my passport and boarding pass before telling me I have it wrong, and need to be at the domestic, not the international terminal to catch my now leaving very soon flight to Sydney so I can then go through all of this waiting and walking again to get to my flight to L.A. , all this while wondering why pretty little miss Stephanie did not suggest putting my carry on case, which I was charged an extra $150 to ship in the cargo hold, into one of those big plastic bags or boxes, which would have made it much safer, as I had not packed it to ship but to carry with me. Great, now I had to worry about my computer and stuff opening and spilling all over the airport either here, in Sydney or when it arrived in L.A.!

So Iím now racing out of the international customs area, which is not as easy as racing into the international customs area, and rushing to my domestic flight to Sydney when I see a sign, which I should have realized is an oxymoron in an airport, proclaiming ĎVirgin Customer Serviceí Ė I donít know what idiotic instinct compelled me to go to this person at the window, perhaps I thought they might find that plastic bag for my previously meant carry on, perhaps they would find me a ride to my now departing gateway to my flight, perhaps they might apologize for the wasted time, frustration and effort I had already expended and not even stepped foot on one of their airplanes, I donít know what I expected at ĎVirgin Customer Serviceí but after looking at my boarding card, their service was to let me know that yes I was a customer who should not expect anything in the way of service as I now raced to my gate in the domestic terminal. Would it really have been so hard for pretty little Miss Stephanie to warn me that my gate was not just number 3 but that it was a domestic terminal gate number 3?

Had to go through security yet again, and got onto the flight, finally, flew into Sydney with no additional drama, but the international terminal is even further from the domestic one I flew into. Okay, taking a bus there was not a major hassle, but when you know the gate is as far away as it is, and you know the flight is already boarding, why on earth do you not provide a ride to the gate. Anyone that has been to Sydney international airport knows how far those gates are from the check in area at customs. Here is where you really need customer service to get you to your gate on time.

Now I love shopping as much as the next gal, and there are some mighty good shops in airports that I am happy to browse through for hours, when I have those hours to browse, but when you are announcing my flight to L.A. is leaving, and there is not a single cart I can hitch a ride on to that gate, I am again wondering what you mean by customer service!!!!

There was a generic Ďtraveller help deskí, the woman was kind enough to take my name and let the gate people know I was coming, but I was already irritated, tired and exhausted and since my carry-on which had the wheels and made life easier to maneuver around an airport, was now sprawled open all over the cargo hold, I was making my way down to that gateway with a heavy bag on my shoulder (might even be more than 7lbs) pretty little Miss Stephanie had not weighed it, and not a wheeled anything in sight to help out.

Pretty little miss Stephanie told me that she would lose her job if she let any hand luggage through that was over 7 lbs. Listen Virgin airlines, this is not a complaint about pretty little miss Stephanie, although the no instructions to the correct domestic gateway was not very nice, this is about your attitude and your training of employees.

I get you have to have rules and regulations for an airline, but if all you are doing is teaching the rules and regulations with out the customer service part, you deserve the bad comments you get about your airline. If you are really punishing employees for not enforcing the rules you are the major problem. You need to look at what passengers want and need, and I am not talking about Business and First Class passengers, I am talking specifically about coach passengers, because there are a whole lot more of us. When dealing with heavy luggage, remember there are those with light luggage too, and it all evens out. When charging those extra luggage fees, remember that what you might get now in dollars costs you in good will and word of mouth stories that last a lot longer than the $150 you extort. I understand that heavy carry on may be a safety hazard in overheads but letís find solutions that are really a service to your customers, like unloading heavy stuff into plastic bags that go in with luggage without a hefty charge. 14-hour flights are bad enough in cramped middle seats without all the hassle just getting onto the plane.

I have seen huge difference in service and meals on these long haul flights, and I donít complain once I am in the air. I sit quietly and take it, no matter which class of service I am flying, but you have to do a lot better at your first point of contact in the airline terminals.
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