During Chinese New Year my family and I had a holiday in Malaysia, and we took Air Asia for that trip. I was quite positive about the airlines (see also my blog post about the trip) and planned to use them again. That has changed in the mean time.
When I received my credit card statement in February I noticed that Air Asia charged me two times for the flights, instead of USD 3000 I paid them USD 6000. Looking back I should have immediately canceled the booking on my credit card, but I made the mistake of contacting the airline about it (or actually, my travel agent helped me and did this for me). They asked us to send them some materials to prove that there was a double payment and they would take care of it. After waiting for two weeks or so we did not hear anything, so we called them again. The reaction: we never received your email… What can you say? So we sent them the info once more, and this time they received it. When we again did not hear anything and informed what was going on, we were told we had to wait 30 working days to get a reply. I was very unhappy with this, but decided to play it nice and wait.
Of course after 30 days still no answer from Air Asia, so our travel agent called them again. This time the answer was that they get hundreds of emails and that we would have to wait for an additional 30 working days starting April 17. The travel agent asked me what she should do, and I decided to make a phone call myself.
Customer support employee Mr. Loong Jian had the bad luck to get me on the phone. I calmly explained the situation and demanded to get the money back immediately. They had been sitting on USD 3000 that belongs to me for over 3 months, and I told him that I do not accept any more excuses and want the full amount back straight away. He apologized a couple of times and said he would look into it. He put me on hold for a while and then told me that finance was processing it now, and that I had to wait and check next month’s credit card statement.
I repeated that I did not want to wait anymore, I had been waiting for way too long already without any communication from their side. I asked to get a written confirmation either by email or fax that the money would be on its way to me. He could not give that to me he said, so I asked to speak to his manager. Loong Jian told me that he was not sure if a manager was available but I insisted. So he put me on hold for over 5 minutes, but when the music finally stopped he was back on the line. There was no manager available to speak to me is what he told me…
Now I was really getting pissed, and I made that very clear to him. This is not the way you treat your customers! I told him I would not hang up until I would be able to speak to a manager. He probably thought I was bluffing but soon found out I had no intention to hang up, I had been waiting long enough. Then he said that he would end the conversation from his side. I could not believe what I heard – he wanted to hang up on me! I know a thing or two about call centers, and they do not like it if customers ask for managers. But I also know there is always a manager available in case things escalate. So I told him that hanging up on me would only make the situation more difficult, and that I would also make trouble for him. He then said he would put me on hold again, which I did not agree to. He solved that one in a nice way by putting me on mute! Well, at least I did not have to listen to the stupid music anymore.
My strategy worked, because eventually (after another 5 to 10 minutes) I got his team leader on the phone, Ms. Lee SC. She had received better training than her employees, and with her I was able to come to a solution soon. She promised that they would send my travel agent a written confirmation today that the money would be wired back to me. That’s what I was looking for, now let’s hope that Air Asia will keep its word and that the USD 3000 will be back in my account soon. Too bad the whole thing cost me 40 minutes, but without it I may have never received the money.
I Twittered about it while on the phone and also copied Air Asia’s Twitter account (@airasiablog) on it a few times. No reaction from them so far, it will be interesting to see how good they are at using Web 2.0 and reacting to clients. Their customers support certainly s*cks, and they clearly did not invest in training their call center staff. I’ve had it with Air Asia and likely won’t use them anymore. If a company does not treat its customers with respect they don’t deserve my money.
Update: Air Asia sent me an email that I will have to wait another 30-60 working days before I can get my money back (see my blog post about this). That theoretically might mean another 3 months of waiting for my money! Air Asia may be a low cost airline (one reason why I tried them out), but if this is the way they treat their customers in order to keep costs low they won’t see me back. Next time I will fly Malaysia Airlines again to Kuala Lumpur.