One of my business partners at unitedstyles, Xander Slager, was booking a ticket for a return trip Amsterdam-Shanghai when he got a very low price for the ticket. To be precise, he could book a return flight for only CNY 1621 (less than EUR 200). I have taken this roundtrip at least 70 or 80 times over the past years and I never paid less than EUR 500, so this seemed to good to be true. Xander flies even more than I do on this route so when he saw the price he took a picture of the screen before going to the payment screen.
To his surprise he was able to pay and finalize the order in the next screen. He was happy to see that of course but because he still felt something must be wrong he took another picture.
And then… he got the message that the ticket had just been sold. Instead of a ticket for CNY 1721 (incl. tax) he could buy one for CNY 14,415! That seems like a more usual price for a ticket that you buy a few days in advance, but that’s not the point of this blog post.
Companies make mistakes, that’s fine. But don’t lie to the customer if that happens. Because that is exactly what happened here. As an experienced ticket booker Xander had both the klm.com Chinese and Dutch version open to take advantage of possible price differences. And that’s where something went wrong, because KLM suddenly showed the EUR price as CNY in the screen (the last price of CNY 14,415 is exactly EUR 1721). And they let Xander pay for this price (good for him), except that they probably had some internal red flag that shows up if a ticket price seems too low. And then? Well then they just tell the customer that the ticket was just booked by someone else. Total bullsh*t of course.
KLM is one of the best airlines in social media, they have come a long way over the years and they have surprised me (literally) with their social media events. But this sort of thing should not happen. If you find an internal error just tell the customer that something went wrong. They may not like it, but it’s better than telling your customer a lie. Don’t say that someone else booked the ticket for this price, because that is just not true.
KLM, if I am wrong feel free to show me that at that exact moment someone else booked a ticket for this extremely low price. I will take this post down right away and do a follow-up post with apologies with copies on Twitter & Facebook. If not I hope you can give Xander at least an upgrade on one of these flights. As a long time Platinum Elite member I think he deserves better than this from you.