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.
Hello Marc, thank you for sharing this with us via twitter. Feedback is always welcome, since it helps us to improve our services. The case you are presenting here is interesting and we would like to further investigate. Therefore it would be good to get in touch with Mr. Slager personally. We will send you a direct message on Twitter asking for his contact details. Thank you in advance!
Thanks for getting in touch, I sent you Xander’s contact details by Twitter DM.
hey marc, KLM replied asking me to report to them in the future, no apologies, no free upgrades. was hoping for that especially as this is legally not correct to offer at a price and cancelling with a lie when i tried to pay.
Xander, I am surprised that KLM did not even apologize. Its a shame how they treat their best customers when things go wrong, we pay them tens of thousands of dollars per year and they just take that for granted. They seem to think that they can get away with everything. If they don’t even want say sorry it may be time with some lawyer friends if we might have a case against them? Not for the money but out of principle, they think they can get away with everything. Pure arrogance from a big company vs. a small customer, I really hope unitedstyles will never make this mistake!
This is the solution of the problem: gathered from experience of some 100+ travellers over past 2 years, the best deal on way to Europe, together with great service (and 30kg luggage limit, which is interesting for us down there in slave-class) is Turkish Airlines. You can even arrange a night in Istanbul. 🙂
The stellar service still for a great price is with Emirates, only downsize is long waiting times in Dubai.
I like KLM thanks to the amount of flights they offer each day (i hate to arrive to China before noon…) and their coverage – sometimes it is useful to be able to leave directly from some smaller city without need to fly first to BJ/SHG/HK. But their airplanes are the oldest in existence and the food (in slave-class) …
On the good side, once i ordered special meal, KLM did not deliver – and the steward on the plane offered as an apology a voucher which i could exchange for different options, including 2000 miles, which was nice considering how much miles actually cost.