Friday, 3 July 2009

Qatar Airways - Quite Awful more like

I'm writing this from the airport - I should have been on a flight 2 hours ago but I'm now waiting for the next one to the UK so I'll use this additional time to vent my spleen about Qatar Airways atrocious policies and customer service.

I booked a return flight to the UK a couple of months ago, on a UK credit card. Nothing too unusual about that I hear you say. Well I just so happened to lose my wallet (with all credit cards, driving license, etc.) last time I was in the UK. There were no issues with leaving the UK without it - I mean, why would there be?

So I try to check in this morning, but the checkin staff say they need my credit card. I say I've lost it. They say they need the number. I say I've lost it. People lose cards. That's why they're made of cheap plastic - because they're replaceable. Nowhere anywhere else in the world with any other airline have I run into this problem. I talk to the supervisor, she gruffly says there's nothing she can do. I talk to the sales counter - they say they need the number, or I can buy a new ticket.

No here's the rub. I'm heading back to the UK to get married. One of the last things I did was send as much money as possible back to the UK because we've got caterers, bands, and bar bills to pay. Anyway - why should I need to buy a new ticket? I've already bought one. They have the receipt. I have the receipt. The system says it's paid for. My identity is confirmed by my passport. I just do not understand why they need the original credit card as well? Seriously, what moron at Qatar Airways thought this one up?

They say maybe they can make an exception if I'm a privilege card member - and I am - but only if I've got silver or gold status. FFS! I'm heading to the UK to get married! I need to be on a flight today! You can make an exception for other people, but not for me?! Qatar Airways has a shitload to learn about customer service. I've only been out here a few months and was planning on always travelling to the UK with them - but never again! I'll bet you BA wouldn't dream up this Kafkaesque nightmare.

So I speak to my bank in the UK, and after explaining to them the absurd situation I find out my old credit card number, which I duly present to the sales desk. 'No, no' they say - 'we need the actual card'. Ok, you can imagine I'm pretty annoyed by this time but try to keep it together - after all they're the ones standing in the way of my ticket home. I ask how I'm supposed to present them with a lost credit card, when it's been lost. The very definition of lost means - gone, vanished, disappeared, unobtainable! I don't have it.

More phone calls. Nothing they can do. 'It's not me sir, it's the airline policy'. I get buffeted between the sales team and the checkin desks. No can do. You'd have thought I was asking to fly for free! Or without a passport! Absolutely madness. I can't even phone a friend up and get them to pay - because they need a physical card presented at checkin!

Finally I do some sums and figure out that I have just enough on my debit card and cash to pay for a new ticket. I'm told I can get a refund on the previous one. Minus the no-show fee of course. I am just about to fly into a rage at this point, but what can I do? I need to get home. If I had more money on me, or any other cards (they're waiting for me back in England) I would have told them to get fucked and bought a ticket with BA. So I wring out my pockets and scrape together enough to cover the cost. Not a small sum might I add. Arguing about the refund will have to wait for another day.

Although, in order to get the refund of course I need a letter from my bank, saying they cancelled my card, containing the card number and details about the Qatar Airways transaction in order to prove it wasn't fradulent. I'm sure my bank will laugh me out onto the street with that one. But at least I know you can reason with a UK company.

And so, the saga finally ended and they gratiously allowed me to get on a new flight. 5 star service? Only if those 5 stars stand for amateurish, unprofessional, dismal, bureacratic and total shit.

p.s. I might be not quite in the mood for the pub later, or very much in the mood. Today could go either way really. Does anyone fancy picking me up from the airport? I'm on QR001 to Heathrow...