Wednesday 24 November 2010

The mighty pen

Recently, a radio DJ was sharing his unpleasant experience on a budget airline. He was starving on an early morning flight yet was denied breakfast on board.

Apparently his colleague, who was already tucking into her hot meal, had forgotten to purchase his breakfast when she booked his ticket.

He wanted to buy. The air stewardess said, "No, cannot!" and walked away without giving any explanation. The poor guy spent the rest of the journey watching others eat.

Two recent experiences also left me dissatisfied, I had to take matters into my own hand, I mean pen.

Due to unforseen circumstances, I had to cancel YK's air ticket to Australia. The travel agent said, "No refund. Not transferable either."

I couldn't believe it. The ticket, at $900, wasn't exactly cheap. Few days after I made payment, the airline ran a promotion at $728. Here I was, giving more than a month's notice prior to departure, and ample time for the airline to resell the ticket.

So I called up Singapore Airlines who said the same thing. Well, I wasn't about to give up, so I wrote in.

Two days later, a very polite gentleman called to explain that I could get a refund for the taxes and surcharge (which doesn't amount to much). It was surprising that the agent had not informed me. He was apologetic and wished he could do more. Then he shared some tips on traveling in Western Australia.

When he hung up, I was no longer angry. In fact, I appreciated his courtesy call and concern. He certainly helped Singapore Airlines score plenty of brownie points.

The second incident involved our bank. An oversea reader was so kind to order 5 pieces of poster calendars from me. As she doesn't have a Paypal account, she mailed me a bank draft.

Our bank rejected the cheque, saying the payee should be "Clouds in the Sky LLP" instead of "Clouds in the Sky". I went to the bank, spoke to the officer and was told, "Sorry, cannot help. Get your customer to issue another one."

I urged her to reconsider. It's a small sum afterall and the company's name is just missing the "LLP". No other company in Singapore has the same name.

"You will have to ask our headquarters.", she said.

Back at the office, I called the headquarters and all I heard was "Sorry, we can't help you."

I almost lost my temper. Her nonchalance made me even more determined to forge ahead. I wrote to the bank explaining that while I understand the bank's policy, surely they can exercise some flexibility?

For our customer to pay us, she had to travel to the city, line up at the bank, pay a service charge for the bank draft and incur oversea postage. We are already very grateful for her business, we certainly do not wish to inconvenience her any further by making her go through the same process again.

Surprise, surprise! The bank called and said they would accept the bank draft afterall. All I have to do is send it in together with a supporting invoice.

Once again, I'm glad I took the trouble to write in. It's easier to get the message across in writing. I have done it many times to know how effective it is. Of course it helps to be polite, sincere and logical.


JY69 said...

That's amazing that writing such letters help. It proves that the companies DO read the letters that come in. It also provides "evidence" that making a claim over the phone and sometimes email don't have... though they could always toss out the letter. I KNOW that that is the norm in the US!

The Real Mother Hen said...

Most people say no because saying yes would mean WORK for them. They are the typical pencil-pushers, so using a pen to wake them up is certainly reasonable.

Amel said...

Glad to hear your efforts are paid off. Phew!!! I've never really had to deal with something like this, though.

ckl said...

Yes, once it's in writing they can ignore you. We shouldn't need to do that but sadly, sometimes that's the only way to get some response.

ckl said...

Sorry, I meant 'they can't ignore you'

Blur Ting said...

JY- I used to wonder if the companies read the letters but I realise that these days, they do. This is especially true for the larger corporations and government bodies in Singapore.

Blur Ting said...

MH- You are right. When it comes to phone calls, they simply say no and quickly hang up but they can't do that with a letter!

Blur Ting said...

Amel - It can be frustrating if you keep hearing "NO" over and over again. I can't simply accept if it is an unreasonale one.

Blur Ting said...

CKL - True. In Singapore, people will readily write in to the papers if they encounter poor service, so more companies are taking our feedbacks seriously.