This is how you deal with oiks like Aer Lingus

Take it away Squander Two.

An open letter to Aer Lingus on the occasion of their quite dreadful service.
Dear Sir or Madam,

I was unfortunate enough to be on your delayed flight EI937 from Heathrow to Belfast City on 19/7/19, so am writing to complain about the delay itself, the way you made the delay worse, and the way you treated your passengers. I fly twice a week and have very low expectations of airlines, generally putting up with the whole awful experience that you all offer without complaining. That Aer Lingus have managed to do so much so badly in just one flight that I am prompted to write this letter is some sort of perverse achievement.

Those who have their own blogs, or Tweet and all that, are invited to spreads this little missive.

73 thoughts on “This is how you deal with oiks like Aer Lingus”

  1. Somehow I think M O’Leary is an imposter. Everyone knows a real Paddy would have posted

    Feck off

  2. Because I’m a really arsy sort of twat, even if I’d had my passport, I would have said I didn’t have it just to see how they would have dealt with it. If necessary, I could have expressed surprise at suddenly discovering it stuffed down my underpants.

  3. I have – recently – gone through Dublin Airport without my passport. Bloke waved me through on the basis of a UK driver’s licence. And that was coming in from Portugal, not UK.

  4. It looks to me like a story about a customer getting screwed by mistakes made by management & executives, then taking it out on the low-wage employees whom the executives never paid to train.

    Specifically, the people in charge of making sure the planes are getting enough maintenance failed, the people in charge of making sure there was a way to generate/communicate a backup plan failed, and the people in charge of making sure there was enough trained staff to handle the disappointed customers failed. However, the disappointed customers couldn’t reach the failures; they could only reach low-level clerks who had little training and even less authority to make things right.

    Obviously, the only way to deal with this would be to have staff with authority to know the airlines plans, the authority to make changes to their itineraries, the training to use that authority effectively, as well as an actually-working data system for learning the plans & making the changes. However, paying the wages of people who could actually handle that responsibility and the training to be able to fulfill their duties is a good deal more expensive than hiring someone who can only follow a narrow policy dictated from above. And why bother paying that extra amount, when the people screwed over by your stinginess will only take out your anger on the serfs?

    The socialists are correct when they say that most companies are commanded by incompetents with little understanding of what their organization does. It’s just that they’re wrong when they say that handing everything over to the State will make things better; that just makes the pool of incompetents smaller and further removed from the things the organization does. Plus, if the customers get upset enough to look for a different company, that’s no longer an option under socialism.

    Unfortunately, unless Squander Two managed to complain to the fools in charge of staffing, all he managed to do was harangue a few saps suckered into taking responsibility for their leaders’ failures. These employees are going to feel bitter about their superiors and clients… and somehow, the socialists have managed to convince the world that they’re about overthrowing corrupt superiors, rather than what they actually do: reinforcing corrupt superiors. Thus, employees who may otherwise fight the totalitarians will be less enthusiastic to do so; those who would stay out of it are tempted to give them encouragement, and a few of them will fall for their lies and join them wholeheartedly.

    I’m not saying I would have the self-control to maintain politeness to hapless employees who couldn’t fulfill their alleged roles, but I would have been too ashamed about my conduct later to brag about it in an open letter of complaint.

  5. Having seen the video of S2 dealing with an uppity little oik and maintain professional levels of politeness, I would expect he would have remained similarly polite while dealing with the airline’s untrained front-line staff.

  6. I sneeze in threes

    How much do we pay to to fly these days? Knock off all the taxes snd surcharging and for short hall it’s pretty cheap. I’m not surprised there’s not much investment in customer service or back up. Look at BA, they’ve fucked up again with their IT system in the middle of summer.

  7. Tom, were you passing a sign called the Irish backstop?

    Not that I’ve the faintest clue what such a thing might be.

  8. @DocBud August 7, 2019 at 3:42 pm

    I too would have said I didn’t have passport just to see how they would have dealt with it.

    Also, why immigration when we have CTA?

  9. The UK, Ireland and other islands in the Atlantic are in the passport-free Common Travel Area. So, when I queued at Manchester Airport to get on a Cheapo-Jet flight to Dublin and was asked for my passport, I stated that as I was on an internal flight within the CTA, I did not need one, and did not have one. Upon them refusing to admit me to their flying cattle truck, I bought a train ticket from Manchester to Dublin, and had a very nice, relaxing, pub lounge, cheaper-by-two-pounds SeaTrain journey, where I was never asked for my passport at any point.

  10. Tim: Hah! On the way back from Dublin, UK Border Plod asked if I had any ID on me, and I showed them my Hong Kong ID card! 😀

  11. Do you have a link to S2’s video

    Not to hand. It might have been on his blog, might have been on here.

  12. CayleyGraph,

    Asking people whose job is to answer questions questions is not haranguing them.

    > unless Squander Two managed to complain to the fools in charge of staffing

    What do you think the letter is?

  13. I sneeze in threes,

    BA haven’t fucked up their IT system – it’s no longer theirs to fuck up. They outsourced the lot to Tata Consultancy Services (India) back in 2016. In retrospect this appears to have been a strategic error. Compare with Ryanair, whose IT operations remain in-house.

  14. I sneeze,

    > I’m not surprised there’s not much investment in customer service

    Contrary to shitheads like O’Leary, good customer service isn’t expensive. It annoys me how successful he’s been at spreading that myth. Stop any supermarket shelf-stacker to ask which aisle the Vegemite’s in and you’ll get service that puts any airline to shame. However, tell those supermarket staff that from now on they can have any customers who don’t do what they’re told arrested, and they’ll be providing service as consistently shitty as an airline inside six months. That’s the problem with airline’s customer service: not lack of investment in training but lots of spending on wrong training.

  15. In abstract, I love the idea of pretending not to have my passport. In the particular case of it already being past midnight and my still being at least three hours away from finishing my commute, the last thing I wanted to do was risk a delay.

  16. Asking people whose job is to answer questions questions is not haranguing them.

    This is entirely true.

    From the letter:

    I asked your employee which airport my flight would now be landing at, since, as you know, Belfast City has a curfew at 21:30. She told me that it was still scheduled to land at Belfast City. I pointed out that the flight was now planned to take off from Heathrow more than an hour after Belfast City had shut. She replied that it was still scheduled to land at Belfast City and that it was too early to know whether it might be redirected, and that such information would not be known until after take-off.

    Asking an employee for information they’ve already given you? That’s haranguing. Yes, the information she gave you was obviously incorrect. Heck, it’s entirely reasonable to be upset that you got incorrect information. Do you think pushing her will give her admin access to the airline’s scheduling database — and, for that matter, cause the correct information to be populated inside the database she can access?

    In light of the unacceptably slow progress of the long queue, and in the hope of improving matters for the benighted souls further back than me, I asked your employee whether she might consider calling any colleagues to help. She informed me that she was the only member of Aer Lingus staff available. This was a brazen lie. I responded that there were lots of other Aer Lingus staff in the airport: two had directed me to this desk, for instance; there were others at gates; others wandering around chatting; some I could see from where I was standing. She continued to insist that she was the only member of staff and absolutely refused to consider getting someone else to help your passengers.

    Will getting upset cause staff members to suddenly acquire training for roles they’ve never done? Even if it does, will it cause their supervisors to approve them for those roles, and reveal to them the fact of this approval, and add the necessary permissions to their database for them to access the system to get information and make changes?

    In light of the unacceptably slow progress of the long queue, and in the hope of improving matters for the benighted souls further back than me, I asked your employee whether she might consider calling any colleagues to help. She informed me that she was the only member of Aer Lingus staff available. This was a brazen lie. I responded that there were lots of other Aer Lingus staff in the airport: two had directed me to this desk, for instance; there were others at gates; others wandering around chatting; some I could see from where I was standing. She continued to insist that she was the only member of staff and absolutely refused to consider getting someone else to help your passengers. I pointed out that people in the queue were going to be waiting two hours or more and asked her whether she thought that was a reasonable way to treat people who are paying for this. She replied “Do you think I like doing this?”

    Well, apparently you do think that the staffer you were speaking with had that authority and power, yet was somehow too stupid to use it; otherwise, you would’ve known that asking her that question was exactly the sort of snark only used by entitled millennials.

    > unless Squander Two managed to complain to the fools in charge of staffing

    What do you think the letter is?

    Unless you watched as the manager(s)/executive(s) of Aer Lingus read it and listened to their thoughtful response, I think it’s a blog post. If you emailed it to Aer Lingus, or printed it out & mailed it to them, I think it’s something that Aer Lingus’s PR department will ignore, or maybe give you a coupon for. Perhaps they’ll discipline or even fire the person you harangued because of it.

    In the meantime, the behaviour you claimed to exhibit in the letter was adding stress to someone who was already let down by her trainers, her company’s IT department, and her company’s logistics and/or maintenance team. Plus, by making her take time to answer “whether she thought that was a reasonable way to treat people who are paying for this”, you increased the time required by the people behind you in the queue to wait until they got their vouchers.

    Contrary to shitheads like O’Leary, good customer service isn’t expensive.

    Contrary to shitheads like Squander Two, putting up with shitheads like Squander Two isn’t something a competent person would do for cheap.

    Stop any supermarket shelf-stacker to ask which aisle the Vegemite’s in and you’ll get service that puts any airline to shame.

    Because finding a jar in the same building as you is exactly as difficult as finding out when your coworkers in another city will be able to fly an aircraft to you.

    Incidentally, ask any supermarket shelf-stacker to open a new till because all the open ones have full queues, and you’ll get someone politely demurring because opening a new till requires making sure the drawer has the correct cash count in its records, as well as the new till being recorded, and the shelf-stacker might not yet be authorized to work a till anyway so it’d need to be a manager anyway…
    Well, maybe I’m wrong; maybe you’ll get someone demurring as rudely as an airline employee.

    However, tell those supermarket staff that from now on they can have any customers who don’t do what they’re told arrested, and they’ll be providing service as consistently shitty as an airline inside six months.

    So, you know the problem with the airline’s customer service is due to government regulations that the employee couldn’t change or even challenge, yet you snottily derided her for not fixing your problem anyway?

    Socialism has a history of nothing but misery and failure, and is inherently incapable of producing anything else. But if you’re on the opposition, it will be forever popular.

  17. CayleyGraph
    Pointing out errors and problems to employees that they can’t themselves resolve might at least have them referring the matter to someone who can. There should at least have been a supervisor available normally and in such circumstances there should have been an “all hands on deck” attitude. A metaphorical helpless shrug from the lowest level customer service employee isn’t good enough.
    Unless you are talking about Aer Lingus apparently.

  18. Pointing out errors and problems to employees that they can’t themselves resolve might at least have them referring the matter to someone who can.

    When you read Squander Two’s report, did you get the impression that the employee had time to get a supervisor?

    There should at least have been a supervisor available normally and in such circumstances there should have been an “all hands on deck” attitude.

    Both of your “should have”s are correct. When you’ve been in situations where your superiors slipped up or actively shirked their duties, did it help when your clients/customers asked you snarky questions?

    A metaphorical helpless shrug from the lowest level customer service employee isn’t good enough.
    Unless you are talking about Aer Lingus apparently.

    I’m not trying to defend Aer Lingus. I’m trying to point out that Squander Two’s behavior made a bad situation worse, and neither his complaints nor his letter are likely to create an improvement.

    I realize that my constant griping isn’t going to make an improvement either; I’ve mostly given up on hope in general. I just get a dopamine hit from attacking people in anonymous comments.

  19. She replied that it was still scheduled to land at Belfast City and that it was too early to know whether it might be redirected, and that such information would not be known until after take-off.

    Are planes allowed to take off without knowing where they are going to land? It seems unlikely.

    She informed me that she was the only member of Aer Lingus staff available. This was a brazen lie.

    I’m with S2 here. And asking someone to clarify a statement that is obvious nonsense is not ‘haranguing’ them. Christ alone knows what sort of snowflake thinks it is.

  20. S2,

    I don’t know about Ryanair. Seems to me that they cut service where its expensive, so fair enough.

    But one update on a system to say where a flight is actually going and being rude to passengers like Aer Lingus were is just crappy service and not a cost issue. Its a “nothing you’re going to do about it” issue.

  21. AndrewM,

    “BA haven’t fucked up their IT system – it’s no longer theirs to fuck up. They outsourced the lot to Tata Consultancy Services (India) back in 2016.”

    BA fucked up their IT system, then.

    The problem with hiring people like Tata and Accenture is domain specific experience. When I worked for a large building society they had people who had been there for 20 years on their systems. Knew every inch of them. Something fails, they’re starting in the right place within minutes. Someone wants to make a change, there’s a guy who can explain why you shouldn’t do it that way.

    They pensioned everyone off, and these companies have a considerable churn rate. An old client of mine took a system back to the UK because they got tired of their Indian guy getting just up to speed and then being replaced.

  22. CG

    “and neither his complaints nor his letter are likely to create an improvement.”

    I agree, that is giving up on hope, as you suggest.

    The more complaints in the open, such as this, the more likely that others will vote with their wallets – who knows, either they might improve or in time a more competent supplier takes their place.

  23. CaleyGraph: “Asking an employee for information they’ve already given you? That’s haranguing. “

    I suggest you buy a dictionary.

    “When you read Squander Two’s report, did you get the impression that the employee had time to get a supervisor?”

    They should have made time.

    “I’m not trying to defend Aer Lingus. I’m trying to point out that Squander Two’s behavior made a bad situation worse…. “

    Errr, how, exactly?

    “..and neither his complaints nor his letter are likely to create an improvement.”

    We’ll see. Whining that no-one should complain to the representatives of the company who are there on the spot because ‘the boss class’ doesn’t train them properly certainly isn’t going to help.

  24. “When I worked for a large building society they had people who had been there for 20 years on their systems. Knew every inch of them. Something fails, they’re starting in the right place within minutes. Someone wants to make a change, there’s a guy who can explain why you shouldn’t do it that way.”

    Sounds like you could know a friend of mine, who was one of those chaps who’d been working on the IT system of a certain large building society whose HQ is right by the M4 for nearly 30 years, straight out of college in fact. And was replaced by a load of Indians shipped in. Luckily for him he was shifted sideways in some way so wasn’t made redundant, but it has helped the office cricket team…………

  25. I used to work in customer service myself. You are there as a representative of your company. People who want information from the company ask you on its behalf. People who want to tell the company something tell you on its behalf. Pretty simple concept. Crying “Oh the poor wickle employee, having to listen to customers” is ridiculous. Grow up.

    > Asking an employee for information they’ve already given you? That’s haranguing.

    Informing an employee that the offhand unthinking guess they’ve given you is incorrect and asking them to check it is not haranguing. Wanting to know where an airline is flying you to is a reasonable question.

    > Do you think pushing her will give her admin access to the airline’s scheduling database — and, for that matter, cause the correct information to be populated inside the database she can access?

    I found out later that they hadn’t even updated their own database, when I spoke to someone professional enough to check. At the time, I was speaking to someone who hadn’t checked and couldn’t be arsed with bloody customers. And what’s admin access got to do with it? Are you suggesting that Aer Lingus might update their flight plan in such a way that only DBAs could read it, leaving the old flight plan for actual employees to view? Even after dealing with their litany of incompetence, that sounds insane to me.

    > Will getting upset cause staff members to suddenly acquire training for roles they’ve never done? Even if it does, will it cause their supervisors to approve them for those roles, and reveal to them the fact of this approval, and add the necessary permissions to their database for them to access the system to get information and make changes?

    The role you’re referring to here is handing out pre-printed vouchers. It is routinely done by gate staff and often outsourced by the airline to generic airport minions.

    There’s an unwritten bit of the letter here, which regular flyers are all too aware of, which is that airline ground staff routinely go out of their way to make it as awkward and difficult as possible to get these vouchers, which is contrary to both their airlines’ actual policies and at least the spirit of the law. It is worth informing any organization when its staff are thwarting their own policies and maybe even opening it up to a legal challenge. It often does lead to change.

    For instance, a few days later, Easyjet were doing that thing where they announce that their flight is 1hr 59min late because they’re obliged to provide food and drink after 2 hours. I phoned them, complained, and they updated it to 2hr 20min. And then waited until the airport’s shops had shut before handing out vouchers, but hey, baby steps.

    > When you read Squander Two’s report, did you get the impression that the employee had time to get a supervisor?

    I thought I made it clear that the employee had all the time in the fucking world. We’re not describing someone who was exactly hurrying here.

    > Contrary to shitheads like Squander Two, putting up with shitheads like Squander Two isn’t something a competent person would do for cheap.

    Your reasoning is backwards. Yes, some customers are just awful from the get-go. They’re very rare, and I’m not one of them. Most customers are basically reasonable and just want some help, and will be nice if you’re nice to them, and will get nicer the more you at least try to help. You very very rarely start with an angry customer: you make them angry. So the way you get through the day as pleasantly as possible is by providing good customer service. Low pay (and airline staff are paid a lot better than I was) makes the opposite point you think it does: people who regard their job as underpaid tend to make it as easy as possible. The way you do that in customer service is by being nice and not lying to customers’ faces.

    For the record, I was far more concerned about the people in the queue than she was (which is rather the point), so kept my comments quick. The way passengers were being treated was disgraceful and Aer Lingus were clearly under the impression that it was fine. Until someone points out that it’s disgraceful, it doesn’t change. I didn’t hang around watching the queue for another two hours, but neither did you, so your assumption that it didn’t improve is a guess. I doubt I was the last person to complain, and an increasing number of complaints may well have incentivized someone to do something about it. That’s hardly unheard-of.

    > Unless you watched as the manager(s)/executive(s) of Aer Lingus read it

    Grow up.

    > If you emailed it to Aer Lingus, or printed it out & mailed it to them

    You know, it wasn’t until I read your comment that it even occurred to me that someone might be stupid enough to think I was stupid enough not to have thought of that.

    > Perhaps they’ll discipline or even fire the person you harangued because of it.

    This point can be made about every single complaint ever made about any member of staff. Therefore we should just put up with being treated like shit out of compassion?

    > So, you know the problem with the airline’s customer service is due to government regulations that the employee couldn’t change or even challenge, yet you snottily derided her for not fixing your problem anyway?

    No, the regulations merely incentivize shitty service. But it’s still optional. The service is actually made shitty by the people providing it. And customer complaints provide a balancing incentive in the other direction.

    And I didn’t snottily deride anyone. I pointed out the extreme inconvenience to customers, asked her to consider reducing that inconvenience, and, when she refused, informed her that treating customers in this way was a disgrace, which it is, then left. I can, if I wish, make myself an absolute fucking nightmare of a customer. But all I really ask from any company is to get stuff done with as little interaction as possible, so generally avoid doing so.

  26. @ Cayley Graph
    I make a point of roasting customer facing staff of companies failing to deliver at every opportunity. I’ll make their job as unpleasant for them as possible. I’ve had them in tears, at times.
    You work for a company fails to provide the services it promises its customers you’re being paid to fob them off. You’re complicit. My aim is to make that sort of work so unpleasant they’ll sling in their notice & bugger off to do something more productive. A company will soon notice when it can’t hire or keep employees. The more people emulate my response to bad service the quicker things will change..

  27. M4,

    > But one update on a system to say where a flight is actually going and being rude to passengers like Aer Lingus were is just crappy service and not a cost issue. Its a “nothing you’re going to do about it” issue.

    Exactly. And though I didn’t go quite so far as to accuse them of this in the letter, it was obvious that what had happened here was that the crew had updated the flight plan and deliberately kept it secret because it would be immediately obvious to anyone who saw it that they were adding an extra two hours to their passengers’ journey so the crew could get home earlier, and they wanted to make sure they weren’t overruled by someone with sense. Aer Lingus will figure that out when they read the letter.

  28. Your pilot also announced, as is usual but nevertheless wrong in such circumstances, that we should be incredibly grateful to your amazing flight crew for working late to get us to our destination.

    Who do they think they are – the NHS?

  29. Because of the mass of adverse publicity – wrt crap service / incompetence / and just about everything – I’ve always regarded Ryan Air as “utter shite”, not be used even if they paid you.

    Aer Lingus used to have a better reputation. it looks like Micky Feck You O’Leary is trying to bring Aer Lingus into the fold?

  30. I love the motto underneath “Apres Moi Le Deluge” indeed!

    Apres nous, or are Defence cuts really biting?

  31. They pensioned everyone off, and these companies have a considerable churn rate. An old client of mine took a system back to the UK because they got tired of their Indian guy getting just up to speed and then being replaced.

    Yes, it’s unreal. We have teams in India, there are some common names over there and it isn’t freakishly unusual to have a video conference with such and such and realise it isn’t the same person as the week before, despite the same name.

    Some of them were accepting job offers, taking them to other companies which had also made an offer and using them as leverage. It was 50/50 if they would actually turn up on the first day.

  32. @ pf
    Never flown Ryanair so never had the problem. Haven’t knowingly bought any thing or service Irish since the cvnts burnt the Dublin embassy & their police stood around & watched them do it. Bombing my country & my city hasn’t moderated my attitude. Varadkar’s just the icing on the cake I regard a hard border with the Republic with glee. Minefields’d be an improvement..

  33. @PF
    “Aer Lingus used to have a better reputation. it looks like Micky Feck You O’Leary is trying to bring Aer Lingus into the fold?”

    Aer Lingus is pretty comparable to Ryanair nowdays. Everything needs to be paid for (including alcohol on US flights). It’s a race to the bottom that Ryanair will win because they don’t have the huge overheads that Aer Lingus do.

  34. PF,

    “Because of the mass of adverse publicity – wrt crap service / incompetence / and just about everything – I’ve always regarded Ryan Air as “utter shite”, not be used even if they paid you.”

    You have to be a bit careful with that. There’s always some whining wanker who was told, quite openly, things like how to do a check-in and ignore it, and then go crying to the press about it.

    It’s a stripped down service. It’ll get you from A to B safely and that’s all you get. When I flew to Poitiers a few times, they did me OK. No, its nice as nice as flying Swiss, but it’s a lot cheaper than Swiss.

  35. BoM4

    “You have to be a bit careful with that.”

    Of course, fair point, but in cases of excess levels of adverse publicity, it’s often then backed up / supported by anecdote closer to home, people you know etc.

    And in this case, additionally, it’s reinforced whenever I hear O’Leary open his mouth.

    BiS

    Interesting, but I’ve never held the wider population responsible for their murdering & assorted fruitcake class.

  36. “There’s an unwritten bit of the letter here, which regular flyers are all too aware of, which is that airline ground staff routinely go out of their way to make it as awkward and difficult as possible to get these vouchers”

    Frequent fliers go to the lounge and fill up on free scran rather than worrying about vouchers.

    But that requires being a frequent flier with a relatively serious airline, I admit.

    “Some of them were accepting job offers, taking them to other companies which had also made an offer and using them as leverage. It was 50/50 if they would actually turn up on the first day.”

    You mean that’s not done in the west? Worked well for me!

  37. I used to work in customer service myself.

    So, “used to”? You mean you didn’t relish the opportunity to deal with frustrated customers asking you if “that was a reasonable way to treat people who are paying for this” at the wages you received, and so moved to a different position? Don’t you see how your experience bolsters my point about customer-facing positions being something avoided by anyone who can?

    You are there as a representative of your company. People who want information from the company ask you on its behalf. People who want to tell the company something tell you on its behalf. Pretty simple concept.

    Make someone’s job harder for them, and they’ll either demand more money for it, and/or do their best to find something better. Pretty simple concept.

    I found out later that they hadn’t even updated their own database, when I spoke to someone professional enough to check.

    So, you found out later that there really was nothing that the customer service representative could have done for you, because she had already given you the only information she was allowed to access?

    When you spoke to this person “professional enough to check”, was it still after 7pm on a Friday evening (when anyone with any clout in the company would have shirked their duties onto frontline staff and gone out) while there was still an entire flight’s worth of justifiably frustrated customers desperate for information?

    And what’s admin access got to do with it?

    I was trying to think of a situation where asking an employee if “that was a reasonable way to treat people who are paying for this” would make your situation better. The only thing I came up with was that the pressure might inspire her to try accessing the database directly, and use the wider range of information available to deduce the nature of the problem.

    Are you suggesting that Aer Lingus might update their flight plan in such a way that only DBAs could read it, leaving the old flight plan for actual employees to view?

    No, but I am saying that Aer Lingus might have a database system that failed to cascade updates to every table after updates to one. The failure might be because of incompetent developers. It might be because the developers had an incompetent manager, who insisted on an insufficient design even when the developers pointed out the problems it would cause. It might be because Aer Lingus execs insisted IT rush a beta system to deployment, then insisted they work on adding new features instead of refactoring the rushed system into something practical to sustain. It might be because Aer Lingus just doesn’t charge its customers enough to maintain sufficient IT systems in addition to everything else, and IT drew the short straw during budget cut season.

    Even after dealing with their litany of incompetence, that sounds insane to me.

    If you’ve never had a computer fail to do something you expected it to do despite following all instructions perfectly, you’ve never worked with a computer.

    The role you’re referring to here is handing out pre-printed vouchers. It is routinely done by gate staff and often outsourced by the airline to generic airport minions.

    Clearly, Aer Lingus’s managers failed to arrange for this to happen. Did asking the employee if “that was a reasonable way to treat people who are paying for this” cause an Aer Lingus’er with authority to fix the problem?

    There’s an unwritten bit of the letter here, which regular flyers are all too aware of, which is that airline ground staff routinely go out of their way to make it as awkward and difficult as possible to get these vouchers, which is contrary to both their airlines’ actual policies and at least the spirit of the law.

    Maybe — and this is just spitballing here — maybe the supervisors of these employees set local policies to make it difficult, despite it being contrary to official policy, because it saves their department money. Perhaps it’s excessively cynical to think that managers would structure their departments to be low-cost at the expense of customers being rude to their staff, but the worst thing about being cynical is being right.

    I thought I made it clear that the employee had all the time in the fucking world. We’re not describing someone who was exactly hurrying here.

    You made it clear that the employee needed an average of fifteen minutes per person to resolve the issues of the people in the queue ahead of you, and that there were dozens of people in the queue behind you by the time you reached the front. That is the opposite of having “all the time in the fucking world”.

    Yes, some customers are just awful from the get-go. They’re very rare, and I’m not one of them.

    Customers who are consistently awful are very rare, but everyone is awful at some time or another. Dealing with an unsupported airline employee who can’t help you on a Friday night is a natural time to be frustrated, and frustration is a natural mood to yield awfulness.

    This was a situation when you were awful. You probably handled yourself better than I would have in your shoes, but you were still awful.

    Until someone points out that it’s disgraceful, it doesn’t change.

    This is perfectly true.
    I can improve upon it by making it more specific.
    Until someone points out that it’s disgraceful to someone who can actually do something about it, it doesn’t change.

    If you had enough clout in Aer Lingus to shore up their IT and logistics problems, would you be clerking their counter at 7pm on a Friday?

    > If you emailed it to Aer Lingus, or printed it out & mailed it to them

    You know, it wasn’t until I read your comment that it even occurred to me that someone might be stupid enough to think I was stupid enough not to have thought of that.

    Considering that you were apparently stupid enough to not read the rest of the sentence you quoted, where I pointed out that even doing that would not get the results you seem to expect, I think it’s a perfectly reasonable scenario to cover.

    Therefore we should just put up with being treated like shit out of compassion?

    No, therefore we should make sure our complaints are heard by people who can actually do something about it — in this case, the manager(s)/executive(s) of Aer Lingus. Or, better yet, we stop using their services even though the only alternatives cost more because they spend more on maintenance for their IT and logistics chains. Either way, we stop making employees pay attention to our sarcastic questions while they still have dozens of other customers to serve, and we exhibit self-control so that they need less compensation to put up with the stress from their duties.

    And customer complaints provide a balancing incentive in the other direction.

    Only if they’re heard by people who can do something about it — and then those people actually take responsibility for the problem, rather than scapegoating the clerk who only had authorization to follow orders. Otherwise, they just provide an incentive to find another job, go on public assistance, or take a chance that this time, a violent revolution will improve things.

    And I didn’t snottily deride anyone.

    You asked an employee facing down a queue of dozens if “that was a reasonable way to treat people who are paying for this”. Perhaps the term “snottily deride” has a specific technical meaning I was unaware of, but you called attention to the fact that you had contempt of her intelligence and/or morals.

    But all I really ask from any company is to get stuff done with as little interaction as possible, so generally avoid doing so.

    Given that you generally avoid interacting with staff, perhaps you have insufficient data to estimate the geniality of your demeanor?

    [I]t was obvious that what had happened here was that the crew had updated the flight plan and deliberately kept it secret because it would be immediately obvious to anyone who saw it that they were adding an extra two hours to their passengers’ journey so the crew could get home earlier, and they wanted to make sure they weren’t overruled by someone with sense.

    Impressive that you could figure this out, despite the fact that you usually avoid interacting with company staff. Did you learn the necessary conditions for your conclusions in a class?

    “When you read Squander Two’s report, did you get the impression that the employee had time to get a supervisor?”

    They should have made time.

    Are there techniques for making time that work when your job is to process a queue of dozens, besides telling them “Everybody wait while I go find a supervisor?” Even if Squander Two would have recognized the wisdom of such an action, do you think enough of the queuees would have agreed that the situation would have escalated?

    Or is there some technique for inserting intervals of time between existing moments that can be used by a front-line employee of which I’m unaware?

    “I’m not trying to defend Aer Lingus. I’m trying to point out that Squander Two’s behavior made a bad situation worse…. “

    Errr, how, exactly?

    The employee he asked if she thought “that was a reasonable way to treat people who are paying for this” had spent 45 minutes answering the questions of the people in front of him, and had to handle a queue of dozens of people waiting behind him. When you have a large amount of urgent work to get through, is your situation improved or worsened when people make you spend time listening to & answering sarcastic questions?

    I make a point of roasting customer facing staff of companies failing to deliver at every opportunity. I’ll make their job as unpleasant for them as possible. I’ve had them in tears, at times.

    Perhaps Squander Two and I have underestimated the frequency of customers who are just awful from the get-go.

    You work for a company fails to provide the services it promises its customers you’re being paid to fob them off. You’re complicit. My aim is to make that sort of work so unpleasant they’ll sling in their notice & bugger off to do something more productive.

    You are aware that you may have to pay more for consistent service? You are aware that the company has a huge pool of potential cheap labor to replace the person who slung in their notice?

    The more people emulate my response to bad service the quicker things will change..

    You are aware that there’s several political movements across the world eager to sucker people into violence against the people who pay them? That “change” you reference is probably not going to be gulags & firing squads, but I think the magnitude of the consequence balances out the low probability.
    Yes, these political movements are stupid and evil. As long as we make people’s lives less pleasant, they will be successful. I would rather you stopped doing so.

    Whining that no-one should complain to the representatives of the company who are there on the spot because ‘the boss class’ doesn’t train them properly certainly isn’t going to help.

    Does it help when complaining to the representatives of the company who are there on the spot, when they have an entire queue of people to help and no useful information from their system?

    Perhaps the way to help would be to ensure that the people with the authority to prevent this sort of fiasco hear the complaint. Of course, if you have that sort of authority, you also have the authority to hire a PR department to handle your complaints, as well as the authority to have your employees punished for insubordination when they pass along complaints from customers.

  38. @Bloke on M4 – August 8, 2019 at 2:01 pm

    Re Ryan Air: It’s a stripped down service. It’ll get you from A to B safely and that’s all you get. When I flew to Poitiers a few times, they did me OK. No, its nice as nice as flying Swiss, but it’s a lot cheaper than Swiss.

    I’m with you on that. I know it’s fashionable to slag Ryan off, but it basically “does what it says on the tin”. I’ve flown with them on numerous occasions, and yes, the service is basic, as is the trim and decor of the ‘planes, but for short-haul it doesn’t matter that much (even though I’m over 6 foot). Their punctuality was miles better than EasyJet (at least on the routes that I flew) and the staff seemed quite pleasant despite having to cope with twats who expected Singapore Airlines service at local bus prices.

    Beats the feck out of Aeroflot..! 🙂

  39. 1) the first rule about customer service is to never deflect blame onto someone else when you are the representing the company that screwed up
    2) the second rule is never lie to your customers

    From my experience with lots of airlines the attitude is generally worse than public servants in France while being paid 2x as much. Basically 50% of them deserve to lose their jobs. Smug, lazy and pretentious assholes

  40. I sympathise with S2s points and predicament; but I think his letter of complaint could have been phrased more objectively. When complaining, I try to invite the company to take a third-person view of my situation. If you were in my situation…

  41. You work for a company fails to provide the services it promises its customers you’re being paid to fob them off. You’re complicit. My aim is to make that sort of work so unpleasant they’ll sling in their notice & bugger off to do something more productive
    CG “You are aware that you may have to pay more for consistent service? ”

    I’m aware that I’ve paid a specific sum for a specific service. If a company is charging a lower price for a service that is inferior to what they claim, I’m not buying what I was led to believe I was. They’re lying to sell a product under false pretences.
    CG “You are aware that the company has a huge pool of potential cheap labor to replace the person who slung in their notice?”
    Hiring & training staff is expensive. I know. I’ve done it. For even fairly simple jobs it can take a month or more before the value added by the employee balances the cost invested in hiring & training. Encouraging a high turnover puts up staffing costs. In companies with slim margins, that can put them out of business. The intention. If you can’t do what you say you can do, you shouldn’t be doing it. Leave it to someone who can. The costs to the consumer of the results of your poor service can be much greater than what they were misled to save by preferring you over the opposition.

    I make a point of roasting customer facing staff of companies failing to deliver at every opportunity. I’ll make their job as unpleasant for them as possible. I’ve had them in tears, at times.

    CG “Perhaps Squander Two and I have underestimated the frequency of customers who are just awful from the get-go.”

    Maybe I’m not particularly Brit any more. French or something. Or I never was. I don’t do the Brit cringe when presented with something less than expected. Frightened that I might upset someone & cause a “scene”. I don’t give a flying fuck about their feelings. Any more than I expect that they care about mine. I holla & shout until I get what I want..

  42. “BiS

    Interesting, but I’ve never held the wider population responsible for their murdering & assorted fruitcake class.”

    Maybe it’s living in London & seeing rather too much of potted nationalism. Around the time of Dublin you could go in Kilburn pubs & see the tin being passed round for the ‘boys’ And going back full. Far as I know, they still do. You want to live in somebody else’s country, best you keep your mouth shut. And I regard the government of the Republic as being at best duplicitous throughout the entire era. Still is. You elect ’em. You take the consequences..

  43. The other thing about outsourced IT stuff is that they never tell the outsourced contractor (me) anything about what you’re working on other than the bare essential remove hard drive from A, insert hard drive in B, run profile manager, ask user to log on.
    To users you are “IT” and everything IT related is “IT”.

    # So, you’re IT then?
    * Yes.
    # So, when I run the lifespan acturial forcaster, how do I specify I want to select non-smoking men born in the 1960s?
    * How the hell should *I* know?
    # But *you’re* *IT*!
    * Yes, but that isn’t an IT question, that’s an acturial lifespan forecasting question, I’m IT, not an actuarial forecaster.
    # But *you’re* *IT*!
    * Look, madam, I just changed the wheels on your car, I have no idea how *you* use *your* car to arrange how *you* transport *your* family around.

  44. @CayleyGraph August 8, 2019 at 12:39 am

    S2: ” She continued to insist that she was the only member of staff and absolutely refused to consider getting someone else to help your passengers.”

    Will getting upset cause staff members to suddenly acquire training for roles they’ve never done?

    Get a grip. Handing out food & drink vouchers after seeing ticket doesn’t require “training for role”, nor does telling truth rather than lying.

    Excusers like you are why we have these appalling situations.

    Sniff, sniff – I smell the blood of an Airline bureaucrat – excuses, dismissals and TL;DRs

  45. > Maybe — and this is just spitballing here — maybe the supervisors of these employees set local policies to make it difficult, despite it being contrary to official policy, because it saves their department money.

    Quite possibly. Now, how would one go about changing that? We need some sort of mechanism whereby people in head office could find out that managers in the airport are flouting the rules. Hmm… wait a minute, it’ll come to me.

    > Perhaps it’s excessively cynical to think that managers would structure their departments to be low-cost at the expense of customers being rude to their staff

    I know you have this bizarre conviction that you know what went on better than I do despite not being there, but no, I was not rude.

  46. > So, “used to”? You mean you didn’t relish the opportunity to deal with frustrated customers asking you if “that was a reasonable way to treat people who are paying for this” at the wages you received, and so moved to a different position?

    No, I mean I got promoted because I was good at it. And I still use those skills on a daily basis, though these days it’s with clients rather than customers, which makes it more difficult and more stressful, because if they take their business elsewhere we lose millions, not a couple of hundred.

    Also, I worked for a company that treated its customers with some respect, so was always able to answer honestly “Yes, this is a reasonable way to treat our customers,” because it was. Which is rather the point.

    > If you’ve never had a computer fail to do something you expected it to do despite following all instructions perfectly, you’ve never worked with a computer.

    I am head of software testing. The scenario you describe is ridiculous by the standards of someone who finds ridiculous scenarios in software development for a living. If it were true, my letter would be redundant because Aer Lingus would already have been dragged across the front pages by the CAA. We’re talking about staff accessing the flight plan here. We’re talking about being able to tell a passenger where they’re going. We’re talking about putting enough fuel in the plane and not crashing. You keep going on about it being Friday night, as if that’s material. You get that planes fly at weekends, yeah? You think that an IT glitch that makes flight plans inaccessible to anyone but DBAs for 2½ days in every 7 is a thing that could happen? You are ridiculous.

  47. BiS

    “Milburn” etc, fair enough. I guess we all have difference anecdotal experiences that steer us.

    “You elect ’em. You take the consequences.”

    Whilst clearly true; ouch… In Britain alone, “we” mostly elect worthless cretins to govern over us? Yes, I have to take the consequences, but those cretins certainly don’t speak for very large numbers of us.

  48. @Squander Two August 9, 2019 at 9:56 am

    Excellent rebuttal, puts Cayley The Excuser back in his pram

    Now, where may I find referred to video of polite you on YT?

  49. Pcar

    I’m guessing it’s the Russell Brand incident you are looking for?

    [ Russell Brand RBS lunch ] will get you loads of hits, a good chunk of the MSM covered it.

    For example:

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/disgruntled-rbs-worker-writes-hilarious-open-letter-to-russell-brand-after-anti-capitalist-publicity-9930135.html

    And on Squander’s blog:

    http://blog.squandertwo.net/2014/12/an-open-letter-to-russell-brand.html

    You-tube: Russell Brand doing what Russell Brand knows best – being a dick:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-A2xSendS7E

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