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Tuesday 6 December 2022

Why customers should speak up about bad service

Why are Australians so bad at complaining about poor service?

Most Australians are not known for being shy and retiring - but when it comes to speaking their mind about slackness from airlines and five-star hotels they are noticeably reticent.

Sure they might Tweet about their experience later, but the best time to call out under-delivering operators is at the time.

That means calling for the manager when you are in a 30-minute queue to check into the room for which you are paying several hundred dollars a night.

Or asking to see a supervisor when you have waited an hour for your luggage to arrive at the airport conveyor belt.

The public should not harass over-worked staff - but take their complaints to management, who are ultimately responsible.   

The way the travel industry tells it, they are keen to hear about issues that customers suffer "so we can offer a better service".

But are they really? And if customers let them get away with dismal service will it continue?

Luke Martin, head of the Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania, tweeted at the weekend about his experience at the ritzy - and expensive - The Star on the Gold Coast, where he encountered a 30-strong queue to check in - at 4pm on a Sunday afternoon.

"Beyond shit" was his succinct analysis.

The general manager, or duty manager, was clearly at fault here. 

Someone should have been going along the line, explaining the reason for the delay and offering drinks vouchers or somesuch to placate the tired travellers not being shown any "hospitality".

Airlines are just as guilty of treating their passengers poorly, despite spending thousands on conducting surveys about "what our passengers want".

The Australian Frequent Flyer website reported this week that Virgin Australia discovered there were fewer seats available on a recent Boeing 737 flight from Cairns to Brisbane than the number of booked passengers.

There were passengers with onward connections that they were unable to find seats for, so they asked for volunteers to catch the next flight - three hours later.

Their offer was laughably bad: 140 Velocity Frequent Flyer points, which are worth between 70 cents and around $3, depending on how they’re spent.

Insulting really. I hope someone spoke up.

Image: Luke Martin, Twitter. 

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