Mars vs Venus. Men vs Women. Stereotypers would tell you that men hate to talk and women love to. Me? It all depends on my mood. There are days I could talk for Ireland and days where getting a word out of me is like getting blood out of a particularly insipid turnip. But no matter what sort of mood I’m in, I hate listening to disembodied voices that give me an array of options that don’t include the one thing I need to talk about. When pressing one selection in each menu doesn’t get me a real person, I despair. And that music … that damned music. It does my head in.
I’ve been a fan of eDreams for years. It’s my portal of choice when it comes to making travel arrangements. It scans for best deals and offers a reasonably priced insurance package, if a Visa requires it. It’s great for multi-city trips and better still for finding weird connections. But when something needs changing, the dream becomes a nightmare.
Earlier this year, TAP Airlines pulled out of Hungary. The flight I’d booked to Portugal changed. Not just a schedule change, but a departure change. Instead of leaving from Budapest, Hungary, in the early hours of the morning, it would now depart from Vienna, Austria, in the early hours of the morning. Another airport, another city, another country. It took six phone calls and as many hours spent listening to what passes for music before I got my refund sorted. In the end, I created enough flap to be put through to Head Office in Barcelona. And once there, my problem was solved in minutes. Bloody outsourcing.
Each person I spoke with as I was passed from Ashvin to Baveesh to Chakor to whomever was lovely – all very pleasant. But none of them had the level of responsibility needed to do what needed to be done. And each of them was reluctant to elevate my issue, preferring instead to transfer me to someone they thought could help. Until I ran out of patience. Still, all that angst was forgotten as Maria in Barcelona sorted me out in no time flat.
Not one to hold grudges, I used eDreams to book my next trip.
All was good until I went to cancel the flight only to find that the service package I’d purchased did mean that eDreams wouldn’t charge me any cancellation fee, but Air France deemed the flight non-refundable so cancelling meant losing it all but the taxes. The insurance package I’d purchased thinking it would insure me against cancellation had a 20% excess that came to more than the change fee, were I to change my flight.
Another six calls ensued. I was passed from Adesh to Bharat to Chandrajit* to whomever and given all sorts of conflicting information.
If I cancelled, I would get taxes back – about €180. But no refund on a service package or insurance.
I could get taxes back and a refund on the insurance but nothing on the service package.
I could reschedule my dates, but I needed to call back with dates as they couldn’t check availability or prices without specifics.
No they couldn’t explain why changing directly with Air France was coming up cheaper. But if I did that my insurance package would be invalidated.
I should call London and have the insurance people confirm that my insurance was still valid and they (London) could then make the changes.
London wondered why I was calling them as they had no access to reservations and I should check with eDreams to see if the insurance package would transfer.
I asked to be transferred to Head Office but the call couldn’t be elevated, just transferred.
I asked to be transferred to the Change department only to find that overnight the price of my change had gone from €373 to €1164 or thereabouts.
I asked to be transferred to Head Office and finally got to speak to Maria. The lovely Maria.
I explained my issue.
Let me check your dates – yes – it’s expensive. Are you flexible – yes? Great. We can get you there and back for an additional 16c per passenger plus the Air France change free.
Let me check your insurance – yes – it’s still valid.
Credit card details? Thanks. Confirmation will be with you shortly
Anything else I can help you with? No? Have a nice day.
Ten minutes. €240.32c later. And we have new flights booked to Cuba with insurance still intact.
Tell me again, why is outsourcing touted as the answer to everything?