Ryanair? No thanks.

Ryanair_noWell, I wasn’t planning to write this blog entry until there had been some kind of resolution, but my patience is being tried to its limits so I need to let off steam. God knows there’s already loads of bad publicity for them on the Web, so it’s not going to make any difference, but it may make me feel a little better and who knows, someone out there might be able to give me some good advice on getting satisfaction!

Ryanair, everyone’s favourite low cost airline. I’m not going to complain about booking fees, “hidden” charges, baggage allowances, because until now we have been happy customers. When you book, you know exactly what you’re getting… you know that certain fees are going to be added on, and you know exactly how much it will cost by the time you press the pay button. The service is basic, but then the tickets are dirt cheap, so that even the added car journey at the other end means they were ideal for visiting relatives abroad.

As we have discovered to our cost, the problems begin when you have a legitimate complaint. We had accidentally booked our eldest daughter under her mother’s maiden name rather than our married one. Silly mistake, yes, and we were a little annoyed with ourselves, but at least we could change the name for £100 online with no fuss and no real harm done?

Our next mistake was to phone up Ryanair’s customer service call centre to double check that this was OK. It turns out, we were told, that no, don’t waste £100 doing it online, just go to the airport with the necessary documents (usual things, birth and marriage certificates) and they would do it for us for only £10! Our third mistake was to believe them (in fact we rang them back to double check what they had told us!).

Arrive at airport, go to desk, told no, we couldn’t do that and have to pay a new full fare ticket there and then or not fly (and so lose all the tickets). Not only that, but in that fare they have the audacity to charge us extra because we didn’t check that ticket in online! Well yes, how were we supposed to do that exactly when you buy it at the airport? So we are now £400 out of pocket, have upset travellers, and a ticket that isn’t even going to be used. At least we were given details of how to claim a refund.

Or at least we thought we were. The first thing you discover is that the only way to contact the airline to make complaints is by FAX (although discovering some suitable email addresses did seem to speed up correspondence eventually, but could have been coincidence… ). The next thing you discover is that every reply hides behind their “Terms and Conditions”, even though our complaint was that THEIR call centre gave us the wrong advice, we KNOW what their terms and conditions say, this complaint was totally independent of their terms and conditions. We were constantly bombarded with being told that when  you buy tickets you agree by their terms and conditions blah blah blah. I have looked at them, I cannot see anywhere where it tells me that any advice given by their employees should not be trusted and yet this was all we were treated to despite clearer and clearer letters to them. Eventually, the final letter was again terms and conditions blah blah blah, but they would pass on our comments to their reservation manager. We have yet to receive a reply, and that was several months ago.

The only next step I can see is small claims court, but in the meantime we will never be darkening the doors of this Mickey Mouse company again. I doubt they care since they will find plenty of other mugs to fill their seats, but at least we will be happy in the knowledge that over the next few years there are thousands of pounds that we will be paying one of their competitors instead.

Want to fly anywhere? Pay the extra and get treated with some respect.

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Dave

Mathematician at the University of Warwick in the UK with research interests in equivariant bifurcation theory and applications, especially in modelling of insect locomotion. Teaching interests include online learning and innovative teaching methods. Also occasionally creates material for the University's "International Gateway for Gifted Youth". He has been active on the Internet since 1995, initially though his UFO and Michael Schenker website, but now through a multitude of projects.

One Comment:

  1. UPDATE: my wife managed to do the same thing again, this time with Finnair. For 20 quid they changed the names at the check-in desk with minimum of fuss.

    Now *that* is good customer service.

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