Farce or Fiction – Part 3 of the British Airways Downgrade Saga

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In the third (and presumably final) chapter of the British Airways Downgrade Saga (see part one and part two), I was contacted “out of the blue” by British Airways, last week. Since I was not able to take the call, the customer service representative sent me a follow-up email. To my great consternation, the response was not only unsatisfactory, it also had two errors. When I complained via the direct contact on their website, I was called the same day for a ‘clarification.’ This is how it unfolded. You be the judge!

british airways downgrade

Error #1:

The email I was addressed last week, wrote:

“As discussed with Amy on 30 April 2015, she advised you of the percentage refund you were entitled to.”

In fact, Amy did not inform me of the percentage. She merely told me that I would receive a percentage refund (as you can see in my write-up). When I was called for the follow-up clarification, she tried to tell me that I had misunderstood. I was told that what they meant was that I would be refunded a percentage.

In other words, she intended to say that Amy could only give me an indefinite and vague answer. I think, however, the word “the” is classified as a definite article. The new mail fails to make the difference. Further to those who like spot-on grammar (although, please note I am definitely not perfect either), I believe it is still considered rather clumsy to end a sentence with a preposition.

Error #2: About my Silver loyalty status

The BA mail signed off with a platitudinous appreciation for my “loyalty:”

We really appreciate your support as a Bronze Executive Club member, and we look forward to seeing you on board your [upcoming] flight with us to …”

British Airways loyalty schemeThe problem is that, as I had explicitly told Amy in my call back in April, I was officially a Silver Member. Not that I particularly care about my level of membership at BA, since that will surely slide into oblivion in short order; but, it is rather galling to see that they had failed to hear me in April. Two months on, they still have me in their files as a lowly Bronze member, about which they must surely care less than higher ranked members.

Having tried to clarify and excuse herself, the BA representative could only listen and say the usual procedural words, “we will take your concerns and report them on to the necessary parties.” Blah-blah-blah.

British Airways Downgrade – Finale

So, after over three months of wrangling, BA have finally indicated that I am due to get back 78% of the original ticket. In order to get even this much, it has only happened because I had to kick and scream. How irregular. I don’t have the money in the bank yet either, as I have to go through some more hoops with my online travel agency. I suspect I will be lucky to get that money deposited before the summer is out. For a downgrade that happened mid-March, with such a system and service, you have to wonder how BA plans to “win” the war for customers, faced with competition that takes the customer experience seriously.

I don’t see how these types of interaction are supposed to win me back? What do you think? Am I too harsh or is there something really wrong here?


12 Comments, RSS

  1. Sue

    My father is taking BA to the small claims court all on his own while fighting cancer. A bit of a David and Goliath story. He is convinced there is a difference in law between refund, (given to him by His travel agent) and compensation that he is entitled to according to European law. He is looking for help as he is all on his own in this fight. It’s not the money, but the principle. He is unlikely to fly again (due to his cancer) but he hates this poor treatment of customers so he is fighting this to change things for other passengers. Interestingly, BA has employed some rather expensive London lawyers and are not using their own lawyers to fight this. Are they running scared? Has my father found something that might shake up the industry? Here’s hoping.

  2. tomg63

    So much anguish. Just look at this as a business transaction. You got downgraded and that sucks. EU261 says your are entitled to a refund of 75% of the ticket price. This means you get £3000 back if you paid £4000. I think the law is vague, so maybe you will only get 75% of half the trip. £1500 for 10 hours of Premium Economy instead of Business on a daytime flight is pretty good. Move on. You should have known the law and asked for this upfront rather than all of the back and forth with BA

  3. JD

    Not that this necessarily would have resolved your problem, given that you were hoping to travel with a potential client, but did BA even offer to rebook you on another transatlantic flight the same day in Business with a transfer on to Austin?

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