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Thursday, January 20, 2005

A thousand knives 

Dear Air New Zealand,

I have recently had the misfortune of being a customer of your airline.

This blog details just how appalling your service has been.

Several weeks ago I endeavoured to book a flight over your website, normally a pain-free way of organising travel, however when I clicked on “purchase tickets” your website informed me the transaction had not been successful and to try again.

Having double checked my credit card details I retried – same result.

On the third attempt your website informed me I had insufficient funds available.

On calling my bank they informed me two tickets had been purchased and to call Air NZ to get one of them cancelled.

However, your customer service representative told me no way was my money in your account and no tickets had been purchased because I had not been issued with a booking reference number.

After an hour of patiently explaining the situation and seeking assistance from various, and seemingly-equally, feeble-minded staff I was told to cancel the excess ticket via my bank.

Then, in 24-hours time the money from the other ticket would be freed-up in your system and I could just ring back and I would be issued with the ticket.

Twenty-four hours later yet another uninformative customer services representative said there was no sign of any money and that I had to cancel the second ticket via the bank.

There was no apology given for having temporarily bankrupted me or for the labour involved – by now several hours - dealing with your staff and the bank to get my money back.

Nor was there any reply to the e-mail I sent to your customer services e-mail address where I said I thought your service was sub-standard.

By contrast the ASB Bank representatives did everything they could to assist me in the situation.

“What do you mean they don’t have your money? It’s sitting in their account,” my bank said.

Interesting isn’t it how differently the consumer is treated when there is genuine competition in the domestic marketplace.

It might be wishful thinking that the interest you earned on my money while it sat in your account will be invested into staff training.

I guess with your tactics of undercutting even the most token of domestic competitors it is not something you need concern yourselves with.

And still you need bailouts!

Arriving for my flight at Auckland Airport fifty mintues in advance of departure I stood in a barely-moving queue until they announced the flight was about to close.

I ran to a nearby Air NZ representative and said you’ve got help me bypass this queue and get on this flight, but to no avail.

By the time I got to the check-in counter I was informed the flight had closed and I had to book another ticket.

As I had booked on the cheapest flight available there was no refund, your staff acknowledged that I had missed the flight because of the queue - negligent level of staffing - but said there was nothing they could do.

Firstly you siphon double the cost of the ticket’s value from my account which I had to fight to get back, then I miss my flight because of impenetrable queues.

Your staff, instead of trying to help me get on a later flight by putting themselves out tell me nothing can be done.

But I guess this blog will fall on blind eyes, since when does Air NZ ever apologise or admit fault?

A royal commission of inquiry, headed by Justice Peter Mahon, found the co-ordinates of the DC-10's navigation computer had been changed incorrectly, and without ensuring the crew knew of the alterations, so the aircraft was programmed to fly into the mountain. And that the airline had briefed its pilots to fly low, weather permitting.

Easier just to lie and sully the reputation of the pilot you sent to his death - along with hundreds of other Kiwis.

They felt saddened that a Government-owned airline sent their husband and father to Antarctica, then blamed him for his own death and those of 256 others while allegedly covering up its own failings.

"If someone dies it's a tragedy, but if their integrity is questioned as well, it's much worse," says the eldest Collins daughter, Kathryn Carter, now 40 and with four children of her own."

I suppose it's always easier to blame people who are dead, and I think it put a question mark over the integrity of the airline itself."

Having exhausted every ounce of my restraint in keeping this blog voicing my outrage at your appalling service polite, I think it is best to conclude with something heartfelt:

Eat shit you fucking bastards.

Yours sincerely


The folk at Air New Zealand sound about as useful as tits on a fucking bull mate.

Meanwhile my experience with folk at ASB has been absolutely top of the line stuff. Every person I have ever dealt with there has been fantastic. Can't speak highly enough of them.

And I even owe them money. A lot of money. A whole fucking lot of money.
Bennyaseena, wiremu1306 here. I sympathise with you mate. You should write a letter to the Ralph Norris and ask for answers. Might not get your money back, but will make you feel better. And bring it to the attention of somebody important.

I have considerable experience with Air New Zealand, a lot of it OK but some of it sheer crap. Their customer services are poor in the extreme, their check-in staff sometimes (but not always, I concede) incompetent, their flight attendants brsuque to the point of rudeness.

In May last year I wanted to book return flights for Dec/Jan from the US, thru the 0800 number in the States. No can do, all booked up, extremely unhelpful and rude sales person - no joy at all. One email to an NZ travel agent, bingo return tickets. If you see my "random jotting" in the Forum you'll get a hint of how the flight was. Poor service, lousy food, and air conditioning that had the woman sitting beside me needing three blankets. According to the staff - "this one is either too hot or too cold and we can't do anything about it". Twelve hours near freezing to death? I won't bore you with the crap you get at the lounge in LA, or that the domestic connection desk at AKL international has one clerk for the 30 or so pax wanting to check in.

Air NZ has a monopoly on the US-NZ market. They can charge what they like, and give as bad a service as they like, with impunity. Traveling back thru Aus is significantly more expensive (frankly I can't fathom why), which makes Air NZ prices look good by comparison - but they'd have to be a lot less if there was competition.

I tell as many people as I can, not very patriotically I confess, to avoid Air NZ if they possibly can. And I will continue to do so even though I am pretty much stuck with them myself from here.

I have had acceptable, and even one good, experiences with them too - to be fair. Customer services were very helpful and paid out for a replacement suitcase that I could not be sure was their responsibility - they accepted it. But I agree whole-heartedly with your bottom line, that more often than not they are unhelpful, couldn't care less, and have a generally New Zealand attitude towards providing services. That would be driven out by genuine competition. Which experience shows we are not going to get, neither domestically nor internationally at least on the route that interests me at the moment. Look what they have been forced to do to stay competitive trans-Tasman, although doesn't the fact that prices are pretty much the same amongst the competitoon raise a few questions?

As with so many things, the New Zealand consumer should shake off the apathy and demand answers, and service.

A monopoly on North America -- New Zealand? Not if you count Qantas, which do the LAX-AKL route at least once a day. Perhaps you consider them too close to AirNZ to count as genuine competition?

It's the check-in that's a killer with AirNZ, whereas somewhat better with Qantas. Or take Cathay Pacific through Hong Kong, enjoy a prompt check-in and departure, but kiss goodbye to more money and at least another 10 hours of your life folded up in the usual cattle class contortions.
Yep, dc_red you're dead right. I clean forgot about Qantas, I guess partly because I had a mental block thinking that like United they stopped at Sydney or Melbourne. Put it down to age, winter storms and blizzards or sheer one-eyed antipathy towards Air NZ. Anyway you prompted me to check out their websites for current "cheapest available" faes LAX to AKL. In the month of February Qantas has fares around $1700-1800US (in fact it also has one at $1040 which must have limited availability), Air NZ is around $2560US, and United around $3500US. When I have a bit more time I'll check their fares for later in the year.

What this means in terms of Qantas' competition influencing Air NZ prices I don't know, maybe without it they'd be as high as United's.

I agree with you on the long lines at check-in, although I think they've improved the numbers of counters at Auckland. However you're right, the Asian airlines are almost in a class of their own for friendly and efficient check-in service.

Here in the States, once you've got through the hassle of check-in then there's the hideous security screening process. Now their staff must surely have been trained by Air NZ. Cheers, wiremu

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