The Problem With Cheap

Ruinair, only £0.01! (price excludes fees & ch...

Ever been left at the gate by an airline?  I almost was twice – once because a connection was late and the other in circumstances similar to the story I’ll get to in a second.  It’s an incredibly frustrating feeling under any circumstances and when you believe it wasn’t really due to anything you did that frustration can change to anger rather quickly.  Which is why I read reports like this and wonder what the airline is thinking.

This report is from  Let’s see what you think:

Forty-two Ryanair passengers were left stranded after an airport “mix-up” over their departure gate resulted in them missing their flight from Liverpool to Belfast.
The passengers claimed they arrived at the airport in good time on November 22 and were told to go to gate 30.
The group explained that when they arrived at the gate they were originally directed to, a representative of Ryanair’s handling agent Servisair was there.  They said that after a while, the Servisair employee left and they thought she was going to come back to bring them on board. But by the time they realized she was not coming back, the departure gate number had changed.  They rushed to the new gate, but the pilot refused to let them on board.
The passengers said they had missed the flight through no fault of their own, but they were then told they would have to pay to take another flight home.
A spokesman for Liverpool Airport said they usually announce any changes to departure details over the PA system, but they had not been informed of the gate switch in this instance. He added: “The airline and the handling agent between them had the responsibility to get those passengers on to the right flight and clearly that’s a question for the two parties as to where they go from here.”

Let’s assume that the airline did, in fact, make all the right announcements and their service employee did, in fact, tell them where they needed to be and when.  The airline is  still wrong here because 42 customers had a problem.  Not only are they frustrated and angry, they have friends, relatives, coworkers and others who will get a little dose of their frustration and tell their friends, etc.

The problem with “cheap” is that the business’ thinking often changes from “low-cost” to “low service”.  No frills can’t mean inattentive, sloppy, or incomplete.  When you’re selling an unadorned product, in this case a seat from Liverpool to Belfast – you MUST deliver that simple product since there is nothing else.  In this case, 42 folks telling the same tale of failure could have been mollified quickly if the “cheap” mindset hadn’t been in place.  How often is it “well, what do you want for only $15” rather than “This $15 is only the first step in a lifetime customer.”

What’s your take?

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