Monarch was originally my preferred UK airline. Unfortunately, it’s a “First to Worst” story. I can’t repeat enough that front line employees need to be trained and empowered to allow common sense.
Recently, I booked a flight on Monarch from Spain to London. After completing the whole booking process (not the most streamlined in the industry…), a weird error message popped up. Would you know how to interpret “Floatbox does not support quirks mode”? (illustration: see previous story).
I needed to start over. What happened? Pretty irritated about the loss of time, I hurried again through the booking process, which did not remember any of my previous entries. Under time pressure, I did not notice that the flight date had changed to Monarch’s default setting (just one day before my real travel date) – until just after hitting the “BUY” button. Unfortunately, this time the Floatbox did not complain and the purchase did go through.
So I called Monarch’s call center, full of confidence that a human being would get the issue fixed within seconds, have me rebooked to the right flight, charging, if necessary, the fare difference.
You may already know my naïve trust in corporate service centres managed by smart executives hating to lose customers and loving to get feedback to improve their processes.
Once again, I experienced a hard landing. The Monarch lady told me that I had to pay a 30 pounds penalty if I wanted to “change” my reservation. She didn’t care that the reservation was just one minute old. A rule is a rule. I had to pay.
But I still had some hope. Perhaps the corporate intelligence had not made its way into its premier customer touchpoint, the call center (hey Monarch, I can give you some low-cost advice about 25-years-old “Moments of Truth” management techniques!), but for sure, management would understand my point.
After the trip, I wrote to Monarch’s customer service management and asked for a refund, mentioning that the Spanish customer protection authorities considered “changes made to a ticket within 24 hours an error, not a voluntary chargeable event”. I even would accept a discount voucher should the cash refund be too difficult. And, as the flight had suffered an eight (!) hour delay and no refreshment was offered actively, I also added my meal expenses to this request.
After three weeks (!) I got a response, basically saying that Monarch did not care about my errors and that they would keep my money. And, with regard to the expenses caused by the eight hours delay, I had to resubmit my claims to another department (what????).
I gave up. Needless to say, that I also gave up Monarch as the carrier of my choice for travel to the UK. Tomorrow I am flying to London on Iberia. Last time I committed a similar error, they just changed my reservation, at no charge.
Dear Monarch, please let me know when you have recovered from your internal crisis and do value our, your scheduled customers’ business, again.
Obviously, no internal transition, no charter carrier culture can never ever justify the lack of customer empathy or lack of B2C talk and listening skills at any company. Monarch has some serious Customer Leadership challenges ahead on its way to recovery.