Ryanair – How NOT to go about customer service?

I have just finished a telephone “conversation” with Ryanair and have to come to the conclusion that they are the worst company for after sales support anywhere.

For those of you reading this from outside Europe, Ryanair is a low cost airline, offering flights around Europe for as little as $1 each way..

First problem they have is the total lack of anyway to contact them by email.  Before you fly, you are forced to either view their FAQ’s or call either their reservation centre (at £0.10 per minute, here is the kicker, it always takes a minimum of 5 minutes to get to actually speak to anybody) or their internet support team at a whopping £1 per minute..

You see, dear reader, this is the clever part, when using Ryanair, the problems are generally Internet related.  Their site recently relaunched and frankly the relaunch was dreadful, they removed half the features, emails were not being sent to confirm one had made a booking and the site crashed continuously.  So my latest Ryanair experience was another web related issue.  I checked in online and the site automatically picked up my birthday as my passport expiry date, it did so just after the page crashed on me, clearly indicating another Ryanair web problem.

What to do?

I called the £1 per minute line and (not surprisingly) the call was answered straight away, they don’t want you hanging around, at £1 per minute, they want you talking to them..

So the guy that answered started off angrily asking me what my home address was and what telephone number I used on the booking, standard security questions.  I then told him the problem and asked if he could manually change the passport date “No Sir, you screwed up and inputted the wrong date”, not the kind of language I would expect to hear coming from a £1 per minute support desk.  I explained the site crashed on inputting details and maybe this was the problem?  “No, you inputted incorrectly”, this is strange because I travel with them twice per week and I kind of know how the site works!  So I dared to question the stability of the site and the fact the link was a dead one not a link to online checking in, the “support” guy then replied “we have zero problems on our site, so it is user error”.  So, instead of trying to look at the situation, I am repeatedly told it is my fault.  And then, and this is the point I had to blog about, he hung up.  The guy was so helpful and friendly that he actually cut the conversation and hung up the phone.

So, Ryanair, answer me this, how do you train your staff, in fact, are they trained?  I have never ever been called a liar and been hung up on when calling customer services, ever, and doubt any of my readers have either.  At what point does all the bad publicity online make you sit up and take a look at the underlying issues?

Now, to make a complaint, I am told that I must fax a Dublin based number and wait for a response.  FAX?  FAX?  The last time I faxed this number was when my suitcase was destroyed by baggage handlers, at the airport the charming lady told me to..wait for it..FAX.. I never had a reply then either.  I have got four solutions for Ryanair, if they did these I think the general public would feel happier and actually recommend their services not the other way round:-

1. Have a general email support – send the person emailing an automated case number and a contact telephone number to chase after 5 working days if not resolved.

2. Have an emergency email support – as above but offer a premium rate number to call if no response within 12 hours.

3. Make staff use their names, that way the customer can note the name of the staff member, note the case number and you can either re-train the staff member or in the case above, fire the staff that are rude and clearly destroying your brand.

4. Employ someone to simply check all blogs/forums and complaints online and actually leave comments and interact with users/customers, offer rewards for good feedback.  Many airlines in the US do that, and they are learning that us customers don’t actually want to complain, we simply just want help or support.

Ryanair does what it says on the tin, you pay peanuts for short flights, you don’t go on board expecting anything apart from a seat and an affordable way to get around Europe.  But when things go wrong, they should and must get their act together, I am not an isolated case and would love to write a good review on Ryanair one day.  In fact if they ever come back to me because of this blog post, I will write a follow up.

Would any other business be in existance  with customer service like this?

Can you imagine ordering a sofa online and the system has a bug, and you end up ordering the wrong size or colour?  Can you imagine having to pay £1 per minute to be told it was your fault, tough luck..?

I’d love to hear your examples (if you have any) of bad customer service, I’d be amazed if you could beat mine.  but then again, nothing surprises me anymore!