12 May 2019

Hafiz Adewuyi

Bad customer service example in Nigeria: Airpeace or Air Peace πŸ™„πŸ™„


I used to write a lot of bad reviews about Nigerian businesses in my younger years, on this blog. In my younger years, I had no chill on that matter. You're a business, you cross me, you're ending up in a no details spared rant on my blog. In a power-imbalanced situation like the one I'm in now, this is the easiest way I have to respond to getting bullied.

Over the years though, I started to understand that humans make mistakes and this necessarily extends to the businesses that they create. Also, a respected person in my network expressed their disappointment over an article I'd written about a small business which could potentially hurt its patronage. As a result, I decided that writing factually correct but defaming articles about organizations was not worth my time anymore. Besides, it's not like any of my articles had caused any observable change anyway. My life could do without some negativity.

Today though, I'm compelled to do it again. I can't see any reason why not to. This is more gratifying and easier than spending time trying to get redress from Airpeace for this annoyance.

Timeline of events

  1. Booked return flight ticket (search link here) from Lagos to Abuja with Airpeace (5th May)
  2. Got an email saying the flight time has been shifted by over an hour (6th May)
  3. Sent an email to Airpeace customer care to cancel and refund the Lagos to Abuja flight since the new schedule would not work for me. This was after I'd checked Arik and seen that they actually had a flight whose timing worked for me and at a good price too. (7th May)
  4. Booked Arik one-way ticket to replace the cancelled first leg of my Airpeace flight (7th May)
  5. Had Arik Air leave my Lagos to Abuja ticket open (for a future date) as I decided to backdate my flight by one day and none of their flight times for that day worked for me. I would have asked for a refund but I didn't want to trigger another 4-week long refund process. I also didn't know if I would get a full refund since their website is missing an FAQ page (Hyperlink: https://www.arikair.com/arik-air-faqs)(HTTP 404: NOT FOUND). Also, their terms and conditions page is a pop-up on the home page containing human-unreadable information (8th May)
  6. Booked another Lagos to Abuja one-way ticket with Airpeace with new money, even though I had money with them that I would only see again in 4 weeks' time. "This process cannot be reversed", they said when I reached out via email to ask if they cancel delay their 4-week long refund so I could use the money to buy another ticket, with them! (8th May)
  7. Travelled from Lagos to Abuja with Airpeace (10th May)
  8. Couple of hours to the end of the day before returning to Lagos, I decided to select a seat on my return flight (Abuja to Lagos). Only to discover that even though my instruction to Airpeace on 7th May was specific about which flight leg was to be cancelled and refunded (because they had re-scheduled it), they had also cancelled and 'initiated' refund for the return leg of my trip. They cancelled the entire ticket!

    The possibility of such stupidity didn't even cross my mind for once before that moment and I'd legit have gone to the airport the next day expecting to use a nullified ticket if not that I serendipitously got prompted by my Uber driver to select a seat in advance (11th May)
    Yes sir, we do quick refunds. Only that our own quick refund takes four weeks - Airpeace
  9. After panicking and successfully suppressing my panic, I sent Airpeace an email asking for a redress for their error as I had to be in Lagos 'tomorrow'. Then picked up my phone to call because 'this is urgent'! Was further infuriated by Airpeace's taking the liberty to play me an advert for one full minute before the IVR menu was presented to me. "Why can't this advert be delayed till the waiting period", I thought to myself. (11th May)
  10. Due to a combination of the delays and the wrongly positioned adverts (which I had to hear three times) and getting dropped off the call right after laying my complaint (and not getting a callback; cos who cares right?), I spent 25 minutes of airtime ($1) to get told that nothing could be done to redress their error and that my only option was to pay to book another ticket.  (11th May)
  11. I first tried to book my Abuja to Lagos flight with Arik using my open ticket from 8th May. The customer care agent I spoke to broke my heart by informing me that the only way I could activate my open ticket was to visit one of their offices. That, because I have to pay an administration fee of 2000, and a fare difference and it could not be done except in-person bet I booked this flight online mah!!?. (11th May)
  12. Left with few alternatives and no time to browse, I bought another Abuja to Lagos ticket from Airpeace at the same price as the original ticket, less than 24 hours to the flight time. A ray of light in the overwhelming darkness of the moment (I expected prices to have skyrocketed as usual). (11th May)
  13. I IMed the godsend Uber driver - that took me to the hotel on arrival - of my departure time. He's a godsend because he's the one who prompted me to select a seat early when he asked of my departure time 'tomorrow'. (11th May)

Why Airpeace shoulda coulda done better

  1. I've spent at least 200,000 Naira flying with Airpeace within the past 9 months (8 flights)

  2. This means something right? Wrong!
  3. A human deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. This includes trying to compensate to a paying customer when your own shortcoming causes them real negative consequences. Even if they're not relevant.

How Arik with a soul would have done better

This one is very simple. We're in a country where fund transfers are so seamless, they can be done mindlessly. Even if this ticket re-open feature is not built into your online ticketing system (understandable), there could be a process where the balance is paid off, either via online transfer or even at the airport, right before departure. But no, this customer is not relevant, so let him come to our office to activate a ticket he paid for online. I'm tired.

How Airpeace with a soul would have done better

  1. A four-week refund process. Seriously? In the age of Nigerian fintech? Poor people can't fly for sure. Right now, I have over 70k of my money in limbo, not to return to me until at least, 4 weeks' time. I can't see this as any other thing but a way to dissuade customers from asking for a refund. Big bad wolf Airpeace!
    Even the customer service number is a pain in the ass - 15 digits!
  2. Realizing that they made an error in over-executing my cancellation request, they would instantly rebook me on the same flight and put any fare differences on the house. Especially as the refund for the cancelled flight was sent via the Pigeon mobile banking app. Seeing as I've spent 200k patronizing them in less than a year, they would put a little faith in me to send them the balance as soon as the refunded amount reaches me.

    But no, the current Airpeace is a business, not a charity. Also, I am not relevant to have this kind of risky consideration made for me. We Nigerians take all we can get and I'll surely run away with 23k and use it to finalize my grand ploy to fly abroad, slipping masterfully out of their grasp.
  3. They would not have me involuntarily pay to hear an advert for a full minute except it's absolutely unavoidable e.g. no customer service agent to serve me at the moment

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Write comments
13 May 2019 at 15:09 delete

"Yes sir, we do quick refunds. Only that our own quick refund takes four weeks." Wow, this beats all the response I've gotten from Nigerian airlines. I'm sure you sense the sarcasm there. Nigerian businesses have the poorest customer services (if you can call it that though) from my experience. The agents act as if they are being forced to do the job. Don't let me get started with my encounters with these agents. Pele, you'll get your money back someday.

14 May 2019 at 07:17 delete

Haha. The caption: "Yes sir, we do quick refunds. Only that our own quick refund takes four weeks" was my own making o. It's my sarcastic way to respond to the fact that even though in my email, I asked for a quick refund, they ignored my need (of the money to book another flight quickly because they rescheduled my flight) and told me that their refund process takes four weeks.