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Sunday, May 29, 2016

A tough lesson in loyalty

A disgruntled airline passenger relates his disappointment over a loyal programme he was a part of.
From: Saleh Mohammed via e-mail
Loyalty is devotion and faithfulness to a cause, country, group, or person. Philosophers disagree on what the object of loyalty can be as some argue loyalty is strictly interpersonal, and only another human being can be the object of loyalty.
I was reminded of our Prime Minister openly stating that he valued loyalty over “smart people.” So I took his advice and attempted being loyal to a loyalty programme.
Two Saturdays ago I had a pleasant surprise when a Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB) staffer returned my call at 7pm. I had called several times earlier to redeem my flying points. I had been faithful for years since the days of MAS.
As usual, a machine answered my call. And after a few instructions I managed to get bumped up to ‘number one in the queue’. I was asked if I would rather wait or leave a contact number so they could call me back when my number was up. I decided to wait and a few minutes later managed to talk to a homo sapien. However, after a few minutes the call was disconnected. Made another call, got a number two in the ‘queue’ and was asked once again if I wanted to wait five minutes or leave a number. Decided to leave my number but after more than twenty minutes, there was no call back. Made yet another call, got a number four in the queue and was told to wait for nine minutes for a call back. The response from the airline came at 7pm, four hours later.
The calls I made were in regard to a limited three-day redemption, the e-mail of which I received on the second day of the promotion. In my case, it was a challenge whether to take up the offer within two days since Ramadhan was only about two weeks away. Further, I had a lot of expired points that could be purchased back at a cost and the deadline to do so was end May. Holiday planning usually needs time. Alas, I took up the offer at the eleventh hour. In any case, the offer was extended for two more days, the day after the first offer expired.
The day to travel arrived and I was at KLIA looking for the check-in counter at the main board. I was puzzled when it showed “kiosk”. Where was this kiosk? A check at the information counter directed me to row C. I was not the only one confused as there were many before me and I guess after me, who would get confused too. It would have saved everybody’s time if the exact row number was shown on the main board itself.
My adventure did not end there. As any law-abiding passenger, I checked-in at the boarding gate within the stipulated time. Take-off time was a few minutes away and we were not informed of any delays and this was close to midnight. Suddenly an announcement is made that due to technical problems my flight would be delayed for about 20 minutes. A few moments later, another announcement is made stating that take-off would be at 1am, an almost two-hour delay.
As a loyalty programme passenger, I do hope the heydays of MAS can be emulated when loyalty programmes were, I considered, the best around. To top it, I was a shareholder of MAS too until it collapsed. Fact is, I exchange all my credit card points only for Enrich.
Another point is that ‘My Activity’ in my account used to show when my Expiring Miles were due. The present version only shows a three-month window, and I do not know if maybe some points will expire in the fourth month. Again, holiday planning is not a short-term matter.
I tried to check my statement but the required information did not appear on my computer screen.
Another disappointing feature are the ‘Taxes’ (service charges and duties), that are about double when redeeming, as compared to buying a ticket. This is due to the ‘fuel service fee’. I am not quite sure why a loyal passenger has to pay for this fuel service fee when fuel prices are at low levels and others do not!
What is playing in my mind now is whether I am not that smart after all. Does MAB value loyalty over ‘smart people’?
I am now second guessing why Mr Mueller is leaving the airline after an extensive search for him and way before the end of his three-year contract.
Trust the people who direct the company take a critical look at how to move MAB to rub shoulders with some of the leading Middle Eastern airlines.
“Those who do not know the value of loyalty can never appreciate the cost of betrayal.”
Saleh Mohammed is an FMT reader.

1 comment:

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