Enjoy another Only in Naija series by TomClancy
Only in Naija: Stranded in a Hopeless Place
I recently concluded that Nigerian companies– PHCN, banks, telecommunication companies, ISPs, airlines –don’t care much about their customers. Apparently, these companies are more eager to make money from their customers than they are to provide quality customer service for these same customers. I have written this piece to tell you why.
Permit me to use a recent experience with a Nigerian airline which calls itself ‘West Africa’s leading airline operator’ (for their mind!). I’d drop some clues about who they are. This airline has a logo that is made of two deep blue-coloured wings and their slogan is ‘Wings of Nigeria’. I guess you guys should now have an idea of who we’re talking about here…sorry, can’t say any more ;).
So, I needed to make this all-important travel from Port Harcourt to Lagos for a job interview and I booked a 1pm flight on this airline.On the travel date, I arrived the airport at 11am hoping to leave about 2 hours free to check-in my luggage and relax before my 1pm flight. However, I was utterly shocked to arrive at the check-in counter of the airline at about 11.15am to be told that my flight had been moved from 1pm to 11am, without any prior information (not even through a four naira text message). This staff asked me to hurry as the 11am flight was currently boarding. By the time I got to the runway, hoping to meet the boarding queue, the plane was already in the skies (Please note that by this time Fast and Furious 6 was not out yet so I could not do any movie tricks 😦)
Needless to say, I angrily walked back to the airline staff attending to customers at the counter. Apparently seeing the angry expression on my face, she quickly offered me an alternative flight. And this ‘alternative flight’ was the bombshell.
The airline offered me, and other passengers with a similar problem, a spot in their 5pm flight (which was literally 6 hours away). I simply couldn’t believe my ears. Other passengers reacted in different ways to this, from being speechless to shouting angrily at the airline staff. We were literally going to spend the whole day at the airport and scrap every plan we had for the day.
Of course, it soon dawned on me that the airline was purely a business, not Oxfam (i.e. charity). Apparently, the 1pm flight which I originally booked was less than half-full. It wasn’t profitable for the airplane to fly half-empty. So, they decided to ‘reschedule’ all passengers to flights that were almost full but without telling these passengers before-hand. Even worse, they offered no compensation or apologies whatsoever to its passengers whose day had been totally ruined by their un-professionalism. Passengers were ‘on their own’. To put it simply, the airline simply didn’t care much about their passengers.
So here was I, sitting at the waiting lounge with every plan for my day shattered. After more than five hours of waiting, the boarding call for the 5pm flight was announced at 6pm – one hour late. After boarding, the pilot-in-command had pretty much to apologize for. First, he apologized for the 1 hour flight delay and, second, for the air-conditioners in the plane which of course weren’t working (lol!). Therefore, I and other passengers resorted to using books, newspapers etc as hand fans, as though we were in a molue. Nonetheless, I was glad to arrive Lagos safe and sound.
So would you agree that customer services offered by Nigerian companies are generally poor? Have you had any similar experiences to share? Please feel free, share your comments and thoughts!