**Disclaimer: I neither work for, nor own a competing airline. I’m not being paid to do this either. However, I do feel that that we as consumers have a huge role to play in setting the standards of service we deem acceptable for businesses to operate by, especially if the said businesses rely on our patronage to stay in business. **
***Update: This post was updated in July 2018***
A couple of weeks ago, I made the unfortunate decision of booking a flight with an airline which shall hitherto remain nameless (but rhymes with “Barbaric”). Stay with me till the end of the post to find plenty of clues as to the identity of the said airline.
At the airport, I had two choices: Take the 12.30 flight for about ₦21,000 or wait a couple of hours and fly Air Peace for ₦3,000 less. Being in a hurry to get to my destination, I decided to pay the ₦3,000 extra to fly Babaric on the basis that I would arrive in 50 minutes and continue with my business in the destination city. BIG MISTAKE, as I was soon to find out.
Just as it was time to board, a tired sounding member of staff hurriedly announced that the flight I paid ₦3,000 extra to board was being delayed by 2 hours. Okay. 2 hours later, as I watched the last of the Air Peace passengers disappear from the boarding queue, and we were still not boarding. I clenched my fists. After all, I bought the ticket myself, no one had forced me.
FOUR HOURS after our flight was supposed to depart, we were called to board. Fuming, I boarded the flight, and the captain cheerily greeted us with “We will be stopping at Port-Harcourt to by fuel before proceeding…” I’d had enough. Swearing, I stormed off the flight, back to the ticket counter and demanded a refund. Very apologetically, she promised I would get one. One week, two weeks, nothing. I had to take matters into my hands. It took a series of steps to get a refund (and an apology) and if you want to save yourself some headache, internet data and unproductive phone calls, here are the steps I took below:
**July 2018 update**
Before you carry out the steps below, try this faster method. A kind person in the comments section indicated that this worked for them recently, so it might be worth trying. Thanks, Chinelo!
1) Write an email to the necessary contact.
2) Send a message on social media preferably Twitter on the issue. Be unfailingly polite in these steps.
3) When you get no reply or a stupid reply like we are still processing your refund, then attack. Spam their Twitter page with messages such as “Return my money at once. Stealing is a crime. Copy NCAA.
4) Wait for the ….. to hit the fan.
**End of update**
– Step 1: Put your request in writing. Write your experience and complaints to the customer care service, and then indicate that you are giving them 7 days to respond to your letter, or you will take the matter further. If you have taken note of any members of your staff who might have been involved (like the sales clerk who might have promised a refund, for example), mention them. I can help with a template, but I don’t want to waste my time preparing one if you won’t find it useful, so please indicate in the comments section if you would find a template helpful.
In the case of Babaric, the complaints team you should write to is:
Prepare your mind. Think of this as a project, and the end goal is your money back. Don’t expect an immediate response at any stage, so keep working on your Plan B’s.
– Step 2: If at the end of the 7 day period there has been no response, take it further and write again to the e-mail above. Begin your email with: “Further to my email dated DDMMYYYY, I have not received a response within the 7 day period and I have been forced to take this matter further..”
Copy senior staff members, as well as the Consumer Protection Council.
Here are Barbaric’s key emails:
Abiola Shodiya <email@example.com>
Prince Ahuchaogu <Prince.Ahuchaogu@arikair.com>
Louis Okonye <Louis.Okonye@arikair.com>
Copy the CPC: cpc firstname.lastname@example.org
– Step 3: If after another 7 days, you have heard nothing, submit a direct complaint to the CPC. 99% of consumers would have heard back by now, but in the unlikely event that you have not heard anything, submit a direct complete to the CPC who has the right to sanction the airlines and make them pay.
Here is the direct link for complaints: http://cpc.gov.ng/?page_id=911
These steps will almost certainly work for you as they have worked for me.
All the best, and please share your experiences in the comments section!