Ryanair descends to new lows in customer service ratings

Which? survey reveals league table for customer service

The consumer organisation Which? has today released the results of its latest survey of customer service performance. It asked nearly 4,000 members of the public to rate how the companies make them feel, how helpful and knowledgeable their staff were, and how well they handled complaints.

Ryanair branded “arrogant” “sneaky and “greedy”

Ryanair has been rated the worst firm for customer service out of 100 popular brands operating in the UK.

I don’t think this comes as a surprise to anyone. Ryanair is not known for great customer service.  According to the Which? report, passengers felt undervalued by unhelpful staff and miserable complaints handling. Ryanair came bottom of the table, only managing a paltry customer service score of 45 per cent overall, with the lowest rating of one star in all three categories:

  • Making you feel valued as a customer
  • Attitude/helpfulness of staff
  • Efficiency with solving complaints or problems

Which? said “Presented with a choice of 50 words to describe the airline, most of the airline’s passengers opted for ‘greedy’, ‘sneaky’ and ‘arrogant’, with one going as far as to say “Ryanair seem to make things deliberately difficult in order to make more money out of their customers”.

People take a calculated risk when booking with Ryanair. Every year Ryanair has strikes, every year there are reports of Ryanair trying to fob people off and not pay them compensation due. At some point it has to come to an end for Ryanair. Michael O’Leary, the CEO since 1994, has always been quite open about not caring about his own customers. It seems to be a model that has worked for him and his company. Cheap flights with little investment in training, retaining staff or customer service and complaint handling.

But is it worthwhile for Ryanair to continue this customer-hostile behaviour? There has to be a limit to what people can take, causing an increase in the numbers of passengers who say theu will never fly Ryanair again. When asked about how well the airline handles complaints, half (50%) of respondents gave it the lowest possible rating.

In September 2018 I wrote about Ryanair misleading customers on their consumer rights and again in December Landing in court with Ryanair (what you need to know about airlines and ADR too!).

easyJet, another budget airline, came in at 79th place, not hugely better but it was the highest ranking airline, demonstrating that Ryanair could definitely improve. One can only wonder if the airlines with the cheapest flights invested more in customer service, instead of constantly trying to fob people off and treat them badly, how well they could do. This is of course theoretical, because Ryanair has no intention of improving anytime soon. Numerous media outlets tried to get a statement from them regarding this survey but failed.

Telecoms

It comes as even less of a surprise that three large telecoms providers are right down there at the bottom of the rankings. Having complained to Virgin Media many times and using the Alternative Dispute Resolution scheme three times, winning each time, I can vouch for just how dreadful their service is. It is the sector about which I receive the most complaints, that’s for sure. And let’s not forget the energy companies performing badly too, whether it’s the Big Six or the smaller newcomers to the market.

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If you are having problems with your telecom provider see All you need to know about complaining to telecom providers or for energy,

 

Electricity pylon Everything you need to know to complain about energy problems

All you need to know to make a complaint about energy

 

Retailers

The big brand retailers and supermarkets came out well, considering the current difficulties in the High Street. The findings appear to suggest that some stores and supermarkets are getting better at customer service.

In the banking sector, the online bank First Direct took the top slot. A score of 89% is very high! Customers were hugely positive about the bank’s quality of service. Other banks would do well to look at First Direct which has won awards for customer service for a number of years.

Lakeland (87%) was the highest-rated retailer, standing out for the attitude of its staff, where it scored the full five-stars. Customers chose the word ‘helpful’ when given a list of words to describe the brand.

Sports Direct, unsurprisingly, was rated as the worst retailer for customer service with a 58% rating. Customers told Which? that the sporting apparel shop did not make them feel valued. The negative reputation Sports Direct has for treating both its staff and its customers is borne out by the survey.

Customer service dissatisfaction

The findings are in keeping with those from the Customer Service Institute. Last month it published a report Customer service goes down, complaints are going up showing that Customer service is getting worse. The ICS Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) has shown a decline for the fourth consecutive year. And by a significant amount too. 14.3% of consumers said that they experienced a problem with customer service. This represents a rise of 1.5% since last year’s figures.  in a report published last month.

Harry Rose, Editor of Which? Magazine, commented: “The best way to send a clear message to businesses about the importance of customer service is to spend your hard-earned cash with brands that make it a top priority – and don’t hesitate to complain if you feel you’ve been treated poorly.”

Customer service is becoming more important to savvy consumers and those in all the sectors would do well to heed the messages that consumers are sending. Not investing in customer service and complaint handling and fobbing customers off does not help sales. It contributes to a costly high turnover of staff, poor company reputation and a lack of loyalty.

Businesses getting it right see an increase in customer loyalty and better sales as a result. It’s not rocket science!

BBC Breakfast 23/08/19 discussing the Which? report

BBC Breakfast 23/08/19 Helen Dewdney discusses the Which? customer service survey

 

The journey ends – Malvern Group travel company goes under

couple on beach sunset

What you need to know when a holiday company goes bust

It was announced today (2 August 2019) that the Malvern Group have ceased trading.

The failed company encompasses a number of holiday brands, including Late Rooms, based in Manchester and Mini Holidays, also known as Super Break, based in York.

Although relatively small compared to the big household travel names, it is thought that 53,000 customers have been or will be affected.

Amazingly Late Rooms was still advertising on Twitter as of 31 July!

However, just 24 hours later it tweeted:

Now that the company is in administration, here’s the Complaining Cow’s advice on what to do next if you have a holiday booked or are currently on holiday with one of the companies in the Malvern Group.

What are your rights if you have a booking with the Malvern Group?

It is slightly complicated because those on Super Break package holidays are protected by the travel association ABTA but gift vouchers and tickets for entertainment and attractions are no longer valid. You will not be able to claim these back. You could try the bank/credit card methods below but it is very unlikely.

There is no cover for Late Rooms as they are not members of ABTA.

What should you do if your travel company goes into administration and is an ABTA member?

If you have booked a package with an ABTA member company that did not include a flight then you are protected. So, if you travelled by train, for example, you should still be able to travel. But you should check with ABTA if you have any have any problems or think there may be any. It will be able to advise. See link below.

What should you do if your travel company goes into administration and a flight is involved?

All flight-based holidays that include a flight must be ATOL protected. This means that you will get a full refund of the amount paid for the holiday. You will need to contact ATOL and go through their process for getting a full refund. If you bought just a flight you will not be covered.

What should you do if you bought a flight separately?

You MAY be covered where you have booked flights but do not receive your tickets immediately. Most charter flights operate like this but sometimes can also apply to discounted scheduled flights or if you have paid for flights in instalments. ATOL protection does not apply to flights booked directly with scheduled airlines or to flights booked with airline ticket agents. So, you will need to follow other routes for getting your money back, as detailed below.

If you bought your airline ticket from an airline and you receive a valid ticket in exchange for payment, you are not covered by ATOL.

What if the company didn’t take payment and the hotel was paid directly

Sometimes the payment made by you goes direct to the accommodation provider. This is unusual, but in the case of Late Rooms, your money was paid directly to the hotel by Late Rooms. So, you should check with the hotel as your holiday could still go ahead.

What should you do if your holiday is neither ABTA nor ATOL protected?

Look at your travel insurance which may cover you. Look for “end supplier” cover throughout all the small print. You can also try your bank for cashback if you paid by bank transfer or, if you paid by credit card contact your credit card company and use Section 75A of the Consumer Credit Act.

What are your rights regarding excursions?

It is unlikely that these will be covered, but you should check with ABTA and you can try the methods above for getting your money back. Details in the link.

What about gift vouchers?

Unfortunately you are unlikely to get this money back. Contact the company that is put in charge of the administration process and add yourself to the list of creditors but you will be bottom of the list of people to be paid. There’s more in my article gift vouchers for a company in administration.

What if I am currently on holiday with a company that has gone into administration?

If your holiday is covered by ABTA you should still be able to continue your holiday. If you get into any problems with transport or accommodation please contact ABTA for advice. If you are covered by ATOL you should be able to continue with your holiday.

Links for more help

Check all your paperwork or on ABTA and ATOL websites to see if they are members.

ABTA

ATOL

CAA

At the point of writing administrators have not been appointed.

Update 03/08/19 http://www.malvern.group/ KPMG as been appointed as administrators.

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