It is with utmost chagrin and discomfort that I am writing this complaint email to the management of Arik Air Nigeria. I have suffered a series of disappointments and deplorable treatment from your customer service unit with regards to a flight booking, payment and subsequent cancellation of said booking even with payment being drawn from my account.
At approximately 10:40am on Saturday 20th February 2016, I made a booking on hold on arik’s website choosing the option to pay via online banking (Booking reference DQHWSW).
A few minutes later 10:48am according to my payment receipt from GTBank, a payment of N56,817.00 was made for the booking. As is normal, I expected to receive an e-ticket from Arik air confirming payment and ticket issuance, but I did not.
Immediately around 10:54am I called customer care to notify them of the fact that a ticket wasn’t issued even after I paid the ticket.
The person that picked the phone advised me to call back in 45 minutes to confirm as he couldn’t confirm payment. I immediately told him that I would not be accessible via telephone in 45 minutes as I was traveling to a part of Enugu (Ogruthe town in Igbo-Eze North local government) where mobile phone connectivity was not reliable.
I pleaded with him to take details of the booking and follow up on confirming the ticket(s), as I would not be available till later on in the evening. He blatantly kept repeating that I must call back in 45 minutes and I had no choice but to hang up the call, as I was already late for my assignment.
Several attempts to reach customer care were abortive during the day as I imagined and explained earlier.
On getting back to town around 8:30pm, I got a notification that my booking has been cancelled due to non-payment of associated fees.
I immediately called customer care again and explained my situation to them. I spoke with either Patrick or Moses. Not sure precisely who at this point, and I was told that the finance department does not operate on weekends and there is nothing I could do except buy a new ticket at a premium price of about N90, 000. I told them I have been debited for the previous transaction and there was no reversal (assuming it was a case of incomplete transactions).
The only feedback I got from customer care was that my only option was to either make a new booking and pay the premium price or I pray and hope that someone from the finance department comes along to the office at some point before my 12:25pm flight as the department only runs occasional skeletal services on weekends.
Immediately I protested this option of putting myself at the mercy of the whim of the finance department staff to come to the office on a weekend and an alternative solution be sought, but I was told I had no other option.
After hanging up the call I called GTConnect, the customer care department of GTBank at exactly 8:53pm to confirm the status of the transaction.
I was told there was no issues with the transaction, and that my account has been duly debited via the NIBBS/e-bills payment platform that I used and the funds credited to Arik’s account.
At around 8:18am Sunday 21st of February (today), I called customer care again and spoke with Patrick who told me that my situation is still the same and I should call back by 11am when he believes a staff of the finance department should be around. I protested the reliance on the appearance of this elusive staff and demanded action be taken to guarantee I am cleared for the flight.
By this time I was at the airport in Enugu making the same case to the desk officers at Arik simultaneously and they kindly explained that it was only customer care that could authorize their allowing me on the flight.
I handed the phone over to the station manager Mr. Onu Marcel to discus with the customer care agent and it was agreed that I should come back around boarding time 11:25am, hoping that the finance department would have cleared me for flight.
Lo and behold I call customer care back at 11:20am while en-route the airport and I was told no one was still available to attend to me from the finance department. I was advised to still proceed to the airport and I might still make the flight as someone from the finance department might still turn up for work.
At this point I was already agitated and requested that my case be escalated upwards. I demanded to speak with the supervisor on duty and was put on hold for a few minutes and later told the supervisor has stepped out to check on the finance department to see if anyone was around.
Strangely, after a few minutes and me asking where the supervisor was and why he or she wasn’t back with feedback, I was told that the supervisor has confirmed remotely that the payment was untraceable at the finance department.
At this point it was obvious to me that the customer service unit was just trying to get me off their backs, hence I requested for the name of both the supervisor and the mysterious and elusive finance personnel that have pronounced the payment untraceable. I voiced my dissatisfaction and told them I do not believe that neither the supervisor nor the finance personnel was around.
Immediately after making the request for the names, the line went silent and I did not get any response for another 5-10 mins and I said it on record that I’m aware I’m being ignored and will take the case up with management and hung up.
On getting to the airport, I narrated my ordeal to the staff there alongside the station manager, and asked for any other option I could proceed with. I was told buying a new ticket(s) was the only option. I even requested to be issued a new ticket at the same rate as the one that was cancelled, but was told it was not possible.
All the while, I kept calling customer care back but I believe my call was being screened as I called 5 times and each time I got connected to an agent, the call got dropped with no one speaking at the other end.
I eventually called with a different number, and a male voice came on, introducing himself as either Patrick or Moses. Immediately I asked for clarification on the name, the line was dropped again.
I brought this to the attention of the staff at the airport and they were visibly dissatisfied with the treatment I was getting, but couldn’t do much.
At this point I had no money left to book the premium priced tickets, and subsequently was not allowed on the flight to Lagos.
As I’m typing this tirade, and until d last few minutes (approximately 3:11pm), I have been stranded at the airport in Enugu, with no money to buy a new ticket and no money to book a hotel for the night. I had to frantically make calls to friends and family in Lagos trying to get some money and just got enough money together to buy tickets for myself and my team to fly back on the 3:50pm Aero flight back to Lagos.
I would like a resolution of this case to be done in the next 24 hours, with refunds made, differential payment of the new Aero ticket(s) paid and adequate compensation and apology made.
In a situation I don’t receive a redress I deem appropriate, I will be proceeding with a legal action against the management of Arik and will be seeking maximum penalties and damages.
Your grossly dissatisfied customer,