This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
OK
Dublin: 14 °C Sunday 26 May, 2019
Advertisement

Ryanair fined for bad customer service... How's that 'nice' thing going for you Michael?

The airline – which has been going through a ‘nice-over’ – will appeal the Italian ruling.

Image: ERIC LALMAND/Belga/Press Association Images

RYANAIR HAS SAID it will fight a €550,000 fine imposed by Italy’s anti-trust body for running customer service lines that charged premium rates but rarely resolved passengers’ problems.

“We note the ruling and have instructed our lawyers to appeal,” the Irish airline said in a statement.

The fine follows an investigation launched in June 2014 which resulted in the budget airline being given 90 days to end the “extreme difficulty” and high costs faced by passengers trying to reach a Ryanair employee to discuss their bookings.

The anti-trust body AGCM said most of the complaints it had received were from people who had found it difficult and unreasonably expensive to obtain reimbursements or alternative flights in the event of cancellations and get detailed bills for tax/expenses purposes.

Customers also complained that it was difficult to change bookings prior to flights and get information about arrangements for passengers in wheelchairs.

The competition authority acknowledged that Ryanair had partly addressed some of the issues raised by getting rid of a premium phone number for passengers requiring assistance with boarding, reducing the cost of its main customer service line and introducing customer support via online chat.

These steps were not deemed sufficient to avoid a fine although the authority said the amount imposed reflected Ryanair’s efforts to improve customer service.

Still trying to be nice

The fine is a setback for Ryanair’s attempts to improve its reputation for customer service through its three-year Always Getting Better programme.

Launched last year, the initiative has seen the airline act to reduce the ‘hassle’ factor involved in its flights by introducing allocated seating, relaxing restrictions on cabin baggage and slashing charges for printing boarding cards at check-in desks.

The goal of such moves was famously summed up by company CEO Michael O’Leary when he said the airline had to “stop unnecessarily pissing people off.”

Ryanair Belgium Source: Press Association Images

The strategy has appeared to be working with Ryanair recently announcing a 32% increase in profit for the six month to September 2014.

O’Leary, who once described customers who forgot to print their own boarding cards as “idiots”, ascribed the improvement to “being nicer to people.”

It is the second time in less than a year that the Irish carrier has been fined by the AGCM. In February 2014 it was ordered to pay €850,000 for mis-selling travel insurance on its website.

The regulator ruled that the company was not providing would-be purchasers of coverage with sufficient information, offering a product with disproportionately high excess charges and imposing administrative fees for refunds which were greater than the insurance itself.

READ: Ryanair wins another ‘screenscraping’ case against a website >

READ: Aer Lingus reaps the spoils of a global oil glut as passengers pay sky-high fuel levies >

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article
  •  

About the author:

AFP

Read next:

COMMENTS (57)