68 entries categorized "Travel"

Qantas Customer Care just doesn't

Qantas

 

Back in September I had to fly to Thailand for a magic event, so I booked my flights on Qantas for Sep 18 returning on September 23.

I have been a Frequent Flyer with Qantas for 20 years and I have always had seating preference request for a window seat. 

My first flight (to Singapore) was not a Qantas flight but Emirates... and I was seated at the very back of the plane in a middle seat in the middle aisle. As I was pretty much the first to check in, I asked if they could change my seat to a window but they assured me the flight was full and all seats were allocated.

During the flight, as I was at the very back, I was the last one to be served a meal and the options were exhausted. I was offered the fish (which I don't eat). They said they would check and see if there were any other meals - but they never came back... so I didn't eat. Luckily I had brought my own water on board because I didn't get a drink either.

I arrived at midnight and my flight to Bangkok was 9am, so I had booked the transit hotel in the airport. But I was told because my next flight was JetStar (I had booked on Qantas) I had to clear customs and check in again. 

I did this but, when I tried to check in JetStar told me to come back at 7am as check in was not open. This meant I could not get back into the airport and my hotel. I kicked up a fuss, enough it seems, as they got a manager and reluctantly checked me in anyway. I was given an aisle seat up the back...

During this flight I was offered a food voucher, as I had booked on Qantas. Sadly my choices (sandwiches etc) were all "unavailable". I settled for honey roasted nuts and a coke. On eating the nuts I got quite a shock... they were wasabi nuts. I called them over and they were genuinely surprised I was unhappy. They were all out of the advertised honey roasted nuts, so they gave me the only other thing they actually had in stock... pretzel mix.

Yummy breakfast... not.

On my return flight, I was on a Qantas flight... operated by Emirates... again I was in a middle seat in the aisle.. again they couldn't do anything about the seating... but this time I was not at the back of the plane.

Meal service came and they started serving from behind me this time. I admit I got excited and started to choose my meal but, after serving the row directly behind me they went straight to the front of the plane and started serving from their back. Yep, by the time they got to me it was the fish or nothing. I chose nothing. 

I was offered a drink this time. I asked for tomato juice and the attendant poured me an apple juice. When I explained that I had requested tomato she gave me the dirtiest look and slowly, silently took the drink back and poured me the most evil tomato juice I've ever had.

She didn't return for the duration of the flight... and I was quite pleased actually.

Arriving in Sydney I rechecked my luggage and had a very helpful Qantas staff member look after my transit.

Flying to Melbourne, in an aisle seat, was again marred by inattentive and disinterested in flight attendants.

 

Qantas

 

I wasn't exactly thrilled with the lack of service I received, the seating, the meals, or the fact that I booked with Qantas and was shuffled around on other airlines causing various problems as a result, so I did the right thing and went to the Qantas website and filled out their feedback form on September 25 and almost immediately received this email:

 

Dear Tim,

Thank you for contacting Qantas Customer Care.

We are always happy to hear from our customers and to assist where possible.

Your reference number is 2014/187568.

We aim to respond to you within the next 15 business days.

If you have further feedback relating to 2014/187568 or wish to add attachments, please click here.

Kind regards

Qantas Customer Care

 

But by October 21 I still hadn't heard from them so I emailed them again.

Then I realised it would most likely get no result so I went back to the Feedback Form, filled it all out again, adding the fact that they had failed to contact me within their time frame and I immediately got a response:

 

Dear Tim,

Thank you for contacting Qantas Customer Care.

We are always happy to hear from our customers and to assist where possible.

Your reference number is 2014/187568.

We aim to respond to you within the next 15 business days.

If you have further feedback relating to 2014/187568 or wish to add attachments, please click here.

Kind regards

Qantas Customer Care

 

 

On Wednesday November 5 I finally received a reply from Qantas Customer Care

Dear Tim

Thank you very much for contacting us with your concerns.

I would like to apologise that you had such a negative service experience when travelling with us recently please accept my sincere apologies.

When travelling in the future you are able to pre select your seating on our website at Qantas.com.au.

Please be assured that your feedback is not falling on deaf ears. Feedback such as this is invaluable to us as it flags up areas in which we need to improve, and only when passengers like you inform us of this much needed improvement are we able to take steps and make the changes needed. We are truly committed to creating the world's best flying experience, in every regard from check-in to destination and beyond, and the only way to get there is to listen to our passengers.

Thank you again for contacting us with your feedback, and I hope we can welcome you aboard a Qantas flight again in the near future. 

Kind regards

Louise

Customer Care Executive

 

To me, it appeared that they hadn't really addressed my point that my Frequent Flyer seat preferences were supposed to determine where I sat (ie: window as opposed to the centre of the centre aisle) and were telling me it's now up to me to go online and book my own seat. Plus, they totally ignored my other issues with meals and dismissive staff.

So I replied to them - and this time my email bounced back with a reply saying "This mailbox is not monitored."

Maybe my feedback WAS falling on deaf ears after all!

So I sought out their Facebook page, which is FILLED with customer complaints, and I summarised the entire saga in a post and received a reply right away telling me that they were very concerned that this issue had not been addressed, they pride themselves on customer service and safety is always the number one priority at Qantas... they asked me to PM them my reference number and they would get back to me right away!

Wow! Maybe they have shifted their entire Customer Care team over to social media? That's why the phones never get answered and the feedback forms are replied to by computer... there's nobody at head office anymore.

Sadly, nobody contacted me.

I kept posting messages saying I hadn't heard from anyone yet until my post got so far down the page I couldn't find it anymore.

Then I had to start a fresh post all over again, letting them know I hadn't heard anything from them in their attempt to address the fact that I hadn't heard anything from... them.

This time they asked me to PM them my email address, as they claimed they had emailed a reply and were surprised I hadn't got it.

So was I, as I was receiving Qantas spam (sorry... "promotional material") on almost a daily basis.

Again I waited, again I had to start a fresh post as my second post had disappeared under a mountain of complaints from other, equally frustrated, soon to be ex-Qantas customers.

Finally, on November 25, after almost THREE WEEKS of fruitless posting on their Facebook page, I received this:

"Hi Tim, as previously discussed our Customer Care team has sent a reply via email on the 14th of November and again on the 19th of November. We understand you have not received either email and would request an alternate email to once again resend this response to as it appears you are not receiving any correspondence from Customer Care. Lily"

I explained that my email was working, their is no reason I should not be receiving emails from them

"Hi Tim, we have followed this up with Customer Care and have once again asked that they re-send a copy of the email dated 19th November 2014. Please confirm if and when you receive their email response. Lily"

... and then

 

IT ARRIVED!!!

 

Finally, the email they said they sent on November 14 (or 19th) addressing my issues of seating, meals, staffing and lack of response from Customer Care arrived:

"Ref. No: 2014/187568

Dear Tim,

Thank you for your further correspondence. 

I regret that you are unhappy with our response.

I feel that your concerns with your Emirates and Jetstar travel on your WEB JET
ticket were adequately addressed. I am afraid that there is nothing more I can
add. 

I appreciate you taking the time to pursue this issue and I apologise if we have
not been able to resolve this matter to your satisfaction. 

Kind regards
Louise 
Customer Care Executive"

Wow.

 

 

"

 

 


From my wall - #5

Story4


Continuing on with odd photos on my office wall... this is probably one of the oddest! 

It was taken back on, possibly, my first lecture tour of the States (2002?). After doing a lecture to a great crowd in Florida one guy heard we were going in to Busch Gardens and said he worked there. So, after we did the roller coasters and got our adrenaline rush, he took us backstage to meet some of the amazing creatures he worked with. It was quite the VIP experience!

Looking at the Busch Gardens website now, it seems that the Dolphin theatre must have been replaced shortly after our visit, so that makes this photo even more special.

I wouldn't mind going back to Tampa some day soon, after all they have some of the top coasters at that park, but they also have this wonderful exhibit.

From my wall - #4

Story5

Many of you know that I'm a big WWE fan. A long time ago (as you can tell by the poster behind me as it has the WWF logo) I was lecturing through the USA and one of the stops was New York - so I took full advantage and made a trip to Times Square especially to visit the newly opened WWF restaurant/nightclub. This was even before Criss Angel took up residence in the venue with a show which, by all reports, was actually better than his current Luxor show.

It was quite an experience to visit this newly minted mecca of all things wrestling. Very exciting because it was fresh and new and I was there... but all very disappointing because it was, in essence, just another manufactured theme restarant (like an 'Irish O'Murphy's' pub or something).

I guess my feelings were pretty much shared by the WWE Universe because the venue has ceased to be. Now it's gone, replaced by another themed restaurant, the Hard Rock Cafe.

 



From my wall - #3

Story3

The year was 1990 and, as a post 'Magic Week' celebration, Andrew Gill and myself took a trip to Fiji. Of course we didn't pay, a client of mine hired us to entertain at his resort so the "holiday" was on the house.

When we arrived it was more than just a show at the resort. We had arrived at the height of the annual Sigatoka Festival and I discovered that I was the special guest!

It was a river festival, so Andrew and I were paraded up and down the river in a boat as the locals cheered and Andrew, feeling he wasn't working hard enough, kept "accidentally" falling out of the boat much to the delight of the riverbank crowds.

Fiji, like may tropical destinations, has "Fiji Time", which means everything starts about an hour later than it's scheduled. So one night, when we were told the top chief on the island was coming to see our show, we decided to start even later than usual (as we knew the more important you are, the later you turn up) and to do an extra long show.

An hour and a half after starting time he still hadn't arrived, so we decided to start anyway. The normal 45 minute show was stretched out to an hour and a half and we did every trick we could think of. Then, just before we started the last trick, there was a great fuss and hullaballo as the chieffinally arrived!

He was ready to see the show.

Simple, they told us, just start again.

We couldn't do that so while Andrew was on I ran about grabbing things from the kitchen, the hotel office, the supply cupboards... anything I could think of that could be handy for a trick. Andrew and I did another hour filled with half-remembered, improvised tricks that everyone (thankfully) really enjoyed.

The chief was very happy - which meant everyone was very happy too.

Especially us - when the marathon show was finally over!


First day of the CUMC Convention

What a huge day!

At 9am we arrived at the China University Magic College convention ready to judge the competition,

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but first we had to do an interview with CCTV.

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I have no idea what I'm doing... they just gave us lines in Chinese to repeat. It was very weird.

Not quite as weird as the randy Sponge Bob Square Pants that was sharing the dressing room with us

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So the competition began - with a bunch of cute kids to start with, to stage acts, to close up acts. Then it was lunch and returning again to judge more acts until around 5.30pm

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After that it was preparing for the big Stage Gala Show - and by big, I mean 14 acts!!!

Scheduled to start at 7pm, it started late at 7.30pm and went on without an interval until at least 10.30pm! I was the second last act and the audience was still wildly enthusiatic for magic (thank goodness!) What was most bizarre was they encouraged the audience to tweet during the show and displayed all their messages on the video screens live during the show! I guess it stopped them from using their phones to film it...

Here's a shot I took from the stage during the curtain call.

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It was a wildly busy and exciting day, and the enthusiasm they have for magic is overwhelming!

However, it's very late and we have an even bigger day tomorrow with lectures and the Gala Awards Show.


Shopping

If you ever want to feel insignificant on this planet, spend a day driving around Beijing. There are so many people everywhere it's amazing that anyone can muster up the drive and ambition to stand out from the masses and succeed in their chosen field.

Today we drove to the fabric market where some of the magicians planned to get some material and have some suits made.

After a long drive to a nearby part of the city (I have no idea how long it took, I fell asleep) we arrived in the fashion district.

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It didn't take that long for the magicians to realise they had no idea what they were looking for amongst the mountains of every type of fabric imaginable.

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Nevertheless, we strolled around for a while before heading off to a nearby (30 minutes) restaurant for a lunch of China's famous 'Hot Pot'.

From there we were off to the tailors at Ya Show Fashion Complex. Only 20 minutes away, but I'm pretty sure it took over an hour. This was a multilevel bargaining bazaar filled not only with tailors but t-shirts, souvenirs, electrical goods, and pretty much anything you can imagine.

I picked up a few fun t-shirts for myself at around $7.50 each as well as a souvenir, but I did resist getting the official Beijing souvenir T-shirt

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I really don't think the first thing Australians would associate BJ with is Beijing...

No suits were tailored today, and we headed back to the hotel through Beijing rush hour and, after a quick meal at the dodgy Irish Pub across the road, I'm settling in for an early night as I prepare for the CUMC Magic Convention starting tomorrow at 8am

I'll leave you with a few other odd sights

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A very long day...

I should be asleep but I know if I don't update this now I'll never do it.

Today started early because our host wanted us to experience the Dinosaur Land as guests and, if we dared, go on the new 4D roller coaster.

First stop was the wet log flume ride... sort of low rent version of Universal Studios Jurassic Park with moving dinosaurs, dark areas, fog, and a sudden drop down three stories with a big splash as the end.

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Thankfully we were provided with full body raincoats, including little plastic bags to cover our shoes.

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A few more adventures followed as we explored the bizarre couplings of dinosaurs and medieval knights

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Watched people get turned inside out

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Though we were on a VIP tour and could skip lines and get on any ride instantly, none of us chose to ride this one... but we all rode Dino Mountain, an indoor roller coaster in the dark (think Space Mountain) and then watched a 4D version of Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.

Then came time to go on the 4D roller coaster Dinoconda.

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Suddenly, I was the only one interested in riding it despite the fact that we could avoid a three hour line. Graciously, our host Borg Yuan accompanied me on the ride and screamed like a girl all throughout it  ;)

This link should give you a Youtube clip of the coaster in action. If not, try this one.

How serious do they take their coasters in China? When you get off you are confronted by the vomitting bin.

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After that adventure it was off to lunch at the dumpling cafe and then a quick visit to watch the bird show (with macaws, cockatoos, budgies and even an emu) before taking the bus to ride something even faster than the 4D coaster - the new bullet train.

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At speeds of over 300kmh we travelled the 961 kms from the Changzhou station (pictured above) to Beijing in just under five hours. 

Then we were bussed from the station to our hotel at substatianally slower speeds that seemed strangely so much faster...

All through the journey I had a craving for tacos. No offense to Chinese food, it is great but I've had it non stop since I've arrived and I just had this weird desire for Mexican food which, realistically, I knew would go unfulfilled.

Then, at the hotel, I found a Texan Bar and Grill and thought to myself "At least I can get a steak dinner..." But what did they have on the menu...? TACOS!!!

So I go to bed tired after a long, speed filled day, but with a very happy stomach.

No vomitting bin for me!

 


Day three and all 12 shows done

Well it's goodbye to the Dinosaur theatre as I've finally made it through twelve big shows - though tomorrow we are returning to Dinosaurland one last time to go on all the rides.  :)

Our host had a surprise for us tonight. Not only was it the now customary group dinner in a private room at an elegant restaurant, but after dinner we went to the Dino-Valley Hot Springs.

You'll excuse me if I didn't take any photos, despite the beautiful architecture and extremely lush gardens, but we were busy moving from one specially designed thermal spa to the next.

Now it's after midnight. I'm waaaay to relaxed to be blogging plus I have to get up early tomorrow morning to pack, so I'll leave you with some examples of classic Engrish I saw at the Springs.

First, a sign above the paper towel dispener:

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Next, a basket sitting next to one labelled RECYCLE:

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And there was one particular Hhall we found especially restful:

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Day two completed

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These are the posters advertising my show and Arthur Trace's show here at Dinosaurland.

(Insert humorous caption here *g*)

Another four shows back to back and it's feeling like a gym workout! I'm only doing four tricks (razorblades, bill to banana, Runaround Sue and the 6 Card Rap) but my show is running at 30 minutes. I have a feeling the translation is doubling the length of the banana routine but, surprisingly, it's one of the highlights of the show - for me as well as the audience.

I have no idea what the translator (Borg Yuan, who is also the booker, pictured below) is saying, but when the Chinese ladies reach into my pocket and feel the banana the reactions are off the charts! One lady, after diving in five times finally pulled the banana out and was so shocked she threw it in the air and in landed in the moat in front of the stage. (Yes, our stage has a moat in front of it...) It was hilarious.

Another lady, when I asked her to hold the banana up so everyone could see it, held it in the middle and slowly tightened her grip until the banana split open at both ends and started oozing everywhere. Again, I have no idea why she did it but it was hilarious!

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The humidity here today was even worse, but Borg delivered on the promise of some talcum powder and, though my arms looked even more ghostly white than usual, I was able to perform Runaround Sue without any technical problems. 

However, doing a 30 minute show, then having a 30 minute reset, immediately followed by another 30 minute show (repeat) is pretty exhausting even under the best of conditions, but performing in this weird dinosaur cave theatre with non-existent air conditioning is extremely challenging.

The best thing, however, are the audiences. They are really loving the shows which is absolutely staggering to me. Maybe it's one of those enigmas like how the French really love Jerry Lewis?

I'm also pleased to report that I'm being very well looked after and we get taken out to dinner every night with several of the other magicians who are doing street shows in the park.

The picture below is an example of the little magical touches we encouter even in restaurants. It's a tomato rabbit. How cute!

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Good Morning Shanghai!

It's 10am and I think I've finally had enough sleep to be able to get up and do four shows... leaving here in two hours time.

Of course, looking at this beautiful hotel room, you know I really don't want to leave...

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But one look outside my balcony and I'm not only overlooking a golf driving range, but a huge theme park complete with roller coasters, waterslides and lots of screaming guests (I can juuust hear them if I open my window).

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It's hard to see due to the omnipresent Shanghai mist... and I can hear fireworks going off right now.. at 10 in the morning..

There are several other magicians here as well. The only one I can remember from my meeting last night at 3am is Arthur Trace.

It's going to be an interesting day!