‘Where did our $17,000 go?’ Air NZ Customer Contact Center Battle

An Air New Zealand customer is frustrated that she wasted an entire weekend trying to contact the airline to find out what happened to nearly $17,000 in plane tickets.

Air New Zealand has apologized for the incident, which it says happened over a weekend when its contact center team received more than 20,000 calls.

Air New Zealand's Facebook page has received numerous complaints from customers about long phone waiting times.

Douglas Bagg/unsplash

Air New Zealand’s Facebook page has received numerous complaints from customers about long phone waiting times.

Shareen Wood was booking flights to the UK for herself, her husband and three daughters. They had $2,800 in flight credits to use, with the remaining $14,000 to be paid by credit card.

Wood said she originally tried to book the flights online last Thursday, but was unsuccessful. She had tried calling the airline’s contact center for help, but after spending three hours on hold she decided to give up.

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The next day, she called her bank, who explained that there was a maximum amount she could access on the card she was using. With that sorted, she went to book the flights again, using a different card.

This time payment was made, but instead of a booking confirmation she received an alert that it could not be made and that she would have to phone the airline’s contact center, which she did. ‘she tried to do immediately.

“Obviously we were freaking out with the amount of money we had spent,” she said.

But again, she was unlucky to pass. She ended up calling three times that day, waiting for about two hours each time without success.

Over the weekend, Wood said he made 13 calls to Air New Zealand.

On some occasions, it sounded like someone had picked up – “everything went quiet. But then it would hang up.

At one point, she was able to request a callback, but ended up missing it, so she had to arrange another one.

When the next callback came, she was ready – but that call ended up being an automated survey, asking her to rate how Air New Zealand’s customer service had been.

On Sunday, Wood, who lives in Kāpiti, had decided to drive to Wellington airport to try to speak to a human at the Air New Zealand counter.

Since Friday, Wood had also been trying to contact the airline via social media. It was on her way to the airport that she received a Facebook message from the airline saying a ticket agent would be in touch.

She received a call soon after. However, after discussing the situation with the staff member, he was told that they would have to transfer her to someone else.

“She said, ‘sorry I can’t handle this because I’m not internationally trained, I’m going to have to put you on hold’.”

The Air New Zealand website warns customers of the response time.

screenshot

The Air New Zealand website warns customers of the response time.

After another hour of waiting, Wood said she was finally connected with someone who could help her.

It turned out that the tickets could not be issued at the time of booking because a partner airline had yet to confirm their part of the ticket, but otherwise the booking was confirmed.

Wood said while she was relieved to finally have the issue sorted out, it had been a “horrible” weekend.

“It’s the unknown of what’s really going on – did I book these flights, do I need to rebook, will I miss these fares?” she says.

“If it had been $100 I would have just waited…but it wasn’t, it was $17,000 and it felt like we needed to know where our money went. It was very stressful. »

Wood said she also couldn’t understand why Air New Zealand couldn’t send an email explaining what happened as soon as she booked.

“It was just weird that there couldn’t be any email to say ‘your reservation has been confirmed but that’s the problem’. If it had been sent right away I’d be like, ‘nice they will issue [the tickets] ultimately’.”

Leanne Geraghty, sales manager and customer of Air New Zealand, apologized for Wood’s experience in a statement.

Air NZ customer and sales manager Leanne Geraghty said they

Debbie Jamieson / Stuff

Air NZ customer and sales manager Leanne Geraghty said they were “throwing all our energy” at the issue.

“We are very sorry to hear of Shareen’s experience. Not being able to quickly resolve his question over the long weekend would have been stressful and we are sincerely sorry that his experience was not at an acceptable level.”

Geraghty said the combination of open borders and several long weekends and school holidays had created a strong appetite for travel, and they were seeing many customers calling to check on the possibility of travel, seeking insurance. on documentation and Covid protocols for travel.

“Over the Anzac weekend, our contact center team received over 20,000 calls and worked incredibly hard to respond to each one and respond to messages as quickly as possible. We have hired additional staff over the long weekend to meet demand. »

Most customers waited around 30 minutes, she said, “although we recognize that there are a small number who have waited longer – and we need to do better to reach those customers sooner.”

Geraghty said instances like Wood’s where a customer had to call the airline to confirm a booking were “very rare”.

“But we are looking for ways to keep customers informed without them having to call us.”

Air New Zealand’s contact center has been grappling with the high number of inquiries for weeks, which has flooded the airline’s social media pages with complaints.

Asked if Air New Zealand was concerned about the impact of wait times on the airline’s reputation, Geraghty said: “We are absolutely concerned about the impact of wait times on customers. first of all.

“The difficulties experienced by some people in contacting us do not match the world-class standards of service that we want to offer our customers. We are devoting all our energy to this issue to serve our customers in the way they expect from Air New Zealand.