Friday, 23 December 2011

how to make the most out of a disaster

so sorry to hear about the round of earthquakes in christchurch. yet another round of power cuts, liquefaction and general misery. i can imagine just how difficult it must be for them, and wish there was some way to make it better for them, other than just sending prayers and good wishes their way.

in the meantime, our national airline is doing its best to make as much money as it can from the disaster. because the christchurch airport was closed for part of the day, a couple of flights was cancelled, including one that was to carry one of my loved ones. wellington airport was pretty chaotic, the staff hassled and unable to provide much information. it was extremely difficult to get through by phone - the line was engaged for much of the evening and once you got through, it was a 45 minute wait before you got to talk to a person.

when i did manage to get through, they were as unhelpful as could be possible. they are refusing to provide accommodation, or any form of support. they are refusing to put on any extra flights to cover the ones that are cancelled. they have spare seats to other close-by destinations, but in order to transfer to another city, they want to charge an extra $115. even though the seat will otherwise by empty, and even though they were the ones to cancel the flight.

this is yet another example of the contempt that businesses in nz are showing their customers. air nz is in a monopoly position for all but 3 cities in nz, and they are quite happy to abuse their monopoly position to treat customers like crap. talk about failing to take any kind of responsibility. they were as unhelpful as they could be, and pretty nasty to boot.

when i mentioned that we have a holiday booked on the 25th, the air nz staff member showed incredulity with "on christmas day?". to which i replied that i wasn't christian and didn't celebrate christmas, so had no problem travelling on christmas day. but why should i even have to give that explanation. what business is it of hers what day i travel or why?

the situation at wellington airport was apparently just as bad, with staff being just as unhelpful. people were apparently in tears, those who weren't were incredibly grumpy and complaining about air nz. no doubt there are many who have had their special plans to spend time with family going up in smoke.

then there are the other costs - travel to and from the airport, extra accommodation, the cost of toll calls. all of which the airline really doesn't care about, because they are busy trying to make as much money as they can out of the situation.

of course this is nothing compared to the way christmas has been ruined for many people in christchurch, and i'm not in any way suggesting that the travellers have it worse off than the residents of that city. i'm just saying that this is no excuse for air nz to provide such terrible service and to treat its customers so badly.

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