A ‘Gol’ to Ryanair

Luca and I are planning a trip to Brazil at the end of March. Two days ago I received an email from Gol, the airline which will take us to 4 different places in six different flights. They informed us that one of our flights had been re-scheduled. We just needed to accept the change by clicking to a link in that email. So far it was like the process with other airlines.

The problem was that with the new flight we would be arriving to Sao Paulo Congonhas airport 5 hours later than the departure of another flight we had booked also with Gol. I had previously introduced some changes of flight dates once booked in the Gol website, so I just went on.

This time I encountered a problem. At some moment in the process the website switched from English to Portuguese, which was not a problem until the payment page, where I was asked to introduce my CPF, a fiscal code that I don’t have since I’m not a resident in Brazil. Then I tried to proceed with the payment through other method… but that also didn’t work. When I tried to perform again the whole process, I found that the current status of my flight was the new one but appeared a ‘Payment: pending’ status. Nothing else that I could do. No way to proceed, to cancel or to change again the flight data. A kind of dead-end situation.

I wrote an email to Gol customer services about this situation. Late in the afternoon I phoned their Call Center in Brazil. I was explaining the whole situation to a lady… ‘and now I would like to know how can I proceed to pay this remaining amount (20R$, about 8€)’. She paused for less than one second… ‘ok, I’ll proceed to cancel this extra payment of 20R$, so you don’t have to pay more, confirm the new flight, and send you emails of confirmation of the two last changes of flights, the one that originated the issue and this new one’. I could only muster an ‘oh, that would be ok’. One minute later everything was arranged and I had already received those emails. One hour later I got a reply from customer services to my email of the morning: they had gone through my records and seen that everything was correct now and would archive they case.

Let me show you the ‘Terms and Conditions’ of Ryanair related to Flight and name changes:

Flight dates, times and routes are changeable (subject to seat availability). If booked online the change rate of £25/€25 per one way flight/per person applies or if booked at an airport or reservation centre the rate of £55/€55 per one way flight /per person applies. In addition, to these flight change fees, any price difference between the original total price paid and the lowest total price available at the time of the flight change is charged. Please note that if the total price on the new flight is lower, no refund will be made.

One may argue: Ryanair model is based on charging little money on the original flight and adding up revenues with other services, changes, penalties, etc… The Gol flight I was changing cost: 119R$ per person, about 45€, as little as a flight with Ryanair may cost. Gol doesn’t charge anything for changes made with at least 7 days in advanced of the flight (see above what Ryanair does). The 20R$ related simply to the different fare of the new flight…

It is not about money or the abusive clauses of Ryanair that I wanted to write about but I wanted to point the difference that makes having people trained, empowered and customer-oriented in Call Centers.

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