Those of you who didn’t bugger off to more entertaining weblogs months ago will remember that my recent journey to North Korea was marred by the failure of my luggage to join me on my trip. Naturally enough, I wrote a lengthy missive to Air France’s ‘customer-care’ department on my return, detailing my experience.
To whom it may concern,
I took an Air France flight (AF2271) to Hong Kong on October 1st. Due to a baggage handlers strike in Paris my bag never arrived at its destination, and while I appreciate that this kind of event is not under your direct control, my subsequent experiences dealing with your staff and agents in trying to recover my bag have been little short of woeful.
1. After making contact with ground-staff in Hong Kong, I was given a tracking code (HGGAF 17673) and told that my bag would be arriving the following evening â€“ I was told to expect a call whether the bag arrived or not and stayed at my hotel to intercept this. It never came.
2. The following day I called Hong Kong airport again, to be told for the first time of the strike, and informed that my bag would now be arriving the following day. As I was travelling on to China, I gave your agents my hotel details in Beijing and was promised that the bag would be forwarded there.
3. I was based at my hotel in Beijing until 15th October (two weeks after my original flight), but neither my baggage nor any contact from Air France was forthcoming.
4. On leaving Beijing, I queried Air-France check-in staff on the matter to be told (with a grin) “don’t worry â€“ we’re always losing bagsâ€.
5. On my return to London, I contacted Lost Luggage at Heathrow to be told that I should have been greeted by ground staff in Paris and reunited with my bag. Obviously, this did not happen. I was then told that my luggage would be arriving the following day, and gave my office details for delivery during the week.
6. When the bag did not arrive the following day, I called the number on your website (0870 850 1839), was told that no-one could confirm where my bag was, and asked to call back in fifteen minutes, giving them time to locate it. The subsequent call did not reveal this information.
7. Tues 18th – I called again, to be told that my bag had still not been located.
8. Wed 19th â€“ called again to be told that my bag was now in Paris and would hopefully be delivered in “the next few daysâ€
9. Thursday 20th â€“ told that my bag should have been sent to Paris on Oct 16th but wasn\’t, that you had “no ideaâ€ when it would reach London, and that Air France in Hong Kong did not have for contact details during my time away. This is completely untrue â€“ my copy of the documentation I received in Hong Kong clearly shows these details, and I notified your staff of my forwarding details went I went on to China.
10. An attempt to deliver by bag was finally made on Saturday 22nd â€“ to my office address, despite me making it absolutely clear to your staff that this address was only to be used during office hours, Monday-Friday. After speaking to the delivery company I finally received my bag at my home address at 11.45pm that evening.
The most frustrating aspects of this experience have been as follows:
Firstly, the information given to me by your staff, although generally relayed in a polite manner, has been almost universally inconsistent, ill-informed and misleading.
Secondly, I’ve had to spend a large amount of time originally earmarked for site-seeing replacing the items that never showed up. As one of the events I was attending was a formal affair, this included having to purchase shoes, shirt and trousers that I will, in all likelihood, never wear again. I also had to spend several hours in Beijing tracking down a charger for my camera.
The cost of this is largely irrelevant, but the effect it had on my overall experience was certainly not. This was meant to be a trip of a lifetime, but Air France’s continued ineptitude over the course of this matter has left an extremely nasty taste in my mouth, and impacted greatly on what otherwise would have been a fantastic trip.
A month passed. No response. I wrote again. This time, I was more direct.
To whom it may concern,
It has been a month since my last letter (attached).
While my previous experience with your â€˜customer-care\’ representatives had led me to believe that any response was likely to slow in arriving, I am truly staggered that such a period has passed without an acknowledgement of my complaint being received.
Do you plan to string this misery out for much longer, or are you simply determined that my experience of your post-holiday service should be as woeful as that I received during my vacation?
And guess what? Still no response.
So bollocks to them. I’m off to New York. And this time I’m traveling with a much more reputable airline.