Are we still going with a 'the customer is always right' approach to customer service? Maybe not.
On 14 November 2019, Ica van Eeden posted an email response from CemAir Ltd, a privately owned airline operating in South Africa, to her Facebook wall, regarding a flight ticket refund query.
As a caption to the email, she says "After struggling for 11 months to get a refund from #cemair from my retired mom’s Christmas 2018 flight, I escalate to the CEO’s office. Managed to get a refund but no apology, no empathy, no acknowledgement. And here is the letter I received back from Miles van der Molen."
Here's the email:
However, Miles van der Molen, the CemAir employee who ends off the email by assuring Ica, that he looks forward to not hearing from her ever again, has a different version of events.
Van der Molen told Traveller24, that "A customer's inconvenience does not convey the right for them to abuse our staff. Equally the approach of ‘taking to social media’ and insulting people and organisations at a whim is not acceptable. Whilst it is regrettable that some passengers have experienced a delay in receiving a refund there is no reason why this can’t be dealt with in a civil manner, as is the approach with the vast majority of people.
"In this matter, Ms van Eeden was refunded and replied to within 19 minutes of sending the request to me, an extremely fast response. She was informed by way of a bank generated proof of payment. However Ms van Eeden apparently wanted more than this and the correspondence kept coming. As the matter had been resolved there was indeed nothing more to be done I chose to put an end to the abuse. I note she chose not to share her correspondence but rather only my rather benign response. This is in itself quite telling.
"We respect Ms van Eeden's choice not to make use of our services in the future, we do not seek to do business with people who cannot conduct themselves in an appropriate manner. This philosophy is universally applied."
Ica's post, naturally received a lot of comments on Facebook. She even shares one of her previous emails to Miles in the thread, wherein she adds a few customer service 'suggestions' for CemAir to consider in future. This might have been the nail in the coffin Myles and prompted him to add this line to his email, "I am pleased the hospitality industry can benefit from your vast experience and free advice."
Who's side are you on?
*Traveller24 has contacted Ica van Eeden, but she is yet to comment.