Dear SpiceJet- what’s wrong with you?

Edit 1: I have presented a “back of the paper” customer value analysis (based on net present value analysis) for SpiceJet to understand the impact of a dissatisfied customer. Of course, values are rough and a little over simplified, but, serve as an anchor.

I felt it important to present this analysis in the wake of a conversation (13th Dec 2015) with a SpiceJet customer care representative. Please find the excel sheet attached to this post!

Analysis SpiceJet

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Dear SpiceJet,

Only today I came across the news on your payment defaults to AAI; bad news alright. I am not sure what led to your payment defaults, but, I wouldn’t be surprised if bad customer service is the one that is letting you down in your business (amongst all other reasons such as oil prices etc.).

I am disappointed with your company, and I will describe why:

Recently, I flew with SpiceJet from Kochi to Chennai on Dec 8, 2015 (N87LUZ- SG 606  KOCHI (COK)  TO  CHENNAI (MAA)).

Chennai, as you might know, is affected by a natural calamity (floods!) that led to severe damages in its infrastructure. Not just the residents, but, some travellers were also victims of this calamity, suffering from last-minute flight cancellations etc.; I was one too.

On Dec 6th, Etihad cancelled my flight to Chennai (scheduled on Dec 7) without any intimation (full story here). I became aware of this cancellation when I had called Etihad to confirm my baggage allowance.

Since I was travelling within Europe on Dec 6th with very limited Internet access, I contacted my dad in Chennai (with great difficulty- given that many internet and telecom networks were down at that time), and asked him to book a ticket to Chennai.

My dad, in turn contacted his friend and arranged for a change- Therefore, as per the new arrangement, I was to travel by Etihad to Kochi, and by SpiceJet to Chennai.

I lost contact with my dad for several hours after arranging for this, and managed to receive the confirmation email only a few hours before my flight on Dec 8th.

Why am I describing this to you?

Just to let you know that I was not fully prepared for these changes given the last minute nature of these changes!

Edit 2: There was a check-in done earlier, but, by the same friend who booked my ticket. He could not confirm my baggage allowance as I was incommunicado wing to these “calamity based” flight changes and my own travel!

Okay. Why should you care?

Wait, I am getting to it.

When I got to the SpiceJet desk after several hours of travelling, and with 45 kg of luggage, I was told that I had to pay Rs.300 extra for every kg of luggage more than 15 Kg. This meant that I had to pay INR 9000 (a lot!) while I had only about INR 4000 in my bank account. Just to make it clear, I am a student travelling back to India from Europe (winding up all activities in the country).

Since I was unprepared for this, and had limited cash, I requested the officials in Kochi to consider my student status, and give me a concession.

Several co-passengers came to my support, and requested the officials to consider my situation, but, your officials said that concession was out of question, and that they had to make money (yes. They said they didn’t care about my problems, and that making money was important!). At this point, one of the co-passengers came forward to pool my luggage with his- that meant, he was willing to take 15 Kgs of my baggage as his (as he was travelling baggage free). However, your officials refused to do this on security reasons! Okay. Fair. You need to make money as a business, and you had security problems with luggage pooling.

But, when I asked them to give this in writing- stating that they cannot pool luggage on grounds of security reasons, they refused to do so. Why should a company official have a problem in giving what’s a “rule” in writing?

I then asked the Kochi SpiceJet authorities to arrange for a different means to pay for the extra baggage- I asked them if they could send a payment link through which I could pay immediately on landing etc. but, they didn’t give me any solution for about an hour! When I said I would have to complain about this treatment at the time of adversity, I was bluntly told that “SpiceJet was involved in flood relief activities in Chennai, and that nobody would believe were I to complain about the company!”. WTF moment alright!!

Then after about an hour of negotiations and arguments back and forth, I was given the option to pay in Chennai, only after which my luggage would be released.

When I got to collect my luggage finally in Chennai, your officials continued to blame me for being unprepared, instead of acknowledging the fact that they couldn’t arrange for an alternate means for me to pay- without hassles.

A couple of things to sum it up:

  1. I did not refuse to pay- only asked for an alternate means to pay given the last minute nature of my travel, and owing to the calamity in Chennai (that deterred my plans!)
  2. If arranging for a payment means was difficult, SpiceJet could have given me a concession equivalent to that offered to online buyers (online baggage could be purchased at INR 150/kg or so) instead of making me wait for over an hour. This would have been justified given the fact that I was travelling to a city with a disrupted internet access- but no! SpiceJet did not do it. Why didn’t I book my luggage while checking online? Because, I did not check in- my friend helped me do it, and couldn’t reach me on time to verify my baggage requirements!
  3. Even after allowing me to pay in Chennai, the Kochi officials once again urged me to pay the money beforehand (by borrowing from other customers) if I could. Now, I was travelling alone, and had promised to pay later. The incessant pestering about the payment was really unnecessary given the fact that my luggage would be released only after payment in Chennai. This could have saved me some trouble

In many parts of the world, doing business means “treating the customer like a king”. SpiceJet clearly isn’t aware of the importance of this. Not only did the officials in Kochi give me a hard time, they also bluntly refused to acknowledge my plight by stating “we need to make money. We cannot consider your problem (even though I was willing to pay, only later)!!!”

Why would I want to travel by SpiceJet again? I don’t have a reason to do so in future. This was my first, and probably my last too.

 

Oh btw, good luck dealing with your problems with the airport authorities! But, guess what? That’s probably just the beginning of all your troubles.

Regards,

The dissatisfied traveller

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