Pricewatch: Readers’ queries
This week’s problems include Aer Lingus’s weight-allowance policy and Vodafone’s customer service
Despite the fact our reader had checked in another bag and paid €20 for it, she was not entitled to any extra weight on top of the basic allowance of 20kg, regardless or how many bags she paid for
Aer Lingus’s baggage policy weighing heavily
Susan Byrne contacted us about an issue she has with Aer Lingus. She is moving to London, so was keen to bring a few bags with her. “A friend had moved to London some years before, and had flown with Ryanair and booked two extra bags – and with each extra bag got an extra 15kg – so I thought I might also book in an extra bag on my Aer Lingus flight,” she says.
She checked in one bag as she booked the flight, but as she was wanted to bring her bike with her she rang the airline to book it in, “and while I was on to the customer representative I asked if I could book in another bag as it would be good to bring some extra stuff. He said ‘fine’, so I booked in another bag online a few hours prior to the flight.”
When she arrived at the airport, the woman checking her in said that, despite the fact she had checked in another bag and paid €20 for it, she was not entitled to any extra weight on top of the basic allowance of 20kg, regardless or how many bags she paid for.
“I later discovered that I could have checked in an extra nine bags, but that I would not have got any extra weight. The supervisor who told me that I would have to pay €270 in excess charges told me that this happens ‘all the time’.”
She feels this is unfair for two reason. “Firstly because I had checked with a customer representative before booking the extra bag, and secondly because this is not made clear on the website when booking the extra bag. Aer Lingus are making money on customers’ assumption that if you book an extra bag, you get extra weight.”
She thinks the airline should have a pop-up window explicitly stating that an extra bag does not equal extra weight. “I have emailed customer services and await a reply,” she says.
The airline told us it is working on a new baggage model, which will be launched on aerlingus.com in December.
“The new model will be clearer and more transparent for the customer when booking extra bags and or extra weight. The format will include pop-ups with a list of options and associated pricing,” a spokeswoman said.
Flights cheaper after the sale
Michelle Hughes wants to know if airlines are allowed to lower their fares after a sale. “Last week I took advantage of an Aer Lingus sale, which promised up to 50 per cent off flights,” she writes.
She booked return flights from Lisbon to Dublin, flying out on December 21st and returning on December 30th, at a total cost of €185.59.
A week later, after the sale, it is “possible to book these same flights at the cheaper price of €179.98, and it is clear that the return flight is now cheaper by about €20 compared to when I booked last week. The price difference is not much, but it seems to make the idea of a sale pointless.”
An Aer Lingus spokeswoman said prices “may be adjusted according to demand for a given route at a given time, outside of a sales period”.
One month of broken broadband
Last week we featured an item on a problem with Vodafone’s customer service. It prompted Cormac O’Raifeartaigh from Dunmore East, Co Waterford, to get in touch.
“Two years ago I changed my home internet connection from Eircom to Vodafone. I had no issues with Eircom, but Vodafone offered the facility of using my iPhone over the internet – important, as mobile phone coverage is poor in our village,” he writes. “Six weeks ago, I began experiencing problems with my broadband connection. Eventually, the signal dropped completely, so I contacted the Vodafone helpline.”
Withing 24 hours, an Eircom engineer had been dispatched, and fixed a fault in the phone line outside the house, he says. “He was unable to carry out further checks due to problems of access, but, once these had been resolved, he found another electrical fault inside the house and fixed that too – again within 24 hours.”
So far so good. “However, the broadband has remained defunct ever since. After innumerable efforts to get through on the Vodafone helpline, I was finally informed that my broadband was accidentally cancelled when I changed from one pay package to another.
“Since then, I have been assured by Vodafone customer service on at least three separate occasions that my broadband will be re-instated without delay, but a full month later, it remains defunct. It is hard not to notice the contrast between Eircom’s efficiency in fixing electrical faults and Vodafone’s utter inability to provide basic customer service.”
We contacted the company, which said: “This was a very rare issue, whereby the customer’s order was cancelled by mistake. This was purely as a result of human error, and we have contacted the customer to explain what happened and apologised for the delay and inconvenience caused.
“Service has been restored now and we remain in contact with the customer. This was an isolated and regrettable occurrence and we have ensured it will not be repeated.”