Yet another passenger left stranded by Aer Lingus ‘guest relations’

Pricewatch: A reader has been trying for almost a year to resolve a complaint, with no success. The airline finally responds

Pricewatch has been getting a large volume of complaints about Aer Lingus in recent weeks. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/Bloomberg

Pricewatch has been getting a large volume of complaints about Aer Lingus in recent weeks. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/Bloomberg

 

We have been getting a large volume of complaints about Aer Lingus in recent weeks. There is a common thread running through them all. Passengers are saying they are finding it next to impossible to make contact with the company when things go wrong.

This story from John Murphy is illustrative of the problem. “Last year, while visiting my daughter in Chicago with my wife and younger daughter I received a text from Aer Lingus a few days before the holiday was due to end to say my scheduled flight from Chicago to Dublin was cancelled,” he says.

There was no one in the US who was able to provide him and his family with any information as to why the flight was cancelled. “In frustration, I rang their reservations service in Ireland and was told it was for the old catch-all ‘technical issues’.”

While Murphy lives in Ireland, he had to be in work in Nottingham the following week and was “anxious to ensure that I got us seats on a flight that would get me home in time”.

He echoes concerns from other readers that the airline is “virtually impossible to get in touch with, so despite many attempts I went online and rebooked onto a flight that was a day earlier. This resulted in losing a night’s accommodation, a day’s car-hire and the cost of rebooking three seats beside each other on the plane,” Murphy writes. “I also lost a day’s holiday time with my daughter in the US.”

When he got home he went through “due process to try and claim compensation. I scanned all the relevant documents and sent them to Aer Lingus ‘guest relations’ and received a reply acknowledging receipt of my claim and that they were very busy and to be patient,” his mail continues. He says the mail told him “not to contact them again as this would cause confusion and they might duplicate the case”.

So he received his case number “and waited and waited and am still waiting for a response from ‘guest relations’. The original response I had from Aer Lingus was an email on August 17th, 2017. Since then, I have tried many times to contact them, including contacting reservations at Aer Lingus who assured me that they would pass on my details. I also emailed their CEO some months ago [directly] and again no response.”

Murphy follows Aer Lingus on Twitter and decided he would give that a go in June of this year. “I contacted them via Twitter and they got back in touch to say that they had asked for my case to be escalated. Still no response from ‘guest relations’. I was going to contact you in August of this year as it is the one-year anniversary of my case being acknowledged,” he writes. But he saw the article we had last week about other passengers who were left hanging by the airline, “and thought now would be an appropriate time”.

In conclusion, he says he flies twice a week to the UK “generally with Ryanair but have continued to use Aer Lingus and will fly to the US with them later this year as I believe their product is good. Unfortunately, their complaints department is awful and there are probably lots more like me that have experienced this less-than-satisfactory service.”

We contacted the airline and received the following statement: “We offer our sincerest apologies to your reader and accept that how we handled this case was wholly unacceptable. The delay in handling the complaint was due an issue of human error which caused it to go unattended. Our Guest Relations team has made contact with your reader to arrange the compensation due to them and to refund expenses incurred. We apologise once again and wish to reassure your readers this is not the level of service Aer Lingus seeks to deliver to our guests.”

If you have struggled to make contact with Aer Lingus or have been left waiting a very long time for their fabled “guest relations” department to get back to you then we would like to hear from you.

Microsoft scam hasn’t gone away

A woman from Dublin contacted us last week after receiving a phone call from a person claiming to be from Microsoft and warning her that her computer had been infected with malicious software which would require a payment of €10 to be put right.

She rightly suspected this to be a scam and she wondered if we could do something to alert people to it. The Microsoft scam preys on vulnerable people and while it was at its height five years ago, when almost one in four Irish people reported getting a telephone call from scam artists posing as computer security engineers with Microsoft, it hasn’t gone away.

The call warns recipients they are at risk of a computer security threat. Once a victim is duped into believing there is a real problem, the scam artists run through a range of deception techniques designed to thieve money.

“Tech-support scams are an industry-wide issue where scammers use scare tactics to trick you into paying for unnecessary technical support services that supposedly fix contrived device, platform, or software problems,” Microsoft says.

“Scammers may call you directly on your phone and pretend to be representatives of a software company. They might even spoof the caller ID so that it displays a legitimate support phone number from a trusted company. They can then ask you to install applications that give them remote access to your device. Using remote access, these experienced scammers can misrepresent normal system output as signs of problems.

“Scammers might also initiate contact by displaying fake error messages on websites you visit, displaying support numbers and enticing you to call. They can also put your browser on full screen and display pop-up messages that won’t go away, essentially locking your browser. These fake error messages aim to trick you into calling an indicated technical support hotline. Note that Microsoft error and warning messages never include phone numbers.”

The key thing to remember is that if you ever receive an unsolicited email message or phone call that purports to be from Microsoft or another company asking that you to send personal information or click links, ignore or report the email, or hang up the phone.

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