CEBU - Crap Ehrline Buggers its Users - Moments of Truth

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Asia » Philippines » Albay » Guinobatan
January 13th 2011
Published: January 14th 2011
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OK - you can put the spelling of Airline down to part poetic license, part a commentary on the inability/reluctance of their staff to communicate in English with any alacrity.

First of all, I'd like to make it 100%!c(MISSING)lear that the opinions expressed in this post are mine entirely and in no way reflect the opinions or beliefs of the wonderful crew who provide this Travel Blog which has allowed me to share my travels with you.

Today goes down as what will most likely be the low point of our sojourn given its pending expiration date.

First the good news - I finally got to meet (yesterday) the street hawker who taught me her locally famous recipe for one of the delicacies that the Bicol region is known for - Almondegas. I won't bore everyone with the details here, but if I can edit and cobble the vids I took together, then I plan to post on youTube. I may require some pointers Mr. Nice Guy. This recipe is a traditional family recipe and has (as family recipes are) been passed down over the years. Without going into it - it's essentially meatballs stuffed inside chillie peppers, battered and deep fried over a medium heat. AAAAAWESOME!!!!

So. . . . Today!!!!!

My fever appears to have returned a bit and Squish appears to have contracted it as well, so instead of trying to endure a 10.5 hr car drive back to Manila - we decided to fly back (<1 hr) and get some bed rest.

Yesterday afternoon - I began trying to book tickets. Well with the weather conditions, the efficacy of the SMARTBro wireless network and (as I discovered later) in incredibly slow speed of their web pages it was an ordeal and a half.

I don't recall the times exactly, but by the time the sun had set - I'd had very little luck in completing the online forms and decided to go to an internet cafe. It was here I discovered that the CEBU web site was also contributing to my woes. Pages did not load much faster here at all. To add to the drama, the power supply in Guinobatan is even more unreliable than level 13 at MPL.

After about another half and hour or more of filling in forms and then refilling them in when the page crashed, I finally got to the point where ii was ready to pay for the tickets - approx 1910 pesos plus another 200pesos because I had chosen to reserve specific seats.

Now put it down to an old f@rt with failing eyesight, but apparently I had clicked the wrong payment option and got a message saying that my reservation had been put on hold until 2300hrs pending payment at a registered location (or words to that effect). To my knowledge no such thing exists in Guinobatan, so I rang their customer assistance team - a misnomer if ever I've heard one.

The guy at the other end, whilst being superficially polite was either unwilling or unable to exercise the slightest flexibility to allow me to pay for the tickets, even after I quoted him the confirmation number of our booking. All I got in return was the fact that I'd clicked the wrong payment option and something about bookings within 72 hrs of departure which I seriously could not comprehend. All this was delivered with the mechanical precision of a cheap Taiwanese toy robot. After a brief discussion the outcome was that the flight was widely open and that we could purchase our tickets at Legaspi airport in the morning.

The staff at the airport were even less willing/able to show any assistance. Frankly I would have had more luck if I'd entered a one legged man in an @rse kicking contest. First I got sent from one counter to another - the trip was outdoors in the pouring rain without shelter). First I was told we were too late to buy tickets for the flight ( about 5 or 10 minutes I believe). After quite some negotiating/arguing, they finally advised we could go on stand by.

Another walk in the rain with our luggage. We get to the check in counter around 7:00 ish for a 7:25 flight and despite the fact that my experience yesterday told me the plane was widely open and that there was only a handful of people in the terminal building (including Philippine Airline passengers for the 8:00 flight) they told me they couldn't sell us a ticket just yet as we were on stand by. So we can't buy a regular ticket because we're too late and we can't buy a stand by ticket yet either. Now even a domestic house plant probably has the computer skills to look up their passenger list and see the plane was nowhere near full.

Now here comes the kicker

When we finally agreed, they advised us that the stand by price was 5200pesos EACH more than four times last night's price and with no reserved seat. At this point I spat the dummy and we went to Philippine Airlines, paid 4000 peso per seat and got on the 8:00 flight.

Firstly - I bear no grievance with the staff of CEBU, they obviously had their instructions and their SCRIPTS to follow.

Secondly - to make it sooo difficult for me to book a flight and then penalise me by more doubling the price, well some people might called that extortion. Certainly opportunism at best.

If anyone from CEBU reads this - take a leaf out of Jan Carlzon's ( you know - the guy who turned SAS airlines around in the 80's from loss making to preferred airline) book. Empower your people to make decisions that can resolve a customer's issue at first point of contact. If you don't trust in their abilities enough to do so - hire people who you do and who have a modicum of empathy with your paying customers.



Hopefully more positive entries from here.



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