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Example of Poor Customer Service

Read the true story of a couple who at their times of distress had become unwitting victims of poor customer service. This is the story of a couple who at a most difficult time of their lives had suffered under poorly trained employees of an airline company. This is an example of poor customer service.

Many workers in an organization sometimes forget that the reason why they are in the business are their customers. They should be extra sensitive and mindful of the feelings or emotions of their customers on such occasions that these are required.

The following case illustrates how poorly trained employees can lead to customer dissatisfaction of their services. In the long run, customers will shy away from companies like this that will lead to their downfall.

The Case

In the morning of December 27, 2011, John was admitted to the hospital due to recurring epistaxis or nose bleeding. This had become more frequent and more severe as it occurred in the coming days. For just one week, his nose bled at least four times. This happened during unexpected times of the day for no clear reason.

John was confined in a local hospital but his condition did not improve despite the conventional treatment approach of packing the nose with Merocel [1] nasal packs and balloon catheter as first line treatment. His ENT specialist recommended that he will be airlifted to a better equipped hospital, hundreds of miles away, to address the increasingly getting worse form of bleeding. There is danger of hemorrhage, as the blood flows like water escaping from a leak in a garden hose. He had a blood platelet transfusion a day after his latest episode of bleeding that took one hour.

Airline Requirements for Air Travel

It is common procedure among airlines to undertake measures for the safety of its passengers as well as taking utmost precaution in dealing with passengers especially those afflicted with sickness like the above case. A waiver will have to be executed, to free the airline of responsibility once something untoward happens to the sick passenger. This must be well understood and signed by the patient in order to prevent any liability to the carrier within reasonable grounds.

All of the requirements to travel were satisfied by John, especially that of affixing his signature after reading the terms and conditions of the waiver and having his blood pressure measured to ensure high altitude flight will not compromise his condition. The sphygmomanometer registered 120/80, quite normal for a person under stress. His wife arranged to have an ambulance fetch him at the airport of destination as contingency for any eventuality during the flight. It cost him roughly 140 US dollars to avail of the service, as the ambulance is well-equipped with emergency facilities as well as an ambulance doctor to attend to him along the way to the hospital. The local hospital recommended a nurse to accompany him so he hired a nurse for a 24-hour service fee of 115 US dollars.

nasal pack

Fig. 1. Nasal pack to keep nose from bleeding (Image Source)

The Rejection

On December 30, 2011, all seemed to be alright for the afternoon flight in one of the cheapest available flight for the day, until John's wife, seated on the plane for the final pre-flight arrangements, overheard a tussle between the ground crew and the stewardess. There seems to be a confusion.

John, who was in the ambulance, was waiting for the go signal to board the airplane. He was with a nurse and the ambulance personnel.  Then the notice came: he will not be allowed to take the flight. The airplane ground crew in-charge informed him that the pilot would not allow him to board because he has a nasal pack and a catheter with inflator hung around his ear to stop nose bleeding; this, despite the fact that he had already undergone another blood pressure check by airline personnel which he successfullly passed as well the ENT's advice and endorsement that he seek medical attention in a much better hospital which is a flight away. It's a life or death situation.

Meanwhile, John's wife who seated ahead of the group noticed that her husband was not coming as the stewardess, who appears to be in a heated argument with the ground crew who gave permission for John to board, waved John's paper requirements as she glanced at her. Incidentally, the wife had also a tracheostomy tube embedded in her neck due to her thyroid sickness which she had lived with and travel without fuss for more than 20 years. 

Accordingly, the pilot decided, that the patient is not fit for flight. John inquired why it's the pilot who decides on medical matters (Can a driver decide who rides his bus?). Allegedly, the airline company's medical doctor could not be contacted. This decision happened roughly 30 minutes before the flight. They never informed the wife that her husband will not be able to board the airplane run by a fledgling airline company.

The wife, confused, worried, tired (due to sleepless nights spent watching over her husband's condition in a local hospital), and feeling bad that she may be flying without her patient husband, hurried back down to the staircase towards the ambulance. No flight crew attended to her, explaining what transpired in their conversations. She tried to approach the crew seeking to clarify the matter but they ignored her so she started walking towards the parked ambulance outside of tarmac premises.

Her cellphone had exhausted its battery so she could not call her husband; aside from the fact that she has a hoarse, shrill voice due to a damaged vocal chord that makes it difficult to talk through the phone. The couple were treated like outcasts because it so happened that they both have a medical condition.

Note:

Five days later, the husband together with his wife, was able to take the flight in a veteran airline company without problems.

Reference

[1] Pringle, M. B.; P. Beasley and A. P. Brightwel. 1996. The use of Merocel nasal packs in the treatment of epistaxis. The Journal of Otolaryngology and Otology. pp. 543-546.

© 2012 February 19 Patrick Regoniel

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Comments (6)

Very upsetting story. Sorry to hear of such a true summary of this happening.

Such a sad story. The airline company sure doesn't know the meaning of customer service

A graphic account of what actually happened and it was really pathetic.Negligence and lack of co-ordination or lack of communication perhaps was the root cause.Thanks.

Great composition here Patrick.

Ranked #5 in Customer Service

Thank you Patrick for this great info on customer service. It has the most important place in the modern consumer world.

Very sad and unnecessary stress for John and his wife. They need to send a letter to the airline about this.

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