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Friday, 13 August 2004

The Incompetence of Lastminute.com [DrDave]

There are good internet companies... companies that are honourable, efficient, fast, who deal with problems in a mature and reliable fashion, willing to admit mistakes and deal with situations in a grown up manner. Companies like Amazon, Play or Dabs. Give these companies your money, they deserve it and you'll get a good deal into the bargain.Then there are bad internet companies. Companies who are shifty, evasive, sly, incompetent, dishonest. Companies who will lie and wriggle their way out of responsibility. Companies who will stop at nothing to make complaint resolution the single most complicated process in the world. Companies who will shift the blame at the drop of a hat. Companies like, for example, lastminute.com.To cut a long story short: Nina and I booked a short break in Madrid for five days last June. We wanted to see a Euro 2004 game in Portugal, but didn't fancy paying the extortionate costs of a flight and hotel. So we decided to drive across from Madrid to Aveiro on the day of the game. Very nice it was too. But the process of actually getting there was a goddamned nightmare. We turned up at Gatwick on the morning of our flight to find that the original flight had been rescheduled back in March... to 90 minute earlier. Of course, since we hadn't been told about this, we missed the flight.A lengthy discussion with a lastminute customer service scouser revealed that their policy was to email customers about schedule changes and that failure to respond constituted acceptance. Of course, we never recieved any such email, but this guy was having none of it. He stopped short of calling us liars, but made it very clear that this was our fault and that he would do nothing to help us. He even claimed that the Ts and Cs required us to check flight times 72 hours prior to departure, and if we hadn't checked, then we'd violated the terms of the contract. He was almost laughing when he told us this... smug bastard.It didn't end there. Since we'd missed the outward flight, the return flight would automatically be cancelled. And not only that, but the tickets we had been issued were for the original flight, and wouldn't have been valid even if we had turned up for the rescheduled flight. In the end, we were forced to buy a £375 Easyjet flight and spent most of saturday running around Madrid airport trying to secure transport home.Of course, with fire in our bellies, we were not going to take this lying down. So when we got back, we began our counterstrike. We started with the Ts and Cs. There is a 72 hour requirement in there, but it only requires travellers to check for "onward and return flights". Since this was an outbound flight, the requirement does not apply. Strike one. Our other piece of evidence was the photocopy of a delivery note for the tickets. It turns out that they were only delivered to the airport the previous evening, so lastminute had willfully issued entirely wrong tickets. Strike two. The final blow is that under the Package Travel Regulations 1992, a package seller is responsible for compensation, not the third party providers that the operator resells. Strike three.We put this into a legalesque letter and added a deadline (three weeks) and a threat that if we were not reimbursed the £375 within this time, we would begin legal procedings, raise the issue with ABTA and go screaming to Watchdog (who, incidentally, have numerous examples of exactly the same problem with lastminute).After three weeks, we had heard nothing, so wrote again, informing them that we were beginning legal procedings. Imagine our surprise when three days later, a letter from lastminute arrived. Some choice quotes:"... I can find no record of an email being sent to you to advise you [of the schedule change]. I can only assume that you were not advised of the change to your flights and for this I offer my sincere apologies.""We of course will be happy to reimburse you for the extra costs."There was much rejoicing. Job done... case closed. Right?Well, that was three weeks ago. After speaking to the customer service rep, and giving her my bank details, I was told that it would be paid straight away. Still no money. The rep no longer answers her phone. Attempts to get through to someone else put you in an endless loop of answer machines, scousers and evasion.I'm awaiting a callback from the rep, but I anticipate they'll come up with some new and interesting way of evading responsibility. Eventually, we'll probably have to take them to court... but with the letter admitting liability, I assume it would be an open and shut case. Fuckers.So there you go. Lastminute make the list. I wholeheartedly advise you to avoid these idiots like the plague... unless you like having holidays ruined, or being lied to by a smug scouse monkey?

16 comments:

  1. I booked a trip to Japan in March through ebookers.com. It was a special ebookers fare. £400 return to Japan (via BA). I'd been searching around and around for the best fare, and stupidly put the wrong date for my return flight (it was the default return date - I didn't actually choose the wrong date)I realised my mistake within 15 mins of booking the tickets. Who TF is going to go to Japan for 4 days FFS..so I called ebookers.com Phone support (this is a sat afternoon). To my surprise, 90 minutes on hold produced no answer. so I emailed the f***ers (I actually did this while waiting on the phone). no response. So then on the sunday I walked into one of their shops and they quite quickly pointed out that they are not liable because I didn't check the dates. What they didn't realise is that I know they have a cooling off period with BA up until midnight of the day of the booking. But because this was sunday there was f*** all they could do about it. They told me to turnup on Monday and speak to customer services who might be able to do something. Quel surprise, f*** off sir, nowt we can do - YOU booked the dates, not us. oh and the phone lines to New Delhi (where the call centre is) have been down all weekend so you wouldn't have got through anyway!. Well maybe you should f***ing change your message you prats.Plan of action. My old mans a QC, told him the situation. henceforth a nasty letter was constructed and faxed to the office on his headed paper of l33tness . Imagine the surprise when within 10 minutes of the fax being received an offer of a full refund was given!. I then booked the tickets again with ebookers.The moral of this story is unless you're a lawyer, know a lawyer (hurrah for Am) or are prepared to pay for one your f***ed! They don't give a s*** about you! slags!P.S I'm trying the *** thing so we can get this Alienware affiliate thing...

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  2. I've booked tickets through Lastminute a fair few times, and never had any trouble - although then again, I've never had anything go wrong with the flight, so I guess they've never really been tested. However, I've found myself using Expedia more often these days; they scan more airlines, and are regularly cheaper than Lastminute. Their website sucks less, too.On a vaguely related note to this one, however, I ran into a situation last night that some of you chaps may have experience of. I was flying back from Edinburgh with BA, on a quite late flight, but one which still gave me a 40 minute margin in which to catch my last train back from Gatwick to Guildford.Except... The gits delayed the flight by an hour. There is literally no public transport that runs between those two destinations after ten past eleven at night (which is frankly a bit rubbish in the first place); so my only option was to pay £55.50 to the filthy East London gangster wannabe who runs the cab service at the airport in order to get home. Now, needless to say, I rather think that BA should be reimbursing me for this. The delay to their flight ended up costing me *more than I paid for the flight*! I wanted to bring this up with BA before doing so, but their desks are all in the North Terminal, the railway station and taxis are in the South Terminal, and I was exhausted and couldn't face trekking back across the transit just to be told where to shove it by a rep. (I suspect that this may have scuppered my chances of compensation..?)Does anyone have any experience of this kind of situation? Is there a general airline policy on this type of situation, or a legal basis under which they're liable to compensate me for the expense caused by their failure to keep to a schedule? I know that in the past I've run into a brick wall trying to get South West Trains to compensate me for screwing up a Rail-Air Link service and making me miss check-in for an international flight; I'm vaguely hoping the airlines are less evil than the train companies. Planning to ring them today, but having some idea where I stand before doing so would be a bonus.

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  3. It's occured to me that this is a deeply libellous post. For which I blame Slim as clan leader. Slim - I demand an apology, a retraction, four small fairy cakes and a sausage dog called Nigel. Failure to comply with my request will result in my Avocado sending in the golden retrievers.

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  4. Well, the money landed into my account on Saturday morning, so my lastminute ordeal is over.When I saw that the money had arrived, I was filled with a sense of elation, a deep feeling that we'd put one past an evil corporation. A victory for the little man against the great menace. I may have even punched the air and played a tiny amount of air guitar ("Another One Bites The Dust", as a matter of interest).But then I tought about it. We haven't won anything. We've drawn even, at best. If anything, we've finished down. We didn't lose a lot of money, admittedly, but with the cost of stamps, and more importantly, the cost of time wasted on the phone or drawing up our argument, we've definitely lost out. Combined with losing a full day of a five day holiday...We won a battle, but ultimately, the unstoppable Wehrmacht of greedy, incompetent corporations will win the war.

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  5. I too have had problems with these losers. Here is my complaint letter.
    Thank you Lastminute.com for truly the worst online experience in my life. Well done, you have truly knocked the spots off any other company when it comes to atrocious customer service. Would you like to hear my tale of Christmas woe? Are you sitting comfortably?
    I currently live in Russia, and as Russia has no postal service (remember this if you can - it's important later) I decided to use your much vaunted system to send some Christmas gifts to my parents in the UK. To be honest I suspect a letter to Santa may have proved more effective.
    During the ordering process I encountered a problem (this is a theme). For reasons only know to itself your website decided to insert an old address of mine for the delivery of one gift. Not you notice all of them. Even though all three gifts were headed to the same location - one is instead winging its way to a house I lived in some three years ago. So well done there.
    Now I spotted this, and like a child who naively believes Santa will arrive down the chimney, I thought I could solve this glitch with a quick phone call to you. However, your 0870 number cannot be dialled from outside the UK which means I CANNOT DIAL IT. I emailed your response box (twice) and received no reply. A few hours ago I did receive a reply to my third email, I believe this was from one of your drones in the hilariously titled "Customer service team".
    This asked me to dial a 0207 number. No problem. Except it has an automated response "Press 1 if you want to spend the rest of your life going round in circles in our automated response system". The problem however (or possibly your solution) is that touch tone dialling doesn't work from abroad.
    Eventually I borrowed a UK mobile to call your number (cost to me: anywhere in the $2 a minute bracket). And after spending almost 12 months going through the various ludicrous options, I finally got through to a real person.... Or so I thought.
    The gentleman with whom I dealt was so spectacularly useless that I suspect he may be working for a competitor of yours. I fear if I had to re-live the experience, I way weep.
    I was told I could only complain in writing, which in this case means via mail. Now if you are really attentive you will remember that Russia doesn't have a postal system. So (and this is a brilliant coup de grace by your team) not only do I receive a truly appalling service, I also can't complain about it. Again, thanks for that.
    Now excuse me for saying, but isn't this a little perverse? That an internet only company won't accept complaints by email? Is this a little techie nerd joke? Or just a way to avoid the tiresome inconvenience of reading complaint letters from your prole customers? Anyway I’ve never been one for rules so here is my complaint letter a la electronique; I just hope it has found someone who can actually read.
    Merry Christmas Lastminute.com, I only hope your lastminute comes sooner than my gifts do. Which may well be never

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  6. Very nice. It does fulfill some sort of need to write letters such as this doesn't it, even if you know it will be read by some glassy-eyed minimum-wage zombie who already thinks his company sucks.

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  7. DR Dave -
    Hi - I too have just discovered I'm the victim of Lastminute's incompetence.
    After a making an online booking with Lastminute early this month and being left suspicious that the online procedure didn't complete properly, I telephoned one of their operatives the next day, whereupon I was told they couldn't find any record of the transaction.
    As far as I was concerned, my telephone conversation had just established that Lastminute had not successfully processed my booking. I then booked with another company by telephone, had my trip, but on returning found that I've been debited for TWO separate seats on the same flight.
    The scouse call-center ops you mention are denying that my telephone conversation proves they told me I did not have a booking. I intend to contest this; and first of all I am going to have to get a copy of the conversation off them. It's a nightmare.
    In your (hopefully not still ongoing) struggles to get a result out of them, did you find any useful means of contacting Lastminute by fax or telephone, other than attempting to use their pathetic so-called "customer care" route?
    I'm compiling any resources I can for the battle which is about to commence. All suggestions gratefully received -
    MarkP

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  8. I was just creating a new blog about THE LASTMINUTE DOT CON CRETINS, but then I remember we already had one. Here we go:

    In December 2005, I spent several hundred pounds on a travel voucher for a gift. The text received with the e-voucher and in the emails says "enter the code below to redeem the voucher"... although interestingly, there is no claim code on the voucher.
    I went back through the order e-mails - there is no claim code for the voucher in my receipts or orders from when I bought the gift.
    I went to the lastminute.com website today, and logged in and went to my order history. There, you are encouraged for existing orders to resend yourself your order. I did this, and yes, no voucher claim code, therefore, no holiday.
    In the absence of a customer service e-mail address, lastminute now send you to their FAQ, which is pompously described as a place where "we try to have all the answers that you could possibly want".
    In the FAQ, there is no category for travel vouchers.
    Next point of call is to follow the post-order enquiries form from your order history. This is a webform with a textbox four rows high for "details". This form is currently broken, with an error message "Could not get component name: help_contact_us_post_response_cat_header_component", and a submit process which looks like an infinite loop. Basically, the web form through which they are driving all customer service, is broken.
    (There is another web form for enquiries - this is only for pre-sales enquiries, obviously. Don't use this form - it wipes your missive/complaint/request if you change the selected drop-down about what your enquiry is about.)
    All this, because an online business which has decided to ultimately obfuscate its customer service process by deliberately not providing an e-mail address. Now I understand why an e-tailer may not want a call centre and phone number. But to send people through broken webforms, and NOT have an e-mail address - it's like having a man behind the counter in a shop but he's behind soundproof glass and to contact him you have to fill in a questionnaire and post it to him through a letterbox.
    I don't think it would be unfair to call lastminute.com deliberately unhelpful for not allowing you to e-mail them. The cretins.

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  9. i have just come back from a holiday booked with lastminute.com and turned up at the airport to be told there was no hotel and that i had only booked a flight and car altho lastminute.com sent me a confirmation email saying that i had booked accomodation for 2 adults and that it was allocation on arrival. unfortunately and i never do this - i deleted the confirmation email that outlined this (argh!!)- the copy of the email confirmation i requested outlines a different holiday with no mention of the town that the hotel was in and apparently the rep said this has happened to 9 (!) other people because of how lastminute.com words things. Now I'm not thick or gullible but i tend to take 2 x adult accomodation as having some sort of roof (other than the airports) over your head. Im going to try tradng standards as well as they are peddling lies and taking money for it. Has anyone on here successfully had refunds or talked to anyone of any use?? and what the hell is the phone number????

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  10. So Kaff, when you ask if anyone had any success about refunds, how in the name of fucking cock did you not actually read the post you were replying to? Unbelievable.....

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  11. Not sure if it is a relief to read the above or makes things worse.... Have just got back from Barcelona last week after arriving to find lastminute.com had not booked my hotel (I gathered this when I arrived with friend to hotel at midday to be told there was nothing under my name...).
    As we all know, lm.com don't have a phone number so I was forced to sit in the lobby while waiting for a reply on the hopeless internet system. Apparently I was missing my hotel voucher - which I am meant to mail them if I haven't received within four hours of booking.
    By my timing, I booked at 18.00 on 15 July, would have had to recheck at 22.00, then mail (with 24 hour turnaround) so would have had a definite on my hotel by 22.00 on 16 July. Bearing in mind was getting up at 04.30 on 17 July to catch flight this is not exactly a quick turnaround for a lastminute website.....
    So, back in the hotel I an friend (with luggage) gave up and decided we would have to go and find an alternative hotel (at a cost of £280). This was fine and sorted very quickly through another UK website. However upon my return, and complaint, the muppets at lm.com are now claiming that the hotel did get my confirmation (albeit it 17.00 in the evening!) and therefore no money is owed.....
    Have no idea where I stand but surely it is not realistic for us to be spending a day with luggage - unsure if we actually have a hotel or not - in foreign country until lastminute.com decide to send through the hotel vouchers!?!?!
    Total waste of space website, if anyone has any advice on who I can take it up with I would be very grateful - am assuming ABTA?

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  12. Lastminute are an absolute shambles. Booked 2 flights to Slovenia, "Delivered next day by DHL" I was told. Except they weren't. One week later I'm frantically calling DHL ("we haven't been given the tickets") then trying in vain to call/email Lastminute ("this is sales only, we can't help you"). Email just as useless. In the end, just 2 days before my flight, I received a call from Islamabad informing me that I could pick up my tickets before my flight. Fantastic service. And of course no refund of delivery charge.
    Thanks lastminute!!

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  13. RebeccaBurnCallander1 September 2006 at 17:09

    Hi,
    My name's Rebecca I'm a reporter for Real Business magazine. Apologies for posting this as a blog, but my emails keep bounding back. I'mdoing an article about how companies can find out what their customers think of them online. I'm using lastminute.com ato show the effects of bad publicity and a working example of how not tobehave. I am writing to you to find out if there has been any coverage ofyour blog postings, either in the press on in online news databases? Ibasically want to know whether the complaint achieved enough momentum toleak out of the blogosphere into the "real world". I tried talking tolastminute about their inability to communicate, but they declined tocomment.Please email me back if you can direct me towards anyrbc1(at)caspianpublishing.co.ukarticles/comment/mention of the above.

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  14. I see a lot of advertisement about lastminute.com. Until i booked a ticket from them i didnt know what had hit me. Now not only do i know, reading all this complaints is also absolutely shocking.I booked a ticket online for a flight to the Czech republic. The transaction was confirmed and i received a confirmation email in my inbox. The next morning, a day before i was meant to catch the plane i recieved another email stating the flight had been cancelled. Well i phoned up the 0871 number i had googled out and spent hours on hold and eventually someone responded and added insult to injury by saying they suspected fraud and that my billing address wasn\'t correct. I was taken aback by the response and decided to call my bank...hnmm its was all false. My billing adrress is correct( I thought i knew that too) and Lastminute.com was holding the funds...i have tried in vain to get hold of them ever since. I intend to start firing of emails relentlessly and take appropriate steps and if every effort fails, I am willing to face the consequences as i will definately take a totally different approach of cripling and digitally obliterating their site. My brother passed away 2 hours after i should have been by his side due to the misleading and unreliable incompetence of Latminute .com

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  15. Another google whiner's honey-pot this one so I'll lock it now.

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  16. Just had an appalling experience with lastminute.com. We booked a flight with them and the return was cancelled due to the volcanic ash situation. The flight was with EasyJet and their website said you could rebook online; however since we had gone through lastminute there was no record of our booking. We then rang lastminute and got put on hold for half an hour, and as soon as we got through, somebody hung up on us! We rang back and were on hold for another half hour, a woman took our details and we spent ages explaining our very simple request to rebook our flight, then she finally said that she couldn't help and we would have to call back the next morning. We accordingly rang again, held again for half an hour, and they hung up on us again as soon as we got through (sort out your phones, why don't you!!!!!). Phoned again, got put on hold again, and explained everything all over again. Seriously, the volcanic ash situation has been going on for nearly a month now, you'd think that they would have a process in place for rebooking flights for customers (there was no problem with space on flights and the airports were open, so I don't understand why they couldn't simply rebook us). The woman seemed confused and ill-informed, and was clearly out of her depth. She said she would ring us back later. We waited until nearly 5 o'clock, at which time she finally phoned and said that she couldn't get through to EasyJet but could offer us a refund. At this point we were nearly livid - we explained that we lived in London and needed to get back there, we didn't want a bloody refund, we wanted a new flight! She basically then said "tough luck" and that she couldn't do anything. She told us we should call EasyJet (after admitting that she couldn't get through to them, how did she expect us to have any better luck - plus we had already explained that our reservation was locked and we couldn't change it ourselves). But we weren't getting anywhere with her, so we rang back and asked to speak to a manager or supervisor this time. Finally, we got some good customer service and this man sorted everything out for us (here's a tip - press the number to speak to the "sales" team, NOT customer service - you'll get through a lot faster and maybe get somebody who actually knows what they're talking about). It was unbelievably bad and cost us a small fortune in phone calls. I would never book anything through Lastminute again- if we had booked directly with the airline we would have been able to reschedule our flight with no problem. I have learned my lesson.

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