I've had problems with the Customer Care of many companies. Who hasn't? But Turkish Airlines is a phenomenon by itself. In fact, so much that they should appropriately be called Turkish Airlines Customer UNCARE!
It would have been one thing if they simply denied your request and left it like that. No, to add insult to injury, they parrot the same answer until you give up or until they lead you to curse them. You ask them a simple question, you don't get an answer, you get the same parrot template. They're trying very hard, doing their best to annoy you more; and they succeed at that. What's worse, it certainly looks as if they're doing this on purpose. It's as if their task is to test your patience; their job to drive you mad instead of serving you!
Last December, I was denied boarding due to an unforeseen abrupt visa regime change. My ticket was non-refundable and they refuse to reissue it repeating the same mantra “Visas are the responsibility of the passenger.”
Sure, it is! As someone who has been to more than 140 countries nobody needs to tell me that! Not even once, let alone repeatedly. I have abided by my responsibility; contacted the competent Embassies and Consulates. I got direct official information from both the honorary consul of Djibouti here in Italy and the French Embassy which issues the visa. They both told me I didn't need to get a visa in advance, that I could get it at the airport in Djibouti.
What have I done? Did I try to fly without a visa to a country which normally required a visa? Or did I try to fly with a visa that had expired? Or did I go to the airport without bothering to check the visa practice at all? Or did I apply for the visa and was denied a visa because I did not meet the requirements? I refuse to accept any accusation of irresponsibility on my part.
Djibouti has had VOA (Visa on Arrival) for more than 25 years. What's more, there wasn't anything on the world agenda like the Qatar crisis or the US-Turkey crisis that could have made me suspect that there might be a visa regime change. What's more, making things worse for me to accept, this visa regime change lasted only three (3) days! I know of someone who got into Djibouti with a VOA on November 30th. My flight was December 1st. And Djibouti has gone back to VOA on December 4th. So it was only a matter of a very unfortunate, a very extraordinary situation.
Turkish Airlines affirms that under extraordinary situations, ticket changes are reconsidered even if they are non-refundable. However, they deny, without expressing it explicitly, that this was an extraordinary situation. When I ask them to explain me how this abrupt visa change is not extraordinary, -because it obviously IS!-, they do not (or rather cannot) answer; so they turn on the parrot mode: repeating the same thing about responsibility over and over again ignoring the fact that I have contacted the embassies and got information.
1) There is a reason and logic behind rules. The rule about the visa and paperwork being the responsibility of the passenger is straight-forward. As airlines cannot get the paperwork done on behalf of their passengers, it obviously is the passenger's responsibility; and the rule is put in place to avoid the disruption of air services due to passenger's irresponsibility. On the other hand, that rule is definitely not put there to give the airlines the right or the opportunity to pocket money without giving their customers the service they promise to provide. If it is, it should be written explicitly, not implied. Write it out in your contract of carriage: "In case of a visa regime change, passengers pay the price." Spell it out! So that we passengers know what we are getting into.
2) Any change in a visa regime that has been going on for more than 25 years is obviously extraordinary. Let alone going back to the old visa regime after three days!
3) A company is not run by double standards. At least a respectable one is not. If other customers are reissued, and even reimbursed non-refundable tickets in an extraordinary situation, there should be no difference with another customer flying to another destination who is adversely affected by a last-minute visa regime change. The fact that the Turkey-US crisis was on the spotlight and more passengers were involved should not, cannot be the reason to make an exception to ticket-rules. You don't discriminate against your customers. Even if it's a single passenger being affected in Djibouti, the same reasoning and line of action should be used.
I did not even ask for a refund. I asked them just to reissue the same Rome-Djibouti flight for a later date. So basically, Turkish Airlines wants to pocket the money without providing the service they have promised to give their customer, using this visa regime change as an excuse. They want to make me pay for this capricious visa regime change that lasted only for three days. This goes beyond responsibility, it means fining us for things not within our control and not our fault. Let alone being awful customer care, this is against the universally accepted fundamental principle of justice.
In our days when even a small online company just replaces an item no questions asked, the uncare and the pettiness of such a big company like Turkish Airlines is deplorable. Something which could and should have been solved easily has dragged on for four and a half months and has turned into such a big mess and a headache now because of the unprofessional attitude and resistance against reason of the THY Customer Service. Making them a Customer Disservice.
Anyone who has flown with Turkish Airlines without any problems might not understand what I'm talking about because when things go smoothly, everything is just fine and they are a premium airline. Given the destinations they fly and their very competitive prices, their services are optimum. However, as Seneca has said
You can judge of a pilot in a storm, of a soldier in a battle.”
Likewise, you judge the value of a company when things go wrong; with their ability to solve problems efficiently and proficiently, professionally. Unfortunately, Turkish Airlines has failed miserably at that.
This letter is not about my ticket, this is about your beyond awful customer care. If somebody repeated the same thing over and over again regardless of what you are saying, without answering your questions you'd walk away saying “He's crazy.” This is Turkish Airlines! Who is supposed to have a prestige. As a flag-carrier, such responses by your “Un-Help desk” or “Customer Un-Care service” smears the name it is supposed to carry proudly. So, I ask you to act in accordance with your reputation and stand tall instead of abusing and exploiting your customers.
This is a call to all the THY customer service agents to stop being pawns in such an imbecilic system, there are much better and meaningful ways to earn your bread than copy-pasting template answers. It's a waste and an insult to your intelligence. More importantly, this is a call to the CEO Bilal Ekşi: Unfortunately, this is not a stand-alone incident, I've heard and read similar responses to other customers. Such uncaring behavior towards the customer tarnishes your reputation. I humbly ask you to fire the head of department for the customer service, whoever that is behind all this uncaring, annoying, and most of all, imbecilic parrot answering system.
Gülin De Vincentiis
I'll try to avoid flying Turkish Airlines on my #Mission2EveryCountry as much as I can.