Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Thumbs up Egg, Thumbs down Ryanair

As a former (and still occasional) consumer journalist, I keep a keen eye on customer service. Every company that I deal with has a "customer charter", explaining how they will offer superb service to each and every customer. Alas, few maintain that promise. I had a couple of examples of both extremes in the space of 30 minutes today.

Firstly, there was Egg. As I mentioned yesterday, I have been the victim of identity theft, with some unknown felon trying to open credit card and bank accounts in my name. The first two companies I spoke to - Halfax and Audi - were pretty much disinterested, though they both promised to investigate, though not to tell me the outcome. However, Egg contacted me by letter to say that they had noticed a suspicious application, and explained what action they were taking to help me. I spoke to a woman in their fraud protection department who was brilliant. I was so impressed that I contacted my pal Derek Williams, who runs the "WOW awards" for customer service.

On the other extreme, I booked a flight to Salzburg with Ryanair. Although the "window price" was low, the add-on fees for taxes, insurance, luggage, boarding and check-in all inflated the price massively. Worst of all, they now charge four pound per person per flight for paying by Debit Card! I have seen, and understand charges for credit cards, but for debit cards? Mr O'Leary is taking the you-know-what. OK, I still booked the flight, but I don't feel good about the company at all. I'd prefer transparent pricing anyday.

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