18 September 2008

System Failure - Part 2

A few months back I posted a rant about having to have a frequent flyer account in order to get my new credit card, but not being able to join frequent flyers without a credit card. I waxed lyrical with my usual style and finesse about how frustrating and ridiculous it was that the process of paying to join up with a cash payment was so much more complicated than by credit card. But in the end, I came away with both an account and an awards card with which to stock it, so the extra effort, although unnecessary in my opinion, was worth it.

Or so I thought. This week I've gotten myself to the stage of booking flights for various travels at the end of the year. So I thought to myself, let's see how many frequent flyer points I can string together.

The first place I looked was my credit card awards scheme. Unfortunately I wasn't able to access my awards because of some clerical error with the bank. I went into my nearest Commonwealth Bank branch office and spoke with a customer service specialist (easily the most pretentious title I've come across this week). She rang up an office somewhere else and spoke to someone about something and got it all sorted out for me. I still don't have any award points, but I can rest assured that the missing credit will show up (presumably by magic) after one or two statements. I get statements monthly, so they should show up some time in November. Just in time to be too late.

"Oh well," I thought to myself, "I'll just see how many points I've earned from flying all over the country as I generally do." So I logged on to the Qantas Frequent Flyer website and received a message to say that the website was experiencing technical difficulties and to check back later. When I received this message for the third day in a row, I got suspicious, so I called the Qantas enquiries line and got myself put through to Frequent Flyers.

It turned out that my Frequent Flyers account had been deactivated. Imagine my surprise. They hadn't received any notice of payment, so rather than contact me and ask why I hadn't paid, they just closed the account. When I informed the lady at Frequent Flyers that I had paid, she clicked an extra link to check the details and saw that there was a note about a cash payment after all. But she couldn't reactivate the account from there. Oh no, I'd have to head back into the Sydney Qantas office and speak with the staff there.

So I did. I fronted up again and told the front desk lady that I needed to speak with someone about my Frequent Flyers account, because it had been erroneously deactivated. She told in a matter-of-fact manner that I was in the wrong place, and suggested that I use the office phone to call the Frequent Flyer office. I'm sure you can imagine the dangerously level tone my voice took on (Unless you're someone who hasn't met me, but are just reading my blog for some reason, in which case ... hi!) as I told her that it was the Frequent Flyer office that had sent me to her in the first place. She told me that that couldn't possibly be right (apparently I was either lying to her or completely stupid), and to call the Frequent Flyer office.

So I did. And, just as I had told the Qantas office lady, the Frequent Flyer lady told me I should go in to the office that I had signed up at to clear the matter up.
"Well, I'm already there," I told her, "And they told me to call you."

I then had the vindictive pleasure of setting the two ladies against each other, as the Frequent Flyer lady asked to speak with the Qantas Office lady.

A couple of hours and a trip to the record archives in the basement later, the whole mess was sorted out. Apparently everyone in the process had followed the appropriate procedures, and the receipt for the original payment had just "fallen through the cracks" somehow. Using a meaningless cliché to explain what had happened to me didn't quite leave me a satisfied customer. I could have pointed out that databases don't actually have cracks, since they don't exist as actual spatial objects, but I was just happy to have the whole thing sorted out, so I let it slide.

I am happy to report that I now have almost enough points to fly from Sydney to Dubbo.

Far from home

Garry with 2 Rs
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