Even when I allow myself to get off track with this blog (as I’m about to do today) I still make sure I put in at least some relevant information. So let’s start on message, and see where I end up… Ryanair are looking to hire a Ancillary Revenue Executive based at Stansted airport that reports to the Director of Commercial Revenue. Good luck if you throw your hat in the ring for that one. More problems at Air New Zealand and their IBM data center, although nowhere near as bad as the last outage. The other week it was Garuda and Spirit, this week Air NZ.
But the real purpose of this post is to talk about dynamic currency conversion (DCC) and customer satisfaction. Despite being a huge fan of DCC and its role in revenue generation for an airline website, as a consumer sometimes I am less enamored – such as on one business trip to China. (Speaking of China, this story on my old friend Matthew Ng and his travel business in Guangzhou is a must read. I remember taking him into some decent surf at Bronte Beach in Sydney in the late 90’s only to almost drown the poor guy – that day must look like a party now compared to his current misfortune at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party).
I was looking at a Bank of America credit card application recently and saw some very DCC unfriendly text which went “Transactions made in a foreign currency and transactions made in U.S. Dollars that are processed outside of the United States” would be subject to a 3% fee. So if on that card I use DCC, then I am whacked by both the merchant and my home bank – you can see why as a consumer sometimes you need to be careful.
Here is where I get to Avis. They have a service for frequent renters called Avis Preferred, and my initial impressions were extremely favorable as you turn up and without signing any forms and the keys are in the ignition so you just walk up and drive off in your car. But the sting is in the tail, as if you have a foreign issued credit card on file they default to DCC; they even have the nerve to print on your receipt that you were given a choice in the matter. Trying to exercise that choice is another matter indeed.
The person using the the mobile card reader upon return couldn’t change it, and going into the Avis office turned out to be a painful experience where no-one could find the key to some drawer that was required to process my non DCC charge. Even when they kept me waiting for close to 10 minutes and finally found the key, they still stuffed it up and charged me using DCC a second time. By this stage I was over it, so just paid and walked off.
But the story gets better. I ring up AVIS afterwards (you can’t manage your preferences online!) and the woman changes one setting, but then I ask to turn off DCC and she tells me I’ll have to be transferred to a different area. That phone must have rung for over a minute before I hung up in frustration.
What is the moral of this story for airlines? Here it is. As much as I hate to say it, I will not be leaving AVIS. And I am not some once a year renter, but one of their better customers. To go into the reasons for why this would require an entirely new post, but the point is that people so often complain about airlines and how because of some negative experience they are adamant that they will never travel that airline again. In fact, just today I saw Kevin Smith making this claim about Virgin America.
The actor-director at first declared he would never fly Virgin Airlines again
Giving your important customers what they value is crucially important, but the message here is that sometimes it can be very hard to separate the decion making criteria from the noise. Maybe measuring customer satisfaction is not all it is cracked up to be?
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