In his excellent book, ‘management in 10 words’ Sir Terry Leahy talks a great deal about the importance of customer loyalty; how to get it and how to keep it. This is a book the senior management of Thomson would do well to read.
Why? Because they have forgotten about Truth, Values and Trust. For the last four years we have used Thomson and been happy with their service. This is in spite of me having to pay extra for the ‘privilege’ of having a seat I can physically fit in to, due to my above average height. I do feel discriminated against because the majority of airlines limit the legroom of their seats to fit ‘average height’ people. Although a few years ago I could request an exit seat, now I have to pay for one of these ‘extra legroom’ seats, described by Thomson as,
“You’ll be the envy of everyone with one of these seats. Exclusively for adults, they’re next to an exit or by a bulkhead. There aren’t many though, so get in there quick.”
Although they forget to mention that these seats are usually beside the toilets too, they put £40.00 each way on the cost of our holiday. Since my other-half and I do like to sit together, this totals £160.00 extra. However, most airlines have caught on this way to squeeze more money out of people, so it’s something we have to put up with!
Now, this year, we have been told that our luggage allowance has been reduced by 5kgs to 20kgs per person. We do recognise we are fortunate, as we go on what Thomson call ‘platinum’ holidays – fortunate because ‘standard’ holidays have a reduced baggage allowance of 15kgs!
This is irritating, but not as irritating as the phone calls that follow, asking if you wish to buy more baggage allowance. When you say no, the ‘script‘ is for the call centre operative to ask, “Are you sure you’re happy with that as excess baggage is charged at £30.00 per kilo!” Why do I suspect this is a script? Because, it has been exactly the same on all 3 occasions they’ve rung!
Their website says,
“No-one likes to be lumped with unexpected charges at the check-in desk. So, if you think your belongings might tip the scales, buy some extra space in your case before you go. Pre-booked kilos are much cheaper than the charges you’ll face at the desk. Prices start at £15 for 5kg.”
Unfortunately, I cannot help but think this is another ‘money maker’. Although I know the airline will bang on about increased fuel prices and airport tax, the plane has not shrunk! Also, because we do not yet weigh passengers, this baggage allowance reduction will not significantly alter the fuel payload. The holiday prices have increased and, if Thomson have made a mistake on their prices, these additional charges do nothing to endear them to their customers. In fact, the majority of people I speak to show the same ‘bloody minded’ attitude as I have acquired; being completely determined not to exceed this allowance by 1gramme, so that Thomson do not get a penny extra from me.
And, yes – next year we will be looking for an alternative company to travel with, which is why the senior management of Thomson should learn from Sir Terry; if you don’t show loyalty to your customers, they won’t show loyalty to you!