Best airline, really? SAA come on!

Everybody loves to be informed when any delay happens right? With modern technology, sending a SMS or an email has never been so easy. This is what happened yesterday to my flight from Mauritius to Joburg on my way to Dakar. Flight was supposed to depart a 3:35PM, but we got pushed back 45 minutes later. It was unfortunately nor planned nor predictable. As the captain explained, the delay was caused by missing paperwork that should have been dispatched by the ground personnel. Anyhow, we got delayed, took off, landed safely and I could catch my connection, so happy ending.

However, I just laughed my ass off when I had a look at my mailbox the next day. Right there was a message from the airline informing me about my flight’s delay. Now, look at the top right of the window: « 17:36 ». The message was received at 5:36 PM. Then look at the message: « the new expected time of departure is 16h10 ». That is 4:10 PM. So tell me, what the purpose of sending a message one hour after the delay has happened, informing me of something I already knew. If I appreciate the intention, the message could have been tweaked apologizing for the delay and thanking me for being a loyal member of the frequent flyer program, but not for informing me about something I already knew.

Now, I may sound negative, as I said, the intention was good. But come one, when you brag largely about being the « Best Airline in Africa » for the 14th consecutive year, it leaves you wonder where the others are. Customer service, particularly automated customer service, like this email message should be easily configured to leave a positive and customized experience, not a laughable one.

To continue on the analysis of the above message. Let’s look at the disclaimer:

  • The information in the e-mail is confidential and is legally privileged. WTF! The information in the e-mail is just an information about a flight delay, it’s nothing confidential nor privileged.
  • If this email is not intended for you, you cannot copy, distribute or disclose information to anyone and request that the email be deleted. Now, does this imply that because this email was intended for me, I can copy, distribute or disclose information to anyone? I suppose so… but let’s face it, this is just an information about a flight delay!
  • Any disclosure of confidential or privileged information transmitted herewith may result in legal proceedings being instituted against the recipient thereof. Now, since the first sentence states that the information in the e-mail is confidential and privileged, I presume that putting this on my blog puts me at jeopardy!
  • While all reasonable steps have been taken to ensure the accuracy and integrity of all data transmitted electronically, SAA does not accept liability if the data, for whatever reason, is corrupt or does not reach its intended destination. In other words, we are brilliantly good, but shit happens and if it does, we are just not responsible. So we have the right to sue you, but you have not!
  • Please note that this e-mail
    and the contents thereof is subject…. Email. Not only it should be are subject and not is – it’s just grammar, hey – but yes all big corp are paying lawyers to create disclaimers policies… But the best is yet to come…
  • Should you not have access to the internet, send an e-mail to requestdisclaimer@flysaa and a copy will be sent to you. I do not know for SAA lawyers but for me, if I do not have access to internet, it will be hard to send an email to anyone… This leaves me speechless at the overall legal quality of this disclaimer.

I am sure there are good legal reasons to include this piece in any email (I am not a lawyer, but generally common sense tends to prevail even in court), but come on, to use any piece of email as court evidence, it needs to be proven it has not been forged or tampered, and this requires more than a useless disclaimer.

To close on this, after this huge image showing wonderful muscles of SAA (who is losing money every day BTW… interesting that what forms the best airline is not judged as well on its ability to generate profits for its shareholder), you find the list of Directors. WTF? What has this information to do in a customer service email. Give me the email address of these people so I can send them this message or just get rid of all this clutter.

To end on a positive note, as it’s easy to throw away the baby with the wash basin, thank you, SAA! You flew me comfortably and safely to Dakar! But please, please, change your CMO, change you Customer Service director, allow to request business upgrade online like any modern airline, have a website that is user-friendly and not cluttered with useless information, that makes it very difficult to find what you are looking for, and send correct, customized and timely email!

Good luck!

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