SAA is stealing your Voyager miles, selling you something that doesn’t exist. It’s beyond a matter of poor customer service. It’s theft.
I have booked 2 South African Airways Business Class awards to Europe, but no seats are available for the next 360 days.
On 11th March I tried to book an SAA Voyager award. The FlySAA site offered Business class Mileage Keeper and Economy Class Mileage Keeper etc, without any clarification other than Limited Availability compared to ‘Any Day’ awards which are 3 times more expensive in Voyager Miles.
Firstly the FlySAA.com site hung up during the transaction. I had to redo the transaction about 4 times. It never actually completed. Only because I noticed that my mileage balance had dropped, did I have any inkling that the transaction had happened.
I received no email confirmation. I then called the Voyager call center to confirm that the award had actually been awarded. I was assured it had, and I would get an email confirmation the following day. So I waited. Two days later, still no email. So I called again. The operator confirmed the award again and said she would send the confirmation email.
Nothing. I called again on the 18th. Again was told it would be emailed. Again nothing. So I resorted to writing. I had no idea that there was any urgency, only that you had to use the award within 6 months of it being issued.
On the 8th of April, I sent an email request to Voyager. Nothing. On the 19th of April, another email request. Nothing. These were sent to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. I eventually did receive a reply to these emails. On the 5th of May for the first one, and on the 6th of May for the second one.
However, by now I had lost patience, so I called the call centre again and asked them to book the tickets. I explained that I was flexible in dates, preferably leaving early September and returning 3 weeks later, but leaving essentially any time in September, would be fine. The operator said no flights are available. So I said to try the following day. She had, she tried to find a flight from the 1st of September till the 9th of October, with absolutely nothing available. I was now highly unhappy. I then requested a supervisor and got put through to Pasela.
I explained to Pasela, that over a month and a half of delays from Voyager had now put me in the situation of having no tickets available. She told me, I should have booked with the call center and that I didn’t need the Voyager award number to book it. How I am supposed to know that, I have no idea. Essentially she blamed me for any problems.
She then told me I could have booked online. I said, you can’t book online, because 1 – I don’t have a voucher number, and 2 – You can’t book to Paris. She said you can. She just argued with me on the phone like a scene in Monty Python.
After a 20 minute argument, she said the best she could do was wait list me. I said, that doesn’t help. How do I book accommodation, when I don’t know if I am going to be there or not? ‘Oh, hotels can refund you.’ The summation of that conversation was being waitlisted on a flight, and I was told to phone them every 2 days to try and confirm the seats.
Wait-listed is one step closer. But I thought, perhaps if I could speak to someone face to face, I might have better luck. After a day of trying to find the offices, I eventually go to the Icon building offices and meet a very nice lady. Who works for SAA. Not Voyager. There are no Voyager offices. Despite Despite what their website says… Fine. Can you please try and find us seats to anywhere in Europe with this award?
We then spend an hour and a half as she checks every day in September on every Star Alliance operator and NONE come up. NONE!!! Ignoring the fact that the retarded system makes you check each day and airline separately. So I ask her to please check 1 year in advance from that date for a flight. No seats available.
Well… OK, what if we scrap the Business Class and take Economy? Well, you could, but because it is 30 days past the award date, you would lose the extra miles that business class used. …
So as it stands, the way I see it, SAA has stolen 180 000 Voyager miles, selling me an award for something that can never be redeemed. Considering, that best case scenario, you earn 1 mile for R6.50 you spend, thats R1 170 000 in cash spent over the years. It’s beyond a matter of poor customer service. It’s theft. The irony, is that the SAA Voyager program, is a Loyalty program. And right now, thanks to the Loyalty program, I feel like only ever flying any airline other than South African Airways. And calling the call centre every two days? You know what that does? The operator sends a request to the controller. That’s it. 10-15 minutes of time, every two days, so someone can click a button. How about you just put all the waitlists in a queue?
So, if you have had similar issues, let me know, cos I’m pretty sure this is against the Consumer Protection Act, specifically clause 35.4.c.
the sponsor of a loyalty programme, or a
supplier who offers or holds out a willingness, to accept any loyalty credits or awards as
consideration or in exchange for any particular goods or services, must—
(a) ensure that the supply of those particular goods or services available at any
time is sufficient to accommodate all reasonably anticipated demands for
those goods or services in exchange for loyalty credits or awards;
(b) not limit or restrict capacity to supply those particular goods or services in
exchange for such credits or awards on any basis other than that it applies to
such a supply in exchange for any other form of consideration;
(c) accept any tender of sufficient loyalty credits or awards as adequate
consideration for the price of those particular goods or services if, at that time,
it has capacity available for supply in exchange for any other form of
If I could buy a seat for cash, they have to give me one for miles… Who’s with me?
UPDATE: Apparently, they seem to have found some seats for the flight overseas. Amazing. And all it cost was 10 emails, 17 phone calls, 1 blog post, 22 tweets and 1 Hellopeter complaint. Now if we can just get home…