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A disappointing Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAUDIA) office experience

To those concerned…

I had a bad experience at Saudi Airlines (SAUDIA) office today. In fact, I had went there yesterday night as well for a refund from my previous year ticket. The ticket was for me and family, and we had already traveled. My intent behind this office visit was to enquire about the refund and get it, then get ticket for my upcoming vacation.

Yesterday, those were good guys, or the guys were in good mood; anyhow, they gave token and gave way to the support desk. I explained to him the matter briefly, and he helped. I was told to bring family's Iqama as well to get the refund. Then since it was late, I couldn't come back to office, thinking I will go tomorrow and get it.

Today morning, around 10:30 – 11, I went to SAUDIA office in King Abdullah Ring Road, Madinah. My first encounter with the reception was not successful. He gave me a notice and immediately send back asking me to do it online. I was not convinced, and tried to explain what happened yesterday night. It was just a matter of showing our Iqama and get the money, but he seems to be not ready to allow me to approach the support desk.

I went back to my vehicle disappointed, and checked the website based on what was printed on the half sheet paper he gave. I reached the website page that was referred, but realized that I need ticket number, which was not in the printed copy I had with me. Then I went back to the reception again. To my relief, it was another person now in the reception. I repeated to him the same story, and this time he gave another piece of printed paper with some text, phone numbers, and email address(es). He also was trying to drive me out saying I should contact customer care, but in a bit softer fashion. I should admit that he was more of supportive compared to the first guy. Actually, I wanted to meet the person whom I met yesterday, as he was really helping. This reception guy took me to a desk asking if it was that person whom I met yesterday, but he was not. I was not disappointed. I had no other choice than leaving the office, and come back later to meet the guy I met yesterday.

Once I was back in my car, disappointed and a bit frustrated, I thought of giving it a try to call the customer care number provided in the piece of paper the second reception person gave me. Alhamdulillah, I got one lady on call, and she explained to me each bit of detail I wanted to know. She gave the voucher numbers for our tickets, and the ticket numbers. I was told that, it was just a matter of going back to the office and presenting these numbers to them, that I should get the refund. Also, she answered to my question that I can't submit the refund request online. So office is finally the only option.

I thought climax is nearing, and everything should now be settled soon. I went back with the numbers to the reception again. This time, it was the first guy again. I was really wondering who made him sit in reception, when he doesn't seem to understand what customer service really means. Anyways, I am neither a corporate trainer to teach him that, nor I wanted to do that here. But it is true that I was not at all feeling comfortable with the way he was treating the customer grievances.

I sincerely feel that a good % of the people in customer service in Saudia (may not just be in Saudi) needs a good customer service training. The words of our Prophet (Peace be upon him) is more than enough for anyone to understand it, but still I wanted to quote a saying of the father of our nation Mahatma Gandhi which can be seen in many government offices in India (at least I have seen those in BSNL, I hope). He said that, we should consider the customers coming to our premises as kings, for they are the ones who pay salary to these people who sit in these offices. So, the customer service persons should realize that it is not they themselves are doing any favor to the customer, rather it is the customer who is favoring the staff.

Anyways, coming back to the Saudia office. Now the first reception guy, after showing the voucher numbers and some more explanation if I am not wrong, was ready to give me a ticket. I waited for some time and went to the desk #7. I explained the matter to him, and finally he got the voucher numbers although there was some minor misunderstanding. He said, he will make the refund and asked his fellow staff for cash, but none had. I was asked to wait for some time as he couldn't find cash with him or the fellow workers, and he went…

He came back a few minutes later, and repeated the same thing that they don't have cash! After flat 150/0 riyals reduction per passenger (!) as refund fee, they still didn't have precisely speaking just 662/- riyals in the whole office to pay me! I was dumbstruck! Esh Haza! What is this! What else to do!

I was asked to come back after Asr to arrange this whopping huge amount (662 riyals!). I could just smile and retire from there. On the way back, I was still surprised about the fact that I need to come again the fourth time, for the same refund. Hope that it will work on next visit, in sha ALLAH. Then I need to add that refund amount to book my upcoming vacation ticket, in sha ALLAH.

Abu Abdullah • March 29, 2017

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