always the wrong answer

Remember my fiasco with the dumb CSOs from the local Singapore Airlines call centre? I had the luxury of having to deal with them again in recent days to make some flight changes for a loved one who had to fly at extremely short notice for a family emergency.

After making sure the fare purchased allowed for itinerary changes, I called up the Sydney office to request for changes to a return flight. I was first told "No, we can't do it for you. I'm afraid you'll have to call the XXX office.". Wrong answer. A call was made to the XXX office prior which didn't yield us our desired outcome.

Not understanding why it wasn't possible as the booking was ticketed in Sydney and refusing to be bounced to and from the various SQ offices, I pursued by asking if it was possible for me to change the booking online, fully knowing I couldn't because I just tried - possibly because the departure time for the return flight was less than 24 hours ahead.

After being put on hold for a minute, I was told yes I could do that if I wished. Wrong answer again. I persisted, "In that case, I don't understand why you can't just change it on your end right now? Both the passenger and myself have no access to the internet and the flight is tomorrow so we don't have time to waste waiting around.".

Another minute of listening to the on-hold music while the CSO 'checked with his colleagues' later, it became suddenly miraculously possible for him to change the flights with no hassle at all. The actual change took less than 5.278 seconds.

One more thing I picked up on was that they were at most times extremely sticky about callers requesting for any booking changes on behalf of someone else due to security and privacy policies and often went about the verification checks quite thoroughly. This time, they did not even attempt to verify that I indeed knew the passenger and was authorised to make the requested changes.

Why the inconsistency in responses and processes? Surely they must have gone through formal training and taught to be very familiar with the fare rules and policies? I can understand the limitations of flight and seat availability but never when I'm told something is impossible without a proper explanation.

If that particular CSO had made the requested change right from the beginning, it would have saved us both that few precious minutes of time wasted and enabled him to attend to maybe 20 more callers with similar requests who were probably in the call queue listening to that irritating on-hold music right then.

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