Corporates lacking in customer care

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 May, 2013, 4:00am

I may be getting grumpier in my old age, but I do ask myself whether the level of customer care, call centre service and general willingness to please the paying patrons of some of Hong Kong's larger firms is getting so bad that they really think loyalty comes from a slick branding message and nothing else.

I have two cases in point, one concerning Cathay Pacific, the other American Express. These firms tell us how much they care for customers and appreciate the loyalty of members, whereas in fact I have no proof that either is the case now, although perhaps it was to some extent in bygone years.

American Express recently put up the annual fee for certain cards, repaying my past loyalty with HK$2,000 worth of vouchers for Shangri-La, and a 40 per cent hike in membership - so they can make money from me and the merchants who accept their card. When I queried why I got all these vouchers that I didn't want, I received a polite letter saying they would investigate, only to then receive a one-page letter from someone who Leung Chun-ying should employ as spin doctor (wrote a lot and said nothing).

Then there is Cathay Pacific, who most Hongkongers give business to. If you are stupid, you also spend your time trying to collect air miles, although it seems so few fares actually give you mileage. If you are lucky enough to have collected sufficient air miles to redeem a reward flight and try and talk to their call centre (which appears to have moved to the boondocks of metro Manila) you have the problem of understanding what the rules of redemption are.

I had three "courtesy" calls from Cathay in a day to say a flight they booked for me was the wrong class and they would cancel it. I replied three times that I would not accept it.

I know we are not the most friendly city in the world, (try going to Vancouver - they are so helpful there). I go to small boutique shops in our city and get smiling, happy, engaging people. I go to some large corporation and get conversational tripe. This has to stop. It's playing havoc with my wrinkles.

Callan Anderson, Quarry Bay