I do apologise if this post sounds like a rant. I’ve edited it down to remove mentions of my intense frustration with Scoot’s call centre executives. The article serves to caution readers that while Scoot does offer affordable tickets to popular destinations, getting refunds in the event of a flight disruption or delay can be difficult and extremely onerous. What makes it even more difficult is that Scoot’s call centre executives from SPi Global can be dishonest and unprofessional. Is Scoot making it difficult for you to get refunds? Here are three possible ways to get around it. (Note: The key word here is ‘possible’. We didn’t actually to get a refund – we gave up.)
Friend S and I had booked three trips with Scoot recently, one to Bali, Bangkok and of late to Jakarta.
Bali: No refund since flight disruption four months ago
In Nov 2017, our return flight to Bali was cancelled due to a volcanic eruption. We made a request for a refund and were told to fill up a form as the payment was done by AXS machine. To date, we have not obtained a refund for our tickets – it’s been close to four months. Seemingly not quite aligned with Scoot’s Customer Service Plan, as highlighted below. I’ve called Scoot’s call centre SPi Global in Manila twice and was told they would expedite the refund. We’re still waiting.
Scoot will provide prompt refunds after receiving a complete refund application, where ticket refunds are due, including any fees for optional services if you were unable to use the services due to an oversale situation or flight cancellation. Scoot will issue a refund within seven business days for credit card purchases and within 20 business days for purchases made by through other means.
Singapore – Jakarta: Onerous change flight policy, dishonest call centre staff
This is the story of a four-hour phone call ordeal with Scoot’s customer service. My blood pressure can’t help but rise when I see Scoot’s contact number 3157 6434.
This concerns a one-way ticket we bought from Singapore – Jakarta, scheduled to depart on 29 Apr 2018. We made a booking for the flight which was scheduled to arrive in Jakarta at 1915 on 13 Feb 2018. This gave us a comfortable allowance to make it for our next flight to Japan. However a week later after our booking, we were informed by Scoot on 25 Feb 2018 about the delay in arrival of the flight, which would arrive at 1955, 40 minutes later.
Now this has put us at risk of missing our next flight to Japan. I’ve explained this several times with Scoot’s customer service officers (Amelia, Gordon and Cha), and was told that based on Article 9 of Scoot’s Conditions of Carriage, a refund or change in flight will only be possible if the delay is more than 8 hours. Out of goodwill they could do a flight change for 3 hours, but 40 minutes was just too short. If I wanted to get on an earlier flight, I had to bear the full cost.
Not an unexpected technical glitch but an avoidable delay
I told them that this will not be possible. After all, airlines should be all about accuracy in flight schedules, and it was not reasonable for us to bear the cost, for what essentially was a scheduling issue by the airline. This was not an unforeseen circumstance like a late arrival or volcano eruption (we have faced that on several Scoot flights and that is fine) — it was clearly a scheduling issue. This is further evidenced by the fact that Scoot decided to block this flight for 2 hours, compared to 1h 45min blocked by other airlines (including low cost airlines such as LionAir). My point to the three call centre executives was – why did airline sell the tickets at this timing when it had no intention or delivering on the scheduled timing? It would have been fine if I was going to stay in Jakarta but the change clearly impacts transit passengers. The call centre executives said that there was nothing they could do.
Later, my friend called the airline again and we were attended to by Vim. We reiterated how the delay was a patent failure of the airline and not caused by any unplanned circumstance, and were once again put through the “checking with supervisor” merry-go-round and put on hold for close to an hour. Eventually, S was told that the supervisor was engaged and unable to speak with him. When questioned whether the supervisor was “unable or unwilling” to speak with him, without holding back on the sarcasm, Vim’s tone immediately changed, and she offered a flight change with the change fee waived. As we had to head out, we asked that she sent us an email to confirm that the amendments will be made at no additional cost. She agreed without hesitation.
Scoot’s call centre staff going back on their word
The email arrived after two days with two inaccuracies – a) the change was tied to one booking reference number when during the call, it was made clear that it was for two booking reference numbers, and b) the email stipulated that we had to pay additional SGD30 per person, for call center charges.
So once again, I called Scoot’s hotline, and was attended to by Gio. After taking 20 mins to find the records, he told me he could do the change of flight timing at no additional cost, as long as I paid the difference in fare. I agreed to this as this was what was discussed with Vim earlier. I told him that during our conversation with Vim, she had agreed that the change of flights will be made at no additional cost (which excludes the call centre fee). Gio then told me that I would need to pay an extra SGD30 per person, because of the fare difference.
Framing a fare difference as a call centre fee?
Now I’m glad that I had done my due diligence because the earlier flight was much cheaper (SGD64) than the evening flight we were suppose to be on (SGD109), and I told Gio so. He quickly changed his mind and then said that this SGD30 was for the call centre fee. At this point, we have decided to forfeit the money (SGD200+). After talking to five customer service executives over four hours, nothing had been solved, and Scoot was still relentlessly scrapping for every $30 it could exploit of its customers. In fact, the customer service officers have been dishonest and frankly speaking, unethical in their dealings with us. If Scoot had agreed to make the change in flight from the start with a SGD30 call center fee, I would have agreed. But I am tired of dealing with, and providing business to a dishonest organisation such as Scoot.
The Travelling Squid’s Take – Is Scoot making it difficult for you to get refunds? Three possible ways to get around it.
As I said earlier, the key word is ‘possible’. We didn’t actually get a refund, but to get anything done, you will need to:
For those who have called Scoot’s customer service often, it is by a strange coincidence that the supervisors of Scoot call centre executives at SPi Global are always ‘attending to another call’ or ‘are not available at this time’. The fact that they changed their tone immediately when getting called out on this farcical lie shows that it is a mere frustration tactic. Putting you on hold is the general approach. Chances are, they would be getting golden sticker stars from their imaginary supervisors when you hang up on them.
b) Be assertive
Believe me, I have tried to be reasonable and cordial with the Scoot call centre executives at SPi Global but nothing seems to get done this way. It seems that to get something done, raised voices and assertive tones are required. Nothing gets done if you’re Mr Nice Guy.
c) Give up on Scoot and book yourself a flight on another airline
As you can see, Option C is probably your best bet. Just based on our experiences with Scoot call centre executives at SPi Global, what they really care about is their bottom-line. It seems that every single cent which doesn’t get refunded goes into the bonuses of their call-centre executives, or is a key-performance indicator that they have to meet. Scoot is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Singapore Airlines (SQ) and the quality of customer service is world’s apart.
SQ, based on all my interactions at their Ion Orchard customer service centre, starts out with the intention to help. Even if they can’t, they proactively offer alternatives. However with Scoot, the starting position is to say no, and deliberately frustrate the customer until he/she adopts approaches a) and b). Essentially, you’re forced to be the world’s nastiest person in order to change flights or get refunds.
Is Scoot making it difficult for you to get refunds? I think for us, it just came to the point where we didn’t want to waste any more time and energy trying to get back our money. Scoot’s call centre executives at SPi Global must be rejoicing (they get to pocket SGD200 as bonuses presumably) ! It’s hard lesson I must admit.
Should I tailor my expectations because Scoot is a budget airline?
I came across this Channel NewsAsia article with a quote by Scoot’s CEO in Sep 2017 which says:
Mr Lee argued that the difference between low-cost and full-service airlines is smaller than most people imagine and that flying budget does not have to be a big sacrifice in terms of experience.
“I think some of the negative perceptions around budget airlines have arisen from previous practices, as to whether or not we take care of our customers, particularly during times of disruption,” he said.
“The industry model has changed. It’s no longer the bad old budget airlines of the past, leaving you stranded. We all take care of our customers. We have to.
Perhaps, our definitions of ‘disruption’ and ‘stranded’ are different, but I’m assured that with Scoot’s customer service at current levels, there is a fair bit of dissonance and disconnect for its customers who have been involved inconvenienced by Scoot’s failings.
Through Glassdoor, I later found out that Scoot call centre executives were getting paid USD307 – 330 per month. This explains why they were so hard up over refunds.
Is Scoot making it difficult for you to get refunds? Do share your thoughts in the box below.