A petition calling for Qantas to improve its customer service has gained 17,000 new signatures in the last three weeks alone, as customers grow increasingly frustrated with tied-up phone lines and broken online systems.
The change.org petition boasted just 463 signatures as of 29 March, however as of Tuesday, 19 April, this number had soared to over 17,400.
The petition calls for a “better customer service response from Qantas”, after customers have been forced to spend hours on hold with the airline’s customer service line, with no response.
The petition requests that the national carrier employ more people to man both its phone lines and its social media, to reduce the amount of time that stressed customers need to wait before having their query addressed, and also implores Qantas to improve the function of its website, in order to allow more customers to avoid requiring additional assistance all together.
It comes after Qantas admitted that its current call wait times are “not acceptable”, in light of an incident that hit global headlines, where a passenger was placed on hold for eight hours waiting for assistance. The airline claims to have hired another 750 staff to rectify the issue.
Many other customers have since taken to social media to share their frustrations over increasingly long hold times.
Ingrid Miller, the creator of the change.org petition, said she took a random sample of 50 people who had complained on social media about Qantas’ customer service, and found that on average, customers were waiting five hours and 36 minutes for someone to pick up.
However, in the last three weeks, this number is likely to have blown out even more, due to the busy Easter rush that has sent airports and airlines alike, erupt into chaos.
“Qantas is exploiting COVID as a guise to prioritise poor customer service and capitalise on creating further disadvantage for regional Australia,” Miller said.
“Far and wide, people are losing their hard-earned money. All the while, Qantas continues to hide behind COVID as an excuse to cut jobs and do people out of their cash.”
Miller highlighted that customers are often directed to Qantas’ website in order to manage their bookings, however, the website fails to offer all the functions that are most often required, resulting in “repetitive error messages”, which ultimately forces them onto the phone lines.
“Qantas needs people to fly on their airline in order to get the business going again during and post-COVID,” Miller added.
“If Qantas wants this to happen, then they have to start treating customers like they actually want them to fly.”
Meanwhile, a recent Melbourne-based supporter of the petition said, “Qantas should be ashamed, [I] can’t book on website as they [there] are so many errors so [I] am forced to call. On hold for 2.5 hours and hung up on!
“Not to mention my flight they cancelled last year and no sign of credits, I’m too scared to call because of the stress it will cause. Without customers, there is no Qantas!”
Another supporter, from Sydney, said, “I couldn’t contact Qantas for days even though I’m a gold member and spent around 10 hours collectively waiting on the phone over a few days.”
It comes as Qantas also faces heavy criticism for its flight credit policies, which has seen Australia’s consumer watchdog on high alert after numerous customers reported that Qantas was raising the cost of fares for customers paying with flight credits.
Reports of alleged price gouging were shortly followed by a formal ACCC complaint filed by consumer advocacy group Choice, after its independent consumer surveys highlighted the “many obstacles” faced by Qantas customers seeking to cash in their flight credits.
Choice said its ACCC complaint calls out the “potentially misleading and deceptive conduct” in Qantas’ flight credit redemption policy.
Choice said it ran a survey in January this year, which found that nearly a third of people trying to use flight credits to purchase new flights were forced to pay more than the cost of the original flight, and many also reported that paying with flight credit would cost them more than buying a new ticket on that same flight.
One customer said, “I was able to get a flight credit, but the flight ended up costing me about $200 more than if I had booked it outright. Very disappointing.
“How can Qantas get away with that?”
According to Choice, many customers have also faced difficulties obtaining or using their flight credits due to an ongoing issue in Qantas’ customer service phone lines.
Many frustrated customers claimed it was near impossible to speak to anyone from Qantas due to these tied-up phone lines.
“Qantas makes it so hard to access support that people just give up,” one customer said. “I believe this to be deliberate.”