Ryanair fined €550k for poor customer service
We like consumer championing here at Bitterwallet, and once again the Italian competition watchdog AGCM has brought out the big guns and landed a massive fine for unscrupulous business practices. This time, its budget airline Ryanair, who have been slapped with a €550,000 (£412,000) fine for poor customer service practices, including “extreme difficulty” and exorbitant costs.
ACGM already investigated Ryanair last year, after a deluge of complaints from passengers over its premium rate customer service phone lines. Fliers found it “difficult and unreasonably expensive” to get reimbursements, to find alternative flights following cancellations or to receive detailed billing information for tax and expenses purposes. Others complained of huge difficulties when attempting to change their bookings before the flight or even getting accessibility information for passengers in wheelchairs.
The AGCM did acknowledge Ryanair’s effort in the last year to improve its service, which included getting rid of a premium phone number for passengers requiring assistance with boarding, but those measures were deemed not sufficient to avoid a fine. This is also the second fine imposed by the Italian watchdog on Ryanair in less than a year. Last February, the airline was fined €850,000 (£635,000) for the “lack of transparency in their travel insurance policies” and the “obstacles created in case of refund” during the online purchase of airline tickets.
Besides the money, this ruling is likely to come as a blow to Ryanair after having so publicly turned over a new leaf on the customer service front, with flamboyant Chief Michael O’Leary even saying he was trying not to p*** people off. ACGM also recently fined TripAdvisor for publishing ‘misleading reviews’
Ryanair has issued a statement saying it has noted the ruling and is looking into an appeal.