New Computer for Xmas? From Amazon? Watch out you might need a HazMat suit….!!

What is it with me, I seem to attract trouble at the moment, either that or I just don’t take s**t like others do…

So I’m not going to talk about the ripoff known as Ebay seller StuffUSell who sells stuff that they know doesn’t match the description… that’s Ebay and par for the course… No this is about someone you would think would know better… Amazon…!

Yeah the price of globalisation.. they’re so big in every country that when searching for stuff you don’t even see Ebay at the top of the list anymore, you just see 100’s of Amazon links leaving you little choice about where you can purchase items…  Even if they can’t/won’t deliver.

Many of you the readers know I live in Malta (Europe, not the town in the USA) it’s a small island in the middle of the Mediterranean sea and unfortunately getting stuff that is available to the rest of the world can be a task… and it’s not cheap (sometimes as much as double to RRP.)  For this reason I often use online services such as Amazon to get what I need at a reasonable price, paying extra for shipping.  Obviously because of Tax and VAT I prefer to order from Amazon EU/UK where ever possible.

So what is the subject about, you’re thinking.. well simple are you in Europe, are you thinking about ordering a computer/tablet for Christmas 2013…?  Well my advice is avoid Amazon at all cost as you might find yourself without what you are waiting for until after Christmas, with the excuse the Item you are ordering has a HAZMAT sticker on it and we can’t ship it to you…

Here’s the screenshot of the item I ordered over a week ago.. (click for hi-res version)

Thecus N4510UR 12TB NAS
Thecus N4510UR 12TB NAS

So as you can see ‘Ordered on 21 November 2013’ .. however lets take a look at ‘My Orders’ (click for hi-res)…

My Orders at Amazon
My Orders at Amazon

So I didn’t get any delivery, so I checked the order status, found it not yet dispatched so I got onto Customer Support (politely at first)… and after 24 hours I got this response:

 Hello,

I am writing to let you know about your order #202-2620275-0284318.

I have received an update from our fulfillment center stating that this item has been held up at JKPT this is because the item has been identified as having HAZMAT control on it and therefore can not be shipped to the address used as we can not ship this type of product to an overseas address.

I hope this helps you.

We loo forward seeing you again soon.

Warmest regards,

Ruban S.

It’s like ‘WFT?!?!?!’ HAZMAT?!?!??!  its a computer – it doesn’t even contain battery backup batteries!!

I got back to Customer support (again politly(ish) at first).. and couldn’t get a response as to what “JKPT” is … eventually I persuaded the Customer Support person to email me later what it meant, I got the following:

Hello,

I’m writing regarding your order #202-2620275-0284318.

Please be informed that, JKPT is a condition that an item is put into when we have no shipping method for the item due to HAZMAT regulations. It is usually to either an overseas address or a PO box address, locker or a parcel motel type place.

If we can be of further assistance, you can reply directly to this e-mail. You can reach us by chat or phone from this link:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/contact-us

Customer Service can be reached by phone and chat 7 days a week 06.00 to midnight, local UK time.

If you need to call us, we can be reached on Freephone (within the UK) 0800 496 1081. International customers can reach us on +44 207 084 7911.

We look forward to seeing you again soon.

Warmest regards,

Babuvignesh S.

At this point I got a little narcky and phoned them on the 0800 number for the UK and pointed out, that the address for delivery is a real address that they have delivered to previously, and that whilst they are correct ‘overseas’ pretty much everywhere in Europe could be classified as such if the origination point is Jersey as they previously indicated… and again the response:

 Hello,

Regarding your Order No: 202-2620275-0284318, we’ve got an update from our fulfilment team:

”  I’m sorry but this item has been held up at JKPT this is because the item has been identified as having HAZMAT control on it and therefore can not be shipped to the address used as we can not ship this type of product to an overseas address ”

Warmest regards,

Thangjam M

Then 24 hours later I get this:

Hello,

I’m sorry for the inconvenience caused to you with the restrictions to Malta.

I do understand your concern regarding the item being allowed to ship to Malta.

I’ve checked and can see that my colleague has already contacted appropriate department to investigate this issue.

As it is not yet possible to provide you with a resolution, we continue to work hard to provide an update and we still expect to be in contact with you on the date provided by my colleague, November 29, 2013.

Please accept my apologies for the inconvenience; we want to be sure to address this matter as thoroughly as possible.

If you don’t hear back from us by November 29, 2013, please contact us again by replying directly to this email.

I hope this helps. We look forward to seeing you again soon.

Warmest regards,

Imran A.

So the moral, if you want/need something quick (even as a business user buying business class items) don’t bother with Amazon, and certainly if it’s a computer or tablet (as tablets are computers).. go down the high street and buy over the counter – even if it costs more or takes your time, at least you’ll get it, and the shop is likely to be still there next time you need something!!

 

UPDATE [5th December 2013], this just in from Amazon:

Hello,

We’re writing about your Amazon.co.uk order 202-2620275-0284318 which included the following:

——————————————————

B009E0X9Q4

Thecus N4510UR 12TB (4 x 3TB) 4 Bay 1U Rackmount NAS with McAfee Antivirus Protection

——————————————————

Unfortunately, due to delivery restrictions on such items, we won’t be able to send you this item and have cancelled it from your order.  This is because this item contains flammable, pressurised, corrosive, environmentally hazardous or otherwise harmful substances classified as dangerous goods under the European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Air.

Although the amount of these substances in these products is usually quite limited, these products need to be transported in a certain way to ensure that they are handled with care and are therefore assigned to a specialist carrier.  Unfortunately this means that we can’t dispatch this to any destination outside of mainland UK.

We’re sorry for any inconvenience caused and hope to see you again soon.

Warmest regards

Customer Service Department

Amazon.co.uk

Please note: This e-mail was sent from a notification-only address that can’t accept incoming e-mail.  Please don’t reply to this message.

So there you have it, if you are buying a computer from Amazon (UK) and are not in the UK they cannot and will not ship the item – even if it is marked as being sold by Amazon Europe (S.a.r.L.) and even if it is marked as available for delivery to your country…

UPDATE 2:  Bit the bullet today, and went to one of the local computer stores and bought the non rackmount version of the NAS, found for €1123.00 (less than Amazon) I was able to get a 16TB version.. then I thought about it…  We’re on an island, everything is flown in.. but wait, Amazon said it was a HAZMAT marked item….!

Old School corruption still around in Malta…?

Well all those know me, know I do not have tolerance for Political parties or Political grandstanding however, in the case of the 2013 Maltese Elections it is time I waded in with my 2 cents.  This is not a political statement for either side, because to be honest, if I were voting I wouldn’t vote for either one, both are in it for themselves and not in it for the people as elections really should be.  However, this is about the events (or more specifically one event) surrounding the election which is a clear disgrace…

According to the Maltese Law, 24 hours prior to the opening of the polling booths all campaigning must cease or those responsible will be in breach of the law and subject to arrest.  This applies to all candidates, parties and news media (both the services themselves and journalists.)

This evening, in Malta well know blogger and journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was arrested for blogging about the election in her usual, sometimes course, manner.  This in itself is not wrong, and indeed it appears her arrest was made with good reasoning and because it appears she violated the 24 hour law.  What is NOT right and clearly a prejudice either against her, or what she stands for, the the fact that some of the candidates themselves continued their campaigning clear into the 24 hour ‘no campaigning’ period, and no-one else has been arrested.

Lou Bondi, from TVM’s Bondi+ was there at the time of the arrest and the video of the arrest has been uploaded to You Tube here.  Now before any of you the readers get hot under the collar about the police officers involved, please remember they are doing their jobs, they were told to make the arrest.  Instead, focus your attention and appeals on the two following things:

  • First: Who ordered those police to arrest Daphne Caruana Galizia?  
  • Second: Why were others who clearly violated the same laws not arrested?

What follow are screenshots of the Facebook pages of some of the candidates and their delegates, all of which are in violation of the same law.  All of the people posting should be arrested on the same charges as Daphne Caruna Galzia immediately.  If the person ordering the arrest of Daphne Caruana Galizia is not willing to order the arrest of these people, that person should be fired and prosecuted for discrimination in the highest, and investigated for corruption.

 

313425_10151556788557994_712534173_n 544071_10151556858647994_81101859_n copy 599028_10151556864642994_1313463993_n 601296_10151556836607994_1203630769_n 734424_10151556861707994_630670272_n

You will note, that there are candidates from both sides of the Election.  All should be arrested for the violation of the 24 hour rule as they are all clearly in breach.

 

Note: Comments are open, however any political statements for or against any party will be reported as campaign statements or deleted.  I will allow comments about the unbalanced treatment of the parties and journalists involved in this scandalous arrest.

Note 2: Just to be clear, I am in the USA currently, and have no idea of the timezones/timestamps on the Facebook pages, these have been reported as postings within the 24 hour window to me, please excuse and inform me if any are not in fact in the 24 hour window.  Also if there are other examples, please screenshot them and post them to me at michelle@shellsshots.com and I will update this page with them.

ARMS… The Saga continues…

So the saga continues… ARMS (Malta’s Automated Revenue Management Services company that collects electricity bills) have so far ignored me, ignored my lawyer, and ignored my emails… Today I received a letter (scans of the letter at the bottom of this page) threatening legal action and disconnection again… This is despite me sending the following letter to them a month previously (on the 4th December 2012)..

ENGLISH:

I am writing to you about a number of things, including a long standing
issue that is still not resolved. My next step is talk to Parliament
and the Times of Malta.

FIRST:

I bought a house here in Malta in June/July 2010, and was named on the
bill by the former owner as she changed the service from herself. I was
placed on a ‘Residential Rate’ even though I have a residency
certificate and I operate a commercial enterprise from my premises.

In September/October 2011 I was in the USA on business and the meter
reader came to my premises was unable to get an answer at the door (due
to me being 5000+ miles away in the USA.)

ARMS proceeded to ‘Estimate’ a reading (of only some 70ish units) and
mark the bill as a ‘N’ (Non Read) when the actual reading would have
shown considerably more (circa 11,000 units.)

In March 2012 an ARMS employee visited my premises and read the meter
(and the accurate read of some 20,000+ units) and shortly there after I
received a bill for some €12900+. Upon examining it I saw several errors:

1/ The law provided discounted rating had been disregarded and the
20,000 unit difference between the ‘non read’ and the current reading
had been pro-rated to just 6 months (rather than the law provided 12
months.)
2/ The bill showed ‘0 (zero) residents’ – This is wrong on 2 counts.
a/ I am a commercial (non-residential) entity
b/ I am a Maltese resident and therefore should not be paying the
‘Domestic’ ratings.

Shortly after I asked my lawyer and friend Ms G Spiteri to accompany me
to the ARMS office in Pieta for an explanation and correction. Both Ms
Spiteri and I were astonished when the ARMS staff member told us that it
was a computer programming error that could not be rectified (and would
not be rectified) without involvement from the CEO of ARMS. He then
proceeded to inform us that the incorrect tariff would not be corrected
without filling out a change of service form, which I had to download
from the website and fill in. I read your form and noted at the
signature line that there is a statement alluding to the change would
only be applied to the date of signing onwards. This is unacceptable as
it was not my mistake in the first instance.

In September 2012 I receive a ‘notice of disconnection’ from ARMS, I
informed Ms Spiteri, who wrote to yourselves indicating that you would
be held responsible to the amount of €1000 per 24 hour period in lost of
business earnings should you proceed. I repeated the same to your
customer care line, they indicated that I (rather than my lawyer) should
have contacted yourselves. Whom I chose to contact you is dependent on
your responses to me, and so far they have been such that I am
considering taking a very public class action suit against ARMS for this
completely discriminatory, defamatory, inadequate and prejudicial service.

I note that as of today (4 December 2012) responses have been slow (if
at all) and the service is still considered by yourselves as ‘Domestic’
My latest bill shows some €17000+ in arrears and it is getting to the
point when I think if it is even sorted out and I am billed at the
correct rate I will not be able to afford to pay the bill in a complete
hit and may be left with interest charges that you apply without any
credit agreement that enables such.

ALSO:

Last night I suffered 3 separate power outages when the ‘smart meter’
shut the supply off each time indicating ‘Over Usage by 18%’ … The
additional power I was consuming were an electric cooking ring (single)
and the oven. I am sure you are aware the power usage by said items
does not exceed what 3×3.5kw Airconditioning units and a 7kw unit would
use during the summer (which I was using this summer, without issue.) I
am fully aware the ‘Smart Meters’ are remote programmable and remote
controllable and as such you can remotely tell the unit to terminate the
supply at any time without my interaction. This means either one of 2
rational possibilities:

1/ Someone instigated a remote power outage.
2/ The meter is faulty and is incorrectly reading the power consumption.

(a third option would be someone stealing power, however with the
exception of the existing ground level wiring, I am fully aware of all
the connections and intersecting points of my installation as I
installed most of it myself, including additional grounding to bring the
installation to a greater safety level than required by Maltese law.)

The power outages caused several issues. First, I lost 7 days of work
(80 hours of work) due to it as it caused damage to one of my computers
that had not managed to complete it’s backup. Second, it was highly
dangerous to the members of the household, not to mention myself because
we were plunged into darkness, one person in the shower, myself cooking
with a hot deep fat fryer, and someone had to navigate through the dark
building and fumble in the electricity cupboard for the breaker to reset
it (had there been power this could have proved fatal.)

LASTLY:

Some time ago (possibly summer 2011) I requested a larger meter to be
installed in this premises as when the Smart Meter was installed they
installed a 60Amp meter which was lower than the original, and is
totally inadequate for a 4/5 bedroomed air conditioned house. I noted
on your website at that time that you had the option of a larger single
phase meter (80 amp) which is more realistic to the needs of a large
house. I was informed by the ARMS staff that there was no such meter
and I would have to “upgrade” to a 3 phase installation. The internal
wiring of this building is not suitable for a 3 phase installation,
though it is conceivable that I could separate out individual phases for
certain parts of the house. I was informed the cost would be in excess
of €3000 for the said ‘upgrade’ (as opposed to the website quoted change
of €300 for a larger meter – which would put me back to the original
meter size pre-smart meter.)

SUMMARY:

I am to date disgusted with the service of ARMS, I cannot get correct
billing, I cannot get responses from persons responsible, I have an
inadequate service that you refuse to change without exorbitant fees and
considerable inconvenience, not to mention the prejudicial and
discriminatory service I have received to date.

Michelle Sulivan

PS: Please reply in English.

MALTI:

Qed nikteb dwar numru ta’ affarijiet, inkluz kwistjoni antika li ghada
mhijiex rizolta. Il pass li jmiss minghandi huwa li nkellem
lill-Parlament u l-‘Times Of Malta’.

L-EWWEL:
Xtrajt dar hawn Malta f’ Gunju/Lulju 2010, u kont msemijja fuq il-kont
li kien miktub mill-proprjetarju precedenti kif qalbet is-servizz minn
isimha ghal fuq ismi. Kont fuq “Rata Residenzjali” anka jekk ghandi
certifikat tar-residenza u nopera intrapriza kummercjali mill-bini tieghi.

F’Settembru/Ottubru 2011 kont fl-Istati Uniti fuq negozju u it-tekniku
ta’ l-arlogg tad-dawl gie id-dar tieghi pero ma’ fetahlu hadd (peress li
kont 5000+ mili il-boghod fl-Istati Uniti.)

ARMS ipproċedew biex jghamlu “Stima” tal-qari (ta’ circa 70 units biss)
u mmarka l-kont bħala “N” (Non Read) meta l-qari attwali kien juri
konsiderevolment aktar (circa 11000 units.)

F’Marzu 2012 impjegat tal-ARMS żar il-post tiegħi u qara l-arlogg
tad-dawl (il-qari preċiż kien ta ‘xi 20,000 + units) u ftit wara
rcievejt kont ta xi € 12,900 +. Meta eżaminajt dan il qari sibt bosta
żbalji:

1 / Il-liġi provdiet rata skontata li kienu ġew injorati u l-20000 units
differenza bejn il-“non read ‘u l-qari attwali kien distribwit biss fuq
6 xhur (minflok skond il-liġi fuq 12-il xahar.)
2 / Il-kont wera 0 (żero) residenti “- Dan huwa ħażin ghal 2 ragunijiet.
a / Jiena entità kummerċjali (mhux residenzjali)
b / Jiena residenta’ Maltijja u għalhekk m’għandiex ghalfejn nħallas
ir-rati domestici.

Ftit wara tlabt l-avukata tiegħi u ħabiba Sinjura G Spiteri biex
takkumpanjani fl-uffiċċju tal-ARMS fi Pieta għal spjegazzjoni u
korrezzjoni. Kemm is-Sinjura Spiteri u jien konna ixxukjati meta
l-membru tal-persunal ARMS qalilna li dan kien żball ta ‘programmazzjoni
fil-kompjuter li ma setgħux jiġu rettifikati (u mhumiex ha jigu
rettifikati) mingħajr l-involviment mis-CEO tal-ARMS. Huwa mbagħad
infurmana li t-tariffa skorretta mux se tigi ikkoreġuta jekk il-forma
tal-bidla fis-servizz ma tigiex mimlijjha, u ghalek kelli nniżżilha
mill-websajt u nimlijha. Jien u naqra il-formola tiegħek innutajt
mill-linja tal-firma li hemm stqarrija tirreferi indirettament
għall-bidla li tigi applikata biss mid-data tal-iffirmar l-quddiem. Dan
mhuwiex aċċettabli għaliex ma kienx żball tiegħi fl-ewwel istanza.

F’s-Settembru 2012 irċievejt “avviż ta ‘skonnessjoni” minn ARMS, jiena
nfurmajt lis-Sinjura Spiteri, li kitbet lillkom infuskom li jindika li
inthom ser tkunu responsabbli għall-ammont ta’ € 1,000 fuq perjodu ta
kull ’24 siegħa ghat-telfa ta’ qligħ tan-negozju jekk tipproċedu.
Irripetejt l-istess lill-linja taghkom tal-‘customer care’, li ndikaw li
kelli nikkuntatjakom jien stess (minflok l-avukat tiegħi). Lil min
għażilt jikuntatjak huwa jiddipendi fuq it-tweġibiet tiegħek lili, u
s’issa kienu tali li jiena qed nikkonsidra nieħu azzjoni pubblika kontra
ARMS għal dan is-servizz kompletament diskriminatorju, malafamanti,
inadegwat u ta ‘preġudizzju.

Ninnota li mil-lum (4 Diċembru 2012) risposti kienu ftit (jekk xejn) u
s-serviżż għadu meqjus minnkom bħala “Domestiku”. L-ahhar kont tieghi
juri xi €17,000+ b’lura u qed nasal sal-punt fejn naħseb jekk saħansitra
hija mifthiema u jiena ċċarġjata b’rata korretta, mhux ser inkun kapaċi
niflah nħallas l-kont mil-ewwel u nista nithalla bl-ispejjeż tal-imgħax
li inthom tapplikaw mingħajr ebda ftehim ta ‘kreditu li tippermetti tali.

WKOLL:

Il-bierah filghaxija soffrejt 3 qtugh tal-eletriku separati meta
lis-“Smart Meter” wera uzu eccessiv bi 18% … L-elettriku addizzjonali
li kont qed nikkonsuma kien ċirku tat-tisjir elettriku (singlu) u
l-forn. Jiena ċerta li inthom konxji li l-użu tal-enerġija mill
imsemmija oġġetti ma jeċċedix dak ta’ 3×3.5kw units tal-airconditioning
u 7kw units li jintuza matul is-sajf (li kont qed nuża dan is-sajf
mingħajr problemi) Jiena konxja li lis-“Smart Meters”huma programmati u
kkontrollati b’mod remot u bħala tali inthom tistghu iggielhu l-unit
ttemm l-provvista fi kwalunkwe waqt mingħajr l-interazzjoni tiegħi. Dan
ifisser xi wieħed mill-2 possibbiltajiet razzjonali:

1 / Xi ħadd instiga qtugh tal-enerġija mill-bogħod.
2 / L-arlogg tad-dawl huwa difettuż u il-qari tal-konsum tal-enerġija
huwa zbaljat.

(A tielet possibilta’ hija li xi hadd qed jisraq l-elettriku, madankollu
bl-eċċezzjoni tal-wiring eżistenti livell ma l’art, jiena konxja ta
‘l-konnessjonijiet u l-punti li jaqtgħu lil xulxin tal-installazzjoni
tiegħi peress li installajt il-maggorita’ jien stess, inkluż ert
addizzjonali sabiex l-installazzjoni f’sigurta’ aqwa minn dak meħtieġ
mil-liġi Maltija.)

Il-qtugħ ta’l -enerġija ikkawża diversi kwistjonijiet. L-ewwel, jiena
tlift 7 t’ijiem ta ‘xogħol (80 sigħat ta’ xogħol) peress li kkawża dannu
lil wieħed mill-kompjuters tiegħi li ma lahaqx jlesti il ‘backup’.
It-tieni, kien ferm perikoluż għall-membri mimsuba fil-bini, biex ma
nsemmux li konna mitfugħin fid-dlam, persuna waħda fid-doċċa, jien stess
nsajjar bi fryer jahraq, u xi ħadd kellu jinnaviga fil-bini mudlam u
jfittex fil-cupboard tal-elettriku għall-interruttur sabiex jerga
jixghelu (li kieku kien hemm elettriku dan seta’ jirrizulta’ fatali.)

Fl-aħħarnett:

Xi żmien ilu (possibilment fis-sajf ta’ l-2011) jien tlabt sabiex jiġi
installat arlogg tad-dawl akbar f’din ir-residenza bħal meta lis-‘Smart
Meter’ kien installat dawn installaw arlogg 60Amp li kien inqas
mill-oriġinali, u hija totalment inadegwata għal dar b’ 4/5 kmamar
tas-sodod b’arja kundizzjonata. Kif ukoll, f’dak iz-zmien innotajt fuq
il-websajt taghkom li kellkom l-għażla ta ‘phase meter’ singlu akbar (80
amp) li huwa aktar realistiku għall-ħtiġijiet ta’ dar kbira. Pero kont
infurmata mill-persunal ARMS li ma kienx hemm meter bħal dan u li jkolli
namel “upgrade” għal ‘3 phase installation’ . Il-wajers interni ta’ dan
il-bini mhumiex adattati għal ‘3 phase installation’, għalkemm ma jistax
jiġi eskluż li jien nista nissepara l fażijiet individwali għal ċerti
partijiet tad-dar. Jien kont infurmata li l-ispiża tkun f’eċċess ta ‘€
3,000 għal l-imsemmija “upgrade” (kif oppost għal-bidla kkwotata
fil-websajt ta’ € 300 għal meter akbar – li jpoġġini lura għad-daqs
oriġinali tal- ‘pre-smart meter’)

SOMMARJU:

Sal-lum jiena ddisgustata mis-servizz tal-ARMS, ma nistax nikseb
kontijiet korretti, ma nistax nikseb tweġibiet minn persuni
responsabbli, Ghandi servizz inadekwat li intom qed tirrifjuta li tbidlu
mingħajr miżati eżorbitanti u l-inkonvenjenza konsiderevoli, biex ma
nsemmux il-preġudizzju u d-diskriminazzjoni fis-servizz li irċevejt sal-lum.

Michelle Sulivan

PS: Jekk jogħġbok irrispondi bl-Ingliż.

— Michelle Sullivan http://www.mhix.org/

 

One can only hope that the likes of the Times of Malta will take up the story and expose their discrimination and illegal strong arm tactics. (They have ignored at least one law in Malta – my Lawyer has already threatened them with legal action should they not comply.)

 

ARMS Final Notice
ARMS Final Notice (1)

 

ARMS Final Notice
ARMS Final Notice (2)

 

Air Malta… You thought Ryan Air / EasyJet were bad!

A warning of bad service and the dangers of using online shopping services…

Air Malta

WARNING: Do not use AIR MALTA’s online ticket booking system if you want to fly….  here’s why…

First what happened to me, then I will paste response from Air Malta (and explain what they said for those that don’t ‘get it’.)  You will agree, that if you have see the programs made by English TV companies about cheap airline ‘EasyJet’ that often cheapest is not the best.  For that reason and that reason alone I have never used EasyJet, I have always gone with the more expensive ‘Air Malta’ when traveling to the UK. Never again.

Around the 5th December 2012 I decided to go back to the UK for a couple of days before Christmas to see my mother and to do some Christmas shopping.  I booked time off work, I booked a hotel, I booked car rental, all for the few days 16th December 2012 to 19th December 2012… Then I booked the flights using ‘Air Malta’s online service…  For just 3 days this amounted to more than €800.00, an ‘expensive’ shopping trip to say the least, but has I hadn’t seen my mother for 2 years (and she’s 73) I figured that I should even though I am extremely busy with work…

On the 16th December my friend Naomi and I went to the airport a couple of hours early (so I thought) turns out I had made a simple mistake, we had arrived at the airport 2 hours before we were due to arrive in London.. and that was some 20 minutes after the flight left Malta…  This was explained to me, and unlike those on TV, I realised that it was my stupid error and that I had only myself to blame, so I asked if they could move the tickets to the next available flight, Air Malta indicated they couldn’t and that I would have to buy new tickets for the first flight the following day.  They informed me that it would be €241.80 for the new outgoing tickets, I handed them my credit card and it was charged.  About to leave the desk the 2 representatives started speaking together with a look of concern on their faces, my friend Naomi being a native Maltese speaker understood what was being said and let out an exclamation, I asked for an English translation, and she (not the Air Malta staff) told me that they had said that I would need to purchase return tickets as well as the computerised booking system had automatically cancelled without refund the return tickets.  I informed them that I had paid for the tickets,  and was going to be at the Airport on Wednesday evening for the return flight, they informed me I would be refused boarding with no rights to recourse.  I immediately demanded a refund and was given the refund of the tickets I had just purchased and was told I would need to contact their Customer Care center the following day.

I called their customer care number multiple times, and received no response.. few minutes of being on-hold followed by a ‘click’ and was disconnected for each call.

I emailed via their website asking for contact details of a manager.  I received an email response telling me I could not speak to a manager and should forward me complain to their email address: customercare.airmalta@airmalta.com I wrote the following letter:

Ref: ICCHO019286

Here is a brief description of events:

I arrived at MIA at 17:25 Sunday 16th Dec 2012 for the KM102 flight.  It was pointed out to me that my ‘2 hours early’ was actually 35 minutes after departure because I had mis-read the itinerary and the departure time was actually I was ‘arriving early’ for was the arrival time in London.  I felt an idiot, but mistakes happen.  I requested from the Air Malta desk at MIA to see if I could move the flights to the next available, they after 10 minutes on the computer said that they couldn’t access the booking as I was a ‘no show’ and therefore I would need to buy a new ticket.  They informed me the price would be €241.90 for the flight the following morning (at 7:50am) I agreed and handed my credit card to pay for tickets for myself and Naomi Xuereb (my traveling partner) and the staff appropriately charged my credit card.

I was then informed that because I was a ‘no show’ on the first flight, the tickets for my return had been automatically cancelled and they would need to book new tickets for my return at a cost exceeding €500 (or I could travel on another day at lower cost)  I informed them that I had not taken my ticket, I had not canceled it, and it was at least 72 hours from that point and they had no right to cancel my flight.  They informed me (both working staff) that it was ‘the way the computer works’  I told them I would be at the airport on Wednesday evening presenting my tickets and I would should not deny me boarding, they informed me that my ticket was invalid and I would be refused and stranded in London.  I informed them that that was unacceptable and they should refund me immediately for the unused tickets, they refused saying the tickets were ‘lost’ and I would need to contact customer care.

A short discussion/argument ensued and I demanded a refund in disgust for the €241.90 I had just paid.  I returned home with Naomi and called AVIS and LastMinute.com’s customer care inquiring about a refund giving the full list of events.  They both offered their sympathy and indicated they would attempt to refund my bookings (I had prepaid) as the circumstances were unusual to say the least.  They have since indicated that this is not possible.

I am therefore requesting politely in the first instance that you refund my out of pocket expenses.  This amounts to:

€544.40 (Booked flights with AirMalta – Ref: NCWIVM)

€192.16 (Lost hotel cost for 18th-19th Dec 2012: UKP146.88 @ Exchange Rate of 0.7873 (1.2702) + 3% commission [HSBC Malta current rates])

€124.50 (AVIS Car Rental: UKP95.76 @ Exchange Rate of 0.7873 (1.2702) + 3% commission [HSBC Malta current rates])

———–

€861.06 [Sub total]

———–

€241.90- (less amount for replacement ticket that I was able to purchase should Air Malta have not canceled my return ticket, because it was my initial mistake.)

———–

€619.16 [Total]

======

I think you would agree that it is a reasonable request to compensate me for my losses due to ‘the way the computer is programmed’.  I would suggest you amend your computer system programming to avoid other similar incidents as the Air Malta staff indicated that this issue had occurred with someone else on the same day, and as Air Malta is already having Financial issues it would not be a very good idea to have people like myself dissatisfied with Air Malta’s service as it is likely to cause you considerable negative publicity and therefore lost of profits for your investors (not to mention more lay-offs for all staff.)  There is an old saying “a satisfied customer will tell 3 friends, an angry customer will tell 100 people”  Mr Joe Debono Grech found out just how many people I can tell when I’m angry just a few months ago, I pray that you do not have to find out how many people I will tell if this is not resolved satisfactorily.

I look forward to a prompt response.

Regards,

Michelle

 

… I received a response a few hours later indicating that their relevant department would respond to my request soon.

3 Days later…

I emailed them again indicating I had not had a response.

I then received the following:

Dear Mrs. Sullivan,

Customer Care Ref: ICCHO019286

Further to our previous correspondence, please note that we have duly noted the contents of your e-mail and would like to advise you as follows.

Please allow us to express our sincere apologies for any inconvenience that you may have experienced whikst using our services.

We wish to emphasise that here at Air Malta, ensuring total customer satisfaction is one of the maxims that guide our mission as a leading service provider in the travel and transportation industry.

Unfortunately, there may be isolated instances where this required level is felt not to have been provided.  However, this does not detract from the importance of us continually trying to reach the highest possible levels of customer satisfaction.

One of the steps taken in this direction has been to ensure that our clients have full access to the Terms and Conditions of Carriage.  In fact, these may be easily located on the Air Malta website (http://www.airmalta.com/conditions-of-carriage).  It is indeed in these Terms and Conditions that one will find that if the passenger does not show up for any flight without advising Air Malta in advance, then Air Malta may cancel the passenger’s return or onward reservations.

We consider Article 5.6 in the latter Conditions, which you freely accepted to form part of our Contract of Carriage upon purchasing your Air Malta flight ticket, to be very clear.  Consequently, Air Malta cannot and will not be liable for any loss or damage arising from the failure to comply with the Terms and Conditions, which clearly state that any changes need to be done prior departure.  In effect, Air Malta’s General Conditions of Carriage regulate the contractual relationship that exists between Air Malta and your good self in this case.  Such Conditions are in line with IATA’s (i.e. the International Air Transport Association) recommended practices. It is ultimately the responsibility of the passenger, as with any other contract, to read through such Conditions prior to purchasing his flight ticket.

For your ease of reference, the aforementioned Article 5.6 states as follows:

5.6            CANCELLATION OF ONWARD RESERVATIONS

Please be advised that if you do not show up for any flight without advising us in advance, we may cancel your return or onward reservations.  However, if you do advise us in advance, we will not cancel your subsequent flight reservations.

You will appreciate that you have violated Article 5.6 of the Contract of Carriage in force between Air Malta and your good self when you failed to show up for flight KM102 on the 16th December, without any advance notice being given to Air Malta.  As a result of your actions Air Malta had every right, pursuant to the aforementioned quoted Article, to cancel your subsequent flight reservations.

In these circumstances we believe that Air Malta acted according to the conditions of the ticket agreement, however if you feel that the matter could have been handled more effectively then please accept our sincere apologies.

Whilst trusting to have informed you accordingly, please do not hesitate to contact us should you require any further assistance.

Yours sincerely,

Lilian Farrugia

Customer Care Representative

Air Malta Plc

Customer Care

Sky Parks Business Centre, Level 2

Malta International Airport, Luqa LQA4000

E-mail: customercare.airmalta@airmalta.com URL: http://www.airmalta.com

 

So for those that “don’t get it” Air Malta will, if you don’t take a flight and don’t inform them in advance, cancel all your flights for all passengers on your itinerary and will refuse a refund of all costs associated with those flights (including the tickets for flights not yet taken that you would have otherwise taken.) … And you thought EasyJet was bad for charging people for new tickets when passengers turn up 10 minutes late for check-in…  At least EasyJet and RyanAir don’t cancel without refund all your flights in the future.

My advice to people is simple… Don’t fly Air Malta at all… and if you have no choice, don’t book your flights online with Air Malta, and what ever happens book all the flights individually because if one person on your ticket fails to arrive at the airport on time, you’ll have your flights cancelled without refund… including any return..  At least if you have a separate ticket and separate itinerary for each person and flight they cannot use ‘Rule 5.6’ to cancel tickets.. though I expect they will soon amend policy to to cancel anything in your name should you fail to show up for any flight…

Oh, and for reference (and have heard this from others as well) … their ‘Frequent Flyer’ program.. I am a member, I cannot get any credits for my flights (and haven’t for the last 3 years except for the very first flight)… and I fly some 60,000 air mails per year on average…  Others I know have only been credited Economy miles for Business class flights, and several time I have had issues with Air Malta (particularly flying out of London) for being just 1kg overweight… on one occasion they attempted to charge me an addition €150…

So the message is simple…

Use EASYJET or RYAN AIR and discard Air Malta to the bin of ‘never fly with these idiots’…

 

 

United finally get it right… (wonders will never cease)

Well in all fairness I have to post this, normally I am only seen whinging about United Airlines (and with good reason) but as I am also a fair and honest person, time to give credit where credit is due.

Today I had to take a flight from San Francisco (SFO) to Baltimore (BWI) and was booked on flight UA558.  I wasn’t looking forward to 5.25 hours in yet another badly maintained plane with rude staff, and an awful checkin system..  What a pleasant surprise I got.  A quick drive to SFO from Sunnyvale, was uneventful, the roof was down and Rammstein was blasting out at full volume (much to the angst of fellow road users who looked decidedly afraid, of the Goth in a big convertible mustang, banging out some very metal tunes… I suspect they thought at any minute I might draw a shotgun and start taking pot shots for fun!)  Arrival at SFO was also uneventful, car was returned to Hertz, no comments, complaints in fact several of the staff started head banging to the sound of the (still very loud) Rammstein!

I got to the check-in desk and as usual, they weren’t manned at all, leaving only the computerised systems, my heart fell, however a very cheerful dark skinned lady (United staff) decided to help me through it…  [Hang on a sec, you say, Michelle is a techie and programmer, how come she needed help….  My response to all of you.. you ever tried checking in using one of those damned machines?!?!? 😉 ]  anyhow, after initial problems with getting the machine to read my passport (my fault) it asked questions and I responded.. including a question, ‘this flight is full, would you consider helping us out and taking a $250 flight voucher for taking an alternative flight’… I thought, I answered, “yes” …  I hurried in to the departure lounge to talk to the boarding staff because I wasn’t all that sure about it… just wanted to make sure there were no problems..  I mean, 36 hours to get to Baltimore, sure, I could take a different route.. but they had to ensure my back was not destroyed in the mean time…  They offered (and I accepted) alternative flights, a hotel for the night and an upgrade to first class as well as the $250 voucher…..  I said, “yes please” 😉 [Note: in the end I didn’t get it because 2 people didn’t make it to the flight so they didn’t need my seat, but that was a bonus I was willing to take 😉 ]

So, the flight.. Airbus 319.. very small aircraft, old and notoriously uncomfortable for people like me..  they gave me Seat 7D at checkin..  just behind the business class section, tonnes of leg room but completely impossible to watch the movie… glad I bought a book. 😉

Now loud and proud.. United I had done many flights with you, some using my Frequent Flightier card (so you know who I am) some without…  The following people do you credit:

Terri Clark

Monica Travis

Ronda Novotny

I have *NEVER* had a flight with United that even comes close to the quality and standard of other airlines (even with a $7500 one-way Business class ticket).. however, this was an Economy Plus flight, and I thought I was on another airline, the service, the staff, everything was good.  Service was with a smile, they were helpful and courteous, there was none of the, “You’re a dirty low class economy piece of s**t” that I have experienced in the past.  These people answered the bell within a few minutes, they served me food and wine when I asked (even if they didn’t have 3 of my choices, it doesn’t matter, they served in a manor that made up for the shortcomings of what was in the galley.)  I watched the business class service from where I was and the same was happening there… All I can say is (and I never thought I’d ever say it).. For the United Flight UA558 on the 20th Oct 2012, Top marks from me!!