Sunday, December 22, 2013

Paying for the Negligence of Others; An IBQ ThanQ Reward Program and Qatar Airways Experienced

The year of the snake is a fruitful and very memorable year to me and to my family. It is these year that my boy will turns 1, the same day I will add a year to my age on 29th December 2013. As early as August 2013, I did an online booking for an airline ticket already. It was done secretly without my wife's knowledge because I want to surprise her, though gradually she hinted that I have the intent of going home on our son’s natal day. The booking was done through ThanQ Reward website by IBQ. (See itinerary below)

The month of October came with much excitement considering I'll be with my family again in few months time. Then comes an email from ThanQ Travel Center that reads: (See below)

I found out that my return flight to Doha was the one with changes. From the above emails, it was ThanQ Travel Center who contacted me. To avoid scam online and other fraud, I set in my mind not to entertain any other changes aside from ThanQ Travel Center.

Life continues without any second thought of having flight problems during the following month. 12th November 2013 came with the 1st email from an unknown source which I thought was spam. I didn't mind it since to me it looks so informal unlike the previous email I had from ThanQ. (See below)

A 2nd email in 20th November informs me about a schedule change with no other specific information. This time I thought of putting attention to it. (See below)

I did try following the instruction on the recent email. I visited and below is what I got.

After reading the read text, I did call IBQ hotline listed on the itinerary emails to check my flight since to me as I understood they are my travel agent this moment. Unfortunately I got no good answer from the call centre agent. To satisfy myself, I called Qatar Airways and they instructed me to call back my agent and tell them about the changes. I did call 3 times in total (if I'm not mistaken). In those calls one of the agents tells me that everything is fine with my booking. I was so hopeful then considering I am in good hands with IBQ whom I have my payroll account and credit card.

Here comes the month of December, the month I am scheduled to be home for me and my son's birthday. It is a month full of hope and excitement. 21 December 2013 was the date that turns everything upside down. I went to QA Garafa Branch to confirm my flight booking and I was told that all my two flight schedules have been cancelled. I was instructed to contact my travel agent. Since I got my ticket from IBQ ThanQ website, I went straight to IBQ C-Ring. It was Saturday so the bank is close like what I expected. Now I did wait until the 22nd of December. Nobody from both IBQ and Qatar Airways hinted me that my flight has been cancelled. Change is not the synonyms of cancellation. It is two words with different meaning; changes can be seen with hope while cancellation is putting an end.

I leave in Al Sadd so the following day instead of going somewhere else, I went straight to IBQ Al Sadd. I was given priority number F003 and was entertain by a certain lady agent seating at cubicle number 4 at the right hand corner of the bank when you enter from the revolving door. I explain my situation to her and she replied that ThanQ reward website should only be used to claim loyalty rewards and used the reward to buy ticket. This statement clearly contradicts the FAQS on thanq program, specifically item 4 and 5. (Refer to screenshot below)

Her following statement was IBQ is not liable for it and that I should contact the travel agent to check new bookings. She is referring to another company tied up with IBQ who handles booking (Connexions Loyalty Travel Solutions) which unfortunately has no office in Doha. She also offered a dispute form if in case I need a refund. The lady explained that it will take time to credit the money to my account and I said I need to find ways to be able to use the existing booking to go home. She suggested nothing. For her it was the responsibility of the travel agency and Qatar Airways to fix the mess I’m in.

If only it was Connexions Loyalty Travel Solutions who gives me the itinerary then I should have find ways to contact them, but it’s not. My itinerary both came from ThanQ Travel Center of IBQ so I guess in any layman’s interpretation they are the one to be contacted in case like what I had.

After all the misfortune I had from IBQ, I decided to make my own move. As a father so desperate to fulfill a promise to a son, I went to Qatar Airways and ask what they can do with my situation. I learned from them that it wasn’t only me in that situation. One single decision of a giant airline company cost almost a fortune to those people affected. How can a confirmed flight be cancelled without even giving the right information to the flyers?

Admitably IBQ has negligence and undeniably Qatar Airways did something terrible too. Now an ordinary employee like me will have to pay for their mess. I am asked for an additional fare of QR2470 due to fare difference on my new booking. Without any other choice, I grab it with something inside. If only it wasn't for my son and with enough time, I should have fought for what is right...for the injustice I had.

To IBQ; I am writing this to promote awareness to people who may encounter similar situation in the future. Perhaps, this is for IBQ management also to know that somewhere somehow, someone was in this ugly situation with their company services...that someone who has trusted a lot the institution has started to feel discontentment. It seems like the information in IBQ website is different from what the employee knows. I used your system with great trust and respect. All I thought was I can save money from doing so but then I was so wrong. It brings me trauma from within.

To Qatar Airways; I don’t know if you did your part to inform the passengers, aside from informing the travel agency. Really as I say, change doesn’t equal to cancel. It is an affordable amount but it hurts to pay for someone’s negligence.

To conclude, I will make sure to keep posting this information for purpose of awareness, until the concerned party reach out to me. I am writing this article not to discredit any institution or person. Be these a lesson to those who has intention to follow the early mistakes I had. I mean the act of doing online booking in ThanQ... I WILL NEVER DO IT AGAIN!

I hope I am the only victim of these unforgettable experienced!
Lesson learned always come at the end!

[P.S.; Excuse my grammar]

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