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My Dad always used to say shit travels downhill, and no where is this summed up better than Rynair. Or as you generally would have heard me refer to them "I hate Ryanair".

Most companies take their attitude, or their corporate DNA from the founder or the CEO. And clearly Ryanair's CEO Michael O'Leary hates you.

I remember seeing an interview a few years ago asking but mobile phones on planes. The reporter asked something along the lines of, "do you think allowing cell phone usage on planes would disturb other passengers". To which O'Leary replied "I don't give a fuck as long as it makes me money". And the attitude prevails in almost everything he says.

And this shit flows downhill to their staff. I've never enjoyed a Ryanair flight. I've always had problems. It's a miserable experience. It's like they find customers inconvenient.

So yesterday when some Ryanair Staff decided that way to deal with a customer who had found a problem on the Cheap Flights Ryanair website was rather than a polite thanks, merely ignoring it, OR ACTUALLY SOLVING THE PROBLEM, was to insult him, and to engage in petty comments arguing mind gobbing stupid.

Ryanair of course responded. Companies have to these days, as bad PR is well bad. But instead of giving a press release that says when reading between the lines "Oh boy, we're sorry, we have to clean up this mess" they offered this

Ryanair can confirm that a Ryanair staff member did engage in a blog discussion. It is Ryanair policy not to waste time and energy in corresponding with idiot bloggers and Ryanair can confirm that it won?t be happening again.

Lunatic bloggers can have the blog sphere all to themselves as our people are far too busy driving down the cost of air travel.

Which again strikes me as "mind fuckingly dumb". The old age of "no news is bad news" was before the internet age. A quick look of twitter shows that instead of Cheap flights on Ryanair being talked about, they "suck monkey balls".

It never ceases to amaze me about how people in the service industry (restaurants, taxis, airlines) don't get that customer service is everything. The old adage of treat one customer badly they tell 10 friends still applies.

Similarly, it still boggles my mind that people in the online industry don't know that links are gold, and it's probably best not to insult people who might write about your product, negatively, and reflect badly. Just ask Serenata Flowers rather than one of their better contemporaries, Arena flowers who offer great flowers and fast delivery in London.

In the internet world, insult one blogger and they tell 1000 friends.

Internet and social media guru Dan Wilson adds a valid point too

It's not as if the people you're slagging off are, have ever been or ever will be customers. They're just sad, lonely, sexually self-sufficient losers who never fly anywhere for £1. They (and I guess I must mean 'we' cos I'm writing this) just use our copious spare time being pedantic about low-cost bargain airline Ryanair and the website you might use to book bargain £1 Ryanair fares to Europe online.

And whilst this post is partly about some petty linking, such that people searching for bargain airline Ryanair for cheap flights to Europe might find not quite the official Ryanair website, it's also partly my version of a "customer complaint". Since I know Ryanair doesn't care about customers, I thought the internet might care a bit more.

If you do have a blog, or tweet or have had shit service with Ryanair, feel free to post your thoughts on the matter. This is the one place you have power. Remember Ryanair hates you.

I much prefer Ryanair's competitor Easyjet who is much better as they are honest, open and provide a reasonable service. Yeah they are low cost, but their attitude is friendly and for the most part they provide a decent service. Unlike Ryanair their website don't suck and their founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou is quite a likeable guy in interviews.

I think Lyle in the end Lyle has summed it up best

I'm more surprised that "Ryanair are crap, and have no idea of customer service" is news anywhere in the civilised world - LyleD4D

20 Comments

26 Feb, '09 11:29 AM

1. Andrew

Not great publicity! I try to use Ryanair as little as possible, as I find BA prices in many instances no more that the low-quality, I mean low-cost carriers.

I don’t agree that “customer service is everything” for all businesses however. Ryanair has a well defined business strategy, and customer service isn’t high on the list of priorities in that strategy. They have targeted a market segment which is driven primarily on price and don’t seem to mind that the company provides little/no customer service.

As they are publicly listed, this business strategy sets out their approach to increasing shareholder value (that “old nut”).

You could argue that in the long term this is not sustainable, but the shareholders must either think this is approach is sustainable or are only in it for the short term, otherwise they would move their investments elsewhere or oust Mr O’Leary.

26 Feb, '09 11:48 AM

2. Adrian

The view of Southwest Airlines CEO, another low cost airline is

“Anyone can give you the destination, the only thing I can compete on is the journey”

I’ll avoid the “building shareholder value” point as I don’t believe it has anything to do with the discussion. You’re either building a successful well run business, or you’re not. Who benefits from that I don’t see as relevant, weather it’s owners, or shareholders.

I didn’t say customer service is for all businesses. I said it’s important for business in the service industry. For which I see airlines are in. You may disagree.

Their are many cases where improved customer service is not a COST as much as an attitude. Plus a a business strategy where we know that retention is more valuable than acquisition it would seem daft to follow this as a strategy.

That doesn’t mean compromises don’t get made. They do. But Southwest and Easyjet seem to manage this fine.

Shareholders thinking it is an sustainable approach doesn’t actually mean anything. It doesn’t mean it is a sustainable approach, nor does it mean it is a good business strategy. It just means shareholders like it. Shareholders have backed many failing businesses.

26 Feb, '09 12:57 PM

3. Andrew

I would argue Mr O’Leary and the majority of Ryanair shareholders currently think they are building a successful well run business, otherwise he wouldn’t be in charge and they wouldn’t be shareholders (he may go too far one of these days, but that will be reported in the news in due course). Very nearly every investor in an airline does so because they want to make money, not because they have a love of flying or think free gin and tonic is a right for every Tenerife (South)bound traveler.

Personally I think customer service is important for the long term sustainability of company working in the service industry (and hence I am not an investor in Ryanair), however Mr. O’Leary has a lot more experience at this than I do, and Ryanair seem to be quite successful. As I note above, they may not be in it for the long haul (excuse the pun) - they could be extracting as much profit as possible before the whole thing implodes. I don’t know the details of their business strategy.

I agree that it is generally easier keeping customers than finding new customers, but I will go out on a limb here and say the majority of Ryanair customers don’t read blogs, and are focused primarily on the advertised flight price, regardless of the “additional” services bundled, how inconvenient it is to pack everything into carry-on, how far the airport really is from their destination and that the cost of the bus may be more than the difference in price with other airlines, or indeed how rude their staff may or may not be. Some could even argue that any press coverage is good, so continual baiting the public with grandstanding tactics is exactly what Mr. O’Leary is after. And the bloggers are actually doing him a favour. Until bad press results in a reduction in passenger numbers, they will not change there approach.

I agree that just because Ryanair shareholders think Ryanair’s business strategy is sustainable doesn’t make it sustainable (and remember - there may be a short term gain they are after), but they have put their money where their mouth is and they could be right or wrong. If you feel strongly that their approach is going to make the business fail I recommend that you put your money where your mouth is and short sell Ryanair now and make a killing.

26 Feb, '09 1:39 PM

4. Marc

Their customer service may blow. But you can’t deny it is a successful and well run business, even if you don’t like the way Mr O’Leary is running it.

26 Feb, '09 2:16 PM

5. Adrian

It may be a successful business, it may even be well run.

It could, however, be a more successful better run business.

eBay is a successful business. But is now paying and suffering for bad decisions they made years ago.

Ryanair may be making decisions now that hurt them down the line.

Ryanair customers may not read blogs. They don’t have to for this to hurt them. I would be incredibly surprised if a large proportion of Ryanairs customers don’t come through google. Every negative link in google for “cheap flights” hurts Ryanair and helps their competitors. Bad press online, takes links away from you, and towards the bad press. It hurts your conversion. You don’t want the link under your brand to be “Ryanair sucks” WHICH DOES hurt you and measurably so.

Regardless of how well Ryanair may be doing now, a corporate strategy that ignores the customer or even worse is hostile to them can not play out well. It’s naive at best and stupid at worst.

I personally would not invest in a company that has such an arrogant and hostile approach to it’s customer base.

I’m also not someone who has money to spare to telling me to short Ryanair is a bit pointless. I can have an opinion without having to be an investor.

26 Feb, '09 3:01 PM

6. Marc

Their USP is their cheap flights not their customer service. Passenger numbers for them have grown year on year with an 18% growth last year and a further 14% expected this year.

As such the lower their overheads, the cheaper they can make their flights and in turn be the most competitive and successful in the European low budget airline market. Customer service costs money, which may explain why Ryanair make nearly three times as much profit based on their turnover as Easyjet. This gives them greater maneuverability.

Easyjet Turnover: 2,362.80 (GBP) Easyjet Pre-Tax Profit: 110.20 (GBP) Ryanair Turnover: 2,713.80 (EUR) Ryanair Pre-Tax Profit: 438.90 (EUR)

I can’t comment if they cared more about customer service if they would be more profitable. I have no experience in the airline business. There is a reason Michael O’Leary is running Ryanair and not me. The comparison with Easyjet seems to suggest not.

If and when they hit market saturation they will need to do something different to find growth. They may get bitten in the arse because of their current modus operandi. My opinion is they won’t.

26 Feb, '09 3:20 PM

7. Matt

At least when Ryanair start doing long-haul flights, Iberia will have a competitor for the “Worst Long-Haul Airline” award.

I made a blood oath never to travel Ryanair again about a year ago. I’ve done pretty well so far, 100% of flights I’ve taken being non-Ryanair, despite sometimes paying a lot more for Aer Lingus.

Adrian, I advised you not to fly with them when you were looking for flights to my wedding. I totally warned you dude. I believe your response was something along the lines of “but they’re so much cheaper!”. Are they? What price your dignity, nay, your sanity?

27 Feb, '09 12:49 PM

8. GrumpyOldMan

According to the BBC news website Ryan Air are considering charging to use aircraft toilets!

27 Feb, '09 1:03 PM

9. Adrian

Ryanair may charge for toilet use on planes

Ryan-stinking-air. Putting the “new all time lows” back into low cost.

27 Feb, '09 1:37 PM

10. Blue Witch

I dislike RyanAir too, but I also understand the concept of Value. You get what you pay for in this world.

If you pay 1p to add to the pollution of the planet forever, then you have no right to expect anything except being carried from A to B under the T&Cs that you signed up to when you made a booking (ie took out a contract with the company).

The key and only reason for FTSE listed companies to exist is to make profit for their shareholders. O’L is very good at that.

He is also an expert at generating free publicity through ‘outrageous’ and controversial stunts that get the media’s attention. He’s always doing it! Methinks the latest pound for a pee story is just that. Brand awareness is everything. People remember a brand name long after they recall why they know it.

I personally would never fly with RyanAir. Because of my interest in all things consumer related, people often come to me with horror tales of their experiences with RyanAir, and ask me what they do. I laugh at them and tell them, in future, to put, “[company name] problem” into Google before they book or buy something, then make an informed choice.

28 Feb, '09 9:21 AM

11. Marc

Andrew said: I will go out on a limb here and say the majority of Ryanair customers donít read blogs

Andrew, I think you can make your way back from the end of that branch, every commentator so far is not a Ryanair customer by choice.

02 Mar, '09 10:19 PM

12. Matt

After reading this post by SK (he was at your table at my wedding, Adrian), I just realised that this entire post is, in fact, one big advert for Ryanair.

There’s no such thing as bad publicity…

02 Mar, '09 10:50 PM

13. Adrian

Actually it’s not.

Look at where the links go.

This is cleverly designed to make sure twatAir gets no traffic.

03 Mar, '09 3:42 PM

14. Matt

There’s still no such thing as bad publicity.

03 Mar, '09 3:48 PM

15. Adrian

Tell that to Serenata Flowers.

03 Mar, '09 4:59 PM

16. Matt

Actually I just checked - If I Google (Ireland) for Ryanair, the fifth result is a message board post saying “Ryanair are such greedy cunts…”.

Still, Michael O’Leary is a marketing genius. There’s no possible way that Ryanair can charge passengers for using the toilets, but he suggested it to the media, and now he’s been in every newspaper and on every news program on TV, including some in the States. This is why he’s a multi-millionaire, for getting every bit of publicity he can, good or bad.

The Serenata Flowers thing is a bit smaller than this thing with Ryanair.

04 Mar, '09 1:08 PM

17. Adrian

My Dad’s verdict on RyanAir

By the time I had paid the train to Stansted the cost of checking a bag and a lousy but expensive sandwich on the plane and the original cost of the ticket I could have flown business class on BA. Will try to avoid a repetition in future.

So there you have it. Want cheap flights, fly British Airways

04 Mar, '09 3:28 PM

18. Matt

The best thing about BA is that they tell you the entire cost of your flight from the start (excluding sandwiches).

Anyway, I’m never flying Ryanair again. I’d rather get the bus.

04 Mar, '09 3:55 PM

19. Adrian

Sandwiches are free on BA. Crappy, but free.

I’d rather get run over by a bus than fly cRyanAir

05 Mar, '09 2:06 AM

20. Matt

SANDWICHES ARE FREE ON BA?!

Why did no-one tell me this?!

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    About this Entry

    This page contains a single entry by Adrian published on February 26, 2009 8:18 AM.

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