A tale of epic fail

I’ve lost hope in systems actually working like they’re intended to work. Here’s an example of our recent holiday and how many system failures I experienced first hand.

Incorrect seat allocation on Emirates: we were traveling with an infant and a child and requested a bassinet seat for our infant. I had an inkling that our seats weren’t right so I rang the Emirates Call Center a few days before we left. I was right, the online seat allocation tool assigned a bassinet seat to my wife, even thought my ticket was linked to our infant’s ticket (even though I booked altogether in a group). This meant my wife would have lost her seat upon check-in. The only way to fix it was to register my wife for Emirates Skywards, then send a request to swap seats which required a manager to do and a few hours of time. I rang back 4 hours later and it was done. Phew.

Rejected GST Claim @ Australian Customs @ BNE Airport: I bought my two sons an iPod touch each to take away and wanted to claim the GST back at the airport. I bought these at one of Australia’s biggest retailers, Officeworks, whose system failed to put the exact amount of GST on the receipt, and even though GST is set at 10% Australia-wide and could easily be calculated, the Customs service rejected the claim.

Qantas close airport lounge earlier than flight: I am a paying Qantas Club member which makes travel for work easier, and despite paying $485 per year, Qantas close the Brisbane Qantas Club at midnight even though our Emirates/Qantas code-share flight isn’t till 2:40AM. No apology or alternative is offered.

Room type not available @ Marina Mandarin Hotel in Singapore booked through hotels.com: As we were traveling with two children, I especially booked a room through hotels.com that specified 1 x king bed and 1 x twin bed, but was told upon check-in that no such room configuration exists in the hotel and we would have to make do with one bed for two nights. I even paid extra for the extra bed (on hotels.com) and after complaining the hotel blames hotels.com and tells me there is nothing they can do.

hotels.com screenshot

Can’t change flights back on emirates.com

We needed to change our flights back from Sri Lanka to Australia (via Singapore) due to sick kids so I logged onto our hotel’s wifi in Sri Lanka, made the changes and paid for them. I got an error message saying my credit card was charged but the change was denied and to contact Emirates! I worked out how to get the hotel to call Emirates and was asked a whole series of security questions about being in Sri Lanka after which I was told to call back in four hours as the change needed to manually approved by a manager as it was made in Sri Lanka. I also needed to change my flights from Singapore to Sri Lanka which the site immediately declined and which I had to do over the phone and pay in Rupees which worked out slightly more than if I could pay AUD.

28 Degrees Mastercard declined in Singapore Taxi: My 28 Degrees Mastercard advertises itself as a travel card, and even though I advised them of the overseas countries I would be visiting, the card declined on the cab ride late at night from the airport. Luckily I had some spare cash to cover the fare otherwise I wouldn’t have known what to do. I tried to contact 28 Degrees via their advertised skype line (as Optus roaming voice charges are $6/min) but it never gets answered. I eventually get through to them via twitter but apparently nothing is wrong with my account. This isn’t the first time this has happened – during my last trip to the USA, 28 Degrees blocked my card without warning or notification because I bought my wife something at Tiffany & Co. in Austin, and they were not contactable to fix it either.

28 Degrees surprise when I get home: I organized some last minute foreign currency at Travelex using my 28 Degrees card before we left and I especially rang them to confirm it wouldn’t be treated as a cash advance (incurring interest), but lo and behold, when I checked my recent 28 Degrees statement it contained interest (which I never pay) as it was treated as a cash advance. Double arrrgh!


As you can see, I don’t have much confidence in computer systems to actually do the job they’re designed to do.

Whether this is caused by a lack of testing, or systems being too paranoid about fraud that they will cancel/decline transactions willy-nilly is something I haven’t quite figured out.

Even the back up option of speaking to a human to get the correct information/resolve the problem is flawed when they’re either uncontactable or provide incorrect information.

Sometimes I think it would be better being off the grid completely.

Author: Alister Scott

Alister is an Excellence Wrangler for Automattic.

2 thoughts on “A tale of epic fail”

  1. At least the epic fails here don’t seem like life/mission critical. Would be worse if an airplaine flight or emergency 911 call failed to perform as expected when you needed it to work.


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