Thursday 14th July 2011, here I was rushing off to Port Harcourt on the 7.15am flight from MM2 Lagos to PH Omagwa Airport to prepare and conclude arrangements for a scheduled event the following week. First problem, Aero Contractors Airline deducted money from my ATM while paying for my ticket online and I didn’t get a booking reference number displayed on the screen,however I got an SMS alert showing the payment has be deducted from my bank account. So for a 7am flight I had to make sure I get to the Airport at least 1hrs and half (5.30AM) to get my ticket issue sorted out with Aero Airline if I must still fly that morning.
Shamefully enough I did send an email to Aero customer services after the money was deducted from my account without any ticket booking number requesting this issue gets resolved, and that was only after calling the customer services telephone line like forever and not being able to speak to a customer service official in person and even as I write today all I got was an auto response to my email and that's that.
Luckily I made it to the Airport early enough, spent a lot of time queuing at the customer service desk and was given my ticket at the help desk 15mins to the departure time of my flight and asked to just rush to the checking counter. To cut this very long story a bit short, after all the rush with my baggage’s, I checked in and proceeded to go through security only to find a check or should I say cash extortion point.
MM2 Lagos Local Airport (when newly constructed)
What do you know its FAAN (Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria) collecting N2,500 "Passenger Service Charge", with my flight already boarding and the last boarding call been relayed over the public address system. I still delayed and asked the lady what is this money for? she cared less to answer my exact question but instead just said I must pay the charges as its mandatory payment by the airport authority. In this state of utter disbelief of what keeps transpiring in Nigerian Airports and like most other passengers on this long queue rushing to catch their flights. I paid the money and Thank God I even had the money cause any delay will mean, I must wait till 7pm for the next flight, missing appointments and still end up paying this money.
This N2500 was the last cash I had on me,I had only kept that money as Taxi fare from the airport . Anyway I had little time to be angry with anyone or myself after paying this money but just proceeded to the Airplane and have the pilot fly us all safely to our destination PH.
The strong personal desire to shield external stress factors away from my life as much as possible so with most thing I encounter daily in Nigeria. I Just don't allow it to get my blood boiling in anger, I decided a long time ago not to worry myself with all this extortion from the airport authorities because that’s how i see it (official extortion's). You place charges without any notice or even explanation what these charges are for and time after time no improved services on the airports, but charges on passengers and even airlines keep increasing.
(Pray it works when you need it)
The last two journey's I made from Port Harcourt to Lagos , FAAN collected 1000 naira each time as passenger access fee, now its N2500 flying from Lagos. Despite this charges the Port Harcourt airport is a mess and in Lagos I had to walk the stairs with a big bag while a dead escalator was right next to the steps, yet I ended up paying N2500 to the same airport authorities.
Nigeria can’t just be frustrating and annoying at times,but one wonders if it’s actually a curse that all government agencies are doomed to be run unprofessionally, or as a drain pipe for tax payers money and a failure. Over 30.000 naira gets deducted from my income monthly as tax to the Nigeria government and yet I find it very hard to see any single form of benefit I receive as a tax payer. I have always kept hope alive in Nigeria and am not about to give up now. I know this for sure that not so many people myself inclusive, will complain of any extra charges if the airport is always maintained and in excellent order plus you get decent customer services. It will really not take too much to make basic services to work effectively in Nigeria and to treat the Nigerian consumers / customers of goods and services with dignity and respect.
Just this weekend I made a withdrawal of cash using my ATM card, I collected the amount once but received two SMS alert from the bank showing that money got deducted twice from my account. After waiting till today Monday Morning and calling the customer service number of my bank for hours until I got through,the customer service officer on the phone obviously sounding very tired from taking calls or complaints, struggled to stay polite and professional and collected all my details, then told me it will take about 10 working days for me to get a refund.
Now I know this young man was just doing his job answering phone calls from dissatisfied customers and has no really authority of his own to act, so I just wondered how the bank management can allow two weeks to make a refund on false withdrawals on customer accounts and pass on this instruction via its customer service officers to its customers. Not caring to know what my financial status is like at the moment or if I needed the refund urgently for an emergency. The irony is that even with this said bank and like most Nigerian banks, customers are not given the privileges of overdraft, yet with a system glitch you can have the bank hold your money for two weeks or more just to sort out a system problem. That has nothing to do with the customers but everything to do with the banks IT systems. So i wonder why the Central Bank -CBN- wants to arm twist Nigerians to patronise electronic banking systems via its maximum withdrawal policy of 150,000naira , without 1st asking the banks to get IT banking right. I used ATM, internet banking times without number whilst in the UK and not for once did I have a single issue with my money. So enough of the excuses already that issues like these are bound to happen with IT banking. Why must it be that its only in Nigeria private and public organisations always cover inefficiency with excuses?.
I always tell people this, he who lacks respect for his, definitely will treat people with a lack of respect, and this culture so much pervades Nigeria from individuals, to public and private organisations.
Interestingly am not the only one complaining of poor services, unexplained and unexpected charges at our airports....read more at this bloggers site