Piss-up… a… organise… in… couldn’t… brewery… a… Re-arrange these words to describe the PR at British Airways.

A desperate man fails in search of a £5 ATM

Anally retentive? Moi?

Mais non. Financially retentive.

For two days, British Airways has buggered me about and yesterday was no exception..

To recap, they over-booked their flight to Beijing (a not uncommon event, I am now told), downgraded me, claimed they would refund the difference in ticket price (they have not) and foisted a Visa card on me, claiming it would give me £75 in compensation which I could withdraw through any bank’s ATM.

Except that all the machines I have encountered in London only dispense £10 and £20 notes. That includes Barclays, Lloyds, NatWest, HSBC, Halifax, Santander and Nationwide.

There seemed to be a ray of hope yesterday when comedian Ian Fox told me Tesco cash dispensers in Manchester issue £5 notes and journalist Jay Richardson told me you can get £5 from machines in Glasgow. But, last night, I tried Tesco cash machines in SE London (Lewisham) and NW London/Hertfordshire (Borehamwood). Nope. They don’t dispense £5 notes. Nor do Sainsbury machines in Greenwich (SE London) or London Colney (NW London).

I contacted British Airways twelve days ago, trying to solve the problem that they had given me this alleged £75 card on which only £70 could be withdrawn and I got no answer. Yesterday, they pretended to reply.

“Thank you for contacting us. I sincerely apologise for the delay in writing to you,” wrote a Melwyn D’souza of British Airways Customer Relations, pretending to reply to my original complaint. Except that BA had acknowledged my original complaint as Customer Relations Case ID 9861799 and the non-anagramatic Melwyn D’souza quoted Case Reference 9822503.

They appear to be in such bureaucratic chaos at British Airways that they are either giving random reference numbers out – or wantonly giving earlier numbers to later complaints. The number I got yesterday was almost 40,000 earlier than the number they gave me 12 days ago.

The fact that they may have received 40,000 complaints in 12 days would come as no surprise to me.

The lovely Melwyn claimed that, if I sent him/her my full bank details, then he/she “would be glad to credit (my) bank account with £75.00. Please send me the card by post.”

Quite why it is not possible to simply cancel the card electronically, I do not know. Perhaps British Airways do not understand computer systems. This seems increasingly likely.

But, after spending money phoning BA’s alleged helpline (at their insistence) and now paying postage to send them back a Visa card with which it is impossible to withdraw the full amount they claimed they were giving me, I might actually get what they claimed they were giving me in the first place.

And to think they did all this in an attempt to create good PR after messing up their original flight to Beijing by overbooking it.

From long experience, I had a low opinion of British Airways anyway. Now it is rock bottom. I would rather fly on North Korea’s Air Koryo or some godforsaken Babyflot than risk the chaos of British Airways’ incompetence.

Piss-up… a… organise… in… couldn’t… brewery… a…

Re-arrange these words into a sentence that describes British Airways.

There is a prize of £5 accessible through-the-wall at any cash machine in Burundi.

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