It’s been awhile since I’ve awarded a Turtle Ass Award. Yeah, I’ve missed them, too. There’s always someone award worthy posting on one of the gay Thailand message boards, but having already honored the two biggest losers, LMTU and Beachball, the rest hardly seem worth the effort. (Though feel free to nominate anyone you feel is deserving, I’m always game). Jabba the Butt had a Turtle Ass Award named in his honor, but hasn’t actually won one yet. His board of pedophilia certainly is deserving, but I think I’ll wait until a full 50% of his front page delves into that sickness. No worries, should be within a few weeks at the rate his little home on the internet for those who love kiddies is going.
Politicians in the U.S. are always good for an award, but how do you choose just one from the slate of crazies currently running off at the mouth? Think I’ll at least wait until the field narrows before I tackle that one. Besides, taking pot shots when one of them says something incredible stupid – I mean above and beyond their typical idiocrasy – is fun it its own right; no reason to get up to the award level quite yet. Of course I could easily move outside of our borders to choose an honoree. Greece certainly is eligible, but I don’t know if it’s proper to present a Turtle Ass Award to an entire country. ‘Cuz then where do you stop? Italy? Spain? Canada, eh?
There’s always a willing group of homophobes to pick an award recipient from, but then I’ve already mentioned the politicians and Beachblah and why I can’t raise to the occasion on their behalf. There are others vocal enough to single out, but right now they are all stupefied over the repeal of DADT, the recent addition of more places gay folk can marry in America, and that the majority of citizens now approve of gay marriage and equal rights for gays. Picking on them when they are down hardly seems right. I’ll wait until they are bloody, laying on the floor in great pain and agony and then deliver a good rib busting kick. I promise.
Then there is always business. Borders is certainly worthy of an award. How can you possibly screw up a monopoly? How is it possible to run a corporation into the ground when you are the only game in town? Yup, I’ve heard all the fools that say it’s because of Kindles and Amazon.com, but those are the same unwashed masses that’ll tell you the demise of the bar scene in Thailand is eminent because of internet hook-up sites, massage parlors, high prices . . . and the list grows weekly. While except for a few small fem bars in Pattaya, they all continue to thrive.
Border’s went under because they forgot what they sold: books. Games, puzzles, calendars, DVDs, CDs, wind up toys, statuary, candy, artwork, clothing, and stationery all ended up taking precedence over books. And then they got ride of a quarter of the stock to sell coffee, too. Biz dropped off, so they got rid of even more books to open meeting areas for small local clubs. Because when you are shopping for books what you really want is a group of eight deaf senior citizens shouting at each other during a meeting of their garden club.
The closest thing to a book store is a library. Call me crazy, but I’d think if your core customers were book lovers you might want to duplicate the ambiance of a library. Guess not, Borders instead decided their employees should interrupt your perusing of the shelves by asking if you were finding everything. Just when the garden club quieted down. My normal response to that insincere offer of help was to ask for Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s latest. Yeah. I know. He died 3 years ago and hadn’t published a popular book in decades. But Borders clerk’s never knew that and their Bambi in the headlights look was always rewarding.
“Carrots, damn you! We need to plant more carrots!”
Borders got their just rewards and an even higher honor than a Turtle Ass Award: bankruptcy. But there is a business who deserves a Turtle Ass Award, even though they’ve already won one (and I’m sure LMTU and Beachbite will start another slugfest about which of them is the most pathetic once they hear they could win www-wide derision yet again. Though I do have to interject how amazing it is that LMTU comes out as sounding the more intelligent of the two so often during their little spats. Goes to show you, regardless of their unjustifiably overblown egos, a psychopath will beat a sociopath every time.). Air Asia’s win in this case is thanks to the half a day I wasted trying to perform the unheard of task of purchasing a ticket with them. Yup, the latest Turtle Ass Award goes to Air Asia, who couldn’t figure out how to sell me a damn ticket on their flight.
Yes, as their slogan says, Now Everyone Can Fly. Just not on Air Asia. Because they forgot they are supposed to sell seats on their planes. As a cut-rate airline, Air Asia is always looking to increase their bottom line. So they’ve added more and more options to increase your overall ticket price. Bringing luggage? Cool, we have a fee for that. Food? No problem, we’ll sell you some. A pillow or blanket? Sure, but that’ll cost you. A seat not in the middle of a row? Got you covered and we even offer a sliding scale for just how shitty of a seat you’ll settle for. Insurance? We got you covered and will even give you a second chance to purchase it in case you noticed we automatically included it in your list of purchased options and tried to cancel the policy. Oh, and you want to use a credit card on-line because you haven’t figured out how to insert cash directly into your computer yet? No problemo, for just a few bucks more and you can do that too. That is if we can figure out how to authorize your purchase in the first place.
I have enough credit available on my MaterCard to buy a house. I actually did that once. But Air Asia declined the charge. Not the bank, mind you. I called them. Air Asia declined all on their own. Three times. The nice lady at my bank’s call center offered to call Air Asia for me while I waited on the line. Now that’s customer service. Thank the gods I was speaking with someone in India. Sure the Hindi accent is difficult to understand, but if that had been an American customer service rep, my call would have been accidently dropped.
But no good deed goes unpunished. The call center phone number listed on Air Asia’s website has been disconnected. Seems they have a new number. Which costs 1.95 Ringgits a minute to talk to an Air Asia rep. I have to wonder, if they can’t figure out how to accept a credit card payment for a seat on their plane, how will they manage with accepting a credit card to pay for the honor of speaking with them?
I’ve always hated Air Asia. But they are cheap. Whether it is purchasing a ticket or actually facing a (delayed or late) flight, it’s like shopping at Walmart. You have to prepare yourself in advance; remind yourself that it was your decision to shop there so suck it up and be ready to be treated like a piece of crap. I put up with shopping at Walmart because their prices on everyday staples are so low. Ditto for Air Asia. Their flights are so cheap within Asia, it’s difficult not to fly with them.
But the credit card dilemma had me flustered. I took the time to fill out their on-line form for assistance and was promised a quick response by email. It never arrived. I do get emails from them often announcing their latest almost free seat sales for flights sometime in the next decade. But they were unable to get an email through to me so that I could buy a ticket for a flight in the current year. Since I also had to book a flight on Bangkok Airways – being the only airline flying the BKK-LPG route – I decided to go ahead and book the flight to CNX with them that I was unable to book through Air Asia. Regardless of the extra cost.
Air Asia’s website is redesigned about every 6 months as they find new products to sell you. They’ve added hotels and hotel packages, ground transportation, tours, car rentals, and the all important Air Asia logo merchandise. I’m surprised you can’t book a gogo boy when you’re flying into Thailand with them. Yet. From entering your travel date information up to hitting the ‘submit’ button you must go through and enter info on eight different screens. Plus there are three pop-ups that you have to acknowledge. Just to have your charge card declined. On Bangkok Airways’ website you have a total of two screens to go through to make your purchase. That alone should be worth an extra $50 or so for a ticket.
Bangkok Airways also shows you a period of about ten days, listing the lowest fare for each day so that if your schedule is flexible and you want to save a few bucks you can pick a cheaper flight. That’s on page 2, the one you make your purchase from. To get 10 days of flight pricing on Air Asia would involve 10 screens. Plus one more to go back to the flight you liked best. I have to assume Air Asia is working toward charging you for the amount of time you spend on their website. There must be a valid reason why it takes an hour on their site to accomplish what takes five minutes on Bangkok Airways’.
On Air Asia, my original fare was quoted at $96. Once I’d added the lowest baggage limit option and a non-premium but not in the middle of an aisle option the fare had risen to $141. On Bangkok Airways, after deciding to just go ahead and pay a higher fee so I had a ticket, the fare started at $138. And that’s exactly what I ended up paying.
They gave me an aisle seat at no charge and will allow me to bring along a piece of luggage without paying them more either. Best of all, they accepted my credit card. On the first try. I didn’t bother checking if there was food service, but do remember on my flight to Siem Reap, which is about the same amount of time in the air as to Chiang Mai, if not less, they served a full meal. We’ll see, but I’m already ahead of the game so I don’t really care. I’m already a happy camper. And they’ll get more of my business in the future.
I know you always pay when you try to go cheap; the inexpensive option often ends up costing more. But that’s usually due to additional expenses incurred after the fact. Air Asia has figured out how to sock it to you right from the get-go. They’d get a Tip Of The Hat from me for their efforts if they’d also figured out how to actually collect on their winnings. But at least with this lesson learned, it only cost me time. And saved me from another dreadful in-flight experience.
Air Asia has never been a favorite of mine, but they’ve outdone themselves. So much effort was expended in getting me to accept more and more additional charges, that they didn’t have any energy left to actually close the sale. They were too busy selling ‘comfort kits’ and trying to interest me in a hotel to bother with selling their core product: an airline ticket.
You have to wonder if they hired the management from Borders to run their airline. Since neither company seems to know what their business is, perhaps they have confused books with booking and assumed they are the same thing. As soon as there is an app for the iPad that allows you to travel through a foreign land, I’m sure Air Asia will go under too.