Wednesday, 25 November 2015

The verdict on Thomas Cook: costs before customers

A REVIEW of health and safety practices at Thomas Cook following the deaths of two children in Corfu has found that parts of the business put profit before people. 

In a wide-ranging report, written by former Sainsbury's boss Justin King, the tour operator was accused of having a tendency to ‘protect cost rather than maximise the customer experience’.

Mr King, reports Sky News, painted a picture of #ThomasCook as a dysfunctional business, with in-resort staff not empowered to resolve customer crises and equipped so poorly that they frequently had no access to the company’s own website.

He also urged the company and its rivals to re-think the level of disclosure they provide to their customers in areas such as health and safety risk in the wake of the tragedy. He said the travel industry must provide consumers with better information about ‎their rights and the standards they should expect when they travel abroad.

‘The industry has a collective responsibility to help its customers identify real value for money – not just the lowest price’, he said.

Mr King was asked earlier this year by Peter Fankhauser, Thomas Cook's chief executive, ‎to examine the company's approach to such issues following an outcry over its response to the  deaths of Bobby and Christi Shepherd in Corfu in 2006.

The children died from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a faulty boiler. An inquest jury ruled  in May that they were unlawfully killed. The jury said that Thomas Cook had breached its duty of care towards them after the company had been accused of obstructing their family's efforts to uncover the facts surrounding their deaths. Repeated complaints about Thomas Cook's attitude led its chief executive to publicly apologize‎, but only after it emerged that the company had received a larger compensation payout than the family.

Thomas Cook is now working with Sharon Wood, the mother of the Shepherd children, on a carbon monoxide awareness initiative, which it said on Monday would be launched on November 16.

Mr King also questioned whether the Association of British Travel Agents was well-placed to represent a radically changed travel industry.

In its response to Mr King’s report, Thomas Cook said it ‘made for uncomfortable reading in parts’, but added that it had ‘not stood still since the review was commissioned’. The company pledged to immediately increase the number of staff working overseas and to launch this month a 24-hour hotel satisfaction promise that would empower reps to solve issues in resorts, alongside an additional financial commitment to guarantee that hotels live up to the descriptions that the company provides.

Mr Fankhauser said: ‘It took us nine years to correct the mistakes of the past and to do what everyone would have expected of us; treat the family with the respect and empathy they deserve. We had to learn from this tragedy and do things differently, and this remains our commitment.’

Go Holiday news :

Picture Credit:">Coins</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">(license)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.