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Old Oct 16, 13, 5:14 am   #1
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{RANT} fed up with gold circle customer services

we joined up last year as we go to visit family in boston and as mum is getting on wanted to take advantage of comfy seats etc that they have in the Gold circle Lounge, as advertised on their website- as we had just booked flights we stupidly assumed the points we thought we would get would be added to our membership accounts, we were told that we would have to wait until after we travelled. Upon booking again later that year we checked points before booking and could see we had none added - oversight we thought. Contacted customer services AGAIN ( you have to send at least three emails to get one back - maybe several weeks later)and said they would look into it, continued to use service, no points again, complained again ,and again asked to send proof of flight etc (obviously they don't keep records??).we did. To which we got the flabbergasting reply that our flights did not qualify as they were "inferior" and needed to be a certain grade to get points!!! Really! well when booking I logged on to Aer Lingus and put in the dates I wanted to travel, they gave me the details of the flights at one price and "click" I booked them- they did not give me the option of purchasing the "superior" flights -I am not sure what "superior flights" entail- and this was not explained. The whole experience has certainly not made us feel like "valued customers" but more like "inferior cattle class", we would have chosen another flying option rather that the Aer Lingus Cardiff-Dublin-Boston option with another carrier if it didn't involve Mum having to struggle to wait an enormous amount of time on the metal benches.
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Old Oct 16, 13, 6:37 am   #2
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Originally Posted by fedupwithgoldcirclecustomerservices View Post
we joined up last year as we go to visit family in boston and as mum is getting on wanted to take advantage of comfy seats etc that they have in the Gold circle Lounge, as advertised on their website- as we had just booked flights we stupidly assumed the points we thought we would get would be added to our membership accounts, we were told that we would have to wait until after we travelled. Upon booking again later that year we checked points before booking and could see we had none added - oversight we thought. Contacted customer services AGAIN ( you have to send at least three emails to get one back - maybe several weeks later)and said they would look into it, continued to use service, no points again, complained again ,and again asked to send proof of flight etc (obviously they don't keep records??).we did. To which we got the flabbergasting reply that our flights did not qualify as they were "inferior" and needed to be a certain grade to get points!!! Really! well when booking I logged on to Aer Lingus and put in the dates I wanted to travel, they gave me the details of the flights at one price and "click" I booked them- they did not give me the option of purchasing the "superior" flights -I am not sure what "superior flights" entail- and this was not explained. The whole experience has certainly not made us feel like "valued customers" but more like "inferior cattle class", we would have chosen another flying option rather that the Aer Lingus Cardiff-Dublin-Boston option with another carrier if it didn't involve Mum having to struggle to wait an enormous amount of time on the metal benches.
Your post has all the hall-marks of a one-off rant, so you may never even read this reply; but while I'm sorry you were disappointed, your expectations were incredibly high.

Every airline programme has its own quirks and peculiarities, but no airline would allow you lounge access in advance of having earned status (i.e. lounge access comes as one of the perks of status, and is only extended to you once you have actually achieved status). Furthermore, no airline has a frequent flyer program so generous that just 1 transatlantic journey in discount economy would be enough to get you any form of status, let alone one that involves lounge access. (You would have to take 3 economy returns CWL-DUB-BOS within a 12 month period to reach Gold, which grants lounge access).

All programmes include that feature - you will first have to build up status by doing a significant amount of flying without having any free lounge access.

When you book a "Low" fare on Aer Lingus that books into W, Z or A classes, you forego the earning of any Gold Circle points. This is made clear on their website. This is to allow you a greater degree of choice - for those for whom Gold Circle points are not a concern (which is the vast majority of travellers), they can buy a cheaper (and on TATL, it is often considerably cheaper) fare with such inessentials stripped out. To earn Gold Circle points, you would have to select a "Flex" or Business Class ticket, which (of course) are far more expensive.

Your statement that you were only offered flights at one price is clearly mistaken - if you did really book via Aer Lingus, you would have been presented with a matrix showing, at the very least, the 2 types of Economy fares ("Low" and "Flex"), and 2 types of Business fare ("Business" and "Business Flex"). This is how the Aer Lingus website has worked for the last several years; there is no way you could have bought an Aer Lingus ticket from Aer Lingus themselves, and not been presented with this option:



The ironic thing is that Aer Lingus sells lounge access as a completely separate add-on. You could, at any time prior to travel, have logged on to the website and booked lounge access for something in the order of €25 per person (which is far cheaper than building up the required status to get lounge access for "free"!).

And just for the record, most airlines require you to send in the boarding passes and ticket number when claiming miles/points that didn't automatically post. It is unusual that none of your flights had the points post automatically - all I can suggest is that you check that you are using the correct numbers, and the correct number for each particular passenger (if you mix your Mum's number up with your ticket, for instance, then of course no points will post because the passenger and the account don't match). I am again assuming that you booked the tickets while logged into your Gold Circle account and/or added your numbers while making the booking, and once more verified during check in (either online, or at the airport) that the correct numbers had been applied, and that your boarding passes therefore had an indication of each passenger's Gold Circle number on them.

I think your complaints about the customer service are unfair. The few times I've had to query Gold Circle, I have always had competent and courteous replies, usually within 48 hours by email. If the speed of reply is an issue, I just don't understand why people don't just pick up the phone and call them - telephone queries are much more immediate. I think perhaps part of your disappointment merely stems from your unrealistic expectations of airline programmes in general (not in any way specific to Aer Lingus' programme - expecting lounge access in advance of your very first discount economy trip is obviously a no-no with any airline) and the possibility that, due to the major disconnect between your own internal picture of the way things should be, and the actuality of what the program was, that the reply naturally wasn't going to be to your liking - that is, if your query was even phrased in a way that it could be actually understood.

Last edited by irishguy28; Oct 16, 13 at 6:44 am
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Old Oct 18, 13, 6:26 am   #3
  
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[QUOTE=puckscastle;9380363]I joined this forum for the sole purpose of letting you all know how crap the Aer Lingus "Gold Circle" is.

First of all, to answer your questions directly:

3 things you like best about the program:

1. Nothing.
2. Nothing.
3. Nothing.

3 things you like least:

1. It's crap.
2. It's crap.
3. It's crap.



I have to agree 100% - they need to make it a lot better
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Old Oct 19, 13, 2:49 am   #4
  
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EI Gold circle is far from perfect but once you know what you are doing it is not a bad program if you use it right and tailor make it to your needs. Maybe do a bit more research next time before you book to make sure you fully understand what you are getting.
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Old Oct 21, 13, 1:10 pm   #5
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Originally Posted by DELLAS View Post
EI Gold circle is far from perfect but once you know what you are doing it is not a bad program if you use it right and tailor make it to your needs. Maybe do a bit more research next time before you book to make sure you fully understand what you are getting.
Could you please tell us the main tangible benefits you get from Gold Circle Club?
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Old Oct 27, 13, 3:09 pm   #6
  
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Amongst the benefits l use are:

Accrue Gold Circle points: redeem for upgrades, flights, etc

Dedicated Check in desks

Fast Track security in Dublin, LHR

Personalised Luggage tags

Lounge access

Complimentary Upgrades (on Transatlantic flights)

Dedicated phone lines

Given the fare structure, the Gold Circle Club represents good value for money.
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Old Oct 28, 13, 2:17 am   #7
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I got an email from GC over the weekend promising "exciting new Gold Circle rewards" to be announced in the coming days.
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Old Oct 28, 13, 4:26 am   #8
  
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Originally Posted by irishguy28 View Post
I got an email from GC over the weekend promising "exciting new Gold Circle rewards" to be announced in the coming days.
mmmm, maybe they are going to serve Jack Daniels in the lounge again!!

Seriously, I read a couple of years ago that EI were contemplating giving 2 free upgrades across the pond to Prestige GC members. Nothing happened then, so lets hope it comes to pass now.

Also things I would like to see:
1) Free seat assignment;
2) One free bag;
3) GC points on both legs of a journey if at least one leg has a fare basis that accrues points;
4) Priority boarding for every flight;
5) Promotional discounts on GC reward points needed for redemptions;

Anybody else got some ideas?
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Old Oct 28, 13, 4:36 am   #9
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Originally Posted by trustno1 View Post
mmmm, maybe they are going to serve Jack Daniels in the lounge again!!
I got the impression from the email that it is to do with additional/improved redemption possibilities.

If I were to speculate, it could just be that the entire Etihad network (also possibly including Air Berlin, Virgin Australia, Jet Airways, Air Seychelles, Air Serbia, etc) will be opened up to redeeming. And maybe earning.
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Old Oct 28, 13, 6:03 am   #10
  
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Originally Posted by pat jordan View Post
Amongst the benefits l use are:

Accrue Gold Circle points: redeem for upgrades, flights, etc

Dedicated Check in desks

Fast Track security in Dublin, LHR

Personalised Luggage tags

Lounge access

Complimentary Upgrades (on Transatlantic flights)

Dedicated phone lines

Given the fare structure, the Gold Circle Club represents good value for money.
Indeed and not much else to add to that ....yet
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Old Oct 30, 13, 6:21 pm   #11
  
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Reaching the top tier of reaching the top tier of any FFP in Star Alliance, Skyteam, One World would cost a great deal more than with Aer Lingus Gold Circle club..

Having had the benefit of BA Executive Club Gold, Star Alliance Gold (from BMI & Continental) I believe Gold Circle represents good value for money in terms of benefits earned.
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Old Oct 30, 13, 6:54 pm   #12
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Gold Circle may be good value, and its top tier easily obtained, if you have a job that gets you across the Atlantic in business several times a year.

If you fly in economy, GC becomes challenging to even be admitted as a member. So I think the above statement, if true at all, is not an entirely accurate representation of the "attractiveness" of the program.

(BA is better in that there are no flights which don't earn, and you will get to some level of status, based on number of sectors travelled, even in the cheapest, shortest flights. The same strategy on EI - booking the cheapest fare - would never earn you a single point, regardless of how often you flew)
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Old Oct 31, 13, 1:33 pm   #13
  
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I hear on the grapevine that the new and exciting GC rewards to be announced are the ability to exchange points for gifts from Brown Thomas this Christmas. Bah Humbug!
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Old Nov 1, 13, 10:05 am   #14
  
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12 return flights between Ireland & UK in a year will earn Gold Circle membership at entry level. This gets a good range of benefits. In my experience, paying the extra money for the "Plus" fare (which earns points) is worth the additional expense, particularly when this fare gives free seat selection and one free checked bag too.

To earn a comparative status in BA Executive Club would take a great many more flights, and a lot more spent on fares.
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Old Nov 5, 13, 2:16 am   #15
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Originally Posted by pat jordan View Post
12 return flights between Ireland & UK in a year will earn Gold Circle membership at entry level.
Yet if you fail to manage 12 returns in the space of a single year, you have actually earned nothing - the points (that you paid extra for) on all the flights that you have flown are worthless to you. At least in all other European programmes that I am aware of, you will have miles/points/Avios that you can retain and accumulate until you have a spendable balance.

Make just 9 such flights on BA, and you have enough Avios to make a one-way redemption. But on EI, you've got nothing.

And while you were making those 24 individual flights on Aer Lingus, you would already have achieved Silver in Flying Blue (after 15 flights), and be well on the way to earning FTL in Miles & More or Gold in Flying Blue (after 30 flights) - both of which give comparable benefits to the EI ones you've highlighted, but which (unlike EI) will actually follow you around the world by virtue of their respective alliances (though lounge access for FTLs away from their home airline has been curtailed).

Quote:
This gets a good range of benefits. In my experience, paying the extra money for the "Plus" fare (which earns points) is worth the additional expense, particularly when this fare gives free seat selection and one free checked bag too.

To earn a comparative status in BA Executive Club would take a great many more flights, and a lot more spent on fares.
Perhaps, on the DUB-LHR route. On my usual BA routes, it's relatively easy to pick up cheap upgrades to Club Europe, which means you quadruple your TP earning for those sectors for a very low cash element. If one has to always pay extra just to earn GC points on Aer Lingus, I think that this feature of BAEC is entirely relevant. And TPs can be accumulated in many ingenious and relatively inexpensive ways.

Last edited by irishguy28; Nov 5, 13 at 2:21 am
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