PROCON to TAM: “What We Have Here is Failure to Commun’cate”

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Procon multa TAM em R$ 987 mil por falta de informação: The São Paulo state consumer protection bureau fines TAM airlines over “failure to commun’cate” — more specifically, over failures to provide travelers with timely and accurate information.

We recently flew TAM from JFK to São Paulo ourselves, and that diagnosis jibes pretty well with our experience, and that of our fellow travelers.

As when we where leaving the airport and folks from our flight, trying to make a connection to Buenos Aires, were complaining that the cabin steward had announced the wrong gate, causing them to miss their connection.

See

As I said, our TAM experience had its awful moments, particularly on the customer service side. (The actual flight was actually quite comfortable and pleasant.) But then so did our experience on American Airlines, flying from JFK to SFO.

One of the most shocking scenes from the aviation disaster here last summer, I thought, was news footage of TAM using the airport PA to announce the names of the dead in the Porto Alegre airport.

The TV camera hovering on the faces of the grief-stricken friends and family.

TAM blatting this extremely sensitive and personal information out in the most impersonal way imaginable.

It is hard to imagine a more ghoulish scene on the part of the news media (Globo) — or, on TAM’s part, a more astonishing failure of tact, diplomacy and attention to the company’s reputation — as the old Saturday Night Live skit about the phone company went — for taking the attitude that “We don’t care, because we don’t have to.”

A Fundação Procon, ligada à Secretaria de Estado da Justiça, multou a companhia aérea TAM em R$ 987 mil por falta de informação aos passageiros entre outubro e novembro de 2006. De acordo com a assessoria da fundação, a decisão foi publicada no Diário Oficial do estado no sábado (29). Não cabe mais recurso dentro do Procon.

The PROCON Foundation, an agency linked to the state justice secretary, fined TAM Airlines almost R$1 million for failing to provide information to passengers between October and November 2006. According to PROCON’s press office, the decision was published in the Official Diary on Saturday (September 29). No appeal within PROCON is possible.

A multa é resultado de um auto de infração lavrado pelo Procon em novembro de 2006, levando em conta as reclamações dos consumidores e fiscalizações realizadas pela fundação nestes dois meses. De acordo com a fundação, o Código de Defesa do Consumidor deve ser seguido pelas companhias, apesar de existirem normas específicas que regulam o setor aéreo.

The fine is the result of a citation issued by PROCON in November 2006, based on complaints from consumers and inspections conducted by the foundation in those two months. According to PROCON, the Consumer Defense Code must be complied with by the airlines, despite specific regulations for the aviation sector.

O Procon informou que outros processos administrativos estão em fase de defesa, entre eles ações que tratam do overbooking – quando a reserva de assentos em uma aeronave é em número superior a sua capacidade – e do não reembolso imediato de passagens em casos de vôos cancelados.

PROCON said that other administrative proceedings are still in the defense stage, among them a proceeding that has to do with overbooking — selling more reservations on an aircraft than its actual capacity — and failure to immediately reimburse fares when flights are cancelled.

A assessoria da TAM informou que a empresa já foi notificada sobre a decisão do Procon, mas que irá recorrer à Justiça contra a multa.

TAM spokespersons said the company has been notified of the PROCON decision, but will appeal the fine to the courts.

Multa para a Gol

GOL in the hole

Em julho, o Procon multou a Gol Transportes Aéreos em R$ 672 mil pelo que considerou omissão em relação ao direito à informação e à garantia de assistência adequada ao consumidor. “O consumidor tem direito ao respeito. Não é nenhum favor das companhias”, disse na ocasião o secretário de Estado da Justiça, Luiz Antônio Marrey.

In July, PROCON fined GOL Airlines R$672,000 for what it considered neglect of the passenger’s right to information and the guarantee of adequate service. “The consumer has a right to respect. This is not a favor that the companies grant,” said state justice secretary Marrey at the time.

De acordo com o secretário, o valor de R$ 672 mil para a multa foi definido por “cálculos feitos a partir da gravidade da infração e do lucro da companhia.” Segundo ele, o dinheiro da punição será encaminhado ao Fundo Especial de Despesa de Reparação de Interesses Difusos Lesados (FID), para poder ser usado em outras práticas de prevenção e defesa do consumidor.

Marrey said the amount of the fine was calculated based on “the seriousness of the infraction and the earnings of the company.” The money, he said, will be forwarded to the Special Fund for the Compensation of Miscellaneous Damages (FID) to be used in other consumer defense activities.

Marrey lembrou também que a sanção não impede que cada consumidor peça, individualmente, a reparação de seu dano. “Tem havido decisões da Justiça condenando diversas companhias”, apontou.

Marrey also recalled that the sanction does not prevent individual consumers from seeking damages. “There have been court decisions condemning various companies” [to payment of damages,] he noted.

If one of your flights results in the death of someone I know and love — God forbid — I want a goddamn personalized grief counselor to break it to me.

In private.

And I want all the tissues I can defile, with my tears and snot of emotional devastation, too.

On the house.

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