Once again, it is difficult to comprehend what is going on in British companies that customer service has become anathema to many of the staff. Not just customer service but basic knowledge of the law, particularly with respect to visually impaired customers.

EasyJet is currently taking the rap for yet another example of lunacy when common sense is overridden by red tape from within companies. The full story of tonight’s refusal to allow a guide dog onto a flight to Northern Ireland is not yet available, and undoubtedly there will be no-one in the office until Monday am to give the EasyJet side of events.

UPDATE at midnight: The comments on the Facebook page are being removed and Easyjet Twitter account has begun to tweet the following:

Guide dog refused on flight

This story in itself highlights the importance of monitoring your online presence for reputation management, as well as ensuring that staff training includes using common sense to ensure that such stories do not break late on a Sunday evening. Monday mornings are inevitably dead news time and it should come as no great surprise for the PR and marcomms people at EasyJet that this is the first story they face this next week.

The young lady involved, @joannejacobs1, has kept everyone up to date with what has been happening on Twitter, since her guide dog, Orla, and herself were refused permission to board their RETURN flight to Belfast. Easyjet’s excuse that they had the incorrect paperwork is actually doing more harm than good, particularly because it is only 4 days since the pair flew in on an Easyjet flight, without said paperwork.

EasyJet’s own site and policy is clear:

Normally the guide dog harness and tag are deemed sufficient evidence that the dog in question is a service dog, as harnesses and tags cannot just be purchased on eBay. However, we understand that an email was sent to Joanna at the EasyJet desk at Gatwick prior to the flight leaving confirming that Orla is indeed a guide dog.

Meanwhile, there is an ongoing case in France against Easyjet for discrimination against wheelchair users.

All in all, this is yet another sorry tale from the B2C world which highlights (just as the Paypal story with Regretsy did last week) that companies need to put people before profits. Or take on the wrath of Twitter. Whilst Easyjet may well only lose a small number of sales from this particular action, these negative stories add up against any company and should be avoided at all costs.

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About the author:

A practising internet marketing consultant since 1996, Lindsey Annison helps companies improve their website marketing, online PR and information architecture. Lindsey is also a qualified adult education lecturer and author. As co-founder of the Access to Broadband Campaign, she has been instrumental in the provision of high-speed internet access to rural areas in the UK. Lindsey is also a past winner of Silicon.com's Outstanding Contribution to UK Technology