Flair Says Its Website Was ‘Held Hostage’ By Consultant

Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw

Low-cost Flair Airlines says its website was held hostage after complaints about poor customer service led to a dispute with a consultant.

Kelowna Capital News reports that Flair had a falling out in January with Vacabo Services, a U.S.-based company it had hired to manage a customer service call centre and help set up a new online reservation system. The airline says that after receiving numerous complaints about the Vacabo-managed call centre, it visited the Illinois facility in January to find only a single person manning the phones. Flair alleges it was told that three of every four customer calls were being dropped.

That inspection, not surprisingly, led to a split between the two parties. Flair says that Vacabo, which had registered web domains for Flair’s use, refused to allow Flair to access the sites. 

In mid-March, Flair filed a lawsuit. The suit alleged that in mid-February, Vacabo proprietor Dusan Milicevic emailed Flair brass with a demand for US$400,000 for outstanding invoices and as a “termination fee.” Flair says Milicevic also blocked access to a suite of other domains used to promote the airline.

A spokesperson says Flair has since won back control of its main website, FlairAirlines.com, although it took several days to get it back online. The airline has used flairair.ca as its main website since the dispute began.

Kelowna-based Flair, which purchased New Leaf Travel last year, has had several customer-service issues in the last month.

Recently, a notice on Flairair.ca said the airline had been experiencing “very high call volumes with longer than normal wait times” and advised customers to contact them by email instead.

Bruce Parkinson

Bruce Parkinson Editor-in-Chief

An observer and analyst of the Canadian and international travel industries for over 25 years, Bruce uses the pre-dawn hours to prepare a daily news and information package to keep industry members up to date.

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