Thursday, March 5

Rome Airport: Disconnected

Just for the sake of curiosity, I thought I'd actually make a little Case History of my efforts in attempting to get the emergency phones at Fiumicino/Leonardo Da Vinci airport actually operational. So far, it has all of the elements worthy of a class in cross-cultural communications. To recap:

Returning from London, a friend & I got 'trapped' between two sets of automatic doors just off the exit ramp. Naturally, the emergency phone did not ring to the control center (well, it was Sunday eve after all).
Only after finding later one of the doors open to the upstairs boarding lounge, were we accosted by airport gate security and forced to redescend the steps. In a moment of bravado, he said he'd call the police if we tried to leave through the lounge...I said, Ben Venga! (bring 'em on!). We wanted to report the incident.
After finally being released through the proper doors, we later wandered from police station to police station in search of someone who might have an interest in knowing that the emergency phone didn't work; all to no avail.

I next set out to contact the illustrious Aereoporti di Roma SpA, to let them know about the incident.

After navigating for longer than my flight London - Rome (finding WWF info, archeological sites in Rome, and train updates along the way), I discovered that Aereoporti di Roma actually owns and operates their very own Telecoms company. Following the logic: phones don't work, call the Company responsible for operating them, I finally reached their Technical Offices who handle "complaints, problems, communications regarding telephone operations at the airport". I had hit the jackpot.
They picked up the phone right away, and I managed to talk to an informed person. Except that he said he only handled website problems. He had no idea to whom I should speak.
I then tried the operator at the Company. She had no idea who I should speak with, but she tried the emergency number and confirmed that it was, indeed "bloccato". I mentioned I was a writer & blogger and would be reporting the incident to other organizations. She said she'd look into it and I would receive a call back.

In the meantime, I sent letters to Rome's newspaper complaint line, a few Traveler Protection associations and the guys at Striscia la Notizia who uncover these sort of things.
A day later, remarkably, I received a phone call from the Aereoporti di Roma!  But, it was their Press Office, not their Security detail. The call went something like this:

- Pronto.

- I'm calling from AdR, are you a journalist? Who do you write for? What's your name? Give me the list of publications. Before we continue. I don't know what the problem is, but before we go further I need this information.

I fired off a few places where my blog and other articles appear, as if he would know them (Blogher, Life in Italy, WE Magazine...), explaining in vain, that this was of no consequence as I had contacted them as a standard citizen. I simply wanted to bring their attention to the problem [which, I might add, he was still unaware of and unwilling to listen to it's origin]. After barely managing to squeeze in the details (he talked over me the entire time...), I was told in swift succession (I think they learn this at school):

1. It was not true what had happened.
2. There are no phones in those areas.
3. Those phones are not for public use.
4. I dialed the wrong number.
5. The AdR has nothing to do with them.
6. He needed to know exactly where I had been otherwise there was nothing they could do, etc. etc. etc.

In Italy, the Customer Service playbook often reads something like this:

- The best defense is a good offense
- Always deny responsibility
- Find a window of opportunity to fault the other party
- Double down on denying all responsibility
- Change topics
- Ignore original complaint

I managed to state (on deaf ears) that:
1. I was not a pathological liar.
2. The phones do exist.
3. They are for public use.
4. I merely dialed the number indicated on the panel next to it (posted in 2 langs)
5. I found it curious that the Airport Telecoms Company is not responsible for airport telephone lines.

Adding that they perhaps consider either:
a. Taking down the signs posting emergency numbers around the airport or
b. Reactivating the tel line

I also mentioned that I found it ludicrous that the Press Office would be interested in solving what was an obviously Technical problem. Not that I wanted to tell him how to do his job, but...
Regardless, as a writer, I was interested in knowing the outcome of their findings, as I had posted notes to all of the above media outlets.

To this last point I was once again reprimanded for taking that sort of action...That I should have waited for this phone call (from someone clearly out of his league) before going elsewhere, etc. etc. Once again, I was asked the title of my blog, other media outlets where I pen articles, and so on.

Nonetheless, we both thanked one another for our kind interest in public safety, and I would be informed of the outcome.
I, for one, am interested in knowing what the next exciting episode might bring.

From the Aeroporti di Roma website concerning Traveler's Rights:
Il sistema aeroportuale romano ha favorito, negli anni, la crescita dell' economia del territorio con un intenso flusso di scambi commerciali.Il piano di sviluppo e gli investimenti hanno trasformato i due scali a ulteriore testimonianza dell'impegno per il miglioramento della qualità dei servizi.

Rome's airport system has been a driver in the economic development of the surrounding area, and investments have been made which have consequently transformed the two hubs as further proof to our commitment to improving the quality of our services.

1 comment:

Antonio said...

mh and why on earth does this not sound unusual to me? :)