In its determination to enforce the rights of consumers, the Consumer Protection Council, CPC, has resolved to sanction Turkish Airlines if it fails to comply with the Council’s directive to provide full situation report on recent incidents, which led to complaints bothering on abuse of consumer rights by the airline.
In a letter dated 21 January, 2015, signed by its Director Legal Services, Mr. Emmanuel Ataguba, the Council gave Turkish Airlines seven days to comply with the Council’s directive or face the full wrath of the law.
The Council’s tough stance is coming on the heels of the lack-lustre approach of Turkish Airlines to complaints about its shoddy treatment of passengers of Turkish Airlines flight TK 623 of Sunday December 20 and other subsequent flights, which arrived Abuja from Istanbul during the yuletide, without the baggage of passengers.
The said passengers, some of who travelled with minors, including those whose destinations were outside Abuja, were allegedly subjected to untold hardships, as they were forced to repeatedly check the Airport in Abuja for their baggage, without any form of support by the airline.
Consequently, CPC requested the airline to provide it with a full situation report of the said events, including Turkish Airline’s policy on delayed baggage, particularly as regards the compensation of affected passengers, the number of affected passengers, the number of passengers who are yet to receive their baggage and when same is expected to arrive, including steps, if any, that have been taken to provide appropriate redress to the affected passengers.
However, the airline in a belated response to CPC failed to give any useful information on the issues raised by the Council, stating instead that it had attended several meetings with different agencies of Government in connection with the matter.
The airline also claimed that it had resolved the situation completely, contrary to new complaints received by CPC indicating that another batch of baggage failed to arrive with the passengers on January 9. 2016
More so, CPC continues to receive complaints that affected passengers are not being compensated by Turkish Airlines.
Worried by the lack-lustre approach of Turkish Airlines to the said complaints, the Council in its last letter directed the airline to Section 18 of the CPC Act, which criminalises disobedience to summons, neglect or refusal to attend and testify before the Council or to answer any lawful enquiry or to produce any document as may be required.
“In the event that you continue to fail, neglect or refuse to comply with the Council’s requirements within seven days of the receipt of this letter, the Council will invoke its powers under the enabling Act, it stated.
Reacting to the situation, the Council’s Director General, Mrs. Dupe Atoki, said the airline should have realised that the days of impunity when businesses ride roughshod on the rights of Nigerian consumers are over.
She said “apart from extant laws and regulations in the country, the operations of Turkish Airlines are bound by international standards and practices.”
According to Mrs. Atoki, “CPC will not allow any company to mete out to Nigerian consumers treatment that it will not subject consumers anywhere else in the world.”
The Director General insisted that in the present case, regardless of whatever meetings Turkish Airlines claims it has attended, the onus is on the airline to respond to CPC, showing clearly, with facts and figures, that it has satisfactorily resolved the serious complaints of consumer rights abuse leveled against it.
CPC is the apex consumer protection agency of the Federal Government, responsible, among others, for providing redress to consumer complaints, including complaints from airline passengers.