Reader Question: Air Berlin Without English Speaking Support Staff At The Topbonus Hotline?

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Today we handle another Reader Question that reached us last week and where one of you complained about Air Berlin not having any English speaking support staff at the Topbonus Service Center.

ab-a330-aircraft-copyIt’s not the first time that this topic has reached our inbox and we decided to feel further and contact Air Berlin to see what they say about the issue.

Air Berlin as an international carrier serves destinations in the United States, Middle East, Asia and of course all over Europe. As such they also offer their frequent flyer program Topbonus to customers worldwide and one would expect the company provides service to this clientele in a variety of languages.

Based on the experience of many this is not the case. If you have any Topbonus inquiries such as partner airline bookings then you’re forces to call the hotline in Germany. Apparently agents there were only able to speak German and there was no option to receive support in at least English language. How are customers supposed to redeem their miles if they can’t communicate with the staff?

Here is the email from our reader:

“I am writing to you today regarding a recent experience with airberlin topbonus that has left me in a rather helpless position. I was trying to redeem my miles on an intra-Europe trip: VRN-DME-LED on S7 airlines.

  1. Attempting to book on the topbonus website returned with an error (both on Chrome and Firefox).
  2. I emailed service@topbonus.de, and was told to call +49(0)1806343333.
  3. I called the number, multiple times- but none of the agents spoke English.
  4. I called the US number, at +19172613165, and I was told that for topbonus, one must call the German number.
  5. I contacted the topbonus Facebook team. They said that they would get an English-speaking topbonus agent to call back, but after two weeks nothing has happened.

I lodged an official complaint with topbonus, and received back a stock response that included no proposed solution.

The process has gone on for about a month, and in the meantime my topbonus miles have expired… Given that airberlin is a global airline, this fact that topbonus miles are basically useless for non-German speakers seems quite ridiculous.”

As this was at least the third time I heard about this problem myself, I decided to shoot the Air Berlin press office an email requesting a public statement from the company in regards to this situation.

Here is my email to them (in German):

… Zum buchen vieler Partner Praemien zum Beispiel komplizierte Routings oder das Einloesen von Meilen auf oneworld Partner Gesellschaften ist ein Anruf im Service Center erforderlich. Topbonus wird nur in Deutschland verwaltet und ist auch nur hier erreichbar Dies allein ist schon ein sehr fragwuerdiger und eigentlich unhaltbarer Zustand.

Die Mitarbeiter im Service Center welche sich mit Topbonus beschaeftigen sprechen keinerlei Englisch. Wie sollen die Kunden sich bezueglich ihrer Anliegen an Air Berlin wenden und wie / in welchem Zeitraum gedenken Sie diese aktuell unbefriedigende Situation zu verbessern?

I’m asking Air Berlin to outline an option how customers are supposed to contact the airline in order to receive support for their Topbonus queries if there is no English speaking support available as well as how and in what time frame the airline plans to do something about it.

We have received the following reply

Vielen Dank für Ihre freundliche Nachricht. Wir haben bzgl. Ihrer Anmerkungen den Dialog mit unserem Dienstleister gesucht und es sollte keine Einschränkungen bzgl. englischsprachiger Telefonate mehr geben. Bitte entschuldigen Sie die entstandenen Unannehmlichkeiten.

Herzliche Grüße und einen schönen Abend,

Melanie Schyja, Pressesprecherin / Press Officer

The press officer outlines that Air Berlin has contacted the service provider that is operating the call center for the airline and they have been assured that no further issues in regards to English support at the Topbonus Call Center would be forthcoming.

Conclusion

Do I believe this to be the case and the provider has a short term fix handy within a couple of days? Not really. In any case we wanted to give Air Berlin the opportunity to comment on the matter which they did.

In case you’re planning to contact the Air Berlin Topbonus hotline in the days and weeks ahead you might want to give it a try and see if they now in fact have English speaking agents available. Let us know if any problems persist and we follow up with the press liaison.

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