By Seun Bisuga
People generally believe that Ponzi schemes are primarily money doubling, risk-taking adventures but there are some that are designed to totally con you out of your money without you even knowing it.
Like every Ponzi scheme, these organizations have communication mediums but NO feedback channels; they control everything from their end and allow you little or no opportunity to give a feedback, something akin to both Medview and Arik.
These airlines are notorious particularly Medview, they have set themselves up to rob Nigerians blind. They both do not have active social media channels in 2019 because they do not want you to lay your complaints or make enquiries. Sending them an email is a futile exercise because they will never reply. I mean NEVER reply.
Even worse is attempting to call them. Like every Ponzi scheme the phone calls never connect, you can try as hard as you want and for as long as you like but that phone call is never going to connect, they have no customer care in place, clear attributes of organizations that run a Ponzi scheme.
My latest experience with Medview is fascinating because I have come to learn that they do this every once in a month or so. The airline is a flight risk yet despite the staggering evidences, they are still allowed to carry on their scams.
Here’s how their scheme works; Medview always have their portal open for business, if you are unfortunate, you book a flight via Medview but when you get to the airport to check-in, you realize that they are nowhere to be found. On other occasions, you’ll be hours away from your flight when they send you an email that your flight has been cancelled, you’re thinking at the top of your head, what do you mean cancelled?
Here are their exact words, “Please be informed that your flight from ABUJA to LAGOS has been CANCELLED due operational reasons. Re-protection is available at the Airport”.
They then ask you to proceed to any of their centres to claim a refund but guess what, all their staff at every centre have vamoosed, it’s like they never existed, it’s like a mirage and then you think to yourself, Medview think they are wise, yes, they are wise, this is their stock in trade, they have mastered the art.
You start to call their phone lines and you never get through, you send email after email and you still don’t get through then you’re thoroughly frustrated.
God bless you, you have scarcity of funds then you are stranded but if you desperately have to travel then you’ll pay no less than N35,000 for any other flight available at the airport.
That’s not where the story ends. You arrive Lagos and walk briskly to the Medview stand and there’s no one there, if there had not been a name on their stand, you would probably have thought that you dreamed of the name Medview, that it probably never existed.
With this scheme in place every once in a while Medview hopes to reap off Nigerians many of whom are left frustrated by their acts and move on with their lives. There is no one to complain to and even if you find anyone by the counter after weeks of trying they will only refer you to their head office.
What makes it worse is that even ticket hustlers at the airport would comfortably say to you; “Medview? Did you say Medview? Medview NEVER refunds anybody”.
Let’s take a deep breath and do the math for a bit. If Medview have a fully booked flight canceled how much do they make from this scheme every time they perpetuate it? Let’s say they have 100 passengers on the flight and each passenger pays N20,000 that is a cool N2,000,000 in Medview’s account without having to hit the runway.
This has become their new modus operandi and they use it on unsuspecting Nigerians but once you’ve had this kind of experience you flee from them but there are new people to fall for this scam, this Ponzi scheme, this Yahoo, Yahoo.
But Nigerians are left with very little options, most of the other airlines have their own stories after having flown almost all, one is sometimes forced to retire into his shell and just wonder. Wonder, just like Femi Kuti put it.
Let me stress that Medview Airlines only operate one flight from Lagos to Abuja daily, just one flight yet they can’t pull it off.
As for Arik, I once booked a flight to Ibadan and I decided I want going to change the route, I had a balance of N10,000 from Arik. If Arik is not going to refund its customers, it could at least allow them use the balance on their next flight but guess what, Arik don’t make refunds. Let me put it like this, “We don’t give refunds if you decide to change your flight, it’s not our fault,” the lady at the counter told me.
With modern day Ponzi schemes like this ongoing, how much more can Nigeria withstand, with organizations that are supposed to be models for the youths scamming us, this leaves a lot to be desired.
Some might be wondering why I have chosen these two airlines for scrutiny, the truth is, this is only the beginning of the beaming the search light on the aviation sector. I have used Air Peace, Azman, Aero, Dana and they all give you the jitters. While Air Peace appear to have good planes they are notorious for delaying flights.
The wings of Dana and Aero will make you pray all through your flight unless of course nature seeps in and you manage to doze off. But their matter is a discussion for another day and that day is near.
Most culpable in all of this is the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and especially the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA. They are supposed to be regulatory agencies with oversight functions on Nigeria’s aviation sector but there’s a huge doubt they see anything at all. This makes you wonder how can you be a regulatory agency and not regulate anything at all? This is highly unacceptable and is no way to sell Nigeria to investors in the aviation sector or any other sector for that matter.
Any investor that has this kind gory experience on our flights will not come back, even worse, is how these airlines treat Nigerians and con them of their hard earned money. We don’t have to be prayer warriors because we want to travel by air.
NOTE: This is the first in a series of many write-ups on the dwindling quality of the aviation sector in Nigeria and of the airlines too.
Seun Bisuga, a journalist and public affairs analyst can be reached via email: firstname.lastname@example.org