In some ways, I feel like a coward. I took a principled stand against Murphy Chan's threats on the plane - I said "Write it down, and sign your name to it, and then I'll do what you like." He didn't like my questioning him, and when I turned on my iPhone audio recorder, he immediately called the police and stopped talking to me.
I said I wouldn't leave voluntarily, I'd have to be commanded by someone in authority, or arrested, or taken off by force. It happened by force.
Cathay wanted to immediately lock me in a room for "a security review," but I told Senior Inspector Lai that I want to file criminal charges against them, and said I wouldn't go anywhere with these criminals. Inspector Lai sent two of his men with me, and escorted me through customs to his police reporting area.
This recording transcript is now about five hours later. I've called the American Consulate and was advised by them, and got a list of lawyers. I couldn't get in touch with any lawyers since it's late at night on 26th December.
Tired, scared, alone, stranded in Hong Kong, and I haven't heard from Cathay Pacific. I asked Inspector Lai to call Cathay and if he'd mediate a peaceful outcome? I offered to settle for just a mutual apology, and said I'd go confidential too. I'd drop all charges and suits if they'd agree not to act against me with no-fly list bans or whatever - there was a huge disturbance that their manager started (which his rep admitted on this audio transcript). The rep refuses that, offers no compensation, and says they refuse to apologize.
So - I feel like a coward for backing down from a principled stand... this was the first moment my adrenalin wore off, and I was feeling scared, alone, and stranded in Hong Kong. My girlfriend was waiting for me in Taipei, wondering where I was. I needed a vacation. And so I offered to Cathay to settle just on an apology, no more fighting, and no hurt from any party.
And here we go, if you're in a hurry skim the bold points for the most interesting parts since it's long -
(Again, all parties were notified of the recording repeatedly, and it was prominently in view. This transcript was made by someone who has English as a second language, and minor grammar errors are here, but this gets the general details of the discussion. I removed names from some of my friends in the USA and PRC, those are not in brackets. Nothing else is changed.)
Location: With police at the police station, Hong Kong
(Officers talking in Cantonese)
SM: What time do you close inspector?
Lai: For me, it's 23 end hours.
SM: So 45 minutes.
Lai: Yeah but for police office, all the time.
SM: All the time.
Lai: No need to worry.
SM: I'm not worried.
Lai: You can take your time. You can take a shower and everything. You can come back any time if you want to take action, file any statement...
SM: If you're here, it's more likely to get resolved, do you understand?
Lai: Resolved, really? oh, thank you! You..
SM: You are the most reasonable and intelligent person i dealt with. You know that? Yeah? You don't want this to be a big fight it seems to me. You're like everyone's okay, keep moving. I can't just keep moving, if they say they want to keep moving and they'll make peace, okay, i have things to do with my life,
SM: i don't want to stay in Hong Kong, you know, i don't want to spend the next week in Hong Kong, i want to go and meet my girlfriend.
Lai: We want you to come back more.
SM: I like Hong Kong, i spent time here, i like here,
Lai: First time?
SM: No, i've been here 4 or 5 times. I like Hong Kong.
Lai: How about the treatment of the airline? Your previous experience?
SM: Never had a problem.
Lai: Also with Cathay Pacific?
SM: Yeah, sure, they're good. usually, i like Cathay, they got the highest rating in Asia. They got the highest service rating in Asia.
SM: I don't know what the hell happened, man.
Lai: It must be a misunderstanding. As i was told it was the agent served you to book the ticket of Economy or Business class or something...
SM: There were two or three mistakes. And the guy said "tough, i don't care, go sit at the Economy" Right? That's kind of the wrong way to treat somebody, i already bought first class once in a day.So i'm kind of thinking i'm on first class, i should be in first class. i already paid for it. i shoulda had it anyways, and then i had to pay again. You know i paid the first class earlier in the day? I paid. Yeah, so i was thinking is this how you treat your first-class passenger on the plane?
Lai: So you have upgraded. There were two journeys, one is Beijing to Hong Kong..
SM: So this was incorrectly… I wanted the whole trip to be upgraded.And British Airways screwed it up,the ticket, screwed it up.
Lai: They booked the ticket?
SM: British. Who screwed it up. So i asked Cathay to upgrade me, they said they can't cause it's through British, i said Can you call them from beijing? They said No. I said What the hell it's bad service. They said that's just how it is, you have to call them. and i said, the plane leaves in an hour, i don't have time.
Lai: So you're saying you already paid the first class, so that's why you're in the first class form Beijing to Hong Kong?
SM: Right. First off, i should have been in Business class anyways. Right? I should have been, and they made a mistake, that's how it started. Then in Beijing, they said we can't fix the mistake. So i got on the plane, i said hey guys there was an mistake. can i move to business and sort it out later? They said No, you'll have to pay. So i paid! I paid them, They didn't say it's just for this part of it. I just say hey i am supposed to be the Business, they said well, tough, you can pay to upgrade. I said here, this is my credit card. They didn't say "Are you taking two flights?" I thought whatever, i'm covered of the journey. I upgraded right? I told them hey i'm gong to Hong Kong and then Taipei, i don't want to just do one. Right? why would i? That makes no sense. And then i get on the plane, and the guy was like"You're a jerk get on the back." I'm like hold on , you don't talk to me like that. i'm an unhappy customer, there's been two mistakes that have been made today, two mistakes i think by British and by them, right?
SM: Or maybe i made the mistake, but i don't think so. I'm pretty sure i'm the right. They're like hey the rule says you gotta go to the back. i said No you gotta do some customer service here, i had two mistakes today, this is unacceptable. and he's like "go to the back or i'm off-loading you" i'm like hey, don't threaten me, i'm trying to work it out friendly with you, i said do you care about service? he said no, company's policy is more important than service. he said that, i promise inspector. and i said well you gotta call somebody else then man, cause you got a problem, don't threaten me with the police after i already paid legitimate. And he says you gotta go to the back or we're off-loading you. I said write that down and sign it, right? i said write that down and sign it, and i can go to the back or off the plane, you choose. he wouldn't do it. So i don't know what story they're telling you, but i got treated very bad. and then it blew up, and anytime he could say look just go and sit in the business and we'll deal with it in Taipei. He could have and i would have. He said No! now you really have to get out! And i'm like no, you can't treat people like this. this is not okay, you guys already screwed up twice today. and now you're telling me that i'm gonna do it your way, he wouldn't even give me his card, he wouldn't write down what happened. the guy was a bad manager, really.and maybe after ten minutes passed, the fight has started, it's too late. face and face and principles, you know. it's like what you gonna do, should i just get yield at by this guy who's being bad and just go and sit down? if i do that, and he learns that his way works. and can do that to everybody.
(Officer talking on the phone in Cantonese)
SM: Are they coming?
officer: in 10 minutes.
SM: They're probably preparing stuff, they should get here as soon as they can. Cause the inspector need to leave, when he leaves, i'm definitely leaving. and that's the hard deadline, when he leaves, i'm gone.so if you haven't work that out by that time, it might have to take a little bit of time, there you go, so if he comes in with lawyers and papers and stuff. I haven't called my lawyer, cause i'm been reasonable, i got a list of lawyers, and i haven't got one yet. So i'm being friendly, and if they're screwing around and prepare for war which is probably what they're doing, then it's going to… they'll get it. Even if they will beat me, they might me and hurt me…
Lai: You mean they beat you in a..
SM: Well, they might ban me, they might hit me, but i'm gonna hit them back.
Lai: not physical hit,
SM: not physical hit, aknowlegy, inspector. Not hitting, i mis-said that. If they sue me or ban me from the airline, then i'm letting this out to go to the media and stuff. So it's gonna be big and messy. So look, he's been very cool to help us, if they want to screw around, they ind of screwed around, they've been late, it's very disrespectful that they said they're coming and prepare more, that's just disrespectful. cause i'm not prepare to fight them, cause i'm chatting and having good faith with you. Am i trying to work it out right now?
SM: I'm trying, are they?
SM: I don't know... they're not here.
(Officer was talking on phone in Cantonese)
Officer: So.. you want to book..
SM: I want to resolve everything tonight, and have no problems with Cathay ever again.
Officer: No., uh…
SM: I don't care about that. I can buy a flight, they can buy a flight. That's not important. What's important is i'm having a big fight with Cathay right now, we can settle all of it tonight, or it will be a very big fight. And i don't want that, they probably don't want that, so i would like to work it out with them tonight, but they're kind of being late and wasting time, they've got 20 minutes now before the inspector has to go off duty. So they have to show up…
SM: Yeah, it's 25, so...
If they want to show up late and kind of disrespect him and i will waiting for them, disrespect you, they're urging themselves, this is stupid of them, whi's coming? You know who's coming? The name?
Officer: They're coming, but i haven't got their name yet
SM: No problem.
This guy is making mistake by like..taking a lot of time and thinking that's gonna help him and it's gonna hurt him. Its gonna hurt everybody. I'm just trying to work this out now.
I'm pretty reasonable here inspector, you think?
I think he was very bad to me, and i think he… he wouldn't write down what he said verbally , that means you're doing a bad thing. you know what i mean? if you arrest someone, you write a report, you don't say "ah…just put let him out of the back of the jail, i don't wanna.." you know, that's corruption. That's just a power thing.
SM: So, i gave him multiple opportunities, maybe it's a face thing. He's got a face, i know. Maybe i do too, a little bit. Maybe i'm also like that a little bit. But I've never had anything like this happen with an airline, this is ridiculous. you know?
Lai: You have lots of traveling experience.
SM: Lots, lots.
Dozens, maybe hundreds of flights.
Lai: So you've got lots of experience, you can maybe comment on that...
SM: Well, you're here a lot, how often does this happen? Like never?
Lai: ah, many.
SM: Many? Off-loads?
SM: Every day?
Lai: Not everyday, but i encountered off-loads, i don't have the statistics, but i only have someone be smoking, rude behavior yes, offloads, business disputes… within the airline and passengers yes. And the incident…
(Kenny walked into the Police station)
SM: Hi, how do you do?
(Kenny hands SM a card)
Kenny: Yes, this is the card of our customer service department.
Kenny: And you can give hum, your opinion, your feedback to our website.
SM: Do you know why you're here? What's your name?
Kenny: My..I'm Kenny.
SM: Kenny, I'm Sebastian. Do you want to have a seat?
Kenny: Yeah no..it's okay.
SM: No, please have a seat, or i'll stand up. Okay have a seat.
(Kenny sits down)
SM: So Kenny, here's what's happening. I'm supposed to be in Taipei right now meeting my girlfriend, she's still waiting for me.
SM: You're a customer service, a lawyer, what are you?
Kenny: I'm the supervisor.
SM: Supervisor, great.
So Kenny, i am bothered that i'm still in Hong Kong. That doesn't make me happy that i'm still here.
SM: Do you have the whole story?
SM: I think two or three mistakes that were made by British Airways and by Cathay.
Kenny: Um huh..
SM: Did they tell you that?
SM: They told you that two or three mistakes were made. Here i want to record this by the way. Do you know i'm recording that?
SM: So i think two or three mistakes were made by you, and i told that to the guy on the plane, and he says get to the back or we gonna offload you.
Kenny: uh huh..
SM: And i said "Do you care about service? This is bad, i'm feeling treated bad."
I paid you guys tickets for first class earlier today after.., it should been done already, and then i paid, and then you guys saying regulation, whatever, i did it wrong, they did it wrong, So..
Kenny: My staff already explained to you that you paid was only for the Taipei- Hong Kong only…
SM: So i think what was your mistake, from Cathay. Cause i just said upgrade me at the first, and they screwed up. Ok? I think, maybe i'm wrong. But that's what i think happened, and the guy said to me "Get in the back right now, or you're getting off-loaded." That's a threat. That's a very bad service. Where i am from, America, maybe this is different in Asia, I spend a lot of time doing business in Asia, so i think you don't even do that in Asia, it's very insulting.
Kenny: Before, before, our staff already told you that the fee was for Taipei-Hong Kong, ah…Beijing-Hong Kong…
SM: So i think you guys made a mistake. Do you hear that i think you made a mistake? Do you understand that? I think you made a mistake.
Kenny: And we already explained to you.
SM: You said you don't make a mistake? And i think you do. And you think you're right, and i think i'm right. So we have a problem, so that's how the problem happen.
Kenny: Yes. But it is not our problem.
SM: Okay, well.
Kenny: Um- huh.
SM: So i said you guys made a mistake, and i said to your guy "Does service matter to you?"
And he said "Protecting company policy is more important than service." This is the true thing that he said that to me. Okay? He also said a lot of other stupid things, and i got two hours of audios of the whole incident, and i'm a writer, i got a book out. I got things like that, [redacted list of people I know who I will contact, who aren't yet involved yet] So reason i'm sitting down with you right here, is because i want to be on vacation and see my girlfriend in Taipei, but i know what happens to off-loads, my father was a labor lawyer, i know what corporations do, you guys are..Can i swear? Can i use a bad word just to make a point?Not to be rude.
Lai: It's okay.
SM: It's okay? But i'm checking with everybody. i'm not being rude, i'm just really make the point, it's okay, can i swear? Is that alright?
SM: You guys are really try to fuck me pretty badly if i leave here. Cause that's what you do when somebody has a problem with you, you fuck them. So i don't want to get fucked by you. So if we can't work it out in the next like 15 minutes before the inspector leaves, cause i think he's the most reasonable and intelligent person here, then i'm gonna call everyone else i know in China, and i'm gonna call [people] and i'm gonna get a lawyer here in Hong Kong, i'm gonna get the best one i can find, and i'm gonna release all these recordings, or i'll talk to my lawyer before i do that. I'm gonna file a civil and criminal charges against you, and it's gonna be really bad. what i'm offering you is pretty reasonable instead, which is these are my basic terms, i want a simple apologize for the incident. no fault all the way around, you don't have to take the fault. You guys just need to say we're sorry that a bad experience happened. I want this in a letter that says that i did nothing wrong, we can keep this confidential so i won't release this. No penalties, i'm not banned from Cathay, i'm not on the no-fly list, you guys don't pull any crap like that. i won't come after you guys, and i won't file any civil or criminal...
(Kenny's phone rings)
SM: You probably don't want to take that.
(Kenny answers, very brief call in Cantonese)
SM: So I don't want, yeah no penalties, nothing like that, and I don't civil or criminal charges against you, which i'm going to if you say no. And compensation, do something relevantly small to show that you're sincere, i don't need very much, you just tell you what you can do. Hmm, if not, i'm gonna go very very very big. So you can tell me get lost, screw you, we're gonna win... maybe you will. maybe you'll be able to destroy me, but i'm gonna make it really bad with you guys if you don't want to make peace right now. So we gonna either like make friends, and make peace, and have no more fighting, and i'm going to be very reasonable. Or it's gonna go all the way. I'm not gonna get fucked by you guys basically. That's just not acceptable to me.
Kenny: I'd like to tell you that there will be no any apology at this moment. And we will not have any free upgrade for you anymore.
SM: Whoa, he says he wants to go to war, did you hear that inspector? This dude says he wants to go to the war.
(Lai and Kenny speak in Cantonese)
SM: And he won't to apologize?
SM: Is he making a big mistake here, Inspector?
Lai: He... uh, yeah.
SM: I think he's making a gigantic mistake here that is going to cost him … it can't win, what does fighting me get? It's just a pride thing. I'm going to… like... fight you.
Kenny: Before we make this decision, we have already told you clearly for the free, you only have Taipei-Hong Kong, you have to back to your original case,
[There was never a free upgrade. This an error. Also note that Kenny didn't deny that "they were going to try to fuck me." -SM]
SM: Do you understand that your guy said "protecting the company's policy.."
Kenny: We will not ….the decision to offload you.
SM: Protecting the company's policy is more important than service.
SM: You guys are rated the number one service airline in Asia,
Kenny: We also need to protect our passengers.
Because you're affecting passengers on the flight.
SM: Well, at any point…
(Kenny starts to interrupt)
SM: Hold on, hold on.. Did the manager tell you that i said "write down his decision and signs it, then i will go to the bak or off the plane"? Did he tell you that?
SM: Cause i had that on audio.
By the way, i have this one on audio too. So i have on audio that i said "Please write down "i think you made a mistake, and you won't help me, because the Taipei thing." i told him to write that down and sign it, and i'll go to the back, and he refused. Did he tell you that?"
SM: Okay. So if you make a decision verbally, you have to be able to put it in writing. cause i will file a complaint with the corporate. And he refused to do that.
Kenny: He already explained to you that you need to back to your class to your seat.
SM: Well, you know what? You're telling me you're right, and you're smarter than me and you're stronger than me, and i gotta do it your way, and you're about to cost Cathay at least thousands of dollars and maybe a lot more. It's gonna be bad. Inspector tell him, i'm serious.
Kenny: We will not have any compensation.
SM (to Inspector): Well, tell him he's destroying thousands of dollars to make a moral point. It's gonna be bad for you.
Kenny: You will not have any compensation.
Kenny: So you can keep your feedback to our company.
SM: No, i'm not. I'm gonna sue you. I'm going to file charges, and gonna write in the newspaper, i'm gonna ruin your reputation.
Kenny: Sure, sure.
SM: You don't believe me?
Kenny: I believe you.
SM: So you're saying on audio that you're comfortable with a customer who's really angry that is offering what he can to make peace with a minimal amount, all he needs is a simple apology and he's go confidential. And you wnt to fight him in public and you're the number one customer service airline, KENNY LAU, that's your plan?
SM: What is wrong with you people? See what i'm dealing with inspector? These guys are idiots!
SM: This dude is an idiot man, i'm telling him i'll make peace with him, simple. And if not, i'm gonna call my friends that [specific people], and i'm gonna get the best lawyer in HongKong, and file civil and criminal charges for offloading me violently when they have a duty to carry me and i already purchase the class of service, and their agents has mis-represented that to me. They're so thick, they think they're right! Do you see this is what i'm dealing with? Do you see it?
SM: Look, i'm being real cool here,
SM: I'm like… I called the US consulate, i've got the number of the department homeland security, i got a list of lawyers here. He doesn't believe me... He's smiling! He's like a smug dude! He's an idiot!
Lai: Please, Mr. Marshall. Please, at this stage, i don't have any comment, or any .. between the airline and the customer, right?
SM: The police want no disputes in HongKong and no fights, right?
Lai: Of course, we don't want out citizen to fight against each other,
Lai: We want a harmonious society.
SM: So today there was a very bad incident today, right?
Lai: Both of you hurt.
SM: Both of us hurt, and i told him i'll take, like, not very much. i will take whatever right now, just get it behind us… or war. And he says he wants war… that make no sense to me.
Lai: I…i..i ..i only have.. i only heard him say no upgrade.
SM: Okay, alright. Let him talk, okay, so i should let him talk.
So are you offering, what do you want to do?
Kenny: You will not have apology, you will not have compensation including the free upgrade.
SM: And what will you do then, what you're offering me? Nothing?
SM: Well, i don't know. That's a declaration of war on audio, i mean i don't know what else to say. They're offering nothing. i think they're not going to say the'll drop everything or not if i'll drop everything. he just wants a fight, he just say he wants a fight to me. he thinks he's gonna win cause i had that on audio and he sounds terrible. It's gonna be so bad in the media.
(Lai started to talk to Kenny in Cantonese)
Lai: I asked the gentelman, before the supervisor came, he wanted to asked you what service you want to book.
(Lai and Kenny in Cantonese)
Lai: If they allow you to book a ticket...
SM: If we don't make peace, i'm gonna stay in Hong Kong, I'm gonna fly my girlfriend here, and we're going to get a law-firm.
Lai: oh.. you're not leaving tonight?
SM: No, i'm staying, i'm staying. They want a fight. If they want to fight, i'm all in on fighting.
I'll fly my girlfriend here.
SM: So you're the chief of Hong Kong, you, you're the biggest guy here, and you're here to offering nothing, and to someone says it's gonna have a war. I don't know, this doesn't make any sense to me Inspector.
SM: What's that?
Lai: He's representing the company, may not be the chief. … Even me, I'm not the chief.
SM: I know, i'm not the chief either. No one is a chief.
(Kenny in Cantonese on the phone)
(Kenny in Cantonese with Lai in Cantonese)
(Kenny in Cantonese… "security"…)
Kenny: So we need refer to our security about his case, and we will decide whether to accept to fly you or not. On another flight.
Lai: If you want to book another ticket, the gentleman said they're refering this to their security department..
SM: I get it, i get it..
SM: Kenny Do i seem like a serious person to you or i'm.. do I seem serious Kenny?
Kenny: I'M SERIOUS TOO!
SM: Okay. How much money do you think Cathay is going to lose if i fight you in public?
Kenny: I'm not sure. But this decision is on our company.
SM: More than zero?
Kenny: I'm not sure, but..
SM: You think you gonna gain business if i fight you in public and release this. you think this is gonna help you? You think this can help you?
Kenny: Yes, but in case, surely you're affecting over 200 of our customers and the flight has been delayed for 38 minutes..on this case.
Sm: Who's fault is that? Mine?
SM: Mine? Or the guy who would have say "Sit down, we can talk about it when we get to Taipei" It was all empty, the business class. The business class is all empty by the way, there's no one in business class, and i i told him if he just writes down and sign his decision, then i'll get off or sit in the thing, before the flight is even delayed, he refused to do that. He could have done that. but he just threatened me.
Kenny: And also you refuse to go back to your seat.
SM: He threatened me. Would you accept a threat?
Kenny: Also you refuse to go back to sit at your seat right?
SM: All he had to do was to sign his decision, and write the facts, and sign it, and i would go, is that a reasonable thing?
Kenny: It's not his decision, it's the captain's.
SM: The captain never said anything to go. He did not tell me to go.
SM: Do you understand that the captain never told me to go?
SM: No? I got that on audio.
SM: DO YOU GET THAT I RECORDED EVERYTHING? Look, look, recording. I've got 2 -3 hours of this now. I don't think you've realized what's going on here. You're like making the biggest mistake of your life, like it's gonna ruin a lot of people's lives. I don't want to ruin a lot of people's lives, which is why i'm here offering peace. You're sure you're right, maybe you're even right. I don't know, maybe i'm just a jerk, the screwed up 200 people's nights. American, he's a jerk. screw him. Okay. Maybe that's it, maybe that's true. It's a about to get a lot worse. So i'm offering peace. A very simple peace. Don't even apologize for what you did, just say we're sorry tht a bad experience happened, no one will be at fault, i'm mutual apology. Hey if you refuse, that's fine. you're perogative, you can do whatever you like.
Kenny: You'll fail.
SM (to Lai): Inspector, what can i do man? They wanted me to do it their way, but they're acting actually wrong, they made two mistakes, they threatened me, they're being rigid, stubborn, i think i'm being pretty cool here. You're they one that told me don't get a lawyer, just let it go, they'll be cool, you're mistaken. They're not cool.
SM: You're mistaken. Everyone told me to get cool, kind of like let it go, i told you that they want a fight. They're going to put me in a back list, they'll do a security review, i mean i know how that's gonna go. Inspector, you've seen offloads, it's always security ban afterwards,
SM: I've got the number of the department of homeland security to make sure that you can't ban me on the no fly list across all airlines. So, yeah i know, i gotta call the duty officer there.
(Lai and Kenny in Cantonese… "blacklist"...)
Lai: Only this airline, not all airlines, only the airlines under the companies. Only DragonAir, the airlines under the company.
SM: Hey, inspector. They're offering me nothing. I'm still under their care, i still have the ticket and they're offering me to buy the next ticket is nothing. They have to do it under the law. They have to keep me going anyways. So they're offering nothing and he says he wants to fight me.
SM: I'm asking for very very little. Tomorrow it goes up to like a hundred million dollar law suit.
And i'll donate all the profits to charity or something, i'll file it, maybe i'll lose. But maybe i won't, you know what i mean? You can ask for whatever you want in damages, in punitive damages, and i will. I don't think he thinks i'm serious, if he thinks i'm serious then he wouldn't be acting like this. He's acting like smug, like ha ha ha. I don't think he gets it, this could be really bad for him.
SM: I don't know, this dude makes no sense to me.
Lai: For us, we police respect both of you.
Lai: You're feelings… I can feel you're angry about the service in the flight. Up to here, you're trying to cooperate, to try to make a deal and settle the thing with the company. But the company also their views and their stands on this case. So far, you two can't come to an agreement. and that's what i can see.
SM (to Kenny): I don't know, why do you come down here? Why do you even come her? What is the purpose that you're coming here.
Kenny: Just to inform you that you can give your opinion on our website.
SM: So…Right. Do you have any authority? Could you make any decisions? Or you have no power?
SM: Am i even discussing with a man with no power?
Kenny: Nothing we will offer.
SM: Send someone more important then you, get out of here. Send someone more important than you, you have no power here, get out.
Kenny: I'm the representative.
SM: No, you're not.
SM: No, he has no power. He's useless,no wonder, he's being a smug dude, he doesn't no any better.
Kenny, send somebody actually has authority.
SM: You really want a hundred million law-suit filed within in a week?
You,you have that on conscience?
SM: The dude is stupid, inspector. Tell him to tell his boss to come down here. That would be smart. I would do that.
Lai: That is the decision.
SM: Yeah..it's bad, it's gonna be bad. I mean, just the court costs...
All they have to do is just to say we're all sorry that this happened. i don't know.
Lai: I think the gentleman is telling you that he's the representative of the company.
Lai: And what i heard is that they can't offer you.
SM: So i would like to see the boss, cause he has no power. I'm talking to someone that has no power, that was a mistake of me.
Lai: But the gentleman is the representative..
SM: But he has no power. He can't change his mind.
Kenny: That is the discussion from my manager.
SM: Can you change your mind?
SM: No. So he has no power. Who's your manager?
Kenny: This is the decision of our manager.
SM: Who's your manager?
Kenny: My manager? ….uh..no need to…
SM: Yes there is. Who is your manager?
Kenny: No need to tell you who is the manager is.
SM: Tell me who's your manager? Tell me who passed the stupid decision down, so that i can communicate with them so they can communicate with me. Not saying who the manager is like unprofessional to the tenth degree.
Kenny: I told you very clearly that we will not apologize…
SM: You're useless.
Kenny: We will not offer any compensation for you.
SM: You're useless!
Kenny: We have not any…
SM: Shut up, you're useless.
Who's your manager?
Come on you useless flunky.
Kenny: I just informed you that…
SM: Who's your manager?
He's refusing to tell me. He's refusing to tell me who's the decision maker.
(Lai and Kenny in Cantonese)
SM: Inspector, do you see he's refusing to tell me who is the decision make is? Is this professional? This is not professional. I'm trying to work something out. and they sent a flunky that has no power, and he won't even tell me who the boss is.
The boss probably wants to talk to me to know that i'm serious, this guy has no power, i don't even know why they sent him. This is useless, you should've just say " no, i don't want to talk to him. " This guy is a waste of time.
Who's the manager?
Does somebody knows who the manager is?
I'm trying to make peace!
Kenny: IT'S NOT NECESSARY TO TELL YOU!
SM: …Are they looking?….You're on audio, man! You're embarrassing your company on audio man! It's not necessary to tell who your manager is, dude, you gonna look…KENNY LAU, KENNY LAU, dude, you gonna look so stupid.
Inspector, can you tell him that he's gonna look stupid? Don't get in the middle, but come on, he is though.
Lai: This is the company's decision.
SM: Alright, i'm sorry. i'm sorry. it's not you, inspector. Can you tell him he's gonna look stupid. You're being reasonable and teeing to work something out. This dude just looks stupid. I mean he has no power and won't even say who he worked for, I mean, come on, who is this guy? he's ridiculous.
Lai: right, Mr Marshall. I have to go.
SM: Alright. This is done.
Lai: I have to go.
SM: Okay. It's over then. alright.
Thanks Kenny, see you later man.
Lai: But if you're staying in Hong Kong, Hong Kong is free. You can have action against any service provider. I hope you have a better time in Hong Kong.
SM: Thanks inspector. Thank you for your time. Kenny i don't even talk to you, goodbye man.
Lai: And maybe the email address is useful.
SM: I'm done. I made them an offer. I'm done.
Lai: I know all the company can have a response to you..
SM: It's done. They could have said they're sorry but they won't say they're sorry. It's funny, they gave me a card that says we're sorry.
SM: To Kenny... Do you know you gave me a card that says we're sorry?
Do you want to take that back or cross that out?
Kenny: I just want to let you know what we have a website…
SM: Do you want to cross that out? The "we're sorry", do you want to cross that out?
Kenny: As you like. As you like.
SM: Kenny, you're useless. Thanks for nothing.
Kenny: You're welcome.
SM: Kenny you're useless man, I don't need anything from you. Thank you man, Good bye.
(Kenny and other Cathay employee go to leave)
SM: Wait, I want him though, Kenny gut out of here, you're useless but i want him [the other representative of Cathay that has been with Kenny all the time]
I want to talk to the representative, you want a fight.
Kenny: I'm the representative.
SM: No, you're useless. I don't want you, you're useless. Get out.
Get out, go on, get out of my face.
Kenny: I have rights to stand here.
SM (to other Cathay employee): Okay. and you? You realized that your company's making huge mistake and this guy thinks he's powerful, maybe someone who got a MBA or something? They like to act like this. Do you realise i'm serious? And i'm working with inspector here, i've got a list of America consulate, homeland security, do you realized this dude is making a mistake?
(Cathay reps talking in Cantonese while SM is talking)
SM: I offer an opportunity to make peace, he won't even tell me who his boss is, which is unprofessional, he does this on audio, it's gonna look very bad.
You're a reasonable person, can you call the boss and tell the boss that we should get someone serious down? Who can actually works this out? This is actually a problem.
(Cathay reps still in cantonese)
Another Cathay Employee: I don't know if you pick your ticket yourself or if you ask your travel agent.
SM: Good bye inspector. Inspector, can i get your card inspector? So i can email you? i'm just gonna keep you updated, you've been very helpful. You've been very helpful, i really appreciate for your help.
Lai: We try to help.
SM: I appreciate you mediating, I really do.
Lai: I hope you can have a ..
SM: I'll work it out, i guess i'm stuck in Hong Kong.
Lai: Once you have any decision…
SM: Lai-Ka-sing. Thank you inspector.
Lai: Ok. Hope you have a nice trip.
SM: Thanks man. I appreciate it.
Lai: Where will you stay? You're staying in a hotel?
SM: I don't know. I just got stuck in Hong Kong. I don't know.
Lai: Okay, my officer will also change shift. Our officers will be here. We have 24 hours service.
SM: Thanks inspector. I have your card, so i can call you, see you later.Thank you.
Kenny: I know at this point it's not necessary to argue…
SM: It's alright Kenny,
Kenny: I will leave my staff.
SM: You'll leave him here?
Kenny: No, I'll leave with him.
SM: I don't know why you're talking to me. you have no power here. i don't know why you're here, just to be smug dude? Do you realize being a smug dude to an unhappy customer..
Kenny: Decision is made by our company. It's not necessary to tell you who our boss is, who our manager is, and this is the decision.
SM: Do you realize that i'm gonna cause a lot of trouble?
Kenny: I'm here to tell you what i told you before.
SM: But you have no power.
Kenny: That is the decision made by our company.
SM: So who has power? You won't even tell me.
Kenny: I think it's not necessary to tell you.
SM: Well, i don't know. Do you normally talk to people when they ask you who your boss is?
Do you normally say anything? No?
Kenny: No, i'm the representative.
SM: No, you're not. You have no power. You're just here to be smug.
Kenny: So you can give your opinion to our website.
SM: Do you realize you guys gonna lose a lot of fares over this?
Kenny: I'm not sure. But you may.
SM: I'm gonna lose fares? My airline will lose fares?
Kenny: You may. I'm not sure.
SM: I'm sure.
Kenny: Then you can go ahead.
SM: You guys are the number one rated customer service airline in Asia. And a customer just has a nuclearly bad experience, and you're like not saying who the boss is. Do you realized this could be a big mistake you're making? Are you open to the idea of you're making a gigantic mistake?
Kenny: I don't think it is… No..
SM: No, you're not open to it.
You're not open to you're making a mistake.
You're doing something smart here. This is smart? You're being smart? This is very intelligent to you?
SM: You're nodding.
Kenny: As you like.
SM: Are you being intelligent here?
Do you think you're being smart?
Are you even thinking?
Kenny: I think. This is the decision made by company, i just follow our instruction.
SM: Well. Thanks Kenny. I'll see you later man.
(Kenny speaks to police in Cantonese)
(Kenny and Cathay employee leave)
SM (to officer at desk): Hey, I would like to leave a report when you're done, okay?
(Cantonese between officer and unrelated person)
Dude, you sound like a complete lunatic in almost every word here. I guarantee this goes nowhere. Guaranteed. You were clearly in the wrong, you wasted everyone's time running your mouth about declaring war and name-calling, and you made huge threats with zero ability to back them up. They should have pressed charges and sued you.
You need to think about growing up.
Agree, dude don't go off the rails. I like that you take a stand, but arguing with someone and getting aggressive with someone that is just there doing their job isn't the way to roll (no matter how pointless there job or how bad they are at it or even how bad of a person they are).
From his replies I can only guess he doesn't understand everything you are saying. Even someone who speaks english as their first language would have a hard time following all that and coming up with an answer on the spot. Although I see also why you would be increasingly agitated that they don't just apologize, but note you also are getting increasingly aggressive.
I like what your doing because it makes these kind of companies think (but mainly because it's entertaining to read occasionally), but you can't expect mega corporations to bend over backwards instantly just because you decide to take them to town one day (especially sheeple employees that have operated this way for god knows how long). It comes off as self centered.
Good on you for standing up for principals, but don't expect the whole world to instantly fall into beat (hell maybe you WILL change it). I hope you rethink going through this kind of crap often though. Can't be good for your health or focus. I'd rather be laughing with you than at you.
Very dramatic. This reads almost like a play. Sort of reminds me of No Exit.
The deference to company policy that Kenny made me think of Malcolm Gladwell's discussion of the Power Distance Index with regard to Korean Airlines -- that is, in some cultures, people do not feel they can go against authority to any degree, even when lives are on the line. I don't know if this applies to Chinese culture, but some of the things Kenny said resonated with that.
I think he's right. Maybe not lawfully, but definitely ethically. It would have cost the guy on the plane _nothing_, but really nothing at all, to let Sebastian have a seat in business class and figure it out later at arrival. If Sebastian was proved wrong he still could have paid the supplement for the upgrade.
I feel companies are nowadays treating people like sheep. There's no service anymore, once you've paid, you're at the goodwill of the company to _maybe_ provide you the service you paid for.
This is not limited to airline companies, it's a general big company issue: they've a lot of money, thus they are powerful because they can pay a lot of expensive lawyers and everybody knows that this is the insurance to win in court.
There's no such thing as justice, the one with most money almost always wins.
Funny that it's you, the super capitalistic Americans are having issues with this? ;-)
I don't like to be treated like a sheep, but I don't have the money to stand up against an airline company and I know I won't win in justice, because I can't afford a topnotch lawyer. I just avoid to fly whenever possible. That's the only weapon left to us, the sheep, boycott the system.
I think that's what Sebastian wants us to do, boycott Cathay Airlines! They'll lose money and this is the only way to make them understand that we don't like to be treated like sheep.
I admire your courage, Sebastien!
>But the moral principle Sebastian is standing up for I think stands right along side private property rights and possibly above it, at least ethically.
I am with you, I am as much against private ownership of government and de-facto private monopolies acting as a pseudo-government with the public having no recourse. For example, I find Apple's App Store policies highly offensive and in desperate need of consumer action/government regulation. But in this particular case i.e. Cathay, I find that much of the anger is hopelessly misplaced. Seb has had a very unfortunate encounter with Cathay, but I don't feel anything morally reprehensible has happened. Cathay flubbed in its consumer service department and pissed off a paying customer. It is unfortunate, but there is no larger moral issue at play here. And Cathay being a private company makes the issue more benign. If Governments maintained meticulous public records we would not need wikileaks. When you insist that private companies also maintain complete records, you are infringing on the freedom of private individuals and how they operate. Every such obligation needs good justification. Such as avoiding financial crises, approving safe drugs, prevention of the formation of abusive monopolies etc. Cathay is not a monopoly. I would expect them to be regulated in regards to the safety of the airplanes and regular performance of regular flight maintenance etc. They are not a monopoly, so you cannot insist on customer service standards as a right. This just makes you look silly. If Cathay does not improve, customers will vote with their dollars. There is simply no benefit to Sebastian or any member of the public from this rant. Sure, I know about Delta back-pedaling to avoid a PR shitstorm when they broke a guitar and I know Seb is aiming for similar kind of PR nightmare for Cathay.
But the intention and posturing by Seb is so nakedly obvious that it is simply not going to work. All this talk about "my 8 lawyers, please do not bill me for watching this video" is childish and silly. The video makes Seb looks ludicrous. At best he might get some small monetary compensation from Cathay.
He has a good business running and he should direct his energies elsewhere. He is not standing on some high moral ground. He is simply pissed off and wants to get even. This is so childish. He seems to have become ultra-confrontational of late and this is a terrible thing to happen to a talented guy like him.
There is much more at stake here than property rights. I'm a big proponent of private property rights, and you're right that aircraft and airport terminals are private property. The owner or lessor of the aircraft does indeed have a legal (and moral) right to ask anyone to leave for any reason at any time (aside perhaps when in the air).
But the moral principle Sebastian is standing up for I think stands right along side private property rights and possibly above it, at least ethically. The exercise of power without responsibility is absolutely a scourge in the modern corporate world - it happens all the time and it has to stop.
Sebastian's behaviour seems like an overreaction because it is so rare. Most people in the same situation would simply cop it and slink off feeling miserable and powerless. I probably would have. Not any more.
Government agencies exercise their power with strict accountability and record-keeping requirements. If a bureaucrat tells you to do something, a record of who made what decision is created and kept. You can appeal, and those records are available as evidence later on.
Most of the time outside of government no such records are created. That is all Sebastian asked for. That is all that needs to happen here. Establish as a matter of principle that people have a right to have decisions affecting them committed to permanent record. This shouldn't be a problem for people in positions of power who are exercising that power ethically.
Is the law on Sebastian's side? Possibly not. But if that is so, then law is wrong and needs to change. More people need to take this sort of stand. Perhaps not to this extreme - most people don't have the resources. But take a stand nonetheless.
I will be. Thanks Sebastian.
Your writings are getting increasingly confrontational. This cannot end well. I have a fair amount of experience with the law. On the basis of US law, I can tell you that your case has no legal merit. I am not experienced with HK or International law. Just to clarify.
1. When Cathay Pacific asks you to move off the aircraft you must do so, as per US law. Irrespective of the fact that you have purchased a ticket. If Cathay Pacific owns/leases the aircraft in question, if you stay on the aircraft beyond a reasonable amount of time after being asked to leave, you are trespassing. Private owners then have the right to remove you from their premises using reasonable amount of force. This is the same legal principle on which bouncers in a bar work. You just saw this in action inside an aircraft. But Cathay Pacific is on solid legal ground.
2. There is no legal requirement that you should be instructed to leave in writing or be informed of the name of the manager of the person communicating the message.
3. If Cathay did not offer the seat that you actually purchased, you have grounds for a civil suit. You can pursue this in a small claims court, with the requisite amount of documentation. However, this does not change the fact that you must leave an aircraft when the owner of the aircraft asks you to leave. Your behavior can open you to criminal prosecution by the HK police. In fact, I can assure you that had this been the US police, you would have been facing criminal charges right now.
I am not certain about HK laws, but trust me, from a US legal stand point you are very lucky to not be facing criminal disorderly conduct/tresspassing charges. You only have a civil claim against Cathay and that depends on the evidence you can produce regarding your ticket, which you haven't produced on the blog so far.
Bottomline, you are a talented individual; don't waste your time in confrontations that can only set you back.
How is your business and new ventures going? It seems like you have spent a good deal of time lately on this subject and I wonder about how other aspects of your life have faired.
Sebastian, you're dead right at the end. Kenny's just a lackey sent to inform you of the company's position and had no authority to deviate from his instructions. You need to find someone at an executive level from a marketing background who is likely to be far more sensitive to the negative publicity they're facing and less wedded to just following defined process (and with the authority to change that process).
You've written before (from Japan) about the Asian ethic of duty. This is a classic example of when that mindset can go terribly wrong when applied with a screwed up sense of where duty lies.
Wow, that was really funny. I would have loved to have been in the room for "Do you know you gave me a card that says we’re sorry? Do you want to take that back or cross that out?"
That guy basically thinks you're a piece of shit that refused to do what the management said. He's really sticking with the company even though it's easy to see you have the facts on your side, and even if you don't, is that how they treat their customers when there are mistakes on both sides?
When I first read this, I didn't know why you were making such a big deal out of it, might have been easier to lose the 3 hours of productivity on the plane than go to the police, but seeing how bad they treated you... Good job with standing up to them.
Everyone I know is terrified of air travel.
They have infinite power and zero accountability.
When you're in an airport, you're at the mercy of the people there. If they don't like what you're doing, they can do anything they want to you, and you have no recourse.
I understand the necessity of that coercive power - but such immense power requires immense accountability.
Man do we have a lot of catching up to do. This rapid fire traveling schedule doesn't leave us with all that much time to contemplate and write. If we aren't checking in somewhere, we're checking out and trying to catch a plane.
We were worried about where we'd stay in Hong Kong. It's a famously expensive city and we intended to be there for about ten days.
I always say, "Everything always works out perfectly," to which Todd always replies that it's dangerous to say that.