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13/07/2006 - par Mark Tungate

Believe it or not, there is still a place in the world where notions of brand v­alues and service culture do not exist. It's called Greece. Or rather, it's called Olympic Airlines, the Greek national airline.

I made this discovery when I was invited to the World Apparel Convention in ­Thessaloniki to speak about fashion branding. I was due to pick up my ticket from the Olympic Airlines desk at Roissy. Unfortunately, I couldn't actually see the desk because it had been swamped by angry passengers whose flight (the one ­before mine) had been cancelled. Having finally managed to board my plane without a ticket, I arrived at Athens - only to discover my flight to Thessaloniki had been cancelled. There was no explanation or advice. I had to phone the organisers of the conference to get booked onto the next flight, hours later.

On the way back from ­Thessaloniki, my seat had been double booked. In Athens, my plane was delayed for two hours. I finally arrived home like Odysseus, to find that Géraldine had knitted several sweaters and received dozens of offers of marriage. At no point did the airline offer any compensation or word of apology. In fact, they were so rude it was almost as though everything was my fault. Hopefully, modern conceptions of branding will soon make dinosaurs like this extinct. For love of Zeus, I hope so.

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