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As part of Westpac's new Earth Black and Altitude Black frequent flyer credit cards the bank has also unveilled a companion Concierge iPhone app to put premium services at your fingertips.
But is it worth the download, or are you better off dialling up the Westpac Concierge hotline? We put the app through its paces.
Installation is as painless as you'd expect, with the ability to save your frequent flyer and loyalty numbers along with your preferences for airlines, restaurants, car rentals and more.
A PIN is required to unlock the app so that your data remains private.
However, you can store only two loyalty numbers within each category and several free-entry text boxes within the app don’t permit scrolling, which is a pain.
And, you still need to provide your credit card details over the phone for every purchase request – something that's certain to become tedious, especially when you're roaming overseas.
There are shortcut icons to the most common request categories and other requests can be submitted in plain text, although this provides no real advantage over sending an email.
Each submitted request is archived within the app and can be used to draft a new request, which should be a considerable time-saver.
And speaking of time: Westpac promises that "a Concierge representative will contact you within 24 hours to complete your request".
Here's the result of some real-world trials.
Westpac Concierge service: destinations and restaurants
I began by submitting two requests.
The first sought basic destination advice for Adelaide, including tourist attractions and historical sites, while the second asked for suggestions of an 'intimate, romantic restaurant' in the same city.
Both requests were met with an immediate email acknowledgement with a unique transaction number. If you have to amend or follow-up on your request you’ll need this number, although fortunately the app saves it for you.
I waited... and waited... and sent several follow-up messages, until receiving a reply almost 106 hours – yes, more than four full days – after the requests were submitted. So much for Westpac's pledge of a 24 hour turnaround.
To their credit, that response was highly detailed and didn't limit itself to high-end recommendations – a number of activities with free admission were included, along with several tours.
In response to my dining request, three restaurants were recommended, along with their published descriptions, photos of their signature dishes, and website links.
While one of the restaurants turned out to be closed for renovations, the other two met my specifications such as proximity to the hotel, my budget and my cuisine preferences.
Westpac Concierge service: flights
Deciding to tempt fate, I asked about flight options from Brisbane to Wellington on the following day.
Being quite busy I requested that I be contacted via email instead of telephone.
Westpac proved to be on the ball this time, with a response in six minutes – but this came as a phone call, specifically ignoring my 'email only' instructions.
I was unable to take the call, and later picked up voicemail to hear five minutes of 'on hold' music on my voicemail service but no message.
They tried again, this time leaving a message for me to contact them "as soon as possible".
Such a prompt response would ordinarily be fantastic, although undesirable in this case – so I sent them another message through the app, gently reminding that email was indicated as my preferred contact method.
Soon after I received an email advising that the "travel desk had closed for the day", so they were "unfortunately unable to ticket a flight within 48 hours of departure".
That came as a surprise given that Westpac spruiks that their concierge service is available 24/7 – there's no mention of the fact that at 6pm on a weekday, your urgent flight requests will fall on deaf ears.
To their credit, they did offer to connect me to the Qantas Contact Centre – although given the additional fees involved I declined their offer, and chose to search the Qantas website myself.
Westpac Concierge app: the verdict
While this app gives Westpac something unique – at least, for now – the actual concierge service is the weak link unless your requests are non-critical and non-urgent.
As it happens, those are usually not the situations when you want a concierge on call, which is why I give Westpac's Concierge app the thumbs-down.
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