Here’s the backstory: In December, she booked a flight from Denver to Fort Lauderdale on United Airlines. Then United canceled the flight and she asked for refund.
“United agreed to issue a refund through Travelocity,” she explains. “Travelocity also agreed to this, and sent me an email to that effect. Travelocity verbally promised a six- to eight-week timeline for the refund.”
But nine weeks later, no money. She started making calls.
That’s when Travelocity decided to change its story.
Now they say that it was United’s responsibility the whole time. United continues to say that it is Travelocity’s responsibility to refund the money as it was Travelocity who originally received it.
Numerous phone calls to both places have netted no results, and I am concerned that they will continue to blame each other while I lose over $700.
I find that problematic. From my perspective as a consumer advocate, Travelocity took her money and it should return it just as quickly — no excuses.
I contacted Travelocity on Newkirk’s behalf. It didn’t respond. (In fact, Travelocity hasn’t responded to any of my inquiries since Dec. 22 of last year. Hello? Anyone home?)
Several weeks after my inquiry, a Travelocity representative contacted her. It’s difficult to say if the online travel agency was responding to her original inquiry or mine; at any rate, the news wasn’t good.
“They say that they have processed the refund and that I might expect it within 45 days,” she told me. “They have had this money now for 11 weeks, and I think that six more weeks is unreasonable.”
According to the government, an airline ticket should be refunded promptly if you paid by credit card.
When a refund is due, the airline must forward a credit to your card company within seven business days after receiving a complete refund application. If you paid by credit card for a refundable fare and you have trouble getting a refund that you are due, report this in writing to your credit card company.
Problem is, the seven-day rule only applies to a refundable fare. Technically, Newkirk’s fare wasn’t refundable.
As far as refunds on other tickets, they usually take between two to three credit card billing cycles, which makes Newkirk’s wait time considerably longer than normal.
There’s really no excuse for Newkirk’s hold-up. As I’ve said before, these delays are not only self-serving, allowing the company to keep your money a little longer to pad its balance sheet, but they also send a clear message to customers that your money doesn’t matter unless they’re on the receiving end.
Refunds should be made as quickly as the money is taken from your account. Have they left that gnome in charge of customer service?
Update: The Fly Rights publication I referenced has been updated to reflect that all airline tickets should be refunded within a week, not just refundable fares. Newkirk should dispute this charge on her credit card.
Update (6/22): After this post appeared, Travelocity contacted Newkirk and offered her a voucher. Today, she received a full refund.
(Photo: Ian Ker shaw/Flickr Creative Commons)