Has Joshua Ngwang Menang been scammed? First, his baggage was damaged while flying on KLM. Then he was “compensated” with an uncashable check.
But Menang’s case took an odd turn when he was given orders to go to a local office where he was given a check that no bank will accept — not even his own. His case is a warning to consumers to always use established channels whenever possible to file complaints and receive compensation, and to double-check if anything doesn’t pass the smell test.
Menang’s story begins when he deplaned from a KLM flight in Valencia, Spain, and collected his baggage. He wrote the following to various executives of KLM listed in our contacts, including the CEO, Pieter Elbers:
I submitted a receipt for a valise damaged on flight [number] … as instructed by the KLM Lost and Found Luggage office [in] Valencia, Spain [which] saw the said valise, completely damaged.
I got … feedback …, requesting that I repair the valise or purchase one and then submit receipts for full reimbursement. … I did purchase … the receipts as the said valise was beyond repairs.
As of today, I have had no further response from KLM, nor have I gotten the promised refund of [249 euros ($261)], despite my numerous attempts to contact KLM…
It was my first-ever flight on KLM and I really enjoyed it, but I am disappointed in the two-month- long delay in getting the refund for my damaged luggage replacement which I expected while in Valencia in order to enable me [to] replace the damaged one on [my] return.
Menang received the following response to his request for help from someone claiming to be a “Customer Care Executive” of the airline:
I fully understand your dissatisfaction with the delay in transmitting your compensation.
A copy of your message has been forwarded to the concerned department in order to accelerate the handling of your request.
I would be grateful if you can contact our office reachable [at phone number] in order to fix you an appointment so you can collect you [sic] the cheque.
In closing, it remains for me to thank you, once again, for writing and allowing me this opportunity to respond to you. I do hope that any subsequent flights with us will be to your entire satisfaction.
Menang, who lives in Yaoundé, Cameroon, called the number, where he received instructions to visit a local office of KLM. He went to the office, where he was given a cashier’s check from Citibank to settle his claim.
But when he took the check to his bank, it would neither cash the check nor deposit it in his account. At that point, he contacted our advocacy team for assistance.
KLM’s website instructs passengers with damaged luggage to contact KLM Customer Care to request reimbursement of expenses or compensation for the damage. Its conditions of carriage contain the following provisions regarding damaged baggage:
19.2.3 Damage to Baggage
In accordance with article 17 of the Montreal Convention, the Carrier is liable for Damage caused by loss of, or damage to Checked Baggage, upon condition only that the event which caused the loss or damage took place on board the aircraft or during any period during which the Carrier had custody of the Checked Baggage.
Amount of the Compensable Damage:
The Carrier’s liability in the event of destruction or loss of or damage to Baggage shall be limited to 1,131 [Special Drawing Rights (SDRs)] per Passenger. If a higher value was declared in accordance with Article 10.2.3(a) the Carrier’s liability shall be limited to the value declared, unless the Carrier can provide proof that said value is higher than the Passenger’s genuine interest at the time of delivery.
But the conditions of carriage don’t indicate what form of payment the airline will use to issue compensation to passengers filing claims for damaged baggage.
As cashier’s checks are not a common means of compensation by airlines for damaged baggage, our advocates wonder if Menang has been the victim of a scam. There are articles online warning about false cashier’s checks. One indication that a cashier’s check is counterfeit is poor quality printing. Menang sent our advocates a copy of a cashier’s check containing blurry print that is difficult to read.
Although our advocates reached out to KLM on Menang’s behalf, no one from the airline has responded to our contacts. We regrettably file Menang’s case as a Case Dismissed and warn our readers not to accept payments from businesses made by unorthodox methods to settle customer service claims.