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Caught in a loop with Expedia

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When Peter Hodges’ flight to Norway is canceled, United promises him a prompt refund. But three months later, the airline still has his $2,086. What gives?

Question: My wife and I had tickets to fly to Norway on United Airlines and Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), which we had booked through Expedia. But our first flight from St. Louis was canceled. Since there were no available flights that would have allowed us to reach our connecting flight to Oslo, a United representative at the airport told us that it would refund our money.

Two weeks later, we still hadn’t received a refund. I called United and spoke to a customer-service representative, who told us to wait seven business days. I waited two more weeks and called the refunds department, which told me a different story. United said it had refunded the money to SAS and that it would issue the refund within 90 days.
But three months later, we still didn’t have our $2,086.

I called SAS and spoke with one of its customer-service representatives, and was told to contact Expedia. So I called Expedia, and it told me to work with SAS. We’ve been going back and forth since then. I’m caught in a loop.

On a side note, I’ve had many disconnects from Expedia through this whole process. It is very frustrating when you spend a few hours on the phone just to be cut off. Sometimes they call you back, sometimes they don’t. Can you help? — Peter Hodges, Dardenne Prairie, Mo.

Answer: If United canceled your flight, you should have received a prompt refund. The Transportation Department gives airlines one week to give you your money back. There’s no excuse for this foot-dragging.
I checked with Expedia to find out what happened. When your initial flight was canceled, United took control of your reservation. When an airline gains control of a reservation, the original issuing agency — in this case, Expedia — no longer has access to the most up-to-date records.

Expedia says its agents contacted both United and SAS “multiple times” and were given conflicting information about the status of your refund. So when you phoned Expedia, it didn’t have an answer for you.

It shouldn’t be this difficult to get a refund. If an airline or online agency can take your money in just a few seconds, it should be able to return it just as expeditiously.

Who has the money? An online travel agency or an airline code-sharing alliance shouldn’t matter; the buck should stop with the company you originally did business with.

I notice that you spent an inordinate amount of time on the phone with United, SAS and Expedia. Calling an airline is useful when you’re at the airport and need to rebook a ticket, but when it comes to a delayed refund, you’ll want to get everything in writing. That effectively eliminates the two-hour phone conversations, followed by a hang-up.
I list the names and email addresses of Expedia’s executives on my consumer-advocacy website.

Although United and SAS deserve part of the blame for this missing refund, I think your online travel agency was ultimately responsible for finding your money. After all, it took your money in the first place.

I asked Expedia about your case. A representative apologized for the delay and said the agency had contacted SAS on your behalf to inquire about your refund. Almost eight months after your original trip to Oslo was scheduled, Expedia confirmed that you would receive a $2,086 refund.

Who was responsible for Peter Hodges’ refund?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at chris@elliott.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • bodega3

    Chris, United may not have been able to give a prompt refund if the issuing office ran the ticket with BULK as the fare. It would have to go back to the issuing office, the issuing office would have to contact the carrier for permission on the refund. Consolidators and agencies with special fares, do this so the carrier can not do any refunding and screw them out of their commission. If the agency gets a commission, they often are allowed to keep the commission while refunding the whole amount to the passenger, but it has to be the agency that does this not the carrier.
    As for your poll question, please reword it as it isn’t even valid. The ticketing agency is responsible but ONLY after getting permission from the carrier. The poll isn’t fair to those who don’t know how this works and you are being very misleading with it.

  • BillCCC

    IMHO the agency that took the money(Expedia) should refund it. After that Expedia should chase it down. Since this took 8 months the amount should be more than $2086.

  • AJPeabody

    I bought it from you. I didn’t get it. You owe me the money back. How you get paid is not my responsibility. Expedia owes the money. “The law is an ass.”

  • AJPeabody

    When there is no penalty for delay, there will be delay. If I were cynical, I would say that delay is intentional so some will give up and lose their rightful refunds.

  • Sam Varshavchik

    I bought a ticket from a travel agency. I paid the travel agency. The flight was cancelled, so I am entitled to get my money back.

    Since I paid the travel agency, I am going to ask, and expect, the travel agency to return my money. It’s just that simple.

    Various internal business processes between the travel agency, the airlines, some unknown and mysterious entities in between, and various rules about who should be paying what, who actually charged which credit card, and who is or isn’t entitled to a commission, is irrelevant crap. I, as a consumer, have no knowledge, and had no part in any of those goings-on. All I did was pay the travel agency, so the travel agency is obligated to return my money.

    The poll question is perfectly valid, and the only logical answer would be Expedia, according to how the story is written. They received the credit card details from their customer, for payment, so when a refund is due, it’s their responsibility to give the money back.

  • $16635417

    They bought the ticket from SAS through Expedia acting as an agent. SAS owes them the money and it’s Expedia’s job to facilitate the refund.

  • MeMyselfandI

    Actually, I don’t think the poll question is valid. To Bodega’s point, I don’t know how it works so “I don’t Know” would have been a valid answer. While on the face of it, Expedia should be ultimately responsible but since I don’t know the intracacies of how it works, any of the three may be the ultimate responsible party. Sorry to say this but i don’t answer many of the poll questions because they are in fact misleading.

  • Sam Varshavchik

    If this were a travel agency industry-oriented blog, where travel agents or other individuals in the travel industry waste their free time, and this poll question is addressed to such an audience, then I could see using the viewpoint of which three agencies is ultimately responsible for refunding the money to the customer’s credit card.

    But this is a consumer blog. This question is directed at an audience of individual consumers. I bought a plane ticket from a particular agency. The flight was cancelled. The situation is fairly cut and dry, and unambiguous. Since I paid the travel agency, it is the travel agency that I am going to hold responsible for getting my money back. Whether or not the travel agency needs to chase down some other involved party, and have them execute the refund, that’s fine and dandy, but that’s none of my concern. I do not, and should not know how the travel industry works behind the curtain. I paid the travel agency, and from my view the travel agency is ultimately responsible for returning my money.

    Say you went to a furniture store and bought yourself a nice bedroom set. The furniture store does not carry inventory in stock, they order it from the warehouse for delivery to your home. They take your money, and schedule the delivery. For whatever reason, come delivery date, the bedroom is out of stock from the warehouse, and you don’t get it.

    You go to the store, and request a refund, instead of waiting another week, as you’re perfectly entitled to do.

    Now, tell me, are you going to be satisfied with the answer “oh, we sent your money to the warehouse department, you’ll have to call the warehouse and ask for a refund”?

    Of course that’s silly, and this is exactly the case here. It may very well be that the standard furniture store industry practice is to simply take orders for various furniture items that come from several third party warehouses, and wholesale vendors, shave off their markup, then send the rest of the money to the correct warehouse for fulfillment. I, as a consumer, don’t care. I am not interested in waiting for the warehouse to refund the money to the store, and then the store issuing its own refund to me. I am entitled to an immediate refund, and the store can wait as long as they wish, for their own refund to come. It’s none of my concern.

  • TonyA_says

    So far your comment makes the most sense.
    Even SAS agrees.
    If you decide to cancel your trip due to a cancelled flight, you are entitled to a refund of your unused ticket. Contact your sales office/travel agent for a refund or fill in and submit this form.

  • sirwired

    A lot of people here are saying Expedia should have issued the refund. Did Expedia actually take the money? Every plane reservation I’ve ever made it’s the airline who pulls the money from my account, not the agency; agency doesn’t want to pay the credit card fees for a ticket that earns them $0. (I know that’s not necessarily the case with bulk or consolidator fares, but I don’t think Expedia even sells those.)

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    it’s a little more complicated than that. The question is, does Expedia present itself as the person that you are paying, or does it present itself more as an pass through. Who is charging the card?

    I used to book travel through Yahoo travel powered by Travelocity. Back then it was clear that Yahoo was acting as a portal, not a travel agent. As such any issues would be resolved directly with the travel provider.

  • Sam Varshavchik

    Just as an experiment, I almost-booked a simple flight on Expedia. My experience was as follows:

    I entered my source/destination city pairs.

    Expedia gave me a list of options. I chose a non-stop flight on United.

    Expedia then asked me for my name, DOB, etc.. I obliged.

    Expedia then prompted me for my credit card payment details.

    At no point did I get any impression that Expedia was acting merely as a pass-through agent. The closest to that would be one of the boxes on the booking page, that read as follows:

    Trip Summary
    Newark to Los Angeles
    Fri Aug/15/2014 – Fri Aug/22/2014

    1 Ticket:

    Roundtrip
    View flight details

    Traveler 1: Adult
    $546.00

    Flight
    $487.44

    Taxes & Fees
    $58.56

    Expedia Booking Fee
    $0.00

    Total:
    $546.00

    Nowhere could I find any kind of a disclaimer here that Expedia was acting as a pass-through agent of any kind. Even the carrier (United) wasn’t explicitly indicated in this little box (although, of course, the flight details were spelled out elsewhere on this page).

    As far as I could tell, I was paying Expedia. Expedia was taking my payment.

    There was a typical link to Expedia’s term of use, buried at the bottom of the payment page:

    https://www.expedia.com/p/info-other/legal.htm

    I couldn’t find anything in there, either.

  • $16635417

    Using your example, let’s say you had a designer redo your kitchen. The designer presented you with a separate bill for the appliances and you paid the appliance store directly with the designer dropping of your check at the appliance store. Now…the appliance store informs you there is a delay and the designer locates the appliances in stock at another store. Who do you get the refund from…the designer?

    Expedia is an agent, they do not hold the money.

  • $16635417

    You bought it from SAS. Expedia is an agent. Did they fail at facilitating the refund? yes…but they don’t have your money.

  • Carol

    I have never posted on this site before and generally just read for some information and amusement but because I think the “problem” brought to Elliott and the responses as to who is responsible for the refund are so off center I have to throw in my thoughts.
    First of all the OP says their United flight from STL was cancelled and United promised them a refund. STL is my home airport. I fly in and out at least 40 times a year. United has a very small presence at STL (although a few more gates since the merger). All but ONE UA flight each day are on regional jets. The one mainline plane that flies is 435 direct to SFO. I fly it almost every week. I also fly STL-IAH which is a regional plane on a regular basis. That being said since UA reinstated its nonstop to SFO in March of 2010, I have had a chance to get to know just about every UA gate attendant – who also cover check in and baggage upstairs. I can safely say I know how cancelled flights are handled at STL on United.

    First, because the OP was flying to Scandanavia they most likely have gone through Chicago. Small chance for Houston or Newark but more than likely Chicago. There are many flight between STL and ORD on a daily basis. If the flight was cancelled by UA the gate attendant would have gotten to work and started the rebooking process. And if for some reason there was no room at the inn – UA would have checked with Delta and American who also fly to Chicago and the east coast. I have never known a UA employee at STL ever promise to refund a fare. They are not that stupid because they know it ain’t going to happen. It will not happen if you book through Expedia or UA or the grinch. It will not happen if you are a one time a year flier or a 1K. (I won’t speak for GS because I am not one)

    Over the years I have had flights delayed for a variety of reasons and if it is a STL-ORD; STL -IAH there is no way UA will not get you there – either the same day or evening or put you up to get you there in the morning. However, the OP didn’t book through UA and so why would they take responsibility for anything other than their own paper and metal. If they had booked through UA they would have flown on United paper throughout and that would be a different story. (I think SAS is Star Alliance member) I know this because STL is a frequent connection to the UA flight to Sydney out of SFO and this is a frequent topic of discussion if we are late arriving at SFO

    I don’t know why the OP 1) booked through Expedia and not directly through an airline. I am constantly amazed at the number of people who think they are getting a better deal than through an airline’s own booking site. 2) the OP just decided to cancel a trip to Scandinavia because a one hour flight from STL to ORD ( I went to Expedia and it appears they connect this route through ORD for UA) without making an effort to get there on another flight. You just give up on a trip overseas because your flight to Chicago, Houston or Newark (on UA your only choices) was cancelled. The OP didn’t think to give enough time for such a delay with an international overseas connection in another city?
    Again, in my opinion, to book an overseas flight through Expedia or any of the other online booking engines is just plain stupid. And I know UA would have at least assisted in getting him to his connecting city. We fly overseas at least three times a year and even though I might book my flight online because I see what I want and jump on it, I still call UA and go over the details with them. Since you have 24 hours (and I know I’m a 1K and it doesn’t costs me but it would be worth the fee to confirm the best route) to change, you could perhaps get a better route. Oh I know it’s only the dollars that count.

    I know airlines are evil and the TSA is even more evil and I occasionally have my issues with UA (especially since the merger with Continental) but come on – it is just too easy to blame someone else. There is no one here to blame except the OP. Also if he had booked through an airline and the flight was cancelled, at least they would have had an automatic credit for one year. Don’t know and will never know how Expedia works.

  • $16635417

    I wondered about why they so easily gave up as well.

  • Sam Varshavchik

    Since I paid the appliance store, I’d be seeking a refund from them.

    The problem with your argument is that, according to the story, the passenger paid Expedia, and not the airline. Whether or not Expedia forwarded the payment to the airline; how much of it, when, and it what manner, is beside the point.

    I just tried a test-booking through Expedia for a sample flight. The form to fill in one’s credit card detail is located deep inside Expedia’s booking page. Nowhere could I find any indication or disclosure that Expedia is merely acting as a payment agent and the payment passes through to the airline. You can try it yourself. Select a flight out, proceed to enter your details, and when it’s time to whip out your credit card, you can tell me what would lead you to believe that Expedia is simply going to forward the money to the airline, and that if I refund becomes necessary, later down the road, I should contact the airline. I couldn’t even find any of that in their legal terms of service page boilerplate. As far as I’m concerned, I’m paying Expedia, and it has some kind of an arrangement with the airline, whose details I am not privy to; and I shouldn’t be privy too, since it’s none of my business.

    In your offered example, the equivalent situation would be you paying the designer directly, not the store, and you simply happen to know that the designer forwarded the money to the appliance store. In such a situation, I think it is perfectly reasonable to expect the designer to refund my purchase, and having the designer get his own refund from the store is not my problem.

  • $16635417

    Try buying a ticket on Expedia and tell me who appears on the your credit card statement. SAS has the OP’s money.

    Expedia is an agent. If you didn’t know that, there are plenty of places to research that and find out about them before doing business with them. It’s not a secret.

    Don’t like the designer example? How about any other agent. I don’t pay my insurance agent for my homeowner’s insurance, I pay the insurance company. He takes my payment info, but forwards it to the insurance company. When I have a claim, who pays? The agent?

    Rather than complain about how unfairly he was treated (he was!), maybe use this example as an opportunity to educate the consumer.

    Let’s say you bought a ticket through the MikeGun Travel Agency. What happened to the OP happened to you. You demanded a refund from me. I explained that SAS has your money, but I will work with them to process your refund. No…that’s not good enough for you…you demand payment from me and take to the internet to try and shame me and get a consumer advocate involved. I cave…I give you the money. Now…SAS refunds the original form of payment…your credit card….how do I get my money?

  • TonyA_says

    What are we arguing here? Who is responsible for refunding Peter Hodges’ tickets?
    The answer is simple – Expedia. Why?
    Because SAS has this refund policy –
    Tickets with SAS not purchased directly from SAS must be cancelled and refunded from where they are purchased.
    End of story.

  • Deepstardiver

    While I agree that Expedia should/must refund and work with the airlines to get the money I do have some sympathy for them when an airline takes control of the ticket and Expedia can access the current standing. Still are there any consumer laws on length of time for a refund ? Seems like there should be along with fines for not. (Like the tarmac delay fines)

  • bodega3

    But it must be stressed that Expedia can not refund without permission from the carrier, be it by the rule or by a waiver code.

  • $16635417

    If I bought an SAS ticket (published fare, no indication of a consolidator here) through an agency using a credit card, my card is charged by SAS. If I then need a refund, the agency then processes the money, but it does not come from the agency’s bank account.

    From the consumer’s point of view, contacting Expedia is the correct approach. But in terms of “exact words” of the poll, SAS owes the money.

    Expedia is the company that failed in this case by trying to refer them back to SAS. The correct poll response is more like “Expedia, on behalf of SAS”.

  • TonyA_says

    What must be stressed in the passenger’s right to a quick refund if flights are cancelled and no timely reaccommodation can be done.
    Passengers do not need to hear excuses. They need quick solutions.

  • bodega3

    To answer your question as to why the purchase via Expedia, it could have been the Expedia had a consolidator international fare that was pricing lower during the OP search or a special contracted fare for that routing. As an agent, I rarely book clients on international flight through my GDS. Domestic, yes, international, no. I get better rates for international through companies that have special fares.

  • Sam Varshavchik

    It’s not uncommon for the company name that appears on your credit card statement to be something other than who you thought you were buying stuff from.

    The name that appears on the credit card statement does not change who is on the hook for a refund. If I order something from a merchant, and a charge that appears on my CC carries the name of some mysterious outfit halfway across the world, and, after some sequence of events I become entitled to a refund, I’m going to take this up with the merchant where I purchased the item that could not be delivered. I am not going to start looking up international phone directories, nor should I be expected to. And that remains true if, in the store, the merchant tells me that my stuff is going to be sent from some dark, deep corner of the world, as long as, without any indication otherwise, it is the merchant that’s taking my payment and the merchant is not informing me, in advance, of any unusual and uncommon refund procedures.

    Now, in your example, once you tell me that SAS has my money, I would tell you that I paid you, not SAS. You took my credit card details, not SAS, and who has my money now, or which specific corporation ended up charging my credit card, is not something that I should be concerned about. Unless I am informed in advance that, in the event of a refund, I should be seeking it from some other party, and I agree to that, it’s you who I am turning to for a refund; whether it ultimately comes from your account, or SAS’s, is again something that’s none of my concern. I am not going to tell you what you need to do to return my money, that’s none of my concern as well.

    This is, after all, purportedly your business: selling airline tickets, and, hopefully, making some money off it. Refunds are a part of doing business; and if someone’s not prepared to do that, they shouldn’t be in that business.

    It’s an entirely plausible proposition — which I’ll readily accept — that the refunds model in the airline business is broken; but, again, that would be a proposition rather than a cop-out, and something one should, or should have known, before entering the business. We now have a guideline the feds expect from the travel industry — one week to process refunds, and a consumer can reasonably expect now to rely on that, no matter who he ostensibly buys his tickets from.

    Some time ago my neighbor told me that he, a contractor, was retiring and getting out of the contracting business due to new burdensome requirements from the state, for contractors. Although I happen to think that the new requirements are not overly burdensome, and are quite reasonably, that was certainly his decision to make, that I wouldn’t argue with. But, someone who chooses to remain in the business is now expected to comply with them. Similarly, someone who chooses to be in the travel industry, these days, I think should be reasonably expected to comply with the industry’s publicly known refund guidelines, rather than waving their arms, pointing at someone else as being responsible for refunding money.

    I agree that the submitter of the story wasted a lot of time with United and SAS. The only entity that should’ve been contacted for a refund was Expedia, and it was up to Expedia to do whatever the hell they had to do in order to get the money returned to the original credit card. And if the passenger was in still within the chargeback window, as soon as Expedia started stonewalling, I think that initiating the chargeback, at least, would’ve been quite prudent.

  • bodega3

    It took close to 3 months for my last international refund for a client to show up on his credit card that was coming from an international carrier.

  • bodega3

    An agency won’t refund without permission from the carrier. We have to report the permitted refund to ARC and ARC handles it from there. We don’t own the ticket and have to follow what the carrier tells us we can or can not do. The bottom line on the poll question is yes, the issuing agency handles the refund, BUT, it isn’t automatic without the issuing agency verifying the refund and processing it via ARC.

  • bodega3

    Exactly!

  • bodega3

    And since this is a consumer website, asking a misleading question is just directing reader, who are uninformed to make assumptions on how something works when they don’t understand how it does work with the company they made the purchase from.

  • Sam Varshavchik

    Again, not a valid excuse. The guideline from the feds is one week. Personally, I would wait 30 days, and after 30 days take the next step, whatever one I think would be appropriate (nastygrams to the state AG, the fed, small claims route, whatever would be appropriate given the particulars), no matter how much somebody swears up and down about my refund will be on the way, 60 days later.

  • TonyA_says

    Here is what I think happened and why Expedia (newbie CSR maybe) had a hard time.
    Assume the ff: LW had this routing STL-UA-ORD-SK-CPH/ARN-SK-OSL on an SK issued ticket. UA (the interlined carrier) cancels STL-UA-ORD and there is no later flight to reaccommodate him. All flight reservations get cancelled. Later applies for refund.

    SK would like to know the reason for the refund, right?
    So now it will have to investigate what happened?
    Problem is that it was not their flight that got cancelled. If it was theirs then this would be very easy.

    Expedia should never have referred them back to the airline(s). Expedia already knew the reason why a refund was necessary. IMO, if they submit the facts correctly, SK would have given them a waiver code.

  • bodega3

    Sorry, but one week from an agency isn’t currently possible. All refunds, ticket issues are reported once a week. That report is then generated and sent to ARC. ARC then takes control. They send the request for the refund to the carrier and then the fun begins. International carriers don’t refund as quickly as US carriers so far for me.

  • Sam Varshavchik

    That’s not how I interpret the word “responsible”.

    You appear to be interpreting the poll question as:

    “Who was financially responsible for Peter Hodges’ refund?”

    That’s not the poll question. The poll question simply says “responsible”. Without any other qualifications, the most general interpretation applies: who is generally responsible for the refund?

    The answer is, of course, Expedia.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    But Sam does make an excellent point. What information is disclosed after the transaction really isn’t relevant as it wasn’t part of the discussions and decision making process.It seems to me that its a matter of disclosure. What does the reasonable consumer believe are the metes and bounds of the transaction

    For example, I often work with other attorneys on cases. The nature of the relationship defines my financial responsibility to the client. If the attorney is acting subordinate to me, i.e. I direct the work and pay the attorney, any refund requests are handled by me, and I will seek reimbursement from the other attorney as appropriate.

    By contrast, I am handling a matter which has an immigration component. I hired an immigration attorney to consult. That attorney is not subordinate to me. The client knows the name of the attorney and we are meeting at her office. The client will initially pay me for her services but that money will be deposited in an escrow account and paid to the attorney as an independent attorney.

    Should the client be unhappy with the immigration attorney, she will have to seek redress directly from her.

  • $16635417

    I agree that Expedia should have PROCESSED the refund. No question that is the entity that failed. That is why the poll is worded just bit incorrectly.

    Who is responsible for progressing the refund? Expedia.
    Who is responsible for refunding? SAS

    That is one of the problems with the DIY agencies. People aren’t sure who they are buying from. When I was an agent, I always explained that I was issuing your ticket on behalf of XYZ airline and the charge will appear as XYZ airline in the amount of the ticket.

    If you called and described the situation, I would advise you that I would process the refund and monitor my settlement statements and keep you informed of the progress. (Yes, it should take a week or less.)

  • $16635417

    You don’t know Expedia is an agent?

  • Sam Varshavchik

    I’ll accept everything you’ve just written as true.

    All you have to do now is explain why I should care about any of that, if I bought a ticket from Expedia, and it was cancelled in a situation that entitles me to a refund.

    Now, it’s certainly fascinating to know all these industry inside details, but I don’t, and no consumer should, care. I am entitled to a refund in a reasonable amount of time. The feds think that seven days is reasonable, and I’ll accept any answer up to 30 days. Anything beyond that is unreasonable, and unacceptable, and it really doesn’t matter who needs to jump through which hoops, in order to execute a refund.

  • bodega3

    Actually it is the carrier via the agency.

  • $16635417

    OK. Fair enough. If your interpreting it as Expedia should have processed the refund, we agree. If you are demanding that Expedia pay on the spot…we disagree.

  • TonyA_says

    So there is no confusion about the refund rule of DOT …

    Payment by credit card provides certain protections under federal credit laws. 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; however, the credit may take a month or two to appear on your statement. If you paid by credit card for a refundable
    fare and you have trouble getting a refund that you are due (e.g., you have a refundable fare, or you have a nonrefundable fare and the airline canceled your flight and you did not travel as a result), report this in writing to your credit card company. If you write to them within 60 days from the time that they mailed your first monthly statement showing the charge for the airline ticket, the card company should credit your account even if the airline doesn’t. This procedure is particularly useful if your airline ceases operations before your flight.

  • Sam Varshavchik

    Yes, I don’t really care whose bank account the money comes from. I didn’t care which bank account my money originally ended up in, after I typed in my credit card number, nor do I care which bank acocunt the money comes back from.

    I’d be looking, and calling, only Expedia about this matter, and I would expect them to resolve it.

  • bodega3

    What you aren’t accepting is that the agency handled the paperwork for the refund, the actual refund will come from the carrier. Our hands are tied as to the time that takes. We may follow up on it, but the carrier controls what happens after we file with ARC.

  • bodega3

    You bring up a good point. Look at you CC statement. What company is listed. If the carrier, they will do the refund. If the agency, they will do the refund AFTER getting permission from the carrier.

  • Sam Varshavchik

    I’m sorry that your hands are tied, but that’s not my problem, and it shouldn’t be my problem, as someone who bought a ticket for a flight that was cancelled by the airline. I am entitled to a refund in a reasonable amount of time.

  • TonyA_says

    Most of the arguments here are simply way off. The LW waited eight months before Expedia confirmed he was getting his refund. There is simply no excuse for this, period.

  • bodega3

    There could be an exception to this and that is if the fare is a special contracted rate and the charge is made inhouse.

  • $16635417

    You would be doing it right.

    This blog sometimes likes to rile people up into what people “think” should be done. Sometimes, a bit of an education on how things are actually done goes a long way for other people who run into a similar problem.

    In this case, Expedia tried to send the OP back to the airline. Had he had the knowledge and stood his ground with Expedia, he probably would not have needed Chris and had his money by now.

  • bodega3

    Actually if you bought though me, you would know how this is handled. We are agents, and are controlled by the carriers.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Then you missed my point. Notwithstanding specific travel industry practices of which I am not privy, the term agent gets bandied about, but that doesn’t really tell me much about the legal relationship.

    Consider two common terms: travel agent and ticket agent. The legal relationships with their principals is fundamentally different. And of course, travel agents, including the OTA’s, also sell certain fares where they aren’t acting according to legal principals of agency but rather as the principal. The reasonable consumer is likely to be confused.

    And to muddy the water further, when I buy a BA ticket on AA, should I know that AA is acting as an agent and not a reseller?

  • bodega3

    Expedia passed the buck at first. But you know, if you shop around and are using a vending machine….

  • $16635417

    Correct. But since the most likely scenario is a regular published fare, and Chris’s article did not indicate any special information, I went with that assumption. I gave up long ago trying to get more information from Chris and use the information provided and the most logical circumstance. If that turned out to be the case…I reserve the right to retract everything I wrote! :)

  • Sam Varshavchik

    Here’s the problem here. Pay attention to the exact wording:

    “the airline must forward a credit to your card company within seven business days after receiving a complete refund application; ”

    Note that this does not say from /who/ the “completed refund application” must be received from.

    Does this or doesn’t this override SAS’s very reasonable policy that refunds for flights booked through an agency must go back to the agency?

    If you combine the two together, you end up like this: you have to go back to your travel agent, then, and only after the airline receives the forwarded refund application from the travel agent, the clock starts ticking.

    And there’s no required timeframe here.

    See the problem?

  • $16635417

    Yes, consolidator fares are an exception. It’s most likely not, and Chris gave no indication it was. I am going with the most likely scenario.

    The breakdown in this case was not contacting the agent right away AND the failure by Expedia to take action to facilitate the refund process on behalf of the purchaser.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    That’s not exactly the situation. This is the lack of disclosure that I was alluding to with MikeGun.

    In your example, the furniture store is acting as a principal, i.e. a reseller. You have no contract with the warehouse store. As such the furniture store is responsible directly to you.

    Agents are not responsible for the actions of their principals. That is a bedrock principle of agency law. If a travel agent, acting as an agent, sells you an airline ticket, you do not have legal recourse against the travel agency for a service failure by the airline.

  • bodega3

    The refund does not go back to the agency. We have no clue if the refund is received unless the clients tells us. If it is a special inhouse contracted fare that we ran via our cc account, then we do the refund, so seeing who is on your cc statement will tell you who will be crediting you.

  • Sam Varshavchik

    Yup. I’m certain that Expedia is “responsible” here in more ways than one.

    It is 100% believable that Expedia’s customer service support script instructs that the customer should be told to contact the airline for a refund, in all situations.

    In fact, what I think happened here is that because most refund requests from customers are, of course, going to be ineligible (we all know the usual BS, blah blah blah), Expedia’s script tries to fob them off onto the airline, so when they call, it’s the airline’s rep that will blow them off, not Expedia’s; and that was the customer support script executed here.

    Valid refund requests are, we can agree, are an exception, and Expedia simply does not know how to handle them correctly.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Sam’s point, which certainly resonates, shows how this issue is not clear to the layperson. The I paid you so you are financially responsible argument is as powerful as it is wrong. I agree with you that Expedia’s responsibility is to process the refund and advocate for the consumer.

  • Sam Varshavchik

    Agency law concerns itself with tort liability. If the airplane crashes, the airline’s going to be sued, not the travel agency.

    Of course, another reason the airline’s going to be sued is because they’ll have more money than the travel agent; but the law clearly protects the agent in that case.

    However, this is not a tort claim.

  • TonyA_says

    That’s the whole crux to this case, Sam.
    The unused tickets will hold its value. But in order to refund, the pax needs to follow the carrier’s procedure. SAS requires the LW to process the refund via the agency that sold its tickets – i.e. Expedia.
    Arguing about how the poll is worded is quite ridiculous. We need to argue why this LW got his money back so late.

  • Sam Varshavchik

    Yeah.

    But we already know the answer to that one. It says so right there: Expedia fobbed him off to SAS.

    That was the problem.

    Entirely Expedia’s fault.

    They should’ve promptly accepted and processed his refund application, and forwarded it to SAS.

    I would not be surprised to learn that Expedia has no procedures for handling valid airline refund requests; since they typically sell only non-refundable fares, and their customer service script instructs the rep to punt the customer seeking a refund to the airline.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    That’s not true.

    A few legal quotes for brevity…

    The law of agency is an area of commercial law dealing with a set of contractual, quasi-contractual and non-contractual fiduciary relationships that involve a person, called the agent, that is authorized to act on behalf of another (called the principal) to create legal relations with a third party.

    If the agent has actual or apparent authority, the agent will not be
    liable for acts performed within the scope of such authority, so long as
    the relationship of the agency and the identity of the principal have
    been disclosed.

  • TonyA_says

    Ok so tell me what the World’s Smartest Traveler should have done?

  • jim6555

    I ultimately believe that Expedia has the responsibility to refund the passenger’s money since they took his money in exchange for transportation. However, there is a question as to whether Mr. Hodges should be contacting UAL or SAS regarding this matter. The way to tell is to see which airline actually issued the ticket. If the first three digits of the ticket number are 016, that means UAL issued the tickets and was paid by Expedia. If the first three numbers are 117, then SAS is the issuer. It’s that simple. The lesson to be learned from this is that travelers should not book through online travel agencies. If there is a problem, their involvement just brings another layer of complication to the situation.

  • $16635417

    Chris leave out pertinent details quite often. Many times he truly doesn’t know or didn’t ask. If this were a regular published fare ticket, the practice is to validate on the “over the water” carrier. That would mean, in all likelihood, that SAS has the money.

    The problem is not so much who has his money, but where does he go to get it. Expedia has the responsibility to process the refund from SAS on his behalf, but no obligation to actually pay the OP.

    (Of course, if any assumptions I made due to lack of information turn out to be different that what I assume….I reserve the right to amend this conclusion!) :)

  • TonyA_says

    Actually I just pity this guy Peter Hodges and his wife. Imagine you show up in an airport and United tells you the flight is cancelled and there is no substitute and therefore it would refund your money. You wait and get nothing from United. You call after a few weeks and then United tells you it already refunded SAS the money? Hah what? All that is rubbish.
    United will not refund you for a SAS ticket. United will not refund SAS for any money. SAS has all your money (minus agency commission to Expedia).

    What should Peter Hodges have done? Here is what I think he should have done from a travel agent’s perspective.
    He needs to be aware he is holding a ticket from SAS and the St Louis to Chicago flight is merely interlined with United. This means that United is going to take a ticket coupon issued by SAS for one of its own (UA) flights. Essentially, UA’s only job is to take the Hodges to Chicago. So the first thing Peter should have done was to call
    SAS Customer Contact Center
    (+1)800-221-2350

    They will try to re-accommodate him first. If he prefers to cancel, at least SAS can document his PNR accordingly. Who knows, they might even generate a waiver code and note it in the PNR. Then he can call Expedia to process his refund.

  • Gary Moll

    Why do travelers continue to use Expedia, and other on-line travel agencies, that just create another layer to getting anything done? Granted, at times they have BULK or special fares, but the majority just get same fares available directly from the carrier without the “no-service charge”.

  • Judy Serie Nagy

    You are 1000% right, Sam. Letting the client swing in the wind with dumb excuses is ridiculous. Expedia took his money, they should refund promptly and go about their business with the airline(s).

  • bodega3

    Did Expedia show up on the cc statement or did the carrier? If the carrier was the one doing the credit card charge, they do the refund, not the agency. The agency handles the paperwork and then it is in the carriers’ lap to do the rest. THAT is why the poll should be reworded, as people don’t understand the process.

  • Cybrsk8r

    It seems the problem here is that the both the airlines and travel agents know that foot-dragging doesn’t cost them anything, and just maybe the customer will give up, and they’ll get to keep the money.

    If the airline is supposed to refund within 7 days, then the government should fine that airline an amount equal to the delayed refund, for every day that refund is late. So if we’re talking about a $2000 ticket and the refund takes two weeks, then the airline is fined $14,000. I bet then you’ll see refunds at the speed of light.

  • bodega3

    Are you saying I would drag my feet on this? As you are wrong. Are you comparing Expedia to me? If so, you are wrong. I won’t defend Expedia, but I will defend how I handle these. Your refund is given to our bookkeeper who on the following Monday would report this to ARC if this is a published fare ticket. If this is a consolidator’s ticket, I would send all the necessary documentation to the issuing off, which then handles it. If this is a ticket issued on an inhouse contracted fare, which we ran through our credit card processor, we would verify the allowance with the carrier, get a waiver and credit your account. The latter would be the fasters process just because it was all done inhouse.

  • Bill___A

    “Use a travel agent” – they should be 100% responsible for the refund. Where’s the compensation for the wasted time?

  • Carol

    I agree. Rarely, if ever, have I seen online “travel agencies” with cheaper prices. And again why did the OP give up so easily on this trip? And why was he due a refund? Because who told him that? This guy could have gotten to Chicago if he wanted to. Too many flights from STL to ORD through United, Delta, american and Southwest. Again I do not believe any United agent told him THEY were going to refund his ticket when United was flying him only to Chicago for a 5,000 or more miles trip on another airline. He didn’t call SAS as he was at the airport at the United counter. He didnt call eExpedia while he was at the airport to find out how to handle the cancelled flight. He walks away and then waits two weeks. This guy needs a teavel agent.

  • bodega3

    If a TA applied for the refund from the carrier, they have done their job and it is now in the carrier’s lap…regardless of what you think should be.

  • MarkieA

    I’ve always been under the impression that, if I used a travel agent, (as in, I gave you a check or a credit card for payment of a trip) and a refund became due, I would expect it from you. I, like Sam, don’t believe that it’s my responsibility to know all of the ins and outs of the travel industry. I paid you, you refund me – if necessary. It’s your responsibility then to turn around and get your money from…wherever. Again, not my concern. Now, if you were to tell me upfront that any refunds would NOT be coming from you, and could get bogged down in the morass of the travel industry (ARCs and all such), I would most likely take my business elsewhere.

  • MarkieA

    Cybrsk8r did not attack you personally. He was making a generalization about airlines and TAs. And again, I don’t believe that you’re “getting it”. The general public doesn’t know or understand all of these “insider” manipulations that you speak of. What they do know is that they went to XYZ Travel Agency and bought a ticket. They most likely went there because they have a complicated travel itinerary, or they’re just not comfortable dealing with computers.They either wrote a check (made out to XYZ) or handed over their credit card, which they have every expectation would be processed by XYZ. If a refund is due them, they have every right to believe it should come from XYZ. Why is this so complicated? Travel industry insiders may look at the general public, in these cases, as bumbling dodos, but I bet that just about every industry has these little foibles. Most of them handle them much better than the airlines, it appears.

  • MarkieA

    All this talk on this subject about credit cards. Let me ask, if I wrote a check to a Travel Agent for services. The Travel Agent cashes it, I presume. How does that change this discussion?

  • MarkieA

    Not cynical. Realistic.Perhaps a bit jaded :)

  • MarkieA

    When I click on “Purchase” on the Expedia website, I paid Expedia, Anything other than that is misleading and, perhaps, manipulative. Yes, I’ve read this whole string and I understand – mostly – your argument. I don’t buy it. Sorry.

  • MarkieA

    In my opinion, Expedia owes the consumer the prompt refund. It’s then Expedia’s job to go after SAS for it. Throwing the consumer into the middle of this is manipulation and designed to frustrate to the point where a certain percentage of consumers give up. Every large company writes off a certain percentage of revenue as uncollectable. I guarantee you that large service companies have a model by which they have figured out the cost to “string along” those customers who are due refunds versus prompt payment.

  • MarkieA

    Are you saying that the travel industry cannot comply with the current federal law? In certain situations?

  • $16635417

    Then, when SAS refunds the money to the original form of payment, (the OP’s credit card), who is going to advocate for Expedia when they can’t get the money back from the OP?

  • Raven_Altosk

    I would’ve sent a letter demanding 29.99% interest on the money.
    Might not have gotten me anything, but hey.

  • Raven_Altosk

    They should’ve returned the money to a credit card right there in the airport. Stuff like this shouldn’t have to go to a “refunds department.” Could you imagine if every retailer operated this way? Yikes.

  • $16635417

    Sorry, but I wasn’t trying to “sell” you anything. Just stating the fact of the matter.

  • MarkieA

    What am I missing? The OP is entitled to a refund. The OP gets the refund from SAS. What money is due Expedia? I’m confused.

  • TonyA_says

    Hey Sam, read the article closer. It took him 2 weeks + 3 weeks + 3 months before he even contacted SAS. So for more than 4 months after his trip, he was still dicking around with United, the wrong carrier.

    In fairness to SAS and Expedia, if someone asks for a refund 4-5 months AFTER an incident on a flight that’s on another airline, wouldn’t it take a way bit longer to research what happened before they return the money?

    Even a travel insurance company requires a pax to call them immediately when a flight gets cancelled. Apparently the LW never called SAS or Expedia at STL and believed the UA agent who gave him BS.

  • TonyA_says

    The LW never called SAS or Expedia at the airport. All he did was take the word of a regional airline agent for UA at STL. He could DIY his ticket but apparently could not DIY his reaccommodation and refund.
    He should have called SAS as soon as his UA regional flight got cancelled. I bet the results would have been different.

  • TonyA_says

    When did Expedia know about the request for a refund? I read about 5 months later! Without a very long travel retention segment on a PNR with all flight segments cancelled, Expedia will go through some difficulty to research this. No wonder they passed him back to SAS. :-) Seems to me he’s been talking to the wrong airline all this time.

  • $16635417

    You stated “Expedia owes the consumer the prompt refund. It’s then Expedia’s job to go after SAS for it.”

    Expedia process the transaction on behalf of SAS. The money from the credit card goes to SAS…not Expedia.

    Customer wants a refund? Expedia processes the refund on behalf of SAS and SAS refunds the original form of payment….the OP’s credit card.

    If you mean that it’s Expedia’s job to get the money from SAS on the consumer’s behalf, you are correct.

    But, since Expedia does not have the money, if they were to pay the OP while SAS processes the refund, then the OP would owe Expedia when the refunded money from SAS hit their credit card account.

    The fail in this case was Expedia incorrectly passing off the customer to the airline in the first place. They should have started the refund process as soon as they were contacted by the traveler.

  • TonyA_says

    Yeah but if you buy at Kolhs and you return at Target it might take a long time before a clerk tells you to go to Kohls :)

  • MarkieA

    Above, I stated, “The OP gets the refund from SAS.” My scenario would involve the customer asking Expedia for a refund – since this is who the customer dealt with on the original transaction – and getting a refund. I’m sure that most folks don’t really care WHERE the refund comes from, as long as they get it. A “credit” shows up on the CC statement; that’;s what they care about.

  • MarkieA

    I just get visions of walking into Home Depot for a refund and being told that I’ll have to wait for the widget manufacturer to refund Home Depot before I can get MY refund. There’s apparently sophisticated nuances to the travel industry – and there seems to be a lot of differences between the travel industry and other businesses – that most folks can’t/don’t grasp.

  • $16635417

    So what’s the issue? As long as the expectation is that Expedia process the refund from SAS, that’s the point. (As stated in almost all my posts.) Expedia owes them no money, but does owe them the service of acting as an intermediary (as an agent) between them and the airline.

  • MarkieA

    The point is that, as a customer, you are dealing with Expedia, not SAS or even the airlines. Any refund should be coming from Expedia. How it gets to you should be transparent. For Expedia to say, “Well, we processed the request for refund; it’s out of our hands.” is just wrong. Expedia sets themselves up as an agent and they make all kinds of promises, which they fail to keep as soon as anything goes wrong. Expedia understands all of the mish-mosh that goes on behind the scenes – or, at least they should. The customer shouldn’t have to deal with this. If Expedia can’t step up and handle this, then they should get out of the business. They should process the refund to the customer immediately, then turn around and deal with SAS. If they can’t get a refund out of SAS then, 1) how do they expect the customer to be able to?, and 2) that’s the cost of doing business with the airlines. Maybe if it happens enough times, with “industry insiders”, something will get fixed.

  • bodega3

    Well now you learned something new.

  • bodega3

    Another learning experience for you. Stores buy their inventory to sell to you. We don’t buy any inventory, you are the one buying, we are just handling the sale.

  • bodega3

    Could be.

  • bodega3

    If the ticket was put through ARC, and the carrier is the one charging the ticket, then refunds can only be done once a week. We report to ARC, then ARC passes the information on to the carrier. On the day we process the report to ARC, it is out of our hands at that point.

  • bodega3

    Just because you do not care, isn’t going to get you the money right now. There is a way this works and pay attention to who charged your tickets. If you see UA, then UA is going to be the one refunding and only to the card you used for the initial payment. Cancelled your card? You won’t get a check or a credit to another card. You will have to get your cancelled account reopened to get the money back. We don’t make the rules. The carrier makes the rules we have to follow.

  • Cybrsk8r

    If you thought I was accusing you of something, that was not the intent, and I apologize. I can make no statements about how you conduct your business, since I don’t know you and have not done business with you

    At the same time, I’m sure you’ll agree, that not every business is as ethical as I hope yours is.

  • bodega3

    Another lesson for you. Just because you think you know something, you many not be correct. What company showed up on your credit card statement? THAT will be the company giving you the refund.

  • bodega3

    Just because you think something, don’t mean that is how something will work. What company is on your credit card statement? THAT is the company that will give you the refund on the airline ticket.

  • bodega3

    I have dealt with people who think they know how things should work, always to their benefit, without really knowing and asking questions BEFORE buying. We don’t own the airline tickets. We are agents of the airlines and when we issue a ticket, the carrier handles the credit card charge, not us. This is the danger of the internet. People don’t know what they are doing, don’t care to know until something goes wrong and then complain when something doesn’t go the way they think it should, when it was never set up that way in the first place. If you buy on price, don’t read the rules, don’t speak to someone to get the important details, then who is to blame?

  • bodega3

    Well you are wrong as I have stated in other posts. Who charged your credit card? It was the carrier and thus the refund will come from them. The money for your ticket went to them, not the ticketing agency.

  • bodega3

    If you google, how do online travel agencies work, you will find many places to read up on this. If you used a local agent, then you could ask them, which I have had many people do. Do you ask your doctor how things work when they refer you to another doctor or how come the only work with certain hospitals? There are many businesses you use daily that you don’t ask these questions of yet it affects the dealing you have with them, too.

  • $16635417

    How you envision a Utopian process is all well an good. Perhaps understanding the process would more useful.

    Let’s say I’m your travel agent. You advise me of the problem and request a refund, I deal with SAS on getting a waiver code to get a refund, I submit the refund. SAS refunds your credit card when they receive the supporting documentation from me. I monitor the account to verify the refund hits.

    Any agent who refunds $2000 they don’t have while waiting for the airline to process the refund back to their client’s credit card is asking for trouble.

    We agree that Expedia failed. Had they stepped up an processed the refund in a timely manner, this case would not have made it to Chris. I see this as a problem with Expedia, not the refund process.

  • Bill___A

    Expedia, as far as I know, is an accredited travel agency.
    Although the poll questions are often misleading, I don’t think that is the case here. Expedia presents themselves as the agency, they should handle it.

  • TonyA_says

    Not in this case MarkieA. I had to re-read the article 3 times to figure out he was like returning the article he bought from Home Depot at Lowes. Read it again. It appears he was dealing with United for more than 4 months before he realized he should be dealing with SAS and Expedia.

  • bodega3

    Yes, Expedia should have handled this better than they did, but then, what do you expect from a vending machine business? But all Expedia could do, providing this was a ticket issued via their GDS and the ticketing carrier handled the credit card charge, is take care of the paperwork, after verifying the ticket was refundable and then it is the carrier’s responsibility to credit back the credit card.

  • MarkieA

    Not really a reply to what I said. Looks like you just copied and pasted from another comment. I still stand behind the statement that if I go to ABC’s website and click “Purchase” and ABC is simply a pass-through for XYZ, and any problems I have with the transactions will be pushed off under the pretense that ABC is “just an agent”, is misleading. This is not “something I think I know”, it’s an opinion. I shouldn’t have to look on my credit card to find out who is ultimately responsible for the transaction because it may be different from the person I bought from. And let’s not forget, in this case, SAS pawned the OP off on Expedia, so it still wasn’t clear who owed what to whom.

  • MarkieA

    You didn’t answer my question.

  • MarkieA

    I’d appreciate it if you didn’t act like a condescending *&^&&*&) to my inquiries. All hail the all-knowing TA! Can you say Big Fish in a Little Pond?

  • bodega3

    Don’t mean to insult, just get tired of comments attacking the TA end of things when we have zero control yet we get told, by those who don’t understand how the industry works, how we should handle their misconceived idea.

  • bodega3

    The agency can. After that, it is the carrier’s job.

  • bodega3

    You are correct, we don’t know how the ticket was issued. Was it through the GDS at a regular published fare? Was it via a consolidator through Expedia? Was it done inhouse on a contracted fare? That part is missing, so we are assuming the first one. I think you have pointed out an important lesson for buying online…call and ask before buying, don’t assume. I tell my clients what company they will see on their credit card statements so they are prepared. BTW, I just use points for an airline ticket. These points are from my bank’s travel program, not with the carrier. They had to reissue my tickets 3 times after the first issue. What they do is put BULK in place of the fare for printing purposes. That way the airline can’t touch the ticket for a refund and has to send it back to the ticketing agency. I wanted the fare on the ticket, as we were going to use mileage points for upgrading and you can’t upgrade on a BULK fare. I was not told about the BULK fare in the ticketing transaction, only found it when I went to UA to upgrade. The bank’s travel desk kept reissuing for me in BULK and finally on the 3rd time, they got it correct. The OP’s ticket could have been issued with BULK as the fare and that is why the ticket had to go back to Expedia. Too many unknown, which is very common in Chris’ article and these unknowns can make a huge difference in how things can or can not be done.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I was giving an example, sorry if it wasn’t clear. When I said pass-through, I was referring to someone who was acting merely as the legal agent of a principal.

    Who you pay is fairly irrelevant from the legal point of view. The only question is whether you believe that the Expedia is acting as the agent of United, or acting as a reseller like priceline does when it buys bulk tickets.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    From a customer service perspective they should facilitate the refund. However, they have no legal obligation to themselves refund the money.

  • Bill___A

    I think that is the point. They should have facilitated the refund.
    I haven’t dealt with Expedia all that much, but they have performed well, including a refund once which was actually a useless flight credit, but they did as required.

  • bodega3

    They facilitate it by contacting the issuing carrier, getting permission and a code, then do the paper work for ARC. They are not holding the money, nor will they get the money as the rule is for the credit to go back to the form of payment initially received. Not sure what isn’t clear on this.

  • BillCCC

    I am sure that things are supposed to work the way I think.

  • The Original Joe S

    Good point.

  • The Original Joe S

    There’s a difference between what’s legal and what’s equitable. Customer gives money to a travel agent, the TA should ensure that the customer gets the refund. Doesn’t matter who is going to issue the refund.

  • The Original Joe S

    I think you’re right!

  • The Original Joe S

    Is it evident when you buy from the TA? I think not.

  • The Original Joe S

    ” I tell my clients what company they will see on their credit card statements so they are prepared.” Not everyone is as diligent as you are, unfortunately. Most people figure that they give the money to someone, that someone is the one they go to when there’s a problem. It’s logical, if not legally correct. People use TA to avoid having to become experts in the travel business; they rely on the TA to know the ropes and protect their interests. Months to wait for a refund is not good.

  • The Original Joe S

    “The fail in this case was Expedia incorrectly passing off the customer
    to the airline in the first place. They should have started the refund
    process as soon as they were contacted by the traveler.” That about sums it up.

  • The Original Joe S

    I checked my favorite airline’s on-line fare against a consolidoator’s fare, and the airline’s was lower.

  • BillCCC

    This is one of the best posts of the year. I could not have said it better myself. Good Job!

  • The Original Joe S

    Ten Joo Berry Mud!

    (Google it!)

  • bodega3

    The sad thing is people use vending machines and then expect service. The two don’t go hand in hand. With the internet, why would you expect the company you give money to, to be the one who you contact without checking on that BEFORE making your purchase. We did a test on this with our company. Our former business partner, set up a website and sold electronics, not even at a discount. We sold out of every product, and not one person didn’t any inquiring before hand. Unbelievable, IMHO.

  • The Original Joe S

    “The carrier makes the rules we have to follow.” Hogwash! Why do they have to refund it to the original card? I request a refund. Send it to my bank with wire account number xxxxxx. Or, send me a check. This is simply another roadblock they put on the refund mechanism. They can refund it to you in a check made out to you. They don’t want to.

  • The Original Joe S

    “the pax needs to follow the carrier’s procedure.” ‘You make take two baby steps.’ ‘OK. One. Two.’ ‘HALT! You didn’t say “May I, so YOU LOSE!’

  • The Original Joe S

    Go DIRECTLY to Kohls! Do NOT pass “GO”! Do NOT collect $200!

  • bodega3

    They make the rules. They make the rules that the TA has to follow. The rule in the industry is to refund to the form of payment used originally. We have had to have clients reopen closed cc accounts. It isn’t our ball. We have to play their game.

  • bodega3

    Yes, a TA is obligated to handle a refund if a refund is permitted by the carrier. But all we do is notify ARC and wait. If the payment was by cc, which is all we take, then we follow up with a call with client, or the client notifies us. The last refund took 2 months from an international carrier. It came through on the client’s cc statement, but not without a few calls by me to ARC.

  • The Original Joe S

    You iterate. I merely posit that their rules are inimical to the customer.

  • The Original Joe S

    They certainly take the customers’ money in a heartbeat. Refunding it is another ball game….

  • Lindabator

    NO – you did NOT pay us – your payment went DIRECTLY to the airline – and would be refunded TO THE FORM OF PAYMENT – which means I can’t give you any money, as I DO NOT HAVE IT. The airlines will refund it. But Expedia should have been hounding them at this point. (I do!)

  • Lindabator

    Bodega is trying to explain, that WE cannot give you your money, as we DO NOT HAVE IT — it is paid to the airlines, and they own the ticket (regardless WHO you buy from) – what we can do is inform you that the refund was applied, and check that it went through (usually 1-2 billing cycles). Just because you want it NOW, does not mean you can expect us to give it to you – there is nothing to give you, and when you DO get the refund, are we then supposed to collect from you? Don’t think so.

  • Lindabator

    We still forward the monies to the airline, but then WE would receive the refund, at which point we would issue you a check.

  • Lindabator

    Because the refund goes back to original form of payment – which is YOUR CREDIT CARD – Expedia never GETS the refund – so if Expedia gave you money, you now owe THEM. Which is why you will have to wait for the refund.

  • Lindabator

    Actually, you are the one attacking Bodega – he is telling you the REALITY of the situation, and you don’t like it, so now all of us TAs are to be blasted. Not fair.

  • The Original Joe S

    “They” meaning the airlines. Small TAs get squeezed. Big ones like EXPEDIA should refund the money and go get it from the airlines. Small TAs [such as I presume you are one] should stop sticking with large, indifferent concerns such as EXPEDIA. They wouldn’t stick with you.
    Airlines are not customer friendly. Their “rules” are hogwash; they simply want to jerk everyone around. Don’t get me started on United’s foisting the pensions on to the taxpayers, cheating their workers out of half of their pensions, and laughing all the way to the bank.

  • MarkieA

    As I asked elsewhere on this subject, What would happen if I wrote a Travel Agent a check?

  • Lindabator

    But Expedia has to follow the same rules, regardless of how large they are. So although you might WANT them to just give you money, its not something they can actually do! I’m not sticking with them, just explaining that they have the same rules set in place, so you cannot just expect something more where there is none.

  • bodega3

    I repeat because you aren’t accepting how things are handled. Glitches happen in every business but usually refunds go more smoothly but there are steps that have to be followed weather you like it or not.

  • bodega3

    An OTA is a vending machine. But with all the posts here that says, who reads the rule or terms and conditions, it is very possible that nobody pays attention until they need something.

  • bodega3

    When cash or check is used for an airline ticket in an agency (we no longer accept checks), we deposit into our bank account and ARC takes the money out when we do the weekly report. Then if the ticket is allowed to be refunded, we put the request in with the weekly report and wait to see the credit in the following report(s). We would not cut a check to the passenger, until the carrier gives it to ARC and it is credited to our account.

  • bodega3

    For some reason you are getting or accepting the fact that if you use a credit card, the agency, unless the ticket was charged inhouse, doesn’t have the money and if you expect the agency to credit your card, you would be double dipping.

  • bodega3

    The agency still has to wait for the refund to show up in their account unless they want to risk cutting you a check and waiting.

  • The Original Joe S

    The customer wants his money back, and doesn’t care where it comes from. The airline should cooperate with the TA to preclude double payments. It’s the airlines’ fault.

  • The Original Joe S

    I don’t accept that. I would cancel the credit card charge with my credit union. Then they can take all the time they want to.

  • The Original Joe S

    Block the credit card payment to them if within the window, and let them then sort it out.

  • bodega3

    The payment is approved when the ticket is issued and when purchased via an agency, doesn’t get charged until the ARC report is sent and the carrier receives the information. The carrier then handles the charge. An agency can not ‘block’ a credit card payment. An agency can void a ticket within 24 hours of ticketing, but that is it. You are trying to assume something.

  • bodega3

    Yes, you can do that, but my guess is that this happened well after the ticket was issued, so the money is with the carrier. The credit card company would investigate, you don’t immediately get action via your credit card. BTW, when an agency, which you provide the card to, does a ticket and it goes to ARC, then you dispute the charge, there is paperwork on our end that we have to do and your card isn’t credited just because you put in a dispute.

  • bodega3

    Sadly, people who buy online are so ill informed, yet they willing go forward without understanding how their purchase is handled and then rely on assumptions.

  • bodega3

    Where it comes from matters in this industry, so just because someone wants their refund, doesn’t mean there are not steps in getting it.

  • The Original Joe S

    Credit union blocks the payment.

  • The Original Joe S

    It won’t be a liability which must be paid. Will accrue no interest charges, so it’s the same as not having paid. No payment is due to the credit card company until the dispute is resolved.

  • The Original Joe S

    I like Jackie Mason’s lawyer in Caddyshack II……

  • bodega3

    They only stop payment with the credit card within a certain time period. In the case of this article. this doesn’t apply.

  • The Original Joe S

    True. Guess he procrastinated too long…..

  • bodega3

    You can dispute a charge before you pay and yes, the credit card company allows you hold off paying the amount, no interest will accrue, while the amount is under dispute. But if you have already paid the bill, then have an issue, the same paperwork to the vendors takes place with the credit card company and you will either see a credit or you won’t. In the case of airline tickets, the money still is with the carrier.

  • bodega3

    You generally have 6 months to dispute a charge.

  • Lindabator

    Will answer again – we would have to submit for refund, wait till it arrives, and issue you a check for the total.

  • Lindabator

    And don’t want to hear the truth – he should have followed up with Expedia IMMEDIATELY.

  • Lindabator

    Unless you are a travel agent, you cannot even SEE consolidator fares in most cases – they can oftentimes be better prices, but you have to balance the restrictions on those versus a standard ticket.

  • JenniferFinger

    Did he ever receive the refund, or is he still waiting to get it?