Does it really take 10,000 emails to get my $10,000 refund?

By | March 10th, 2017

British Airways owes Denis Barreto a refund, and promised to send it to him. But that was eight months ago.

Question: I have been expecting to receive a refund of $10,840 from British Airways, as per an email approval of the transaction that I received from their customer relations department, indicating that it would take from seven to ten business days for the refund to appear in my Amex Platinum account.

As of today, I have not received the promised refund, and every time that I have contacted British Airways, I receive an email, each time from a different person, all with apologies and advising me that the matter is being escalated.

Yesterday, I sent a fax with 16 pages of documentation pertaining to my claim to the British Airways fax number in the U.S. I also was able to speak to a British Airways representative in the U.K., who verified all of the going back and forth that had transpired during this time, without results. She told me that she would personally take hold of the issue and would escalate to management.

However, since I have been promised that escalating of the issue so many times, I thought that it would be advisable to contact you and see if you would be able to intercede for me, in order to get my overdue refund. — Denis Barreto, Coconut Grove, Fla.

Answer: Here’s another case in which a travel transaction that should have been simple goes very awry.


When you booked a flight on British Airways, but then found you needed to change your date, you learned you’d need to pay what amounted to a 175 percent penalty in change fees. First you complained to the airline, then decided to cancel the flight. The airline notified you that you’d receive a refund for the more than $10,000 you paid for the flight.

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All well and good, except that eight months later, there was still no refund.

You shared with us the exhaustive exchange of emails and documentation you exchanged with the airline over all that period. Kudos for pursuing your dispute with a carefully documented paper trail.

Each time you contacted the airline, you received a very apologetic note with assurances that the claim would be expedited. And each time that note was from someone different. Finally you asked if we would intervene on your behalf, which we did, and in November you got a refund of roughly half what was owed.

So what can we learn from this story?

That sometimes it takes every tool at our disposal to get the job done. Be a persistent advocate for your case, and when that still doesn’t get results, contact our advocacy to help reach a resolution. You might also have utilized the British Airways social media links and executive contacts available on our site to try to break through the wall of polite inaction you encountered.

We’re pleased to hear that in December, after a little more probing, British Airways finally credited your American Express account with the remainder of the refund you were due.



  • AJPeabody

    I question a 175 per cent cancellation fee on 10 grand. Did you mean $175?

  • Altosk

    Should be a penalty for a company dragging its feet on something like this.

  • The Original Joe S

    British Air has a very bad reputation on this blog.

  • cscasi

    Why not send in a request to American Express, explaining the situation and ask for a charge back on the AMEX Platinum card he used? With the documentation he had: “I have been expecting to receive a refund of $10,840 from British Airways, as per an email approval of the transaction that I received from their customer relations department, indicating that it would take from seven to ten business days for the refund to appear in my Amex Platinum account”, I know American Express would have put a temporary charge back on his cars while it investigated the matter. And, since he had the documentation from British Airways saying it would refund that to his AMEX Platinum account within seven to ten business days, American Express (which has more leverage than the customer) would have been able to get it resolved quickly.

  • MarkKelling

    Yes, and AmEx may have just had to call BA (or however they contact a merchant) and asked about it to get the machine in motion at BA to generate the credit and not even had to do an actual charge back. Your credit card company can be a great asset in cases like this.

  • MarkKelling

    The percentage figure most likely includes the higher airfare for the new flights. The change fee for flights in this price range, at least from/to the US, is usually $500.

  • AAGK

    Exactly what I would do. Amex would deal with BA and credit the account immediately.

  • AAGK

    The best part is Amex has employees already paid to do this so we don’t have to waste our free time.

  • PsyGuy

    This would have been the perfect case to initiate a chargeback. You get your money back, and AMEX goes after the airline. Still glad you finally got your money back.

  • PsyGuy

    Especially, considering on a $10,000 flight that had to be in business if not first class.

  • PsyGuy

    That’s because the airlines with a great reputation don’t find themselves on this blog.

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