Refund issue

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Jun 2, 2017
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My family booked a trip back in December to fly to Europe in the summer (June) through www.airfare.com. We paid for the tickets and were flying with Air France. In April, my wife was diagnosed with a serious medial issue and was told by the doctor not to fly for over a year due to the treatments she was going to get. We contacted the travel agency to ask for a refund with all of the supporting documents and they sent the information to Air France. I would then contact the travel agency to get a status update after a week and they said they have not heard anything through Air France. I waited another week with the same results and then another few weeks went by with the same results.
I finally contacted Air France and they told me I had to talk to the travel agency and they could not speak with me regarding this. After I explained that the travel agency and Air France were having communication issues since they did not hear from Air France. I went back and forth for about 5 days between the travel agency and Air France to get some answers since time is so short (suppose to fly in June).
Long story short, I was finally able to get some answers. Air France has stated that the fee to refund my tickets would be $300 per adult and $225 per child (total of $1,050). Airfare.com has stated that the charge to refund the tickets would be $450 per ticket (total $1,800) as an upfront payment to get the full refund back. I am currently still trying to find out, in writing, what is the total cost (if there are any hidden fees they are not telling me about), why do I need to pay upfront for the refund and to confirm what they told me over the phone that Air France is charging me the $1,800. I have not accepted the refund terms since they have not clearly been stated to me yet. Does anyone have any ideas on what to do next since they seem to be dragging their feet and seem to be holding my refund "hostage" until I pay the $1,800. I should have read reviews online about this company because it seems to happen a lot.
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
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I am sorry to hear about your wife's health issues. I hope she makes a full recovery quickly.

One question: did you purchase refundable tickets or non-refundable tickets? If it was the latter then, unfortunately, you are at the mercy of the airline and OTA. Both companies may be making an exception to the fare rules by offering you the refund for a fee. In addition, my guess is they are not asking you to pay upfront but rather they will refund the tickets minus the fee.

Lastly, I assume you did not purchase trip insurance. If not, check with the credit card used to purchase the tickets to see if they offer any coverage.
 
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Jun 2, 2017
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Hey Patina
Thank you. I thought a purchased non-refundable tickets but talking over with the airline, they were refundable with a fee ($300 per adult and $225 per child for a total $1,050). I understand that there might be a fee associated with this (and I had the same assumption about the refund minus fee) but what is making me mad is www.airfare.com is charging me the $1,800 fee upfront before I can receive my refund (I just got an email after I posted the original thread stating this) and also the extra $750 they are charging over what the airline is charging.
I am currently in contact with the credit card and they are looking into this for me, so now it is a waiting game for me.
 
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Aug 28, 2015
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Sounds like these may be airfare.com fees, where as had you booked directly, Air France may have just subtracted the change fee directly from your credit?

Some airlines do not allow change fees to be paid from the credit balance. I encountered that once but I did not pay until I used the tickets. I am not sure if this is common.

I would not want to pay upfront either in case I never used the credit. How frustrating!
 
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Yep, that is true. The weird thing about this transaction is that I noticed on my credit card statement that the payment for the tickets went straight to Air France. It usually happens that you will see the charge to the third party for the tickets. That is why I was contacting them as well since it looks like airfare.com did not get the money for the tickets.
Now airfare.com is saying that I will only have to pay $600 upfront and then they take out the rest of the fee amount from the refund. I am VERY weary about this because I have noticed on other threads that airfare.com incorrectly charges and then the customer has to dispute multiple charges against airfare.com. That is why I do not want to give them my CC info, I do not want to go through that hassle as well.
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
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I would wary too.....and the fact that your cc was charged by AF, I can see why the OTA wants its money first!

I would approach the OTA again asking for confirmation in writing how the refund will be received by your bank. Will the refund come directly from AF or from the OTA? I would proceed differently depending on their response.
 
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Jun 2, 2017
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Okay, good to know I am not the only one that would be bothered by this.

They stated that the upfront payment would go to the OTA and then would be released by AF back to me. Does that make sense? This is why I went to AF and said that the original payment went to AF and I would refund at their fee amounts since they were $750 less than what the OTA wants to charge me.
 
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Hey Neil, no since there is only 2 reasons why we would not have gone. 1-being death and 2-chemotherapy. Both are pretty slim since we are fairly young and we would have gone for anything else. I currently have my bank looking into this due to using a credit card that I think has some type of travel insurance on it. I am going to follow up with them on Tuesday. They are the ones that told me about it being strange that AF charged my CC and not the OTA.
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
Hey Neil, no since there is only 2 reasons why we would not have gone. 1-being death and 2-chemotherapy. Both are pretty slim since we are fairly young and we would have gone for anything else. I currently have my bank looking into this due to using a credit card that I think has some type of travel insurance on it. I am going to follow up with them on Tuesday. They are the ones that told me about it being strange that AF charged my CC and not the OTA.
There can be many more reason you wouldn't travel, regardless of your age or health - as you have found out. What if you fell and broke your leg a month before traveling? WHat if you had a car accident on the way to the airport? What if one of your parents or an immediate family member dies, or was seriously ill at the time you were traveling? There are many reasons - being young and healthy has nothing to do with buy insurance or not. Do you know if your health insurance covers you if you are injured or get sick whole traveling out of the U.S? 90% of health policies do not cover you outside the U.S. Everyone should look at buying insurance - we have great thread on why:

http://forum.elliott.org/threads/the-right-travel-insurance.1283/

Hopefully your credit card has some kind of coverage but if they do, it generally isn't very high. Let us know if your card can help. but it sounds like the supplier has a cancellation fee as well as the airline. If the airline charged your card, then the agency gets paid by the airline for their commission for your tickets.
 

VoR61

Jan 6, 2015
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And to support @Neil's point about insurance:

Is Travel Insurance worth it? If you are prepared to "walk away" from $2,000+ in non-refundable trip expenses the answer is no. Otherwise, and for most of us, it's a hearty YES! A good policy should be obtainable for 7-10% of your non-refundable trip costs.

Travel Insurance is Complicated. There are so many nuances and gotchas that I strongly recommend purchasing from an insurance broker, and never from the travel provider or agency. Here are some of the coverages available:
  • BASIC policies (or "lite" as they are often labeled). These offer limited coverage for trip cancellation, trip interruption, travel delays, and baggage issues. But too often they fail to meet the needs of travelers due to their restricted coverages (i.e., covered reasons). COMPREHENSIVE policies can cover one or more of the following for a nominal cost:
  • Cancel for Any Reason. Covers 50-75% of your non-refundables depending on the policy
  • Cruise Cancellation. Covers non-refundables not purchased through the cruise line
  • Employment Layoff. Being unemployed is hard enough without a failsafe for trip costs
  • Financial Default. Covers when a travel provider is no longer in business
  • Emergency Medical Evacuation. Costs can be in the tens-of-thousands!
  • Hospital of Choice. Without this you are transported to the nearest facility
  • Pre-existing Medical Waiver. Covers conditions that insurers decide is "pre-existing"
  • Primary Medical. Places the insurer first in line for claims. Eliminates the need to file with your own insurance.
Be aware that no single policy will cover every possible reason for cancellation at 100%, and that there are time restrictions (e.g., signing up, cancellation) with every policy ...
 
Jun 2, 2017
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Thanks for this VoR61 and yes my Health Insurance does cover me and my family outside the US (I made sure of this since we are over there a lot). Of course I have to pay the bills up front to be reimbursed but my wife and kids get the benefit of free health care over there as well since she is still a citizen of her country.

I know, their terms and rules are not worded in the best way. One part says $450 goes directly to the airline... I think that is why they changed the original offer of paying the $1,800 upfront to get the full refund to $600 upfront and then take the remaining $1,200 from the refund. The $600 is the processing fees for them.

I am waiting to hear from the bank regarding this before I hand over any CC info because of past customers issues with their cards being charged multiple times.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
23,093
23,045
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
And to support @Neil's point about insurance:

Is Travel Insurance worth it? If you are prepared to "walk away" from $2,000+ in non-refundable trip expenses the answer is no. Otherwise, and for most of us, it's a hearty YES! A good policy should be obtainable for 7-10% of your non-refundable trip costs.

Travel Insurance is Complicated. There are so many nuances and gotchas that I strongly recommend purchasing from an insurance broker, and never from the travel provider or agency. Here are some of the coverages available:
  • BASIC policies (or "lite" as they are often labeled). These offer limited coverage for trip cancellation, trip interruption, travel delays, and baggage issues. But too often they fail to meet the needs of travelers due to their restricted coverages (i.e., covered reasons). COMPREHENSIVE policies can cover one or more of the following for a nominal cost:
  • Cancel for Any Reason. Covers 50-75% of your non-refundables depending on the policy
  • Cruise Cancellation. Covers non-refundables not purchased through the cruise line
  • Employment Layoff. Being unemployed is hard enough without a failsafe for trip costs
  • Financial Default. Covers when a travel provider is no longer in business
  • Emergency Medical Evacuation. Costs can be in the tens-of-thousands!
  • Hospital of Choice. Without this you are transported to the nearest facility
  • Pre-existing Medical Waiver. Covers conditions that insurers decide is "pre-existing"
  • Primary Medical. Places the insurer first in line for claims. Eliminates the need to file with your own insurance.
Be aware that no single policy will cover every possible reason for cancellation at 100%, and that there are time restrictions (e.g., signing up, cancellation) with every policy ...
When you talk about not buying insurance from the agency, what exactly do you mean? We sell travel insurance (all third party) and I am not sure why you would advice not to buy from a travel agent. Am I misunderstanding your meaning?

I generally recommend third party insurance to our clients because if you buy a suppliers travel insurance and they go bankrupt, you are usually SOL with their insurance. But there are some times that insurance through a supplier works. Once someone turns age 70, supplier insurance can generally be cheaper. And if Cancel for Any Reason is offered, it is almost always lower buying it through a supplier than buying it from a third party. Especially in NY, because third party insurance companies cannot sell CFAR to NY residents, it is illegal here.

So there are cases that sometimes a supplier insurance might be better than third party - you just need to make sure there are no rumblings of the supplier going out of business or going bankrupt.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
23,093
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www.promalvacations.com
Thanks for this VoR61 and yes my Health Insurance does cover me and my family outside the US (I made sure of this since we are over there a lot). Of course I have to pay the bills up front to be reimbursed but my wife and kids get the benefit of free health care over there as well since she is still a citizen of her country.

I know, their terms and rules are not worded in the best way. One part says $450 goes directly to the airline... I think that is why they changed the original offer of paying the $1,800 upfront to get the full refund to $600 upfront and then take the remaining $1,200 from the refund. The $600 is the processing fees for them.

I am waiting to hear from the bank regarding this before I hand over any CC info because of past customers issues with their cards being charged multiple times.
At least you know of issues so you can keep an eye on your account if you turn over the cc to them.

But seriously, consider buying travel insurance going forward - this whole thing could have been avoided because most policies cover for illness.
 
Jun 2, 2017
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I know and I know now to read reviews from other customers about the travel agencies as well since I have never heard about paying upfront for a refund.
 
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VoR61

Jan 6, 2015
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A fair question, @Neil, and one perhaps best suited for a thread of it's own. But I will answer here for clarification:

My first exposure to travel insurance taught me two (2) important lessons. 1) Travel agencies (primarily online) do not know/do not share the details of the policies. Their agents are busy "selling trips" and insurance is just an add-on for revenue. In my case, after buying I asked about loss of employment, and then was told "no coverage for that". And 2) I then bought insurance through the airlines and experienced the same problem.

So I reasoned that I needed someone who focused on insurance. For a subsequent cruise, I contacted a broker and began asking questions. It was then that I learned just hos complicated travel insurance is. The list I published (and have before) is a summary of all that I learned. I had some concerns about health, and my eyes were opened wide by their (the broker's) agents.

Finally, there is this forum. How many threads do we get every week saying "I bought their insurance (the agency or provider) but "that" wasn't covered.

"That wasn't covered". Not to be dramatic, but that phrases echoes in my head like the Grand Canyon every time I think about travel insurance.

So, yes, as a rule (my rule), I advise to steer clear of purchases outside of a knowledgeable broker. I simply don't trust a supplier or agent to sell me exactly what I need. Better to pay a little more (if that is the case) and be sure, than to need to use it and find "nope - not covered).

Finally, I recently helped an acquaintance purchase a policy for a $9,000 trip to Japan. He paid less than $400 and had all the coverage he needed. The broker guided him (as I knew they would), and I chuckled when he told me he called them just before the trip and asked them "So, if cancel now I'm covered, right?" They said "Of course".

No offense meant to you or any agent ...
 
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Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
23,093
23,045
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www.promalvacations.com
No offense taken. But just so you know - we are not permitted by law to advise you of what is and isn't covered - we can provide you with a copy of the policy and tell you if you have any questions to call the travel insurance company.

We are sellers of travel and not insurance brokers so we can give you the information in writing on what's covered but for specific questions you have to go to the insurance company directly.

Someone who specifically sells insurance - that's their job to know the policies inside and out, but they can't sell you travel because they aren't qualified to do so.

In most cases, I do know what is and isn't covered but our insurance forbids us from saying anything except to call the company for specific information. But the wise consumer reads the policy and does call and ask questions before hand. A lot of companies don't send the actual policy at all so in those cases, you have to do some sleuthing first.

Back to our writer - their minimum fee is $450. From their website:

You can cancel your reservation up until 11:59 pm Eastern Time (North America) on the same day you booked without penalty. After that the ticket is non-refundable, if Airfare.com is able to obtain a waiver from the Airline to allow a refund, there will be a minimum of $450.00 USD fee per ticket and will apply upfront.

When you use a 3rd party company like this, you really need to read their terms and conditions with a fine tooth comb before you buy.. This can't possibly be worth whatever savings you received when you booked your tickets.
 
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Jun 2, 2017
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Thanks again eveeyone.

I read that part but then a paragraph below that states: "Sometimes, the airlines will allow these highly restricted tickets to be refunded. Please understand that in order for these highly restrictive tickets to be refunded the airline does charge a service fee of a minimum of $450.00 USD." This seems to state the airline charges this fee which confused me on who I was paying the fee too.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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Pat, I hate to bring this up, but usually when you cancel a tix for this kind of reason, you receive a credit towards a future flight, not a refund. A change/cancel fee is deducted from the credit when you are ready to book your future trip. And the period to use the credit is usually one year from the date of booking the original tix. We've helped a couple of people get that credit extended, but it's tough. Having to pay some kind of fee 'up front' sounds pretty dicey to me. Dealing with the online booking agency complicates matters, and you'll need to know the policies of each entity regarding your specific tix. You should not have to wait for your bank to tell you the terms of their travel insurance, it should be all posted online. I caution you to get all your answers in writing, not on the phone; agents are masters are telling you anything just to get the call over with. I'm sorry you have to go through this with all the anxiety of your wife's illness. Good luck and please keep us posted.