Live Interventions: Help! CheapoAir.com Overcharging Me!

A reader IM’d us about getting help with a billing dispute a friend of theirs was having on the phone with CheapoAir.com.

[12:45] booboo: hey there, im a loyal consumerist reader and i have a problem i wanted to know if you could help. my friends ordered airtran airways tickets through cheapoair.com (i know, bad move right) and they have charged one $40 less and the other $40 more. They ran the card of the girl with the $40 more twice for $265 which with fees as it reads on her confirmation totals $302 and a third time at $294 with fees which appears on her credit card statement $339 she called airtran (quick CSR :-) ) and they said that something wasnt right she called cheapoair and they said that their system says she was only charged $302 so they will not refund the additional charges…any suggestions?

(Photo: JohnKit)


[12:47] benpopken: She should tell them to refund it or else she will call her credit card company and initiate a chargeback for the difference
[12:47] benpopken: If they still refuse, she should call her credit card company and do that
[12:48] booboo: so basically she’s screwed on her plane tickets though huh?
[12:49] benpopken: um, what?
[12:49] booboo: like if she does the chargeback are they going to dissolve her reservation?
[12:49] benpopken: nope
[12:49] booboo: okay awesome
[12:49] benpopken: as long as she’s not asking for a refund in full
[12:49] benpopken: just the difference between what she ordered and what she paid
[12:50] booboo: okay she’s calling right now, thank you!
[12:50] benpopken: np

Time passes…

[13:06] booboo: update: they said they are charging her more because the flight went up in the time it took to run her card the additional two times. Thats fine. BUT they never informed her does she still have leverage?
[13:07] benpopken: Why was the card run twice?
[13:07] booboo: they said there was an error with it
[13:07] booboo: so they ran it a total of three times
[13:08] benpopken: with the card… or with their system?
[13:08] booboo: i think it was the card
[13:08] benpopken: did she enter her numbers wrong?
[13:08] benpopken: what’s wrong with the card?
[13:08] booboo: no, there was a block on purchases online so she had to fix that
[13:08] benpopken: oh
[13:08] booboo: so they just kept running it
[13:08] booboo: and never told her the price increased
[13:09] benpopken: if the price increased they should have to ask for her permission
[13:09] booboo: thats what we thought
[13:09] benpopken: ask for them to point out where in the terms of service it says that they’re allowed to rerun the card at a higher price without getting customer authorization

Time passes…

[13:20] booboo: they refunded her the difference consumerist saves lives once again!
[13:22] benpopken: hooray!
[13:23] benpopken: highfive!
[13:23] booboo: ::highfive::

— BEN POPKEN

Comments

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  1. kakashisan says:

    Aww, a happy ending…

    ^5

  2. germ says:

    It kind of baffles me why booboo needed all the hand holding help to resolve the issue. Don’t people know that they can dispute the fraudulent charges appearing on their credit card?

    It also helps to print out the order confirmation page (often time sites tell you to print it for your records). That way if they do try to jerk you around, you have proof of the originally agreed upon price.

  3. voodoodle says:

    @germ: sometimes it’s hard to tell when a company is being official vs. acting official. having ben remind them there is a TOS with this kind of thing and that this issue will be addressed is not handholding.

    also, good job ben. way to be available and helpful.

  4. brooklynbs says:

    It baffles me that people still don’t understand that the vast majority of the time they are better off booking directly through the airline itself than through an aggregator.

    I just spent 30 minutes on CheapoAir.com and I compared their prices head-to-head with prices from airlines directly. CheapoAir.com was more expensive in ever instance. All they do is knock down the “base price” of the ticket and then add fees. The end result is that you end up paying anywhere from $25 to $30 more for roundtrip ticket.

    Here are some examples. These are the same exact flights on the same days, times and airlines.

    Route: LGA to ATL
    CheapoAir.com: $263.78
    Delta: $238.80

    Route: LAS to LAX
    CheapoAir.com: $207.29
    Delta: $182.30

    Route: MPS to DEN
    CheapoAir.com: $273.78
    Sun Country: $234.80

    Route: ORD to MCO
    CheapoAir.com: $213.10
    United: $188.09

    Route: SLC to DFW
    CheapoAir.com: $244.60
    America West: $219.60

    My advice: Use aggregators like Expedia, Orbitz, Priceline, Farechase, etc. to search for flight times and then take those results and compare them to what the airline itself is charging. Most of the time you will get a better deal directly from the airline. And stay away from from no-name aggregators.

    Obviously, if you want to name your own price, Priceline can give you some very good deals. I’ve also found that the aggregators can get you better deals on hotel rooms. By the same token, if I see a good deal on Hotels.com, I call the hotel directly to see if they’ll match the deal with a discount (any discount). Typically they will because the margins are better for them if they sell directly.

  5. We should put together a superhero costume for Ben and have him post pictures of himself posing in it. I think that would be awesome.

    TheConsumerist fights villainous corporations.

    We could even do a spin-off comic book using the howto articles for text.

    Boy does my imagination go wild at 4 in the morning.

  6. palmisan says:

    Hey, I think someone here trying to force the issue on cheapoair.com….

    I am Palmisan and I am a member of few People welfare Association…

    I am working with the Project which is associated with the online travel industry…I am reviewing all the companies and my job is to protest against any bad intentions who ever it may be….I want to be fair with everyone…

    So, lets get back to the point which brooklynbs has said,

    As per him Cheapoair fares has been on the higher side….

    But I think its really unfair to pull someone down the street and start pointing fingers on them….

    As lets take one more example – I checked the fares for Atlanta – Hartsfield Intl (ATL)
    Atlanta, GA to Aruba – Reina Beatrix Intl (AUA)
    Aruba, Aruba

    What I have seen is

    With cheapoair – its $270
    With expedia – its $314.10
    With orbitz – its $285
    With priceline – its $314

    So if we see here then cheapoair has got the cheapest price…

    so it depends upon the ties you had with the airlines and companies and it also depends upon the commissions they get…

    Its not for cheapoair only – its about not blaming anyone before you really digs into the matter…

    So I am requesting everyone not to spread negative comments against any company – until n unless you are really having some proof to show…

  7. abrilmayo says:

    to palmisan, you’re wrong, read carefully of what brooklynbs says which is most of complains on cheapoair on the internet about this company regarding their trick of BAIT AND SWITCH, they lower the price way too low than orbitz, priceline.com,kayak.com and so on, naturally people who is on tight budget will grab cheapoair lowest ticket price.. now like a fish in the ocean the poor guy is now at cheapoair.com mercy. this is the real trick now comes on. they delayed sending you the ticket, and then they would send you email regarding your schedule has been change and they will charging additonal cash to get you going. if it didn’t work that way on their favor they charge you double on your credit card.
    brooklynbs is right… buy ticket at the airline itself and thats what i going to do. i’ve following up cheapoair.com for a long time now what i found is all nightmare stories from their customers. it’s up to you people if want to break your head or stayaway from this company. just type on your browser the word.STAY AWAY FROM CHEAPOAIR.COM and see for yourself what i’m talking about

  8. dea1031us says:

    Cheapoair, headed by Sam Jain CEO, and CSO Werner Kunz, are clearly a scheme designed to bilk customers out of their money. I booked a flight with Cheapoair and was double-billed, failed to get any action in over three months to refund my money — frankly this appears to be the way Cheapoair makes their money. They rip off honest customers who book actual flights, hotels, etc – only to be sabotaged by double charges or other alterations to the original purchase agreement. The fact that this company based it’s call center in India is no surprise – the reps. hang up on you, are rude, and functionally illiterate with English as their second language. BEWARE! CheapoAir will surely screw you as they have to many others. Take it from a very dissatisfied customer, the savings they offer in no way offsets the anguish and frustration you will surely suffer when they screw you too.

  9. scammedbycheapoair says:

    I checked on prices with cheapoair.com – they said the tickets were about $1,226.00 (for 2), but after they got the cc info, a message popped up “We’re sorry, these tickets have increased to $1,999. Would you like to continue or search for other fares?” Of course I clicked “search other fares” and proceeded to do so. CC has been charged about $2,500.00 so far, with more charge approvals pending. So far we’ve called 19 times in 2 days, and continue to get hung up on when a supervisor is requested. The number United Airlines has for the company the tickets were booked thru “Emery Worldwide” is not a valid #. My next step is going to be to contact the MO General Attorney’s Office.

  10. blondredneck says:

    I have only just today experienced this same problem with the company. However, in the confirmation e-mail from them they state “In extremely rare cases, Airline rules or fares may change prior to ticket issue. We reserve the right to notify you of any rule or fare changes within 3 Business Days. For any fare changes up to 25 USD of the new fare, we will bear the cost. If there is a rule or fare change, you have the option not to purchase this ticket and your credit card will not be charged. If there is no change, then ticket is automatically issued and it is non-refundable.” The difference in amount quoted me and amount charged to me was $22.93(USD). When I called customer service I was told it would take 4-6 weeks for a refund to be issued. It appears that this is a pattern with this company. Charging higher prices unless the consumer complains.

  11. NeverBookCheapoair says:

    I have absolutely nothing positive to say about this company. I had some issues with my international flight I needed to clear up. Everytime I called, I was on hold for no less than 45 minutes, told conflicting information, and always disconnected at least once. In the end I had to cancel a vacation on a $700 ticket. I was told I would have a year to exchange the flight minus a $350 cancelation fee. Five months down the road, I attempt to book a new flight. I am told that cheapoair is still waiting on the refund from the carrier, so they cannot book my flight using the canceled ticket, but they would try to clear it with their refund department in India. They promised to get back to me each time I called. Eventually, they tell me that a refund has been “in process” to me for 5 months, which I have yet to see. I ended up booking my new flight directly through the airline this time, which doubled in the time I spent trying to exchange my ticket. All in all, I have easily wasted 12 hours and counting of my life on the phone with these people, missed out on a vacation I was really looking forward to, and am out over $1200.