Gold Medal Travel Demands $200 To Correct Typo, Won't Issue Ticket Otherwise

Gold Medal Travel, a UK-based travel agency, is holding a woman’s ticket hostage. Even though Northwest airlines says the ticket will be fine and they have no policy like what Gold Medal claims, Gold Medal says the ticket will be forfeited if the woman doesn’t give them an extra $200 to correct a typo.

My girlfriend is Swedish and lives in Sweden, while I am here in the States. She recently booked a ticket through Gold Medal Travel to come see me later in April for a fairly decent price, but soon after received a call from the Travel Agency stating that her name was incorrect on the ticket and she would have to pay over $200 to correct it. Now, in this day and age I can understand your ticketed name needing to match your passport, however, her name isn’t misspelled, her last name was simply repeated. Just to be clear here, in the “first name” box she entered her full name and in the “last name” box she put only her last name. Obviously this didn’t seem like a $200 mistake to me so I tried to get to the root of the problem. I called Northwest, who was INCREDIBLY helpful, and was told that not only should she not be charged for a simple name change, but that as her name reads now she shouldn’t have any problems. Finding no resolution I managed to find the number for Gold Medal Travel to try my luck with them. Now according to them, under the contract they have with the airlines (Northwest and KLM) they are forced to charge the exorbitant fee and will not even issue her the ticket until she pays this extra fee.
 
This is unacceptable. She paid for the ticket over 2 weeks ago and was just told this week about this “name mistake.” Now we have to come up with $200 or else the entire ticket is forfeited. Please help us, what recourse do we have?
 

Quinn, can your girlfriend call KLM and find out whether or not they’re behind the ridiculous requirement? If they too say no, then we think your girlfriend needs to lodge official complaints at the appropriate agency within her own country. She may want to also check the fine print of the agreement to see whether the fee was mentioned there—if so, she might not have any recourse other than to pay it, regardless of whether or not Gold Medal Travel tries to blame it on an airline.
 
Readers, any suggestions? Do any of you know more about Gold Medal Travel or how to contest a last-minute $200 fee for a ticket?
 
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Gold Medal Travel
Konsumentverket/KO (The Swedish Consumer Agency)
(Photo: Getty)

Comments

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  1. vladthepaler says:

    1. Chargeback. 2. Call the airline and buy the ticket directly from them.

  2. This might be a longshot, but see if it would be cheaper to cancel the ticket and buy a new one without making a mistake.

  3. JustAGuy2 says:

    If Northwest says it won’t be a problem, then tell the travel agency to issue the ticket. If the airline won’t let her check in, that’s your/her problem, not the travel agent’s.

  4. JeffMc says:

    That sounds awfully sleazy.

    I can back Northwest up on this one, a couple years back work had me travel with one day’s notice so the CIO’s executive assistance booked my ticket. I got to the airport and went to the little kiosk where you can swipe a credit card to show your name and it will print out your ticket but no ticket was to be found.

    I waited in line to talk to an actual person and after pulling out my passport to prove who I was the lady found me. The same thing had happened. There was no Jeff Mc***** in the system but there was a ticket for Jeff Mc*****Mc*****. There was no trouble getting the ticket or getting through security or anywhere else along the line, though.

    Can your girlfriend maybe tell them that there’s no mistake and get the ticket then deal with Northwest directly?

  5. faust1200 says:

    I want a Swedish girlfriend too dangit!

  6. Juggernaut says:

    Butrous-Butrous Ghali had the same problem for years.

  7. qwickone says:

    @JustAGuy2: That’s what I’m saying. How can they not issue the ticket if you’ve already bought it and you demand it? Can she just call them and say that she’s changed her name so that it’s the same as it appears on the ticket??

  8. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    Lets say that the ticket isn’t valid. What is the harm in them releasing the ticket? She paid for it, she should get it, typo and all.

    Of course, it sounds like it would work, but either way they should still issue her the ticket. They verified it is she who bought it, and that it is her’s, correct?

  9. s25843 says:

    Do a chargeback on the transaction with the Travel Agent, and call back and book the ticket directly with the airline.

    The Tavel Agent is in a breach of contract. The ticket was paid for, and they refuse to issue you the product. Any Credit Card company would definately rule in your favor.

  10. phripley says:

    Tell Gold Medal you would prefer to have her name legally changed to match the ticket rather than pay the money to make the ticket match the name.

  11. TheBigLewinski says:

    How about I pay the extra $200 and your GF stays with me for a night?

  12. TheBigLewinski says:

    Solution: I will pay the $200 and your GF comes to stay a night with me…

  13. TheBigLewinski says:

    damn server is too slow, sorry for the double post…

  14. Chairman-Meow says:

    I would show-up at the airport and play dumb if someone catches it.

    If her first & Last name is on the ticket, even though her last name is on there twice, it still identifies here as “her”. Easy enough to blame it on the “stupid computer glitch”.

  15. SacraBos says:

    @JustAGuy2: But they are refusing to issue the ticket!
    Gotta go with Vlad, charge-back and get a ticket directly or with another service.

  16. Murph1908 says:

    Send them in a certified letter to either give you the ticket you paid for, or give you a statement in writing within 48 hours why they refuse.

    If they still do not give you the ticket, cancel it, charge back, and buy a new ticket direct from the airline.

    IANAL, but I would guess that you could sue them in small claims court for the difference between the original ticket and any additional fare on the new ticket.

    State as much in the letter that you plan to do so. It might be enough to get them to cough up the ticket.

    Oh, IA DEFINITELY NAL in Sweden.

  17. IssaGoodDay says:

    Call them up. Flatly state that they will issue you their ticket. If they refuse, ask to speak to a higher-up? I know this is somewhat tainted in this day-and-age, but hey, with a travel agency, you might get somewhere? Also, send a letter of complaint to whatever governing body controls the area (Swedish equivalent of the FTC?) and CC it to whatever e-mail addresses you can find on their site. Make sure they know that they can’t impose bullshit charges on you for pressing “Backspace” a few times.
    Just my $0.02 (USD)

  18. Jetts says:

    If you can’t use internet forms correctly you deserve to pay someone money!

  19. Jetts says:

    If you can’t use internet forms correctly you deserve to pay someone money some money!

  20. Jetts says:

    @Jetts: (How do people double post by accident? It took me three tries to do it on purpose?)

  21. kenblakely says:

    Hate to say it, but this is pretty much par for the course for customer service here in the UK. The concept of customer service is totally lost on Brits – they’ve all been trained to roll over and take it, no matter what craziness a business throws at them.

    1) Call Gold Medal and demand the ticket that you paid for. Talk to supervisors, not CSR drones.
    2) If 1) doesn’t work, dispute the charge (since the merchant failed to deliver the product). You should win that one easy.
    3) Rebuy the ticket
    4) If you’re feeling vindictive, sue Gold Medal for in small claims court (yes – they have small claims over here)

  22. yikz says:

    First of all, what do the Terms of Service say on the website for Gold Medal? If they don’t say anything regarding this, then I would dispute the original ticket fee with the credit card company. Then find somewhere else to buy your ticket.

  23. Juggernaut says:

    @Jetts: Genius!!

  24. jtheletter says:

    @Jetts: That’ll be $10 please.
    I’m actually cutting you a break because the Reading Comprehension Fee is WAY more. From the article above: “Just to be clear here, in the “first name” box she entered her full name and in the “last name” box she put only her last name.”

    So the form is likely broken, someone probably made a copy/paste error in the code or at some step in the ticketing process. Charging $200 for a couple backspace presses is exorbitant.

  25. Negative says:

    @Jetts: It looks like you should be paying someone some money.

  26. jtheletter says:

    @jtheletter: Crap, now I owe myself that reading comprehension fee. Sorry! Oof, more coffee time obviously.

  27. LiC says:

    Couldn’t she just tell them thanks for the concern but you already sold me the ticket and I’ll take it as is?

    “I called Northwest, who was INCREDIBLY helpful, and was told that not only should she not be charged for a simple name change, but that as her name reads now she shouldn’t have any problems”

    That’s funny, really funny. My roommate tried changing a first name on a domestic flight and she couldn’t do it. I handled the calls for her and the airlines said they could have a note waiting at the airline counter for her, but they couldn’t reissue the ticket. I wasn’t concerned about her getting on board the plane, I explained, it was getting through security gosh darnit.

  28. Slow2Whine says:

    This day and age, I wouldn’t mess around with trying to show up at the airport without the correct info on your ticket. You’d be risking some overzealous security measure forbidding you to board because of a typo. And we know what logic the TSA has. (I wonder what’s their Swedish counterpart?) You could do a charge back and deal with the airline, but I would do it in person with the airline(not over the internet or phone) so that you could possible still get the ticket at the negotiated price. Otherwise you might see the ticket’s price inflated. It’s sounds like a lot of hair-pulling either way. Good Luck.

  29. JustAGuy2 says:

    @LiC:

    If it was a domestic flight, don’t worry about security. Just say that you’re traveling without ID. Don’t say that you don’t have any, just that you’re traveling without it. They’ll give you a more detailed screening, but you don’t HAVE to have ID to fly – they can’t prohibit you from going through.

  30. parabola101 says:

    I have had situations where I needed to make changes to my airline tickets and the $200 fees were waived because I went directly to the airport and make the changes there. This has happened more than once. Additionally, my daughter had a typo on her ticket, there were no significant issues when she travelled. Security did stop her but she did have enough documentation i.e., student id, drivers licensce, & passport to veryify idenity.

  31. ThomasD3 says:

    The European TSA equivalent are quite different, I used to travel a lot and never had problems in the EU countries. They don’t live under constant propaganda, so it’s a totally different attitude.

  32. theczardictates says:

    @faust1200: Me too. That would be so much better than the Canadian girlfriend I have now.

  33. theczardictates says:

    @faust1200: Me too. That would be so much better than the Canadian girlfriend I have now.

  34. Fly Girl says:

    Both the consumer and the travel agency are right here, and it sounds like they’re playing a major game of tug-of-war.

    If tickets are issued for the domestic U.S., it honest-to-God doesn’t matter at ALL if your name is spelled incorrectly. Actually, it doesn’t even matter if your ticket is even in your name.

    If it’s just off by one letter, or something wacky like first and last are swapped, or the whole thing is doubled, then all you need to do is just fly on it. Show your ID, no one should have a problem. If they do, just explain it to them. It will be fine. They’ll just make a few notations in your record and you’ll be on your way.

    If it’s a REALLY bad spelling error or something is wrong all together (or you’re *ahem* borrowing your brother’s non-refundable/non-changeable ticket that he’s not actually going to use) you can just FLY WITHOUT AN ID. (You don’t even need an ID for security. Seriously.)

    DO NOT TELL ANYONE THAT YOU ARE FLYING WITHOUT YOUR ID BECAUSE THE NAME ON THE TICKET DOES NOT MATCH YOUR ID. If you do that, they’re going to make you reissue the ticket at your expense. (The flight manifest is supposed to be accurate, you know?) If the ticket says BOB SMITH on it, you are hereby BOB SMITH, the passenger whose name is spelled correctly but who forgot his ID at home.

    You get asked for your ID only two times– once when you’re checking in and once at security. (But ONLY at check in if you’re checking bags.) If you’re not checking bags, you’re going to need to get the attention of an agent so they can issue you a special boarding pass with the wonderful Quad-S’s on it. (Looks like this “SSSS” and they’ll be all over your bag tags and boarding passes.) If you are checking bags, just tell the agent that you left your ID at home/on the shuttle/at work, whatever. She’ll issue you the Quad-S and off you’ll go.

    At security, you’re going to get the extra special super duper secure treatment since you didn’t have an ID, but it’s a small price to pay for not having to reissue your ticket– I deal with every airline in the world and I cannot think of ONE that allows name changes to be completed for free. Not even NW/KLM.

  35. Fly Girl says:

    As far as traveling internationally, if your name is spelled incorrectly on your ticket, you CANNOT FLY ON IT. The ticket will have to be reissued with the correct spelling. (Even if he incorrect spelling is just your last name duped.)

    The travel agency is correct in telling you that it has to be reissued and also is correct in telling you that it will cost $200.00 to reissue– that is Northwest/KLM’s fee, not the travel agency’s fee.

    If that’s all they’re going to charge you, they’re not making any money off if this change, so the OP can rest assured that they’re not just trying to get more money out of him/his girlfriend.

    I’m confused about where they are in the process and the claims about “won’t issue the ticket.” See, you only pay a change fee if the ticket has already been issued AND it’s past 24 hours since it was issued. (Changes, refunds, and cancellations in that window are free, pretty much industry wide.)

    Northwest and KLM no longer issue paper tickets for ANY reason, so, IMO, the ticket has been issued and it’s electronic– they’ve got a valid, perfectly good ticket already. There should be nothing more for the travel agency to “release” or “issue.”

    I’m also confused about how the travel agency would have called the client to tell them that her name was spelled wrong– how did they figure that out? And why didn’t the OP’s gf notice it first?

  36. Fly Girl says:

    It looks like Gold Medal Travel is really more of an Orbitz or Expedia operation than a travel agency. In essence, he OP’s gf issued the ticket herself. She chose the segments, booked the segments, bought the segments. At the final screen, it would have shown her her name, as she spelled it, and given her a warning that all of the dates, spellings, routing, etc, are locked in once she buys the ticket. There would have been a box for her to tick, acknowledging the rules of the ticket and approving the spelling of her name, etc…

    There’s a little bit of “buyer beware” in this– a human travel agent would have caught this mistake BEFORE it became an issue. But, in essence, the OP’s gf issued herself a bad ticket.

    I’m not sure how Gold Medal Travel caught the error, but they did and then brought it to her attention. She CANNOT fly on that ticket as is (they’re not lying to her) and it WILL have to be reissued so that her ticket matches her passport. That’s a requirement for security, customs, immigration, and the FAA for the flight manifests. Unless her middle name, on her passport, is also her last name, she’s gotta make the change.

  37. Fly Girl says:

    Northwest/KLM can be as nice as they want over the phone and can tell you that they would waive your change fee, etc, etc, etc…

    Problem is, if they’re willing to do all of that, why haven’t they done it already? Why hasn’t Northwest/KLM gone into the OP’s gf’s record, changed her name, reissued the ticket, and waived the fee? If they’re so nice and helpful, that’s what they’d do, right?

    The reason they haven’t is because they CAN’T. The reason the ticket was so cheap to begin with was because it was a contract or bulk fare that only Gold Medal Travel has the access to. If Gold Medal Travel issued her a ticket on one of those fares, then Northwest/KLM CANNOT change it. The ticketing agency has to do the reissue.

    Gold Megal Travel is not charging them an additional fee– they are ONLY changing them Northwest/KLM’s reissue fee. The travel agency cannot waive Northwest/KLM’s fees without a waiver code issued to them directly from the ticketing airline, which we haven’t determined if that’s Northwest or KLM yet. Unless the OP can get the “super helpful” agent from Northwest to call his travel agent (Gold Medal Travel) and issue the travel agent a waiver code, the OP’s going to be stuck eating the reissue fee.

    In addition, he only called Northwest. If there are segments on KLM, it’s just as likely that KLM “owns” the ticket, not Northwest. He needs to figure out what airline the ticket was plated on and call THAT airline– the other airline can’t help him at all.

  38. Fly Girl says:

    The ticketing agency, in this case Gold Medal Travel, is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Even if they WANTED to waive the fee, they couldn’t without a waiver code. But they are completely correct in saying that the ticket HAS to be reissued.

    The OP’s gf still has a valid ticket, however, and I don’t know why the OP is under the impression that unless they make the change through Gold Medal Travel, the ticket is not valid. They paid for it, it’s all electronic, they have full control of the ticket. (“They” being the OP and his gf.)

    Gold Medal Travel CANNOT void the ticket without also refunding it, and they can’t void your ticket just because you won’t pay for the reissue. And, since it’s an electronic ticket, they can’t hold it hostage either.

    Honestly, the OP’s gf can’t fly on that ticket as-is. It HAS to be reissued. And unless they can figure out which airline owns the ticket (Northwest or KLM) and get them to either process the reissue or authorize a waiver code so that the travel agency can complete the reissue for free, they’re going to have a world of trouble day-of-departure at the airport.

    That’s probably the reason that Gold Medal Travel is being so aggressive about getting the reissue completed– they don’t want a situation where the OP’s gf is at the airport and has been denied boarding and suddenly it’s all Gold Medal Travel’s fault, right– “WHY DID THEY ISSUE ME A TICKET WITH MY NAME SPELLED WRONG?!”

  39. Fly Girl says:

    The name change has to be done, the reissue has to be done. No question there.

    Here’s how you can find out what carrier your ticket was “plated” on: if the OP or his gf got a receipt with an e-ticket number printed on it, the first three numbers of the ticket identify which airline plated the tickets and, therefore, which airline owns the tickets.

    If the first three numbers are 012, it’s a Northwest ticket. If the first three numbers are 074, it’s a KLM ticket. Only the ticketing airline can authorize changes, waivers, and give you accurate rules.

    That’s helpful information for anyone who has ever flown on a ticket with multiple carriers– ultimately, only one airlines “owns” the entire ticket and that’s the airline making the rules on it.

    Here’s a website with all of the airlines and their codes listed: [www.siber.com]

  40. Fly Girl says:

    The OP needs to figure out who plated the ticket and call that carrier. He needs to explain to them the situation and see if they will reissue the ticket without the change fee. If they say that they can’t, because it’s a bulk ticket or because it was issued through an travel agency, he needs to ask if they will issue a waiver code for his travel agent so that she can make the change for free.

    He needs to take down the name of the airline representative that he speaks to and then he needs to give that information to his travel agent.

    If the airline won’t reissue the ticket for him, or won’t issue a waiver code for his travel agent, well, then they’re going to be stuck paying that change fee.

    That’s a lesson for everyone who buys tickets– BEFORE you confirm, read through every single tiny detail of your itinerary. Make sure that your name is correct, the routing is correct, the flights are correct, that EVERYTHING is correct. Because even a simple mistake can be very costly in the end.

  41. LiC says:

    @JustAGuy2: I thought of that, but y’see my roommate had put her mother’s English name of Esther on the ticket, rather than her Russian name. And her mom’s got a really thick accent. Figured it was better to have everything down correctly than explain that they didn’t have id. It worked out in the end – priceline let her cancel the ticket, and she rebooked the same flights for the same price – with the right names.

  42. TechnoDestructo says:

    You CAN fly internationally on a misspelled ticket. I did so last year to Korea.

  43. Walrii says:

    @TechnoDestructo: CAN and should are two completely different things.

  44. Upsilon says:

    Wow, I want some $200 black ink. I hear it can cure AIDS.

  45. elephantattack says:

    Gold Medal, more like, Gold-colored aluminum foil medal.

    Sorry, no one else said it… far as I can see.

  46. j3s says:

    @Fly Girl: FWIW, I have flown both internationally and domestically on a misspelled ticket numerous times without any questions or problems whatsoever.

  47. LUV2CattleCall says:

    On a slightly unrelated note, I broke up with my ex a few years back, but we had tickets out to DCA a few weeks from the date of breakup…and understandably, the airline wouldn’t let me use those tickets for a friend of mine.

    Turns out that you can copy/paste a boarding pass into Microsoft Word and change the names, and even get rid of the “SSSS” crap (alternate method: Print, whiteout the SSSS’s, copy).

  48. DeltaPurser says:

    To correct a name, the airline (or agency if purchased thru a travel agent) needs to reissue a ticket. The fee to do so is set by the airline, not the agency. It is considered a change, no matter what.

    The thing is, the airline may be OK with her using her last name as her middle name (in effect), but they can’t speak for the INS and the TSA. They could, worst case, refuse her entry based on that alone…

    In the end, your girlfriend made a mistake when she booked online, and now she’s made pay a hefty penalty to correct it. Right or wrong, it may in the end be an expensive lesson…

  49. iamlost26 says:

    You need to just get the ticket in your hands. I made a similar mistake recently (actually a worse one), and I made it out alive.

    My dad uses his Chinese name for all official things, such as all his legal documents. He has an unofficial English name that we all use around the house, and when I booked a ticket in December, I used the English one instead of the Chinese one. Of course, his passport/DL both have the Chinese one. I called the travel site (expedia), and though they said it would cost at least $200 to issue a new ticket, they also tried to help me out by calling the airline and telling them my problem (Expedia’s customer service was excellent, btw). He said that if he had any documents showing his picture and his “American name”, he should bring it with him.

    In fact, we didn’t even need this. The airline told us that there is a process called “secondary screening”, where you can get through security without an ID (they just do a VERY thorough search first). Of course, this is only for domestic flights.

    My mom, though, has a name that is a combination of her american name, her chinese name, with both her maiden and my father’s last name (it’s like 5 or 6 words). Any/all of the tickets we’ve booked for her had SOMETHING out of order, or repeated, or spelled wrong, and they’ve always let her through no problem.

  50. Zephyr5866221 says:

    Hey, I know it’s been a while, but what happened in the end? Did she end up having to pay the $200?

    I’m currently facing a similar problem, although at a lighter level.

  51. Anonymous says:

    GMT must be the most annoying, disorganised and down right inefficient company I have ever used.
    right up to the day before our flights they were still trying to fix all the problems – THEY- created.
    i was assured on i can’t remember how many times that it was OK. You guessed it it was not.
    My clear advise is book direct with the supply airline. then they at least fix it when things go wrong.

    Never, never consider using this diabolical company.