Delta: Sorry Your Lung Collapsed, But You Should Have Used Your Voucher Sooner

Trevor’s lung collapsed last year, flummoxing his plans to travel with Delta from New York to Toronto. Delta issued a voucher and promised Trevor that it could be redeemed anytime within one year. What they didn’t tell him, at any point, was that they started counting not from the date of his planned travel, or from the date he requested the refund, but from the date they issued the original ticket.

Trevor sent us his exchanges with Delta. His initial letter:

Dear Delta,

In June of 2007, I experienced a collapsed lung. At the recommendation of my thoracic surgeon to avoid flight for three to six months from the time of my operation, I was unable to use tickets booked on June 11, for a flight from NY JFK to Toronto—flight XXXXXXXX.

After being made aware I would not be able to use the tickets, I called a Delta representative who informed me that once receiving a signed letter from my physician, I would be given full cred ($365.58) for the flight. The credit would be available for one year. On both occasions I spoke with Delta representatives—when canceling the flight and when confirming my letter was received—I was not made aware that the credit expired on the date the flight was booked (June 11) and not the date of departure (Aug. 3). This information was only relayed when I attempted to use the credit on June 24, 2008. No email or letter acknowledging the restriction was ever offered, just the instruction to call when I wished to apply the credit. On top of that, nowhere in the confirmation information given to me by Travelocity is the booking date listed, only the flight date and I’m sure you can imagine, given my health circumstances, how that is unsatisfactory if you expect me to consider June 11, the key date in this situation.

I understand Delta must have restrictions and expiration dates for credit; however, I feel my medical condition was taken advantage of by inadequate customer care that neglected to communicate the central piece of information. I am using the credit in a window well within a year of the flight date. This is the first time I’ve booked a flight since my injury and am dismayed by a lack of sensitivity by Delta’s policies and customer care representatives.

I appreciate your consideration and understanding.

Delta’s response:

Thank you for your correspondence to Delta Air Lines.

We realize you expect to receive accurate information when you call us. Our Reservation Sales representatives are carefully trained in all our procedures, including providing a positive experience for our valued customers.

Please be advised most unused international tickets can be applied towards new travel, domestic or international, to commence within one year from issue date of the original ticket.

Delta tickets and other travel-related documents are valid for one year from the date of issue. Once a ticket or other document has expired, it has no further value and cannot be refunded, extended, or exchanged.

While we would like to offer special consideration in cases such as yours, we are unable to honor the many requests that we receive from others in similar situations. We follow a consistent policy to ensure that Delta is fair to everyone who travels with us. Accordingly, we must respectfully decline your request.

Again, thank you for writing. We recognize this was not the response you expected to receive and trust you will understand our position. We value your business and hope you will continue to choose Delta. Should you need to contact us in the future, or find information about our service or operations, please visit us at delta.com.

Sincerely,

Irene M. Roberts
Manager
Customer Care

Can’t you feel the love and care of their velvet-covered sickle?

Trevor responded:

Dear Ms. Roberts,

I’m sure it comes as no surprise that your response is completely unsatisfactory and no, I do not in any way understand your position. Due to human error, Delta has stolen—that may sound like a strong word, but is in fact the ONLY way to refer to it—almost five hundred dollars from me.

You can claim your “Reservation Sales representatives are carefully trained”; however, all experience in this situation points to quite the opposite. Just one example, it took two hours and the escalation of the issue to a supervisor before anyone could even figure out how to locate my reservation. I understand the challenges of staffing qualified people to low-paying positions, but don’t screw your customers when they slip up. If you have many requests from “others in similar situations” than you have an institutional problem that needs to be fixed and I do not feel I should pay the price for that failure. It is certainly not Delta being “fair to everyone who travels” with you. Quite the opposite in fact.

In a business whose success and failure hinges on the ability to create customer loyalty—one ticket, just one, bought by me could erase any loss you’d take from giving me MY MONEY back—it’s shocking to me that you’ve decided to give me the middle finger and I’m sure, a contributing factor to Delta’s struggles. I will NOT “continue to choose Delta.” In the internet age, I’m just shocked Delta doesn’t understand this costs more than it saves. You have no right to this money and with poor customer service from top to bottom, have taken advantage of my illness.

Attached you’ll find signed statements from just a few of the people who’ve heard my story and agree that Delta has abused its corporate powers and hidden behind policies that avoid accountability. This will be just the beginning as I feel it’s important people hear how your company approaches its customers.

I will be happy to forgive and forget if you decide it’s worth actually considering my case individually and realize the importance of respecting your customers especially when they are confronted with life and death health challenges.

We’ve shown that a well-crafted, reasonable Executive Email Carpet Bomb can decimate arbitrary airline deadlines. Send an EECB to Delta’s executives using previously published contact information, and don’t forget to cc the Department of Transportation.

PREVIOUSLY: EECB Scores Direct Hit On Delta’s $25 Extra Bag Fee
(AP Photo/David Kohl)

Comments

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  1. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    I’m planning on buying airline tickets for business travel for my team within the next week or two. Delta’s response to this traveler’s reasonable request will help me decide which airline to choose for the several thousand dollars of airfare I plan to spend.

  2. kepler11 says:

    @speedwell:
    No need to be overly dramatic, and may I say, it would be a bit rash to make a choice of airline based on this one story. Every major airline has this policy, and you will not get a different response from another carrier. The grass is not greener somewhere else, that you would be “showing them” by taking your business elsewhere.

    The reason that credit begins from the issue date rather than the travel date is that the airline receives your payment on the issue date, and wants you to have 1 year to use it up to clear it off their books. Airline tickets can be purchased almost a year in advance, and if credit/refunds were based on the travel date, that credit could last until nearly 2 years in the future, depending on the travel. The airline wants an easy, fixed known date, so they chose the issue date as the start of the clock. Not saying it’s right or good, or that you have to understand why, but that’s just what it is and you have to live with it. They could’ve made tickets as “use-it-or-lose-it”, so maybe you should look at this gratefully as a free year of credit.

    The best hope for the person in the story, is to ask for sympathy, rather than accusing the airline of “stealing”. The 2nd letter comes off as very officious and accusatory despite the misunderstanding being the customer’s, and using his illness as an entitlement to circumvent the company’s policy, rather than asking for help. Who wants a customer who threatens to leave at the drop of a hat? He would do best to request sympathy, and a one-time waiver due to his health circumstances, so that the credit can be extended for a few months.

  3. mthrndr says:

    please let us know how this turns out.

  4. I had a similar thing happen to me.. I bought a ticket through American Airlines to go to Coachella 06 with the lovely wife until she needed emergency oral surgery the day before we were to leave. I called AA, got a voucher and life went on. Fast forward to this past year I was going apply it towards a ticket for my Grandma’s funeral in Seattle and learned that even though my voucher was issued the day before I was to leave that date last year, it was the ORIGINAL purchase date (Feb 06) that was the start date for the expiration countdown. I was upset, but like a dumbass I just assumed it would be the date they issued the voucher.. Oh well.

  5. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @kepler11: What drama? It’s simple. I have to purchase airline tickets for my team at a major international corporation for a face-to-face meeting. I do this every six to ten weeks (so I know what proper service from an airline should be, and your condescending, ignorant remarks about how airlines work are out of place).

    I have a number of choices. I can make my choices based on whatever criteria I want to, including the principle of “those who are not trustworthy in small matters are unlikely to be trustworthy in large matters.” I think to myself, “What if I needed to call on customer service to help me with something that was all or in part their fault? What would happen to me?”

    That’s what consumerism is. If you don’t understand that, you are in the wrong place, my dear.

  6. thelushie says:

    @kepler11: And at this point, if he had sent that letter off, he will not be getting it.

  7. Joe S Chmo says:

    I just today had to cancel a flight I booked on Travelocity and they do make this policy clear that it is one year from the date of purchase of the ticket. Although this may have changed from last year when you booked your flight, the date of purchase is the date of your confirmation email.

    I went back and checked my confirmation email from last year’s flight and it does have the same language in the confirmation about canceling.

    Here is the part : “Need to change or cancel your trip?
    Use our online calculator to check the fees and rules before you decide”. After you follow the link there is the full explanation of what to do.

    This is the first time I have ever had to cancel a flight so I thought it would be more difficult than it turned out to be. The cancellation will cost me $150 to rebook with the airline and $30.00 more goes to Travelocity to rebook the flight.

    I understand your anger about feeling cheated but your 2nd email will most likely fall on deaf ears. I wish you luck in trying to continue to get credit towards another flight because of your health reasons though.

  8. brainswarm says:

    There is a glaring error in this story. No “voucher” was ever issued. The original reservation would have been documented to allow him to apply the ticket to another flight without a change fee, but when the ticket expires, it expires. Delta was generous to give this passenger what they did last year, but now that the ticket is no longer valid, he is asking Delta to take money out of their own pockets.

  9. Alger says:

    @kepler11: Your well-thought out response is, frankly, a load of BS. I don’t feel sorry if the airline has to carry a payment on their books. Excuse me, but don’t they MAKE money by holding on to a customer’s money until the flight?

    And what happens if somebody buys a ticket eleven months in advance, and then gets sick? Does that make it reasonable for them to only have ONE month to rebook? That seems a little out of line.

    His second letter doesn’t sound “officious”, it sounds angry. He did exactly what you suggested in the FIRST letter — asked for sympathy and a waiver. The airline told him to stuff it, that they had no sympathy, and they weren’t giving waivers to anybody.

    Regardless of policy, if the airline didn’t communicate it properly, they need to own up and make it right.

  10. Alger says:

    @brainswarm: “he is asking Delta to take money out of their own pockets.”

    Right. HIS money, that Delta did NOT earn.

  11. scerwup says:

    I don’t know what it is, but most of these necessary rules that the airline impose upon their customers seem pretty shady. Let me elaborate on just this example… As kepler11 said, the airlines wants a nice fixed date by which you have to use it, so they can clear it off their books. Yeah that’s great, after that year, it clears off their books right into their bank account… Awesome, free money for them, no service provided. That’s stealing. For that matter, even something as simple as a non refundable ticket is pretty close to stealing. However, on a non-refundable ticket, at least the person knows that they are getting their money stolen from them. In what dimension do you pay for something, not get that something, and still have to pay for it. It should be illegal to take people’s money and then not provide the product or service which they gave you the money for.
    Delta should have just given him a refund in the first place, rather than give him the runaround and a huge pain in the butt, which turned into him giving them 400 bucks for no reason. I understand that every business has “policies”, but when did it become ok for those “policies” to decide they can take your money and give you nothing in return.
    That’s wrong, people should stand up for their right not to be ripped off.
    I also really liked his second letter back to Delta, and while it may not accomplish anything, judging from the response he got from Delta originally, there isn’t anything that would accomplish him getting his money back. So, at least he got to feel a little bit better. I must say, my reply would have been much harsher and filled with a lot of random cursing. I probably would have pursued it relentlessly just to make myself feel better. So, great letter OP.
    People, learn to stand up for yourselves….

    That is all

  12. kepler11 says:

    @speedwell:
    Nothing in my message was condescending (seems like you are though, “my dear”), and I’m not assuming that you don’t know what you want in an airline or that you don’t have the right to choose as you like. But I am questioning the rationale behind your decision to judge Delta based on this one story, and others who would do the same based on lack of knowledge of the alternatives and how they are not substantially different.

    If you’re going to do so, you should at least choose to make a statement with your money based on reason and rational expectation. I’m simply pointing out that if you’re a responsible and informed person in charge of such a large sum of money (and not just basing a multi-thousand $ purchase on a story at consumerist), and you say you’re going to judge an airline by its response to this, and take your money elsewhere if it doesn’t satisfy your sense of right/wrong — then shouldn’t you make sure that the other airline you take your money to, has a different policy?

    You have not just had surgery, or have some other reason they would waive the rules if you ran into this refund/credit situation yourself. You would face the same 1 year expiration date at any major airline. So what have you shown by taking your business to another airline that would’ve done the exact same thing? How did that teach them a lesson? Will you have to leave that one too when you read a story about them? This policy is the same all around (with every airline that flies internationally) — if you’re responsible with your company’s money, shouldn’t you base your decision on real things that are different between airlines you want to choose from?

    put another way, if you avoided Delta because of this, could you say to your boss that you approved spending your money at a more expensive airline (say if Delta was the cheapest), because the other airline would give you a credit beyond 1 year if you were mistaken about it?

  13. kepler11 says:

    @scerwup:

    …As kepler11 said, the airlines wants a nice fixed date by which you have to use it, so they can clear it off their books. Yeah that’s great, after that year, it clears off their books right into their bank account… Awesome, free money for them, no service provided. That’s stealing. For that matter, even something as simple as a non refundable ticket is pretty close to stealing. However, on a non-refundable ticket, at least the person knows that they are getting their money stolen from them. In what dimension do you pay for something, not get that something, and still have to pay for it. It should be illegal to take people’s money and then not provide the product or service which they gave you the money for.

    You see, this is what airlines have to contend with in terms of what their potential customers understand or misunderstand about what airline tickets are, and how loosely people will just throw around the term “stealing”, no matter how uninformed and idiotic. No wonder they have trouble surviving.

    When you buy an airline ticket, you are handing over your money over for the airline to take you from place A to B on the day and time specified. If you don’t use it, you have basically given up the value of that ticket. How is it different from a baseball game you miss, minutes on your cellphone that you don’t use, or bread that goes stale? In every case, it is your lack of use of that item that’s the cause. Just because you didn’t use it, doesn’t mean they didn’t deliver it to you and have “stolen” it. Why don’t you protest all of these things by the same logic?

    The airlines are being “generous” (a very relative term here I admit) by letting you use the credit within a year of purchase. They don’t even have to do that. They could make all tickets completely non-refundable and expire in value after you miss the flight. Many airlines do that in other countries. But here, they give us this option, and we accept the conditions when we buy the ticket. Unfortunately, many people have forgotten or simply don’t know that this is the case.

    Sorry, I wasn’t going to reply further or answer more in this thread, but sometimes stupidity is intolerable.

  14. brainswarm says:

    @Alger: So would you also argue that it’s unfair for warranties to expire, or for retailers to put a time limit on merchandise returns?

  15. dragonfire1481 says:

    customer service reps are not “carefully trained” they are given a training course full of more holes than swiss cheese then flung out on to the call floor to fend for themselves.

  16. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @kepler11: I’ll take my money to a company that is more likely to share my values and my idea of how to do business. In my company, customer service is key. I think it’s pathetic that other companies don’t agree. If Delta was our customer, we would bend over backward for them. They are not likely to be purchasing oil well equipment anytime soon, but if they did, we would be as understanding and accommodating to them as we are to our other customers.

    Healthy companies deal honestly and forthrightly, fully disclosing their terms, and acting generously to their customers. They understand that future business depends on the way they treat people. When companies are desperate and frightened, they start pulling back. They act like their customers are their adversaries instead of their reason for being. They adopt a pathological suspicion of being taken advantage of. All I can say to that is that mentally ill people (and unhealthy companies) see themselves and their weaknesses in everyone they have dealings with.

    In my company, we are not penny-wise and pound-foolish. We buy refundable plane tickets in case the date of or reason for a meeting change. We have frequently been in situations where we wished we had spent a little extra to help ensure a better experience and better team morale. We have lost time and money because travel companies and hotels have treated us like they hate us instead like customers. Yes, my boss would approve if I purchased tickets at a more expensive airline, if the reason was that there was evidence that the less expensive airline had poor customer service and refused to accommodate reasonable requests. He has done so himself. His boss has done so as well. Our corporate culture is not full of suspicion and privation. We are frugal, not stupid.

  17. henwy says:

    When I was given a voucher for being bumped off of an overbooked flight, it very clearly had the expiration date printed on it. Was there no physical voucher given or did it not have the date on it? They must’ve at least sent an email or something with the info on the voucher initially, right?

    Still, I don’t quite get the OP’s complain that delta is ‘taking advantage’ of his medical condition. I mean, WTF? It’s not like the airline schemed against him nor did they somehow fool him into having his surgery when he did.

  18. infecto says:

    While it sucks for the guy the airline did not steal a thing. I do not mean to be harsh but its his job to know whats going on. If I had to cancel I would have asked from what date the credit was good for. No point in making assumptions in my opinion.

    Personally I find it awesome enough that they even give refunds. At the end of the day in situations like this its the responsibility of the consumer not the company.

  19. legwork says:

    Getting it off the books? That’s an internal accounting problem. Using it as an excuse is an example of incompetence from anyone in a service business.

    @brainswarm, a better analogy would be a roofing company that accepts payment but decides they don’t want to honor it because the roofing shipment was damaged and couldn’t be replaced before their fiscal year end. Oh, but it was in the fine print. Both cases are built for company convenience and are anti-customer.

    BTW, is this the industry stump board today? Explaining why a company does something anti-consumer and thereby foisting blame on the customer doesn’t fix the problem. You guys are on the wrong board. Fascinating to see the interest, though.

  20. macinjosh says:

    @legwork:
    “BTW, is this the industry stump board today? Explaining why a company does something anti-consumer and thereby foisting blame on the customer doesn’t fix the problem. You guys are on the wrong board. Fascinating to see the interest, though. “

    Yeah, it’s not even April 1st :)

  21. thesabre says:

    @kepler11: So, you can book tickets up to about a year in advance? So, if I booked a ticket today, July 12, 2008 to travel sometime around June, 10, 2009, how would Delta then issue a credit if something went wrong? If I had a heart attack or collapsed lung in like March/April 09 and had to cancel this flight, would I be S.O.L. since the furthest they can give a credit is to July 12, 2009?

    While I agree they have a policy and it’s their right to stick to it, the credit SHOULD apply from the travel date.

    If I booked a year in advance and had a medical emergency a month before my flight where I couldn’t fly for three months, then my reward for being prepared and booking early (and subsequently letting MY money sit in their bank account for a year gaining interest) is to get shafted since the credit would be good until the date of my original trip? Policy or not, it’s a horrible way of doing business.

  22. Alger says:

    @brainswarm: I’d argue that it’s unfair if they lied to you about when the warranty expires, and then denied warranty service to you because you missed the deadline.

  23. SacraBos says:

    @kepler11: “How is it different from a baseball game you miss, minutes on your cellphone that you don’t use, or bread that goes stale?” It’s different because they have the exact same flight day in and day out. If the Mets played the Dodgers every single day at the same time, you’d probably have quite an easy time exchanging the ticket for a different day. As for the bread, you still have the physical bread in your possession for you use (make crutons or feed birds).

    And for a better “example”, if I buy a movie ticket for a specific movie at a specific time, and barf up a lung, I’m 100% sure I’d get my money back (and have for much lesser reasons), so that I could hopefully see the movie in that theater at a later date/time.

  24. International carriers, such as Delta, must comply with international rules and regs. I don’t have access to the rules, but I suspect the 1 year from transaction date is written in the international regs.

    Should Delta bend the rule for the customer? Possibly. But obviously Delta may be prohibited from bending the rule

    (’cause if they do, they might have to allow Paraquay Citizens to fly on 20 year old tickets or something similarly stupid)

    If I was the OP I would have responded to the initial denial with another Dr’s letter stating he was unfit to fly for much of the year (in truth he was) and ask Delta to bend the rules due to on going medical issues.

    But the OP is already getting nasty. A Dr’s letter at this point is going to look a bit suspicious.

  25. SacraBos says:

    @brainswarm: Again, bad analogy – you still have the purchase in your possession and have or could have gotten at least some use and benefit out of it.

  26. MickeyMoo says:

    if Delta refuses to apply common sense and “make an exception” – could a Delta employee (a board member or ranking corporate officer) from out of state be named as the defendant in small claims court? (not a facetious question – I’ve only been to small claims once, never sued a corporation)

    They’d either have to spend more than the cost of the ticket to make the court date or default. Might not get him his money back but there’s a certain vicious justice, at least in my peabrain.

  27. rellog says:

    “I understand Delta must have restrictions and expiration dates for credit; “

    …I don’t. They get a free loan of the money. Just like store credits, I think there should be a law against credits expiring at all. He should be allowed to apply the amount to any flight he wishes, and simply pay the difference if there is one.

  28. Prions says:

    If I received a credit I would make sure to find out when it expired. By not finding it it’s his fault that he didn’t use it when he should have.

    Oh and for all those “common sense” people…have you any idea how many people must make requests like these every day? Delta cannot (and should not) be forced to honor every request.

  29. rellog says:

    @kepler11: Your arguement MIGHT have some merit if the airlines didn’t consistently overbook flights. If I buy a ticket to a baseball game, I’m GUARANTEED my seat. Not so with airlines.

  30. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    @rellog:
    It is not “a free loan of money”. Apparently the OP bought a non-refundable ticket and was able to get an extension by presenting a letter from his doctor. The problem is that the OP thought the extension was 1 year from flight date not purchase date. Given the confusion, & lack of documentation from the airline to the OP on this credit, I am surprised that Delta got anal about him being 13 days past the 1 year.

  31. hills says:

    I’m with the OP here – been in a similar situation and yes, the airline I flew was not clear about the expiration date – only when I double checked the date did they inform me the credit is 1 year from issue, not original flight…. I agree that many customer reps are not well trained to know the significant difference and it sucks that Delta is not honoring the voucher.

  32. homerj says:

    To quote 4chan…”we aren’t your personal army”

    I’m tried of people just not liking an obvious standard practice and thinking they are special. Then they cry “OH YEAH, WELL I’LL PUT THIS ON THE INTERNET”!

    There’s lots of stories of people generally getting screwed over. Then there’s this idiot. Hoping we’ll all get outraged, call Delta, and tell them we’ll never fly with them again because they didn’t give some slapnuts his ticket after a year.

    Man up.

  33. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @homerj: Even if we’re women? ;)

    Anyway. The point of consumerism is to advocate the consumer. It is simple good business. If businesses don’t care to do the simple things that guarantee goodwill, shame on them. It’s sad and ignorant that many businesses and their customers believe they are on opposite “sides” of a zero-sum game. But even if that were true, what side are you on, anyway?

  34. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    (Advocate FOR the consumer.)

  35. homerj says:

    @speedwell: Well, this is something he should have clarified when he called either time. When they said “within one year” his next question should have been “the booking date or the travel date”. He just assumed, and assumed wrong. He now expects Delta to cover for his mistake. I know the first thing I ask after I hear something along the lines of “for one year”, I ask “one year from what”?

    I just didn’t like the tone of having others be his personal army in the second letter and now the posting to Consumerist. It wasn’t Delta’s fault–it was his.

  36. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @homerj: Sure, sure. So where on the ticket was it written, again?

  37. dwcusc says:

    @homerj (also @kepler11): I’m sorry I disagree. This is a big problem in not just the airline industry, but in many. Consumers have to learn to either ask hundreds of follow-up questions or become lawyers and read every line in 100+ page documents. The companies have the resources, manpower and should have the expertise to walk the customer through the details they need to know.

    Instead, we often see the companies decide that the place to cut corners is in dealing with the customer. So we have these stories where poorly trained customer service staff cause bigger issues that could have been avoided.

    Also, kepler11, I do agree with speedwell in that your initial posting (and I’d venture to say your other postings since) was condescending. Seems like you should apply for a position at Delta, assuming you’re not already working there.

  38. Xkeeper says:

    @homerj: You have one year to enjoy your commenting privledges before you get banned.

    Now — and I’m very serious — assuming this conversation took place, would you dumbly ask “From right now (when it was said) or from when I first registered?”

    If you say the first option, you are a liar.

    I am with speedwell and others in that this practice is deceptive and should not be tolerated. Hell, on one of the few flights I was on (American Airlines), they were so overbooked several people had to stay behind for an extra day. So no, I don’t think allowing a rebook would be out of the question; after all, it’s free money for them (especially if they overbooked in the first place).

    Even if not, they only lose money if it was a full flight in the first place, and even then only if it was exactly full. If there is one free space or one overbooked person, they lose nothing.

    This is bullshit and this guy should get his damn ticket refunded or rebooked. There’s no way of looking at it aside from this that isn’t “Oh those poor airlines, boo fucking hoo”.

  39. They should change their policy because of of their passanger’s medical condition? What’s it mattter WHAT happened to him? He’s more important than someone who missed their flight because of a cold?

  40. irishsnake says:

    I can see both sides of the issue… Personally, I think that there should be a clear, bold, highlighted, underlined, size 16 font expiration date on the vouchers.

    But, as it seems that there wasn’t one, Delta should suck it up, give the person their free flight, and ensure that its the last time it happens by revising the clarity of their vouchers.

    The airlines have found themselves in a really crappy situation BTW. Between the TSA’s inconvenient safety precautions, the rising fuel costs thanks to America’s War on Terror and declining dollar, and powerful unions demanding -understandably- beneficial agreements for their members… the airlines are being squeezed from all sides. Really, the airlines are damned if they do, and damned if they don’t.

    This lung-collapse guy deserves a break, but so do the airlines. Come to think of it, we could all use a break.

  41. Angryrider says:

    How often to people get a collapsed lung or medical emergency? Pretty darn low probability.
    Delta, you and your bureaucratic mess can go shove it.

  42. ClayS says:

    @ConsequencesIX:
    And when you consider that he went through a potentially life-threatening ordeal, thoracic surgergy, and has thankfully recovered, how significant is $365 in all this? He ought to count his blessings and move on.

  43. lemur says:

    I’ve been screwed by “time limited” vouchers and credits too. When they give a credit, they should give you hour money back, period, otherwise they should just say it is non-refundable, and keep the money. Anything else is just posturing: “oh, look how costumer friendly we are: we gave a credit although we were not obligated.” Yeah, whatever. What you did, dear airline company, was to pretend to refund the money when in fact you did not.

    It is pretty disingenuous of them that they pull this kind of crap and then ask us to petition our representatives in congress to save the airlines.

  44. bravo369 says:

    i agree with him that it’s an institutional problem…and it’s the same problem with all of them. they don’t really care to refund money, only take money. that’s why you sit on hold for 2 hours. that’s why when i called AA for a refund after all their flights were cancelled due to their wiring problems, i sat on hold, eventually hung up, only to call back later and get messages that refund department is only open from 9am-5pm. oh, but the flight booking dept is open 24/7. imagine that. you shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to get what you deserve and that should be their problem to fix.

  45. Nick1693 says:

    We realize you expect to receive accurate information when you call us.

    No crap?

  46. infecto says:

    His fault end of story. RTFM

  47. kepler11 says:

    @SacraBos: …It’s different because they have the exact same flight day in and day out. If the Mets played the Dodgers every single day at the same time, you’d probably have quite an easy time exchanging the ticket for a different day….And for a better “example”, if I buy a movie ticket for a specific movie at a specific time, and barf up a lung, I’m 100% sure I’d get my money back (and have for much lesser reasons), so that I could hopefully see the movie in that theater at a later date/time….

    That is true, but the analogy is inapt. It is not the frequency of the event that determines whether you should be able to miss it and get back the credit, but rather how perishable, exclusive-use, and irretrievable it is. The baseball game and movie you use as examples rarely sell out, and are of low value, and most importantly, one person’s use rarely prevents another from using it (except if it’s completely sold out).

    Airline seats on the other hand, are highly valuable, and one person taking a seat often means that another cannot use it. For that reason, if you miss a flight, on many routes, you have prevented someone else from having that seat, and should you not have to have some restrictions on whether you can expect a refund or how you can use the credit that they allow you to have even though you missed it?

    A better analogy would be a ticket to the World Series, or a movie ticket to the night of a Hollywood premier. Would you expect those to be “reusable” if you missed the event?

  48. kepler11 says:

    @Alger: Your well-thought out response is, frankly, a load of BS. I don’t feel sorry if the airline has to carry a payment on their books. Excuse me, but don’t they MAKE money by holding on to a customer’s money until the flight?… And what happens if somebody buys a ticket eleven months in advance, and then gets sick? Does that make it reasonable for them to only have ONE month to rebook? That seems a little out of line.

    First, I didn’t give the explanation of the airline wanting to clear liabilities after a year for the purpose of justifying their policy or making it seem right. Reardless of the reason behind it, the point is that you accept this time limit when you buy the ticket. What is there to complain about if you accepted it? You could’ve sought out an airline that had a different policy.

    If the person bought 11 months in advance, then that’s that. We all have had things that didn’t work out that we planned far in advance. Just because you planned it so far ahead, doesn’t mean that people treat you differently. Maybe he should’ve gotten travel insurance for something that far off, since that is what that service is for — the unexpected — a lot can happen in 11 months. Who is to determine that 1 month is “out of line”, or not? Would 2 months be ok? How much then? You see, so we go by the rules.

    If Delta feels like being nice and giving this guy a break, then fine. It is a relatively rare case. But I would not be surprised if they didn’t, especially given his 2nd letter that exposed his true nastiness and lack of knowledge. Some customers a company is better off not having.

  49. kepler11 says:

    @legwork: a better analogy would be a roofing company that accepts payment but decides they don’t want to honor it because the roofing shipment was damaged and couldn’t be replaced before their fiscal year end. Oh, but it was in the fine print. Both cases are built for company convenience and are anti-customer.

    No, that is a completely wrong analogy.

    Everything about this story is the customer/passenger deciding not to take his flight (regardless of what reason). In that act, the customer single-handedly backed out of the contract. The airline is giving him 1 year to use the credit, which they do not have to do.

    So tell me, how is the airline being anti-consumer here?

  50. kepler11 says:

    @thesabre: So, you can book tickets up to about a year in advance? So, if I booked a ticket today, July 12, 2008 to travel sometime around June, 10, 2009, how would Delta then issue a credit if something went wrong? If I had a heart attack or collapsed lung in like March/April 09 and had to cancel this flight, would I be S.O.L. since the furthest they can give a credit is to July 12, 2009?

    You should buy travel insurance then.

  51. kepler11 says:

    @rellog: Your arguement MIGHT have some merit if the airlines didn’t consistently overbook flights. If I buy a ticket to a baseball game, I’m GUARANTEED my seat. Not so with airlines.

    Airline overbooking has nothing to do with whether his ticket credit should be usable for more than a year. Just because they overbook periodically does not mean that all tickets should be valid from a year from the date of travel. Overbooking only affects a very small percentage of passengers. If he hypothetically had been able to take his flight and there was no overbooking, would you say that Delta’s expiration policy is valid then?

    And just to clarify, airlines overbook exactly because their product is so perishable and valuable. And no one is involuntarily denied a seat with a confirmed ticket, until others are requested to voluntarily give up their seat in return for compensation. Rarely, it doesn’t go smoothly and people are involuntarily inconvenienced, but those are very rare cases.

  52. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @infecto: The OP wasn’t given the “FM,” silly.

  53. kepler11 says:

    @speedwell: …Anyway. The point of consumerism is to advocate for the consumer. It is simple good business. If businesses don’t care to do the simple things that guarantee goodwill, shame on them. It’s sad and ignorant that many businesses and their customers believe they are on opposite “sides” of a zero-sum game. But even if that were true, what side are you on, anyway?

    Sure, that’s a good approach. But after a company puts in policies (including customer-friendly ones) because it has to deal with thousands of customers a day, what are you going to do about someone who still wants you to go outside the policy?

    You sell oil rig equipment or something related. If a customer’s equipment breaks because of his mistake while not reading the manual, you might replace it, just to be friendly. What do you do if the customer says he’s been inconvenienced and should be given 2 pieces of new, expensive equipment for his mistake? And says you’re stealing his money because you don’t give him more equipment for free? And how would you react if he put his story here and people on this blog told you to “just give it to him, then I would respect your company. And if you don’t you’re evil.”

    How far does it go after you’ve drawn the line on what’s reasonable to do for the customer? Sometimes, customers are unreasonable.

  54. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Airlines…the only corporations that seem to go out of their way to piss off customers and make enemies.

    That really makes me want to sign theFuel Petition.

    Next time I have a highly contagious disease, remind me to fly Delta. “Why yes, I do have the Bubonic Plague, but I know Delta will try to screw me on the ticket, so I figured I’d better use it.” Oh, and maybe I’ll bring a few ticks to let loose on the plane too :)

  55. Cliff_Donner says:

    It’s been many years since I’ve flown, so I’m admittedly out of touch with the specifics of how flights get ticketed. When I read the OP was “issued a voucher,” I’m envisioning a piece of paper that the airline has put into an envelope, stamped, and mailed out to him. And I want to say, “Why didn’t the airline just print an expiration date on the voucher? That would seem to be a sensible move that would prevent a lot of confusion in these cases.”

    However I’m guessing that all of this is handled “paperlessly” now. So the consumer ends up having no verifiable document to point to when there’s a discrepancy between “what the customer service rep told me” or “what the website indicated when I purchased this” and what actually happens when they try to use what they’ve bought.

  56. christoj879 says:

    @speedwell: This couldn’t have been said better. It’s the damndest thing, I’ve noticed that in my business if I bend over backwards and actually SPEND money fixing problems and not telling customers to go F themselves I make MORE money than if I told them to go to hell. The reason? They’re happy with the service, they tell others who then use the service, and they come back for repeat business. Your customers are probably your greatest investment. I know that sounds corporate-y stupid, but it’s true.

  57. pianos101 says:

    Lee Macenczak (lee.macenczak@delta.com) is the head of customer service at Delta. Shoot him an email; i’ve hear back from him pretty quickly.

  58. bonzombiekitty says:

    While perhaps Delta should have been clearer over its policy, it boils down to the guy bought an unrefundable ticket. He traded a lower cost ticket for the risk of not getting a refund, which is something 99% of us do without even thinking about it. Delta didn’t have to give him anything.

  59. GearheadGeek says:

    @kepler11: “Airline seats on the other hand, are highly valuable, and one person taking a seat often means that another cannot use it. For that reason, if you miss a flight, on many routes, you have prevented someone else from having that seat, and should you not have to have some restrictions on whether you can expect a refund or how you can use the credit that they allow you to have even though you missed it?”

    Here I think you’ve missed an important point. The OP canceled his reservation sometime in June ’07 for a flight scheduled for early August ’07. If Delta was not able to resell that seat in more than a month (quite possibly at a higher price than the OP had paid, since he booked nearly 2 months out) then that empty seat was really Delta’s fault, not the OP. Your point would be valid if the OP simply didn’t show up for his flight, then called Delta a week later and said “Oh, I was ill, here’s a doctor’s note, give me a credit.” That was not the case.

  60. dibdidit says:

    When something have a expiration date, it have be clearly indicated. i.e. you buy a gallon of milk, if the expiration date was not written on it, how your suppose to know it when will expire?

    It is the duty of the airline to clearly indicate when the credit/voucher expire as that credit/voucher is emitted.

  61. godlyfrog says:

    @kepler11: There’s a difference between the company having a right to their policies and being pro-consumer.

    This policy is very anti-consumer thanks to the fact that they seem to be designed to keep the money rather than let the consumer use the voucher. Here’s an example:

    - If you cancel the flight, the date is from the time of purchase. If Delta cancels the flight, it’s from the date of issuance. In both cases, the voucher must not only be used by the expiration date, but the flight must also be within the expiration date. Not only does this blow the “accounting” theory out of the water, since flight dates have no bearing on sales accounting, but in the case of customer cancellation, if the start date of the 1 year timer is on the date of purchase, not the date of the flight, why does it make sense that the expiration has anything to do with the date of the flight? And why do both vouchers that have different start dates depending on the person at fault have the same policies for the expiration?
    – Most people who book a flight for non-business reasons do so for specific and unique situations: vacations, funerals, special events, etc. For Delta to expect these people to reuse the ticket in less than a year implies that Delta just wants to keep the money without providing a service. The fact that their policy used to be two years prior to 2002 shows that it is possible for them to do it.

    Both of these are reasons why consumers believe this is little more than theft, and due to this perception, should be a good reason for them to review it.

  62. jamar0303 says:

    I’m waiting for more routes on Virgin America; they seem to have a pretty good thing going so far.

  63. mannymix03 says:

    Life isn’t fair, the policy is clearly outlined. He didn’t use it, this is exactly what I hate sometimes, while the rule might suck its still a private company and you have to play by their rules. Delta could just as easy make tickets non-refundable and have given him nothing. Sorry but its an unfair world. I’m tired of consumers who believe they are above the rules and entitled to everything, I love that Delta is sticking to its policy and not giving it to anyone past that date, finally a corporation that doesn’t bend over backwards and just take it from any customer that whines (unlike my company which will give vouchers for just about any reason). Straight of the Delta website (found within 2 minutes)

    Nonrefundable Tickets

    The policies regarding ticket changes for nonrefundable tickets vary. Bulk fare or tour fare tickets issued through certain third-party websites and travel agents are not eligible for any changes. Check Same-day Travel Changes to review your options if you only want to change the time you depart or request an upgrade. ” (also on the page you can find where it says vouchers are only valid a year from booking date)

    His ticket was non-refundable otherwise he could have gotten an automatic refund from delta.com, but because he booked from a 3rd party he saved a little money, but then got screwed, another lesson on why you should book directly with the airline, honestly why would you try and save a couple of bucks and roll the dice on whether you will be able to make it and lose your money, pay a little extra and get a refundable ticket.
    But i’m sure this will fall on deaf ears, consumerist has become a witch hunt lately.

  64. SexierThanJesus says:

    @mannymix03: “I love that Delta is sticking to its policy and not giving it to anyone past that date, finally a corporation that doesn’t bend over backwards and just take it from any customer that whines”

    You’re right, Manny. Finally, a multi billion dollar corporation that doesn’t take any shit from the “little guy”!! Take your collapse lung and get the hell out of here!!

    You must be a real charmer.

  65. charliux says:

    @speedwell: I am very sure you will choose the cheapest option even if it is Delta.

  66. SexierThanJesus says:

    @ConsequencesIX: Betcha can’t wait for Ron Paul to fix this.

    Ooooopss!!!

  67. TheMadCow says:

    Are there more trolls under the Consumerist bridge lately? Perhaps it’s time to fumigate.

  68. bdgw7 says:

    I lost a ticket this way. Now I know, that when you cancel a flight, the ticket is only good until the date of purchase, not travel. It’s pretty much standard airline practice. Unfortunately, you usually have to learn this one the hard way.

  69. kepler11 says:

    @godlyfrog: …If you cancel the flight, the date is from the time of purchase. If Delta cancels the flight, it’s from the date of issuance….

    what are you talking about? What airline is canceling a flight and giving you a voucher? your paragraph makes no sense.

    …Most people who book a flight for non-business reasons do so for specific and unique situations: vacations, funerals, special events, etc. For Delta to expect these people to reuse the ticket in less than a year implies that Delta just wants to keep the money without providing a service… Both of these are reasons why consumers believe this is little more than theft…

    Again with the theft argument. Delta doesn’t “expect” anyone to do anything but show up for the flight they booked. You miss the flight — that is your fault, no one else’s. For the airline to give them a year to use the credit off the ticket is their attempt to be customer friendly, by letting you use the value of a ticket beyond the date you agreed. How can they know how long is reasonable for you to take to use it? They have to pick an amount of time, and maybe you would be just as easily be complaining about a 2 year expiration if that were the policy? How can a company ever come out ahead if everyone expects it to operate according to what suits their particular case? Buy travel insurance if you don’t want unforseen events to leave you out of pocket on things you buy in advance and end up backing out of. That’s why that industry exists.

    @GearheadGeek: Here I think you’ve missed an important point. The OP canceled his reservation sometime in June ’07 for a flight scheduled for early August ’07. If Delta was not able to resell that seat in more than a month (quite possibly at a higher price than the OP had paid, since he booked nearly 2 months out) then that empty seat was really Delta’s fault, not the OP. Your point would be valid if the OP simply didn’t show up for his flight, then called Delta a week later and said “Oh, I was ill, here’s a doctor’s note, give me a credit.” That was not the case…

    That empty seat is because of the person’s not taking the flight, end of story. No airline is going to be giving out credits or refunds or policies based on whether the seat you agreed and canceled, was later able to be filled by someone else or not. That seat availability (its value to someone at the time) was sold and gone. Maybe some industries or small operations do allow you that kind of flexibility, but no airline will. He misses the flight — that’s a ticket that was bought and not used. And if it was non-refundable, that he gets to use the remaining value for a year after the purchase date should be viewed as a benefit. If you can find an airline that gives you two years, by all means give them your business.

  70. kinglink says:

    @godlyfrog:

    I’m sorry but what? If you take another flight the money remains on the books until the goods or service is rendered. So until that second flight accounting is required to handle it.

    Delta is in the right here. A year is a long time. If you are unclear about a policy you should be able to call up and ask. You might even have been able to sell the vouchers to someone else in addition.

    Now about the customer service problems, that’s a different story, and Delta has an issue there. But the fact Delta has an issue there did not affect the ticket purchase (he didn’t wait 2 hours from June 10th to June 11th.) Delta should have better trained people. But sadly that doesn’t mean they should have to change their voucher policy because of it.

  71. JustThatGuy3 says:

    @SacraBos:

    Actually, it’s a great analogy. If he had bought a loaf of bread, and then, before he could eat it, his doctor told him that he needed to be on a no-carbs diet for six months, would the grocery store take the bread back?

    Delta should have made the timing clear to him (and, since we only have his side of the story, maybe they did and he forgot/misunderstood/is denying it), but the policy itself seems entirely fair.

    @speedwell

    Oil drilling equipment, eh? Well, how’s an analogy for your industry. If someone hires a rig (at $300k a day, or thereabouts), and then can’t get their personnel together in time to actual manage the process when the rig is ready, is R&B Falcon just going to say “oh, okay, no problem, no charge?” I very much doubt it.

  72. JustThatGuy3 says:

    @mannymix03:

    Pay a “little extra” and get a refundable ticket?

    JFK-YYZ roundtrip, mid-August.

    Non-refundable: $358 roundtrip.
    Refundable: $1664 roundtrip.

    Nearly 5 times as much is hardly a “little extra.”

  73. enovy says:

    @Cliff_Donner
    I think a lot of people here haven’t gotten vouchers recently, if at all.
    I got a voucher because of the wiring problem at aa a few months back.
    A link to the voucher was provided via email. The email says the voucher is good for a year from the issue date. It doesn’t say what issue date. Now since the voucher has a date on it, a reasonable person would think that the date on the voucher is the date the year starts from, i.e. the date the voucher was issued. I believe the airlines are purposely misleading people. The issue here isn’t that the OP wants the rules changed for him, or over booking, or even whether or not the airline should give him anything. The issue is that they mislead him so they could keep his money without providing him with his service.
    Thanks to this article, I now know I need to use my voucher a couple of months earlier than I had thought. One month for the time between buying the ticket and the flight and another month for the time it took to get the voucher. Now unlike what others said they would do, I would not have called and asked for confirmation as the email seemed clear enough to me.

  74. AgZed says:

    I spent a good few years working for United Airlines and there seem to be a few misconceptions bouncing around here I’d like to try to clear up. First of all, an airline “ticket” is not like a public transit ticket that let’s you hop on and hop off and show up whenever you deem fit. It’s a contract between yourself and the airline for them to take you from Point A to Point B at a specific time and date. Terms like “changeable” and “refundable” are used to keep things simple, but what they’re really saying is, “Our cheapest contract must be followed to the letter. If you don’t show up, tough luck. But if you pay us a bit extra, we may be more willing to renegotiate the terms of the contract.”

    This is no more anti-consumerist than being able to pay $100 for a 4GB iPod nano, or $450 for a 32GB iPod Touch. Both do the same thing, but you want more ‘stuff’, you pay more.

    As for overbooking, there’s a reason that every single airline on the planet overbooks their flights: Sending planes out empty costs more than sending them out full, and people don’t show up for flights. The UA figure was somewhere around 15% internationally, more on domestic flights. Thus, they overbooked flights by about 15% which ensured that on average, all their planes take off full. As is true whenever you start playing with averages, this doesn’t always work 100%, but usually the flights where less than 15% fail to show are balanced by those where more than 15% don’t show up.

    Airlines are businesses trying to make a profit, and while accomodating consumer wants and needs is important, a line must be drawn somewhere, since the best thing for the consumer would be if flights were free and departed to any concievable destination every 5 minutes. Of course, it would be rather difficult to run a profitable business under that model.

    That being said, Delta’s behaviour in this situation is apalling. United had a similar policy, but when I was working there, it wasn’t difficult to have an exception made in the case of a serious medical emergency. Now, I admit, I’m no doctor, but a collapsed lung sounds like it would qualify as “serious” to me. His ticket had only expired two weeks before he tried to make a reservation, in my UA days I know for a fact there would be no question about letting him use his ticket (mainly because I’d be the one on the ticket desk making the decision, but that’s neither here nor there).

    People try to defraud airlines dozens, if not hundreds of times every day, so it’s understandable that they’re a little bit twitchy about anything that even sniffs of someone trying to put one over on them, but this is taking things too far.

  75. scerwup says:

    @kepler11: I think you misunderstood me, I asked when it became ok to take someone’s money for a service or product, and then not deliver that product or service, and still keep their money. I could care less about that seat not being filled, however, the way the airlines are going now, even if he didn’t show up on time, they could most likely fill the seat in 30 seconds. Still, not what I am talking about. I’m talking about, you pay for something, you have a problem, and can’t use the service, said company gets free money. I could care less whether it’s part of a “contract” or not, I asked, when did it become ok to do that. And also stated that any company doing it seems really shady in my opinion.

    I like free money, too. But, unfortunately for me, when I get payed to do something, I have to do it, otherwise it’s stealing. Yet, if a large company does the EXACT SAME THING, it isn’t stealing?

    I will stick with my original verdict, this is stealing, nothing less. Not that there is anything I can do about it. Because we have become a world full of people, just like you, who will defend shady practices endlessly, and cause people to basically give away their money for nothing.

    So, I will say it again…

    People stand up for yourselves.
    And let me add, if the people providing the money to these companies stand up for themselves, and say “NO, I will not allow you to take my money, and receive nothing in return!”, then this BS will eventually stop. Except of course for the people who think it is ok and defend it.

  76. JustThatGuy3 says:

    @scerwup:

    Your argument makes no sense. So, if a customer buys something, knowing that the purchase isn’t refundable, the customer should be able to get a refund anyway? If you think that customers should be able to say “I know that’s what I agreed to, but I don’t like it, so you need to change it,” then why can’t airlines as well? Under your rationale, they should be able to say “I know you booked a flight for that date, but we got a better offer, so you’re not getting on the plane and you’re not getting a refund, either. Tough luck.”

  77. murphy1701 says:

    So if I am to understand correctly, then by the same token all colleges and universities should refund money to students who do not attend a class. The student is in fact paying for something they are not recieving. True they can ask the professor later for material, but valuable class discussion is lost.

  78. randalotto says:

    I think the big issue here is that Delta represented one thing – “You have one year to use your credit (from today, or possibly from date of travel.)”, when they really mean – “You have one year from the date you booked – which you probably don’t even remember, since you booked it awhile ago…”

    I actually had the EXACT same issue with AirTran today. I went to use a credit from a flight booked 362 days ago, for travel in late July, and they said that it had expired.

    Unlike Delta, AirTran worked with me and said, “You know what, let’s see what we can do to get this credit reinstated.” – and they did.

    Kudos to AirTran. Delta – have a heart…

  79. randalotto says:

    @randalotto: Oops. I meant to put 372 days – literally one year and a week.

  80. otobas says:

    Interesting, the degree of poliarisation around this issue, but in the end I think its a question of Delta needing for a variety of reasons to stick to a policy versus the impact that the policy may have on customer relations. A couple of thoughts:

    1) There’s been some comment around “having to clear the booking out of their accounts”. That’s not actually what’s going on. When you book a ticket you are entering a contract with the airline to deliver a future service at a fixed price with an associated set of conditions – one of which in this case is that the arrangement expires in one year. Why have that condition? Because prices are going up, particularly fuel prices for the airlines. The liability on their books is actually *increasing* over time as a result, and I daresay at a rate well in excess of any interest they may derive by having your money up front.

    In this case the consumer got tagged with that rule, and at a particularly stressful time (the death of a relative), no wonder he’s unhappy. But Delta apparently broke the first rule of customer relations – set expectations up front. They should have made it absolutely clear what was going on, and confirmed it in writing, along with any other fine print that might apply. And that is SO easy to do in these email enabled days. They then broke the second rule which was, given the reason for travel the second time around and the closeness to the expiry date, they showed no flexibility or compassion. Consumers get cranky with you when you do that.

    2) To deal with circumstances like this Delta should amend their policy to provide options at the time of the original cancellation. If you have special circumstances like this consumer did, the customer rep ought to be able to say something like “(a) you can rebook within 1 year of the original ticket sale, (b) you can have your money back, less a cancellation fee, (c) you can get another year by paying the difference between the original cost and the cost of the equivalent flight at todays prices”. This lets the consumer decide in their own circumstances what suits them best, and replaces the need for the airline to constantly consider special cases just in order to keep naieve consumers happy when they screw up.

    3) As consumers we have to accept the risks to us of entering into a contract and having it go wrong as the result of our actions or circumstances (rather than the supplier being at fault), particularly when we are planning something way into the future. If you want a cheap ticket with no flexibility instead of an expensive one you can change, either accept the impact of something going wrong or mitigate the risk in some other way (like taking out travel insurance).

    Having said that, I must admit I don’t agree with the “you lose the lot” approach currently being taken, that *is* rather akin to stealing given no service was provided for the money paid. Even with an inflexible fare there ought to be an option to get a refund less a cancellation fee.

  81. kepler11 says:

    @JustThatGuy3: scerwup: Your argument makes no sense. So, if a customer buys something, knowing that the purchase isn’t refundable, the customer should be able to get a refund anyway? If you think that customers should be able to say “I know that’s what I agreed to, but I don’t like it, so you need to change it,” then why can’t airlines as well? Under your rationale, they should be able to say “I know you booked a flight for that date, but we got a better offer, so you’re not getting on the plane and you’re not getting a refund, either. Tough luck.”

    thank you.

  82. madrasftc says:

    I had a similar experience with Delta and had to be delayed for 2 days on international travel. This happened during February 2008.

    On my Air France international ticket I made some changes and was booked to fly out of SFO to NY and on to Chennai, India. Air france confirmed and reconfirmed that I would be on a Delta flight to NY on 23rd Feb 2008 at 22 15. I called Air France before leaving for the airport to confirm that I will receive three boarding passes at Delta, but when I arrived at the airport Delta kept me hanging for nearly two hours and they had the reservation but said Air France failed to reissue the ticket for SFO-NY, they did not have the information, someone there said he was on phone to Paris and he came back to me to say that they did not still have the SFO – NY ticket. Delta wanted me to pay $ 800 and then $ 379 without the reissue cost as calculated by air france as INR 4700 plus. Delta refused to reissue the ticket as confirmed by Air France by phone and they refused to board me and I returned.

    A day later I called Air France again, Air France simply apologized and agreed to put me on a flight – DELTA again – to NY leaving 25th and connect onward, I paid $ 120 by credit card.

    Air France said that Delta must have sorted this out, Delta says that they did not have the information. But they had the reservation. I cant understand how this could be this up so much.

    With so many related experiences may be you should consider a class action suit against Delta.

  83. GearheadGeek says:

    @kepler11: I guess you’re just not able to grasp the concept… the airline business is fairly complex overall, but this isn’t really rocket science. You were trying to make an argument that the airlines shouldn’t give any credit or vouchers for any reason once you buy the ticket, because “the seat” is gone forever. That’s simply not true.

    If you fail to show for a flight on which you have a ticket, “the seat” wasn’t available to another traveler (unless perhaps someone was waiting on standby or they were overbooked, but I’m not arguing that point.)

    If, like the OP, you have a life event for which the airlines have a policy exception (like a medical order not to fly) AND you notify the airline in advance of your flight, cancel your reservation and take a voucher for later travel, THE AIRLINE PUTS THAT SEAT BACK INTO THE POOL OF AVAILABLE SEATS TO SELL.

    In the OP’s case, if the flight is on a well-traveled route, the airline probably re-sold it in the 6 weeks or so between his cancellation and the day of the flight. If you think the airline just sits around bemoaning the evil customer who demanded a voucher but prevented that seat from being used, you’re not dealing with reality.

    The argument you tried to make would be applicable if someone simply missed a flight because they were late or they forgot or whatever and then wanted the airline to take care of them. It has no merit in the particular case of the original poster and you either don’t understand what he wrote or you were trying to score internet debate points by skewing reality to match your argument.

  84. mannymix03 says:

    @SexierThanJesus:
    In customer service you realize the reality that is the “little guy” actually bosses the big corporation around and usually the corporation bends over and takes it in the interest of “good customer service”. Then the “little guy” expects everything his way and wants the rules bent for him because “the customer is always right”

    People feel too entitled these days

  85. FuryofFive says:

    im not blamming the victim here..but people need to realize the company does not revolve around just them, they are running a business that services thousands of people. and they cannot fit every need of every special person. this person just happened to fall beneath the cracks of a a or many bad csr’s.
    it sux that everyone feels there entitled to have major corporations feel more sensitive or understanding..it is ur job to be more understanding and more sensitive. it is also ur job to get the necassary info on ur problem that ur satisfied with. if ur not satisified with the information given, search for more. there are many ways to obtain information on anything.

  86. scerwup says:

    @JustThatGuy3: Sigh… No, if you had read my first comment, you would have saw that I said, it isn’t so bad when it is stated from the get go that a purchase is not refundable, at least then you know that you may get nothing for something. However, nowhere in the original post was it indicated that the ticket was non-refundable. I don’t fly, ever, so perhaps all tickets are non-refundable, but that would be an issue that would prove exactly what I am saying, that it is perfectly acceptable to have a policy that says, you buy something, you don’t receive it, but because of our policy, we still keep your money.

    And if you had read everything I said, you may realize that I stated that people should stand up for themselves and their money, and if enough people decide to stop buying non-refundable tickets, then the airlines would most likely HAVE to change the way they do things. I’m sure they could find another way to rip people off, and I’m sure plenty of people would defend the airlines right to take their money and not give anything in return, but, you know what…. nevermind, continue to defend the airlines, have a great time. If you want to give me some money for nothing, I will be happy to take it. Just know, it’s non-refundable.

  87. scerwup says:

    @mannymix03: @FuryofFive: I thought it was the customers that keep the corporations in business, no customers means no business, simple as that. So, yes, the customer should always be right, and the business should do everything in their power to make them happy. And FuryofFive, a business DOES indeed revolve around customers, otherwise it doesn’t exist. Have fun everyone trying to rip on me for being entitled to service, I won’t be back to this post, too many people here who want companies to be able to do anything they want to their customers with no consequence.

  88. mannymix03 says:

    @scerwup:
    So companies should bend over backwards and take it for their customers no matter how inane their requests are?
    Are you serious? The point of a company is to make money, and while this guy will whine to the internet, i’m sure delta isnt quaking in their boots about it. Really, to delta this means nothing because other people are happy with their service, sometimes you NEED to be strict and some customers are actually WORTH losing because they cause a lot of problems, trust me in this line of work we want the customer to be happy by providing the best service possible, but we would frankly lose a lot of money if we just broke our policy for everyone. Oh you want a refund? Well its past the limit but OK here you go. They might not come back and then other people start expecting it, however if you stick to your policy (but still STRIVE to provide the best service possible) you might lose one or two customers but its worth it (monetarily speaking). What I’m trying to say is that companies need to stick to their policies for EVERYONE, no exceptions otherwise they get walked over. But they should still strive to provide excellent an excellent service.

    If you work in a large business and deal with complaints from customers you will know what i’m talking about and how unreasonable some people are. I had one guy complain that he wasn’t satisfied with a movie (when i used to work customer service at a large national chain). when I asked if it was a projection problem he said “No, It just wasn’t funny”. I politely explained our first 40 minute policy, and how because he finished the movie he technically got what he paid for and there was nothing on our end that we did wrong. He left yelling about how he would contact our corporate office and blah blah blah. That is a customer you can afford to lose

  89. JustThatGuy3 says:

    @scerwup:

    The ticket was clearly non-refundable – in fact, the vast, vast majority of tickets are non-refundable. Fully-refundable tickets are much more, and generally only purchased by business travelers traveling on very short notice who need flexibility.

    The OP would have been told a number of times during the purchase process that the ticket was non-refundable – the fact that he accepted a credit, rather than a refund, shows clearly that he KNEW the ticket was non-refundable.

    Frankly, if you never fly, I can’t see how you could claim to have anything close to the experience necessary to have an opinion on this policy.