Air France Delta refund disaster proves total ineptness or worse

Discussion in 'SkyTeam' started by jbcarioca, Sep 18, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    I had two paid refundable Business Class tickets, issued by AF/KL Brasil, GIG-CDG-JNB and return with AF/KL to depart on August 20. When I found upgrade space in La Premiere on the AF A380 CDG-JNB the tickets were reissued by AF/KL US (i.e. DL) to class D and miles were deducted from Mrs JBC's FB account for the upgrade. That was done by AF/KL US because Brasil was for some reason not able to do the transaction. So far, so good, although as many other people report our af.com baggage allowance was revised to "none" although on klm.com it was shown correctly. I ignored that small issue.

    On August 16 I broke my kneebone so had to cancel the entire trip, which I did that day when I returned from the hospital. All parties involved other than AF/KL/DL refunded my payments within one week.
    DL refunded the add collect on August 23 and said they had cancelled the booking and requested AF to make the remaining refund.

    Skipping all the details, since that time a litany of emails and telephone called to AF France and Brasil as well as Delta have produced no refund. Air France has three times said it is not their problem and they cannot refund because, in order of incidence: 1) AF France: we did not issue the ticket, Brasil did, contact them.; 2) AF Brasil: we cannot refund these tickets, they were exchanged for Delta ones, contact Delta; 3) AF Brasil: Delta issued paper tickets. You must present the paper tickets to get a refund.

    Eventually Delta said the code formerly used to indicate paper tickets "P" is now used to indicate tickets not good for travel, normally because they are in process of refund. It has been excruciatingly difficult to get any consistent answers because the case numbers used are not compatible between DL, AK/KL and apparently some different countries of AF/KL. In the meantime Delta says they have made five different refund requests from AF/KL. The DL Diamond desk has been very, very helpful and polite but they can do nothing. The DL refunds desk send me prompt form-letter-like responses but seems to be able to do nothing.

    I finally, when a month had passed, contacted my attorney to begin legal action, assuming there may be no alternative to get my money back. I copied both Delta and AF/KL Brasil on the email advising them of that.

    Yesterday I made another call to Delta refunds who told me they had escalated the matter to an "AF manager in Paris". I did then get a response form KL Brasil telling me the file was sent to KL and DL US for refund, giving me the original DL case number. That was progress! At least somebody from AF?KL actually acknowledged a DL Case Number!

    This morning I received a second email form DL Refunds, enclosed:

    "Dear Mr. JBC,

    RE: Case Number xxxxxx

    Thank you for your reply. We appreciate the opportunity to review your request.

    The KLM/ AF Manager xxxxxxx has just replied to my e-mail. Please be advised that I am awaiting a response from our Managers.

    Your business is valued and very important to us. We hope you will continue to choose Delta Air Lines, our SkyTeam partners, and our Delta Connection Carriers for your future air travel needs.

    Sincerely,

    xxxxxxxxx
    Representative, Passenger Refunds

    Delta Air Lines"

    Interestingly it does seem that KL Brasil is in contact with DL US. The response from DL refunds is verbatim from every email form them except the middle sentence, which is original.

    We shall see what happens. Anybody who has ideas other than waiting, please say. In the meantime I am holding the actual legal filing until Friday in hopes that they'll solve the issue. This certainly does show how seamless and enticing SkyTeam really is, does it not?

    Questions for everyone:
    1) what is fair and reasonable compensation for this saga? The tickets were slightly more than US$28,000, charged in Brazil Reais.
    2) Since I am DL Diamond and Mrs JBC is AF Gold should that affect compensation in any way?
    3) For context we have spent slightly more than US$75,000 on AF/KL/DL tickets during the last twelve months. Should that affect our compensation?

    I am acutely aware of what I could have done differently. Frankly, in a lifetime of premium global travel this is the very first time an issue like this has happened. I've had other problems with several carriers, mostly BA and minor third world carriers, but never one like this one. I have done reissuances and modifications in widely varying locations (e.g. Lhasa, Sana'a, Luang Prabang) but never had a problem. SkyTeam seems to be a seriously dysfunctional "team", to me anyway.
     
  2. ballardFlyer

    ballardFlyer Gold Member

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    I had a paid J ticket issued on AF stock but mostly on DL metal that was IRROPd and reissued by a delta GA (though the stub still had 057 stock). Many more problems ensued and they fumbled badly. It was comical except it cost me a second biz trip and meeting. I complained and it took 45 days of arguing, but for the trouble I got $1100 in a combo of ecert/check, my ticket money refunded, and 30k skymiles (who cares). And I spend nowhere near what you do.

    For hanging refunds that wont automatically process my best luck is calling the local Atlanta refund office number for DL during EST hours instead of medallion desk. It is the only way I have recovered $$$$ of tickets when they don't process automatically (which is usually 7-10 days). They come though if you are persistent.

    And yes agree ST and the JV are hyper-dysfunctional. The only thing that is close is BA disfunction and service failure for AA ticketed people on BA metal IME.
     
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  3. ballardFlyer

    ballardFlyer Gold Member

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    Hope your recovery is speedy too!
     
  4. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    Oddly, my experience has been similar except for one thing. AA has consistently solved my BA problems when BA itself could/would not. My last BA IRROP was a BA mechanical and I was in paid F. BA would do nothing other than tell me to wait until "something happens". Since I was BA Gold at teh time I thought they'd do better, at least reroute me if there were no direct flights (actually there were on several carriers nonstops). I then went to AA (I was EXP also). AA said they'd get the endorsement from BA and reroute me which they did in a few minutes. I was reroutes by AA and landed at my destination only minutes after the original schedule. AA actually routed me on SU and I ended out getting both SkyPesos and AAdvantage miles (teh switched me out of Avios at my request).
     
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  5. ballardFlyer

    ballardFlyer Gold Member

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    Agree that AA will help above and beyond when they can. I've found BA disappointing in most problematic situations but esp when it is not their ticket stock for on the ground problems. But I love Avios for domestic short haul :)

    Delta local refund number is 1-404-715-5417. Good luck! They'd be insane not to right this wrong for you as a long term VHV customer who is being more then reasonable. Email Toby at Delta if you don't get traction and cite your biz with them.
     
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  6. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    Thanks for those contacts. The local number will be a prize!
     
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  7. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    Is there any possibility of doing a chargeback on the credit card used to purchase the tickets? Since the tickets were exBrazil and paid in Brazilian currency, I realize that USA consumer protections probably would not apply, but what are the rules for your presumably Brazilian credit card? If it's an AmEx, they might go above and beyond the local regulations.

    ADDED. Do you have travel insurance that could fight it out with the airlines?

    GET WELL SOON
     
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  8. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    First, Brazilian cards usually refuse to do chargebacks, including American Express, which is actually Bradesco here. I paid for the tickets using a US issued card, so that might end out working. In any event the charge refunds in the US even though the initial currency was denominated in reais. I probably will end out screwed on exchange whatever happens. I have no travel insurance, and, until now, have had no situation that would call for it.
     
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  9. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    I don't do travel insurance either, but I was guessing that since a safari or staying in a game lodge might be part of your trip, their cancellation policies could make insurance a good option for this one. [For the type of travel I do--i.e., no cruises and prepaid hotel rates only very rarely--self insurance makes more sense. My employer provides worldwide health insurance, including emergency evacuation if needed.]


    ADDED. If you think you might want to pursue a credit card chargeback, be sure to note the deadlines as well as requirements for the form of notice that must be given. However the better cards seem to be more liberal than the rules require (such as accepting claims by phone rather than only those sent by mail).
     
  10. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    The credit card involved is from Chase, one of the good ones. I do want to avoid a chargeback if I can, partly because AF does have the right to deny the case anyway, and partly because I don't want to hassle Chase after more than 40 years banking with them and their predecessors, not to mention the client relationship. OTOH, there is zero question that I'll win the court case and that will produce automatic penalties and punitive damages for them, if it comes to that.
     
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  11. harvson3

    harvson3 Silver Member

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    Sure, but, in light of today's big decision, what of the retrials and the embargos infrigentes and so on?

    Sorry, couldn't help myself. Hope you heal and feel better quickly.
     
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  12. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    Sure, if they choose to argue they need never pay. OTOH, they are foreign, I am Brazilian.
     
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  13. anileze

    anileze Gold Member

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    AF is notorious for nickel-diming on refunds. A few years ago, on a paid Biz, I was stranded in CDG when there was a flash strike by Air Transport employees, and I was a transit pax on my way to DEL. It took me about a year to get the compensations, miles and misplaced baggage compensation. I learnt a big lesson - Never buy direct from partner airline (except if they are Korean or Japanese ;) )
     
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  14. redtailshark

    redtailshark Silver Member

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    jbc, bad luck with this. You should know by now that DL/.AF and SkyTeam in general are notorious for their habit of finding excuses not to refund customer monies. UA is not exactly spectacularly efficient either, having been fined by DoT, but I will say that my last two UA ticket refunds were dealt with promptly after I complained about inaction, and with some comp (e-cert for $50). To your question (a) that comp was 20% of the value of the ticket, so then by that standard your saga warrants comp of ~ $5700. Considering your saga has dragged on much longer and required far more of your effort, I'd say it's worth a higher fraction of the ticket price.
     
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  15. gregm

    gregm Gold Member

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    Hope you had a speedy recovery. What, if anything, ever happened?
     
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  16. afdelta

    afdelta New Member

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    Came across this old post when trying to get info on refund process. Perhaps, it's helpful to others who are in a similar situation.

    Very short version is this: as others abvove have said, the left hand has NO EFFING CLUE what the right hand is doing!

    Long version:
    • Ordered Air France tickets directly on their Canadian website (hey, it was $430 Montreal to Brussels for June!). Realized that I had reversed my first and last name. Air France Canada seems to have the same 24 hr rule whereby you can change ticket. Called up immediately. Spoke to a Delta representative who was nice -- but couldn't help me other than saying that I had to cancel the original reservation, book a new one. I asked him to cancel the reservation and initiate the refund.
    • Got generic Delta “thanks for your request for refund, you'll hear from us” email

    • Also sent email to AF to request refund, as per their instructions on website on how to cancel within 24 hrs

    • Got generic AF “thanks for your request for refund, you'll hear from us” email

    • Rebooked new reservation

    • After about 8 days, I get email response from Delta department, saying that they can't help me, because it was booked through a travel agency, I have to get in contact with travel agency. WRONG! I didn't book it through travel agency -- I got it directly from the AF Canada website (how do they not this?). Emailed back with proof that I had purchased it via Air France directly

    • 3 or 4 days after that, I get email from AF saying they can't refund because I had not canceled the reservation when I originally requested the refund.

    • That's when I called the AF customer number again and explained to the Delta representative that the Delta representative I had talked to originally spoken to said that he canceled the reservation and initiated refund. Turns out, he never canceled it.

    • To their credit, Delta person I talked was very nice, phoned their AF colleagues and explained the situation to them and said I would get full refund, would take another 10 days or so. Gave me case number and was even willing to give me her full name.

    • Sure enough, after another 10 days got refund email from AF and money debited back.

    • Took another 10 days for the refund to actually appear on my credit card.

      Short version: got my money in the end, but what a pain and took almost 4 weeks! Moral of story: of course, ask for name, don't take what they say at face value, save all emails, and follow up like crazy. And, don't expect anything to happen quickly.
     
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