Nightmare experience with Chase Ultimate Rewards

Discussion in 'Other Credit Card Programs' started by sveta, Oct 15, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. sveta
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    sveta Silver Member

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    We recently returned from our trip to Brazil with Copa airlines and had the most horrible experience flying EVER (and we fly often). I will focus on Chase (we bought tickets through Ultimate Rewards), because Chase has given us the most trouble, and we just gave up on Copa.

    I would love your feedback on what to do (besides us closing all accounts with Chase).

    Our main concern is that when we ordered out tickets online through Chase Ultimate Rewards for my husband and I, we were given an option to order special diet meals - one of the options was Gluten Free. I had chosen Gluten Free because of Gluten allergy, and my husband got Seafood (because he is also gluten free and usually seafood has no gluten). During the flight, the flight attendant had no idea what "gluten free" meant, neither did they have seafood, and so they had no special meals for us. We ended up going hungry because we couldn't eat most of their meals (we had 2 meals as we flew for 12hrs total with a lay over). Anyway, I was also pregnant, and you know how it is to go hungry when you are trying to feed more than one. We asked about our special meal request during a layover, but they told us we are out of luck, because Copa doesn't provide gluten free meals.
    We complained to Copa, they said "its not our (copa's) fault, you ordered from Chase website, go complain to them".
    We then complained to Chase, and they said "your special meals are not guaranteed" and then they said "its not our issue, go talk to Copa".

    We are so fed up, because nobody wants to take responsibility.

    By the way, on the way back, we decided to bring our own food because we knew we couldn't rely on the airline.

    Our second main issue is that we were required to pay Brazilian airport tax fee on the way back. It was $75 for 2 people. Our ticket said all taxes and fees are included. When we called Chase, we were told they were not aware of this extra tax, and it should have been included in the price of the ticket. Actually, a friend of mine who bought tickets thru Copa website and flew with us (and paid less during the same time we bought ours) didn't have to pay the extra tax. So Chase said they will escalate this issue (along with gluten free issue) to "i forget the name of that department". 2 weeks later we get a letter in the mail stating to go complain to Copa about our meals, and not even mentioning our request to reimburse for the tax fee.

    We had other issues with the whole flight - the Brazilian airport had no English speaking check-in agents; we spent an our at the check in (not in line, but at the counter) just waiting we had no idea for what, our luggage key and zipper was broken, etc, etc... Don't want to bore you with the rest of the details :)

    What are my options?? I am so furious how both Copa and Chase want to take no responsibility for any of our complaints (we did submit a complaint to Copa too).

    Thank you for your feedback.
     
  2. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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    Wow sorry to hear about that. But from reading your post I would think most the blame would have to go to Copa; not Chase directly. If anything the TA that Chase uses for its UR might be at fault for not passing on the info about your diet restrictions and the airport tax ...

    Btw who was the ticket issuer?
     
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  3. philatravelgirl

    philatravelgirl Silver Member

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    I have a special meal requirement and I note it in my profile (with BA) but other airlines are hit or miss b/c they do not offer/cater to many special meals other than vegetarian. I always carry food with me on all flights internationally just in case I get a meal I can't eat. I usually call the airline direct a week before flying to ensure the meal request is noted but they will tell you in the phone it's not guaranteed. I've had no luck arguing when I couldn't eat the meal provided so not sure the airline will provide any joy, I would focus more on Chase compensation of points or something for the inconvenience.
    I can't speak to the rest of your issues but hope it resolves to your satisfaction
     
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  4. Sweet Willie
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    Sweet Willie Gold Member

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    I understand the meal issues were a cluster but I wouldn't even bother with the meal issue, just not worth the trouble.
     
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  5. mo26

    mo26 Silver Member

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    I would agree with SW. My guess is that language in the T&C's are going to put the meal issue out of the range of compensation.

    The additional tax could be a different story. While there could also be language addressing additional fees buried in the T&C's, I have read far more positive customer service comments than negative regarding Chase.

    My advice (though frustrating) would be to persistently contact Chase, bouncing departments if needed.

    If it were me (assuming you paid the additional tax with a chase card), my first move would be to get with the disputed charge folks and talk with them. I've had a few issues over the last 6 months, and they've been great. While you might not be disputing the charge per se, they will point you in the right direction.....Especially if they're confronted with disputing their own charge :)

    Lastly, the most difficult part of this process is probably the most important.....stay cool.......kill them with kindness, and it shouldn't be hard to find a rep who won't risk losing a good customer over a $75 statement credit.


    -MO
     
  6. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

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    It's odd, because when I hear the term "nightmare" I think of a masked intruder breaking into my house, the plane losing cabin pressure over the Andes, or, at the very least, being stranded in some remote location. Failure to provide a special meal and misunderstanding about airport tax seem to me to fall more into the area of "inconvenience".

    There's absolutely no reason whatsoever to believe that a seafood meal will be gluten free. A seafood meal is exactly as likely to contain gluten as any other -- flour in the sauce or breadcrumbs on fried fish are likely to occur. Furthermore, if gluten is a real problem, I would not trust the kind of bulk catering operation which serves the airlines to get it right. The gluten-free travelers I know (my young niece suffers from full-blown celiac disease) would never, ever, ever leave home without sufficient food they had prepared themselves to get them through the trip.

    Now, if Chase actually promised you a gluten-free meal on an airline that doesn't offer them, that's a mistake on their part. I suspect that they're covered for liability if they included a disclaimer on their site and called it a "special meal request" which, I believe, is the standard terminology for these kinds of things.

    I would be interested to know whether they simply use a list of all possible special meal orders and a disclaimer that says "not all meal types available on all airlines" or whether they actually attempt to load their system with information about what's available on each airline.

    In any event, it certainly would behoove them to apology to you to the extent that their order process may have led you to believe that you would be guaranteed a gluten free meal. Also, to add a check box to their special meal request system saying "I understand that the airline may not be able to accommodate my special meal request."

    If Copa truly never had a policy of offering gluten free meals, I'm not sure what responsibility you want them to take.

    On the issue of tax, it sounds like Chase's travel agency may possibly have screwed up. But from what I understand from your post, they have agreed to look into it and have not yet notified you of the outcome of that investigation. So, you may still get satisfaction on that account.

    I do not believe the absence of English speaking personnel at an airport in Brazil is actionable. I sometimes have trouble finding English speaking personnel at the airports in New York.
     
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  7. deant
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    deant Milepoint Guide

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    Agree with most of the people above. The only item I feel you can get any "compensation" for is the tax issue. If you paid the tax with a credit card, dispute the charge. As for the meal, AFAIK it is always a "request" not a guarantee.

    Your other complaint about no English speaking agents will go nowhere. If you only spoke native Hawaiian and were in a small midwest town, would you expect them to have a person that spoke native Hawaiian? What about Portugese or Russian? When doing foreign travel, you do the best you can with the language barrier.
     
  8. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

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    I'd be surprised if the credit card company allowed the dispute. This was an intentional payment made for a legitimate charge with the customer fully aware of and present at the transaction. The party being payed (Brazil) isn't party to the dispute about whether the tax should have been covered in the purchase price of the ticket. Any satisfaction is going to have to come from the travel agent Chase used to book the tickets.
     
  9. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    You'd seriously walk away from a credit card due to an airline special meal order?:confused::rolleyes:
     
  10. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

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    I'm on anti-organ rejection drugs for celiac disease, and I wouldn't.
     
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  11. marcwint55

    marcwint55 Gold Member

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    I sounds like your flights were not the greatest. Hopefully your time in Brazil more than made up for the inconvenience in travel.

    I would never rely on any airline to provide a certain meal. If it is a necessity, bring your own.

    Many countries do not have English speaking assistance and it is incumbent upon the traveler to either learn some phrases in the language of the country they are visiting or endure the difficulties. Most people in other countries will go out of their way to help you if you show them the courtesy of trying to communicate in their language, even if it is done poorly.

    I have traveled to many locations that have an airport departure tax and it is seldom included in the price of the ticket.

    While it sounds like Chase did a poor job of informing you, it is always best to do your own research before traveling. All information can be found online today, and it will prepare you for whatever requirements exist and probably make your travel immensely more enjoyable.
     
  12. mo26

    mo26 Silver Member

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    i don't even rely on an airline to get my luggage there.....fedex with a tracking number!!!!!

    :)

    -MO
     
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  13. mrredskin
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    mrredskin Gold Member

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    Have you been pregnant and not able to eat, before? Practically every airline snack food or meal able to be purchased has gluten. I can understand her frustration.

    On the other hand, if you were traveling WITH someone that is pregnant, and they couldn't eat for that long, would you want to be around them? ;)

    and if an airline actually offers gluten-free, and you're able to reserve it in a timely manner, then you SHOULD receive a gluten-free meal. If an airline or catering company can't provide this when it's actually an option, then they need to pull that option.
     
  14. mikeef
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    mikeef Silver Member

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    OP,

    I would agree with the others. You have a legitimate gripe about the tax and that's the one to focus on.

    Obviously, it won't help you now, but there's a really good lesson for others who might be in your position: If you absolutely need a certain type of food, bring it yourself, regardless of what the airline promises you.

    Mike
     
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  15. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

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    That is exactly why everyone I know who can't eat gluten makes sure to carry their own food rather than relying on their special meal request being granted. And, as I say, I would definitely not trust that a gluten free option would be truly gluten free once it had passed through so many hands. When my wife was pregnant (no allergies, but some foods definitely became unappetizing to her in the extreme) she made sure she had enough food to get her through any situation in which she might not want to eat whatever was offered.

    That is true, as I stated in my original post. However, in this case it sounds like the ticket was purchased through an on-line travel agency that probably presented a complete list of every possible special meal request and then simply passed along whatever was selected to the airline. I agree that they probably owe the OP an apology if that wasn't made sufficiently clear in the user interface but unless they promised a gluten free meal rather than promising to request one from the airline, it sounds like a case of lack of clarity rather than failure to deliver.
     
  16. mrredskin
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    mrredskin Gold Member

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    i'll agree with all of that.
     
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  17. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

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    Assuming I can find a source of gluten-free food in a foreign country, this is what I do. However, sometimes I have to take a 6 am flight where that's not practical. Also, pregnancy does odd things to what one wants to eat, so you could buy something only to suddenly have it seem repugnant.
     
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  18. Scottrick
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    Scottrick Gold Member

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    I've often seen online travel agencies list a dozen different meal "options." It doesn't mean the airline actually has them. It's just a note in the record. If you want a specific meal, check with the airline and the particular route you are traveling to see what their rules are. As for the airport not having English-speaking agents, I think that's an unreasonable demand. You're in Brazil. Did you check to see if they also speak German, French, Italian, Mandarin, etc.?
     
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  19. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

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    As an example, ANA doesn't have a gluten-free meal. They have a "five-allergen" free meal, and one of those five is wheat, but the example menu they show includes soy sauce, which is 40-60% wheat, typically. Worse, three of the other five items eliminated are my best sources of protein.

    Therefore, I don't fly ANA long haul.

    I don't know about airline catering, but Brazil's one if the easier places to get gluten-free bread thanks to the prevalence of pão de queijo.

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheese_bun
     
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  20. mdtravel

    mdtravel Silver Member

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    I'm with the 99% on this one...Plan better unfortunately, especially when preg!
     
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  21. servo

    servo Silver Member

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    It's a sad world that we live in when we expect customer service to fail to meet our expectations. The advice of telling someone to bring their own food implies exactly that. I don't actually disagree with the advice, but I think big picture, our expectations of service are at levels that might have been satisfied in the 60's and 70's, but today you just get laughed at. Try asking for a free cup of water to take a pill on Allegiant, and you'll see what I mean. It's funny that Chase would offer a meal that isn't available on the airline choice that was made. I don't think Copa is liable for anything booked by the 3rd party site. I think the OP is right, it's a Chase issue, but as others have said, they likely have language in there that covers themselves. As with many things these days, YMMV, and personal responsibility to make sure you have alternate plans if the company wasn't able to meet your special request should be top of mind, especially when traveling to a foreign country.

    As for the expectation of English speakers wherever you travel, that's what makes people dislike Americans.
     
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  22. sveta
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    sveta Silver Member

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    I think this is funny.... after having Chase and COPA point fingers at each other, we suddenly get an email from COPA agreeing to refund out taxes that we paid in Brasil. A small victory!

    As for English speaking "gripe" - it's not a complaint, it's an observation. We were in a country's capital, and there were no English speaking agents. (Servo, neither myself nor my husband are Americans, and I do speak more than one language). I guess this fact, in combination with all the other things that went wrong, just made the whole thing a really dissatisfactory experience (and I didn't even include ALL the things that went wrong).

    As for the gluten free request, we had traveled internationally many times and ALWAYS got our gluten free or whatever other meal request we had. So I didn't even know to double check with the airline that I would be able to eat. How would I? Should I also call to double check that some other basic things will be in place - a functional toilet and drinking water? It would be fair that they would let us know that those meals are not available (COPA airlines doesn't list gluten free options on their website, as I later found out). And our print out from Chase listed gluten free as the meal we requested - there was no small print about no guarantees.

    And yes, I did bring gluten free snacks with me on the plane, but not enough to last us 9 am to 2am. For that we would need another luggage ... LOL
    And yes, I am aware of cross contamination issues with gluten, but let's not get into details here.
    And no, unfortunately they didnt accept credit cards for the taxes in Brazil, neither did they accepted US dollars, so we had to run around airport looking for ATM (we used all Reals by this time).

    Desamo, we did load up on pão de queijo on the way back :) I loved that bread, and just made some at home 2 days ago!

    Anyway, this experience was full of lessons that we had learned.
    Thanks all for your feedback!!!
     
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  23. Aktchi
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    Aktchi Silver Member

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    Sorry to hear about your experience. I view this as the airline's fault. Chase is basically acting as a TA. It would be at fault if it didn't pass your request along, but beyond that there is very little an intermediary can do. IOW, I might stay away from Copa in future but there is no reason to avoid Chase.
     
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  24. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

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    If Chase sold a meal that Copa never suggested they could provide, how is Copa at fault? If Chase adds a selection to their special meal request for foods that don't contain the letter "m" in their names, how would that obligate Copa to provide such a meal?

    To the extent that there is any fault with regard to the meal, it seems to me that it falls on Chase's OTA — and even then, only to the extent they did not make it clear to the OP that they were making a request rather the getting a guaranteed meal.
     
  25. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

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    In your original post, it didn't sound like there was any finger pointing on the issue of the tax:
    1. You called Chase.
    2. They stated that it looked to them like the tax should have been included in the ticket, and that they would investigate further.
    3. A few weeks later you got an email from the airline stating that they would refund the tax payment.
    That sounds like pretty decent customer service to me.
     
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