Refused at check-in

Discussion in 'American Airlines | AAdvantage' started by giblet, Dec 7, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. giblet
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    giblet Silver Member

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    Recently I purchased a domestic ticket for a friend. Before doing so, I checked on the site to make sure it's okay to buy tickets for other people, and in the FAQ it says it's fine.

    I'm based in Cambodia but I used my US credit card. Because he had a reservation already, I was unable to login to my AA account to purchase the ticket, I had to login with his confirmation number. Anyway, transaction went through no problem.

    A week later, on the day of the flight, I got a phone call from Citibank asking if the charge was valid. I said it was, and they said that it was too late anyway, AA had a problem with the charge and had cancelled the ticket when my friend had tried to check in.

    I understand the confusion -- the ticket was purchased from Cambodia, etc. But why did AA wait to find that suspicious until my Cambodian American friend showed up at the airport? Seems like that's something they could have investigated when the purchase was made, rather than waiting until an hour before the flight. Also, my AA account (gold) currently has a Cambodia address on it, so with about 5 minutes of looking, it would have been clear that this wasn't credit card fraud.

    I emailed AA about it and they sent me back a non-related form email about how only US credit cards can be used to purchase tickets. I replied and said that wasn't an appropriate response (the card used was a US credit card), and haven't heard back from for a week.

    I do understand the confusion and why it might seem like a suspicious charge, but I wish that AA had handled this different, both before the flight, at the gate and in response to my query.
     
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  2. Sweet Willie
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    Sweet Willie Gold Member

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    could not agree more !

    Time for a snail mail letter IMO & send copies of the BS response they gave you, proof that the card is a US credit card as well as mentioning any T&Cs that support your position.

    Seeing as I'm based in the U.S., perhaps I'm being naive, but for purchasing fares on AA.com only US CC can be used?
     
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  3. giblet
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    giblet Silver Member

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    Sorry, here's what they said:

    Thank you for contacting Customer Relations. I apologize for any inconvenience
    regarding your online credit card ticketing transaction. Currently, to purchase
    tickets on AA.com, you must have a valid credit card with a billing address in the
    United States/Canada, the United Kingdom, or select countries in Latin American and
    the Caribbean. This restriction is a fraud prevention measure.

    However, you may be interested to know that select countries may also book and ticket
    online through our 'Worldwide Sites' section of AA.com. You may select your country
    home page from the Worldwide Sites page by following the steps below:

    - Go to www.aa.com
    - Click on our 'Worldwide Sites' tab located at the top of all our pages
    - If your country is listed, enter the site by selecting your desired language

    I am less enthusiastic about sending a letter snail mail because the mail system here isn't very reliable. But clearly sending an email through their 'Contact Us' link doesn't get through to real humans.
     
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  4. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Email the letter to a friend in the US and have them put it in the US mail.

    Did they let your friend pay for the ticket with cash or another credit card at the original price? Or was he just SOL and left behind?
     
  5. giblet
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    giblet Silver Member

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    They let him pay for it himself, and only luckily did he have enough cash on hand to do so.
     
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  6. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    I'd complain to Citi and ask them what they plan to do to ensure that this doesn't happen again.

    Do the same with AA, and if you want to ensure it gets taken seriously, copy the DOT.
     
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  7. alohastephen

    alohastephen Gold Member

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    Have you considered tweeting?
    @americanair
     
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  8. Franklybrit

    Franklybrit Silver Member

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    I'm guessing your US credit still has a US address associated with it, and presumably therefore American have that address on file as well. (If your card has a Cambodian address I can see the problem). I which case this seems to be out of order, and as you say, unacceptable that they took a week to deal with it.
     
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  9. gemac
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    gemac Silver Member

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    Credit card companies have become more active on the fraud prevention front. Whenever I am going to be out of the country, I call my credit card company to let them know where I will be, and what dates, so that they do not reject my charges.

    An air ticket from Cambodia to the U.S., purchased for somebody else, will raise the attention of the fraud prevention department. They would be concerned that someone had stolen your credit card number, and sold it to someone in Cambodia who wanted a free ticket. A simple call to the credit card company, letting them know that this was coming, would have avoided the problems. They would simply put a note in your account, and when the charge caused concern, they would have read the note and found out that it was all right.
     
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  10. giblet
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    giblet Silver Member

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    I've been in Cambodia for almost 18 months and my credit card company is aware of it. All of my other purchases on the card have also been made from Cambodia. When Citibank called me they said the refusal was on AA's side, not theirs.

    I just tweeted about it so hopefully that will get a response. I have my US address on my credit card and my Cambodia address on my AA account (but the same US address was previously on my AA account). Also, every one of the six credit cards saved to my AA account have that same US credit card. About five minutes of snooping (or a quick phone call to me) would have made it clear that the situation was not fraud!
     
  11. Valentine

    Valentine Silver Member

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    It's ridiculous how airlines have all our contact information (emails, phone numbers etc), but not the professionalism and courtesy to at least send an (automated) email verifying if a ticket purchase is real. I've been stranded in an airport while connecting (on two unrelated airlines) because there was something wrong with my ticket - it's not a fun experience.
     
  12. giblet
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    giblet Silver Member

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    After tweeting, I finally got a response from AA. Here it is:

    Thank you for your most recent message. I am sorry you were disappointed with my previous response. A review of your friend's travel record indicates only that the credit card was not accepted. It appears that there was not adequate time to verify all the information prior to the departure date. If a customer checks in and does not have the credit card used for the purchase, we do require the customer to provide an alternate form of payment. This policy is to protect the cardholder. I am sorry this caused an inconvenience for your friend, however, this is to protect our customers from fraudulent purchases.
    If you have any further questions regarding using your credit card to purchase a ticket, please contact our reservation personnel at 1-800-433-7300.
    We appreciate your business and hope to serve you again soon.

    I can't find anything in the ticketing FAQs saying that the passenger flying needs to have the credit card used for purchase or an alternate form of payment. The only related questions I saw were the following.

    Q:Can I buy a ticket for someone else?
    A: Yes, you can purchase a ticket for someone else. AAdvantage miles applicable will be credited to the AAdvantage member traveling.

    Q:Can I make a reservation for anyone?
    A: Yes, to book a reservation for someone other than yourself, enter their name in the 'Enter Passenger Details' box. If your name already appears, type over it with the name of the actual passenger(s). Also, if your AAdvantage number appears, don't forget to either remove it or replace it with the passengers' AAdvantage number(s).

    I find these responses from AA infuriating. "I am sorry you were disappointed with my previous response." Well, I was disappointed because you gave an irrelevant answer, my credit card was a US card with a US billing address.

    I feel like the the tone of these responses is that this situation was somehow my fault. I don't understand why they just don't say "Sorry, this one slipped through the cracks and we made a mistake and it won't happen again."
     
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  13. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Lies, all lies... it's to protect themselves. You, the US card holder, would in virtually all cases be protected by law and credit card policies.

    Indeed.
     
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  14. icurhere2
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    icurhere2 Gold Member

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    Not necessarily - many of us have cards closed due to fraud while traveling; this is not a preferred scenario when dealing with hotels, rental cars, and other providers using that number. I went through changing a number of reservations and automatic bill payments yesterday as a result of a data breach/fraud on my CapOne card. In this case, the merchant (AA) even says that U.S. cards might not be accepted in some countries on the listing of payment options, while the OP has stated the Cambodia address was on the AA account at some point in time. Might is a "weak" term that's not a certainty; one of my Visa cards has an issuer that says nine countries are guaranteed to have the charge rejected.

    As someone who once flew TW/AA frequently (and has a few miles left), I'm more concerned about the lack of notification from AA than the refused charge.
     
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  15. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Sure. That's a hassle that I have dealt with a few times now. I maintain a spreadsheet now that tracks what automatic bill pays come out of what account. But I'd rather do that than pay for a $1000 ticket that I didn't purchase... and US credit card laws pretty much protect me from that, while they do not protect the merchant (AA, in this case).

    I thought the OP bought the ticket with a US card (with a US billing address) on the US AA site, and that he is based in Cambodia. I interpreted "purchased from Cambodia" as from an IP address in Cambodia, not on the AA Cambodia website (is there such a thing?).

    They had a week to verify the purchase. Seems like plenty of time. At the very least I would have expected them to notify the OP after the purchase that the passenger will have to provide an alternative form of payment.

    It's not uncommon, though, that airlines want to see the original credit card at check-in. Several threads about it here and on MP. Quite annoying especially when you aren't warned ahead of time and/or aren't with the traveler.
     
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  16. giblet
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    giblet Silver Member

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    That's exactly correct (except I'm a she). ;)

    I agree. The fact that they waited until my friend went to check in to deny the charge is what irritates me -- it made me think that perhaps it was based on some sort of misguided racial profiling.
     
  17. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    My apologies for being careless in my writing :oops:
     
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  18. LookingAhead

    LookingAhead Silver Member

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    I would escalate. Call customer ralations and ask for the President's Office.
     
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  19. giblet
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    giblet Silver Member

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    You had no way of knowing!

    Seriously? Is that the best way to escalate? I would like to escalate this but am not sure what the process is.
     
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  20. Mike Reed

    Mike Reed Gold Member

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    WRITE a complaint - short and to the point - and MAIL it to the office of the President. Written mail to executive offices gets more attention because it shows the person was dedicated... and short/to the point means you're not a whiner.

    Unfortunately, the CR drones at AA via email are either automated, or they're cutting and pasting responses based on keywords. Unless you're willing to go back and forth with them or have a very, very straightforward issue, you're unlikely to get a satisfactory response.
     
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  21. DesertRose
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    DesertRose Silver Member

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    It's not uncommon for the first complaint you send via aa.com to be scanned and quickly replied to with a boilerplate e-mail based on key words. I don't know if a computer or a lazy human does that.

    But I find that if I reply to the boilerplate e-mail, saying that obviously no one read my original complaint, and reiterating the issue, I get a response from an apologetic human who takes the time to investigate the issue.

    I'm really surprised that the second response was almost as off-topic as the first. I would still try one more response e-mail, focusing not on the acceptance of the card, but AA's completely unacceptable and untimely response. I would point out that
    1) American Airlines did not accept the card. Your credit card company approved the transaction.
    2) AA had X business days to contact you and failed to do so.
    3) Ask AA to elaborate exactly what steps they took to try and "verify the information" before they canceled the ticket
    4) Where does AA document their policy of requiring a traveler to have a copy of the credit card?
    5) There is info on AA.com that specifically says you can buy a ticket for another person. How would another person have a copy of your credit card?
    6) This incident resulted in considerable embarassment/worry for both your friend and yourself.

    Of course, your case sounds a little more serious than a normal complaint I would file on line. There is a large chance that your friend suffered or could have suffered specific monetary damages (lost deposit for hotel rooms, missed a meeting/event, had to incur the expense of a last-minute ticket, etc) from AA's actions. If you want real compensation for real damages (as opposed to just an apology or a few miles deposited to your account) you should seriously consider documenting the complaint with a paper letter.

    Similarly, if you want a real policy change that would prevent the same thing from happening next time you buy a ticket for a friend, I would still write a paper letter.
     
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  22. Counsellor
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    Counsellor Gold Member

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    I'm curious about something -- did AA actually accept the credit card and issue the ticket (undoubtedly an e-ticket)?

    When I purchase a ticket for someone else, I monitor my credit card on-line to see if the charge crosses. Do you do something simliar? If so, did the charge originally cross (appear as a charge on the page for the current month)? And then what? Did AA credit the charged amount back after they declined to honor the ticket?

    Or did the charge never appear at all? If the latter, that would be a warning something may have gone wrong.
     
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  23. anabolism
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    anabolism Gold Member

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    Did I misread this? It sounds to me like your credit card company declined the charge (which is why they asked you afterwards if it was legitimate). And then AA didn't call you, but instead cancelled the reservation?

    It sounds like a very difficult situation. Generally, after purchasing a reservation, and especially whenever using a form of payment that might in any way be iffy, it's a good idea to check the reservation on-line to see if the status goes to "Ticketed" with a date. The date is very important; if it just says "ticketed" without a date then it hasn't been. If you don't see this within 24 hours and it's close to date of travel, call back. Many people don't know to do this, I'm not faulting you.
     
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  24. lohiadk

    lohiadk Silver Member

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    These days I make it a point to give a copy of my credit cad front and back with an authorization saying that I have purchased the ticket and sign it. Most airlines tend to accept that. Due to increasing CC frauds co's are getting very selective at times. In March 2011 I purchased an award ticket using UA miles for a friend to fly out of SYD on TG they made him sign a waiver saying if I denied the charge they could charge his credit card.
     
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  25. anabolism
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    anabolism Gold Member

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    Also, if the charge was declined, it isn't really AA's fault. If this is what happened then AA could have been more helpful, sure, by doing more to alert you that the charge was declined. If the charge went through and then AA backed it out, then they certainly should have done a lot more to alert you.
     

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