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Old Mar 1, 11, 3:45 pm   #16
 
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[nevermind, checked elite benefits on AA.com and it stated it's still only a EXP benefit]
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Wishing the US had more high-speed rail...

Last edited by kebosabi; Mar 1, 11 at 3:53 pm..
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Old Mar 1, 11, 3:46 pm   #17
 
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Also, you cannot speak to an agent without hearing "Be aware that booking fees may apply" from the ACD.
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Old Mar 1, 11, 4:20 pm   #18
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xero View Post
Perhaps this is why they have not allowed the booking of partner awards online. Why do it when you can make $20 per booking?
This is a completely incorrect statement. While I agree with you that AA should allow these types of awards to be booked online, to say that that AA makes $20 per booking is flat out preposterous. If anything, AA loses quite a bit of money on these things. Sure, maybe most FTers already know what's available when they call and book, but you can bet that there are plenty of people who tie up agents' time for hours (whether in one phone call or more than one) searching for award tickets. If you assume that agents are paid starting at around $10 per hour (and going up from there based on length of service) and that overhead costs add another 100% to that hourly rate, then it's easy to see how this is anything BUT profit to AA. In addition to this, after a partner award is booked, all such bookings are "audited" by a real person to make sure that the award complies with redemption rules, which adds additional cost to the bottom line. So again, while I agree that AA really should allow partner bookings online, to say that $20 is profit to AA is absurd.
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Old Mar 1, 11, 4:30 pm   #19
 
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An educated guess from a former employee: AA makes a smaill amount of money with this booking fee, maybe an average of $1 per call. However, it would cost millions to develop the partner award functionality online. So, a slight profit per call or sink millions into IT development??? What would you decide if you were running AA?
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Old Mar 1, 11, 4:52 pm   #20
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by formeraa View Post
An educated guess from a former employee: AA makes a smaill amount of money with this booking fee, maybe an average of $1 per call. However, it would cost millions to develop the partner award functionality online. So, a slight profit per call or sink millions into IT development??? What would you decide if you were running AA?
Granted I'm not an expert, but I have doubts that it'll cost millions; it's not something totally new that AA has to develop from scratch like re-inventing the wheel or doing something immensely cost intrusive like installing PTVs across their entire fleet.

The functionality for booking partner awards online is readily available at many airlines' reservations systems so I don't see why it'll take millions to introduce something that's already possible at a smaller/regional airline such as AS (which use the same backbone reservation system as AA).

It doesn't take millions to search for a particular airline(s) and filter it to a specific booking class for award tickets either; many here on FT who book OW awards have gotten used to checking ExpertFlyer or opening a BA and/or QF FFP account and do their searches there beforehand to see availability across all OW carriers. Not only does this saves time on my end, but it saves a lot of hassle for the agent too who'd otherwise has to be tied up to a phone call for half an hour or more to look for availability on such an award ticket.

At tops I've never been with an agent to book partner awards for more than 10 minutes; if I can do the search and do all the "hard part" by myself, it doesn't quite justify the $20 fee to have a person "pull the trigger" for me. And if such tools are readily available for cheap/free, I don't see why AA would need millions to develop the functionality.


If need be, AA could ask BA for advice on how they implemented their partner award functionality to their website. BA award searches clearly lists (most of) AA award availabilities as well, they even managed to figure out how to show how many awards seats are left on a particular flight. If BA can figure out a way to access AA award availability onsite online at ba.com for all their BAEC members to view and book, I don't see why it would be that expensive to implement.
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Wishing the US had more high-speed rail...

Last edited by kebosabi; Mar 1, 11 at 5:22 pm..
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Old Mar 12, 11, 10:44 am   #21
 
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Disputing phone fee w/cc when you can't book online

I recently found it impossible to book the routing I wanted via the online booking engine at aa.com for a domestic award ticket. Nothing fancy - it wouldn't give me the non-stop routing even though I was using a 50k award. I called the 800 number (platinum) and begged my case, but she charged me $20 anyway. So I just went to dispute the charge to my credit card with Amex and here's what came up:

Please contact the airline directly with any questions you may have or to dispute the charges. We realize this may not be the response you hoped for, but trust you will understand that we must abide by the merchant's policies.

I guess AA got so sick of people using this as a backhanded complaint mechanism that they got Amex to agree to shut off any and all disputes of booking charges. You literally cannot dispute this charge. Cute.

Anyone have any insight on this or encountered it with other card companies? Apologies if this has been dealt with before on the boards - I did a search but couldn't find anything.
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Old Mar 12, 11, 10:54 am   #22
 
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This is another way to deal with it, but I have had some success not getting charged the phone fee when calling AA web services or using the "call me now" button online. Since these lines seem to be set up for people specifically having trouble with the online experience, they seem to be less likely to charge you the fee. YMMV.
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Old Mar 12, 11, 11:09 am   #23
 
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If it doesn't say anywhere in the purchase experience, or during the phone call, that you can't dispute phone booking fees, how can they prevent you from disputing phone booking fees?
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Old Mar 12, 11, 11:26 am   #24
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Just so that I understand- you agreed to the $20 phone fee,and now you want to try and dispute a charge that you agreed to? During the dispute, will you mention that you agreed to the charge at the time?

I should say that I completely agree that charging a fee for something that can't be done online is totally bogus. But the charge is disclosed, and you agreed to it. Trying now to dispute the charge seems inappropriate especially as one would likely have to lie and say that the charge was not disclosed to have any reasonable chance of success.

Cheers.
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Old Mar 12, 11, 12:07 pm   #25
 
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No lying here...

Nope, didn't lie. And yup, I did agree to pay it. (But what choice did I have really? Glad I know the Web services/help trick now, tho, thanks for that.)

I just clicked the "I was dissatisfied with the service" button on the Amex site. I think it's kosher to agree to pay the fee when there is no other way to make the booking but to then go back later and dispute it because I was dissatisfied with the mere/sheer fact that I had to pay it.
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Old Mar 12, 11, 12:28 pm   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ron-val-ron View Post
Nope, didn't lie. And yup, I did agree to pay it. (But what choice did I have really? Glad I know the Web services/help trick now, tho, thanks for that.)

I just clicked the "I was dissatisfied with the service" button on the Amex site. I think it's kosher to agree to pay the fee when there is no other way to make the booking but to then go back later and dispute it because I was dissatisfied with the mere/sheer fact that I had to pay it.
Fair enough. I completely understand the dissatisfaction. It just seems that that route is for the claim that one did not get the service expected or paid for. In this case, you did. It seems the basis for the claim has nothing to do with whether the service was delivered as expected, but just with the "I don't think that they should have charged me for that, even though I agreed to it and received the service that I paid for." Since you are going the truthful method (and I only made my comment because not all would), I think it's going to be a tough sell.

With all that said, I still hope it works since the charge should not be levied in this case.

Cheers.
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Old Mar 12, 11, 12:45 pm   #27
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ron-val-ron View Post
I recently found it impossible to book the routing I wanted via the online booking engine at aa.com for a domestic award ticket. Nothing fancy - it wouldn't give me the non-stop routing even though I was using a 50k award. I called the 800 number (platinum) and begged my case, but she charged me $20 anyway.
More of a question for my own learning. Did the phone rep say the problem was the routing you wanted was sold out that day or unavailable any day or what?

Last edited by jayer; Mar 16, 11 at 5:12 pm..
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Old Mar 12, 11, 1:00 pm   #28
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There are no grounds for disputing the charge that I can see. For providing the service they charge $20 which was agreed to.

CC disputes are for disputing charges that should not be there not for disliking the fees. If disputed, AA would easily be able to provide substantiation that it was agreed to

Does the "dissatisfied with service" option perhaps only return a message to contact the merchant ?

I can see why some banks here now charge $10 for unsuccessful disputes

Last edited by Dave Noble; Mar 12, 11 at 1:08 pm..
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Old Mar 12, 11, 1:42 pm   #29
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ron-val-ron View Post
I recently found it impossible to book the routing I wanted via the online booking engine at aa.com for a domestic award ticket. Nothing fancy - it wouldn't give me the non-stop routing even though I was using a 50k award. I called the 800 number (platinum) and begged my case, but she charged me $20 anyway. So I just went to dispute the charge to my credit card with Amex and here's what came up:

Please contact the airline directly with any questions you may have or to dispute the charges. We realize this may not be the response you hoped for, but trust you will understand that we must abide by the merchant's policies.

I guess AA got so sick of people using this as a backhanded complaint mechanism that they got Amex to agree to shut off any and all disputes of booking charges. You literally cannot dispute this charge. Cute.

Anyone have any insight on this or encountered it with other card companies? Apologies if this has been dealt with before on the boards - I did a search but couldn't find anything.
I tend to agree that disputing a charge is for when the service/product was not delivered. In the future you might try putting the connecting flight on hold and then calling them to change the flight to the non stop. Since you are allowed to change flights as long as the start and finish stay the same, I believe that this will work. I suspect it is too late for this option for you.
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Old Mar 12, 11, 2:47 pm   #30
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You should take this issue (which is all about fairness) up with the DOT; unfortunately the credit card company is stuck in the middle.

Several people, including myself, already have (see the thread http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/ameri...ased-25-a.html ), and the DOT has already started asking around for examples of this practice. Your real-life example would be a great addition to the ones they have already received.

Let you thoughts known at http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/escomplaint/es.cfm. I urged the Secretary to exercise his duty under 49 U.S.C. 41712 "Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices" and cause AA to stop charging for transactions that AA does not allow to take place for free online. Incidentally, the DOT just did this in the case of AA involuntary denied boarding vouchers (same issue--they couldn't be redeemed online so were subject to the fee, something that the DOT termed an unfair practice, asked AA to stop, and fined AA for having instituted the unfair practice in the first place).
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