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Old Jul 28, 11, 9:30 pm   #1
 
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Continental Travel Voucher Tomfoolery

Hi all. I wanted to get people's opinions on the situation I'm going through with Continental at the moment. I hesitate to call it shenanigans because that word has a specific meaning here, but it is some sort of funny business. Anyway, here's the issue.

I purchased an award ticket for a coworker's son (he's 17). The outbound leg was uneventful. The return flight is where the issues came up. The leg was BTR-IAH on an ERJ. (Flight 2691 at 1:30 PM on 7/20). After everyone was boarded, the gate agent came aboard and asked for a volunteer for weight and balance issues. He offered a $250 travel certificate.

Because my friend's son's friend was on a later flight, he volunteered and was accepted. He deboarded the plane and had a seat at the gate. He called his mom who called me. I told her to tell him to make sure the agent gave him the voucher and that he or she could keep it because they were the ones being inconvenienced by it. She told him to talk to the GA.

The GA told him (the first time) that it would take a while to get it sorted out and to have a seat and he'd get it for him. 30 minutes later he asks again. Then the GA told him that he'd have to get someone else over to help him out with it. He's relaying this to his mom who's relaying it to me. I tell her something doesn't sound quite right and to tell him to keep on the agent for the voucher. The third time he asks, the GA tells him that because he wasn't able to be on the next flight out (2284 departing at 3:50), he wasn't entitled to anything.

At this point, it's 4:10 and I know he's getting the runaround. I call the elite desk and speak to an agent who pulls up the PNR and tells me that he hasn't even been rebooked. She rebooks him (2293 departing at 5:05, last flight of the day BTR-IAH). She can't do anything about the travel voucher on her end and the GA obviously isn't going to do anything for him.

At 8:30 that evening, I speak to the elite desk again. I explain the situation to the agent. He looks up the flight and says that the flight wasn't overbooked. I told him he was bumped for weight and balance, not for overbooking. The agent told me he filled out a form on the web and that I would receive some kind of contact within 24 hours.

On 7/25, I call into the elite desk because I haven't heard anything. The agent explained to me that I have to speak to customer care because it's past the date of travel. After quite a while on hold, I speak to an agent in customer care. I explain the situation to him, ensuring to tell him that the boy was bumped due to weight and balance. (Maybe off topic, but this guy is really thorough and empathetic.) He understands the situation and says he will have to do some research on the issue. He also says that the PNR notes that my friend's son was a no-show for his original flight. This is absolutely ridiculous and I explain that the passenger had a chaperone from LSU drop him off at the airport in plenty of time for the flight. He promises that either he or someone will call me back on Wednesday morning with a resolution -- they just need to talk to the GA in BTR to confirm.

Wednesday comes and goes with no contact. I get a letter in the mail today saying that the flight was not oversold and, as such, there was no reason for anyone to be bumped and no voucher is forthcoming. But, rest assured, this incident will be included in monthly status reports blah blah blah.

(Note: I have the names of the gate agent, elite desk agents, and customer care agents, as well as dates/times I spoke with them. I'm not disclosing them here for privacy issues.)

Here are my beefs with Continental at the moment.
1.) They promised a 17 year old kid a voucher, then (pardon my French) jerked him around, then doctored his PNR to say he was a no-show.

2.) I spoke with two Continental agents over the phone who promised return calls that were never delivered upon.

3.) I explained to several agents, multiple times, that he volunteered his seat for weight and balance, yet the correspondence I get back reflects an overbooking type bump.

This situation really reflects an endemic problem with Continental's support staff. They don't deliver on their promises and they don't pay attention to their customers.

My question is, where do I go from here? Give customer care another shot? PM UA Insider? DOT complaint? Small claims court?
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Old Jul 28, 11, 11:16 pm   #2
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1. Dispute the entire cost of the ticket with your credit card (there's a time limit on this, so get the process started if it's not too late).

2. PM UA Insider

3. Give #2 a chance; if nothing then DOT complaint. You may have no legal grounds because it's weight and balance on a small plane. Your only beef is that they offered it and didn't deliver it.
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Old Jul 28, 11, 11:17 pm   #3
 
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Under 60 seats + bumped for safety (W&B) = no compensation required for DB

If this version of events is accurate it sounds like the GA was trying to solicit DBs with a carrot. Maybe they realized/remembered later they didn't need the carrot. Maybe they're just incompetent (Hanlon's Razor). But I doubt you'll get much pursuing it. File your DOT complaint and forget about it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by channa View Post
1. Dispute the entire cost of the ticket with your credit card (there's a time limit on this, so get the process started if it's not too late).
1) It's an award ticket.
2) That's fraud.
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Old Jul 28, 11, 11:32 pm   #4
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by channa View Post
1. Dispute the entire cost of the ticket with your credit card (there's a time limit on this, so get the process started if it's not too late).

2. PM UA Insider

3. Give #2 a chance; if nothing then DOT complaint. You may have no legal grounds because it's weight and balance on a small plane. Your only beef is that they offered it and didn't deliver it.
As mduell noted, it was an award ticket, so the only amount charged was $5. Besides, he got the flights, he just didn't get the promised compensation for the bump.


Quote:
Originally Posted by mduell View Post
Under 60 seats + bumped for safety (W&B) = no compensation required for DB

If this version of events is accurate it sounds like the GA was trying to solicit DBs with a carrot. Maybe they realized/remembered later they didn't need the carrot. Maybe they're just incompetent (Hanlon's Razor). But I doubt you'll get much pursuing it. File your DOT complaint and forget about it.
I didn't know that compensation wasn't required for W&B. Thanks for that info. As an aside, I was flying EWR-SYR on Monday and, due to weather, got pushed to Tuesday. This was on a turboprop. They needed one volunteer for W&B and offered a $500 voucher. If I weren't already a day late, I'd have volunteered. I still think CO should honor their offer, though. And I absolutely don't think they should alter a passenger's PNR.

At this point I guess I'll PM UA Insider and take it from there. Thanks, you guys.
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Old Jul 28, 11, 11:33 pm   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mduell View Post
2) That's fraud.
What's fraud?

The airline did not provide transportation as ticketed.

If the GA wanted to change the DB terms as you suggested, they should have given the passenger his original seat back as per the original contract.
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Old Jul 28, 11, 11:47 pm   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by channa View Post
What's fraud?

The airline did not provide transportation as ticketed.

If the GA wanted to change the DB terms as you suggested, they should have given the passenger his original seat back as per the original contract.
I see your point, but the COC generally doesn't guarantee you fly when ticketed, only that they get you from point A to point B. So, while they did abide by the original COC, (as I understand it) they GA broke the oral contract that he bound CO to when he offered the boy the voucher in exchange for taking a later flight, the boy accepted the offer, then the GA rescinded the offer after consideration had already been given by my friend's son.
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Old Jul 29, 11, 5:38 am   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by channa View Post
What's fraud?

The airline did not provide transportation as ticketed.

If the GA wanted to change the DB terms as you suggested, they should have given the passenger his original seat back as per the original contract.
It absolutely would be fraud to try to cancel the charge with the CC company. There's simply no question about that.

You're introducing emotion into the equation, but all that matters is the CoC - you know as well as I do that there is no commitment to transporting you "as ticketed" - the obligation is to get you there (eventually) or offer a refund.

Moot point since this is a reward ticket but that's a bizarre solution you're proposing. To the OP - continue to fight to get the travel voucher. I also agree with the advice of sharing the GA's name with UA Insider, they seem to have badly messed up here.
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Old Jul 29, 11, 7:31 am   #8
 
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A few tips

First, I was sorry to read about your son incident. I know how frustrating it is to stand in front of a brick wall.
My suggestion, based on some unfortunate experience is to cc the Director of customer care sitting corporate office - that usually brought me great results.
Here's a link to some important e-mails you'd probably need to cc on your e-mail: http://onyoursi.de/wiki/travel/airli...ntal-airlines/

I hope that the information here is up-to-date.

Please let us know how this was taken care of.

Good Luck!
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Old Jul 29, 11, 7:45 am   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by star_world View Post
It absolutely would be fraud to try to cancel the charge with the CC company. There's simply no question about that.
No it's not. Disputing the charge is simply stating there's ambiguity and you disagree with it. It's up to the CC company in a dispute to decide whether it's legit or not.


Quote:
Originally Posted by star_world View Post
You're introducing emotion into the equation, but all that matters is the CoC - you know as well as I do that there is no commitment to transporting you "as ticketed" - the obligation is to get you there (eventually) or offer a refund.
What also matters is what a reasonable person would do or think. You have a 50-page contract of carriage where a line or two explain what you're saying. You also have a website or other venue that markets flights based on time and flight number, with different costs for each.

A reasonable person would not expect that by picking Flight X and paying its fare, the airline could still operate Flight X but push you onto another flight without some sort of compensation.


Quote:
I also agree with the advice of sharing the GA's name with UA Insider, they seem to have badly messed up here.
+1

Maybe the executive office keeps track of these types of employees, and perhaps by Jeff's next video shoot he'll talk about his 80,000 co-workers, 75,000 of whom are the FINEST people in the business.
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Old Jul 29, 11, 8:53 am   #10
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Originally Posted by channa View Post
No it's not. Disputing the charge is simply stating there's ambiguity and you disagree with it. It's up to the CC company in a dispute to decide whether it's legit or not.
Any time I dispute a charge I have to represent the reason for this dispute. I don't see what you could legitimately state in this case that would be a valid reason for disputing the charge.

Quote:
A reasonable person would not expect that by picking Flight X and paying its fare, the airline could still operate Flight X but push you onto another flight without some sort of compensation.
I completely agree that there should be compensation - as the passenger was told in the first place. I don't think there's any debate about that at all.

But the argument you're making implies that if your flight is delayed, or you don't get your choice of meal, or any other deviation from a perfect flight, you should resort to a credit card dispute. That's bad advice IMHO.

Quote:
Maybe the executive office keeps track of these types of employees, and perhaps by Jeff's next video shoot he'll talk about his 80,000 co-workers, 75,000 of whom are the FINEST people in the business.
You have impressive stamina when it comes to crowing about that topic. Keep it up - it's one of the things that keeps us all going here
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Old Jul 29, 11, 9:05 am   #11
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Originally Posted by star_world View Post
Any time I dispute a charge I have to represent the reason for this dispute. I don't see what you could legitimately state in this case that would be a valid reason for disputing the charge.
He bought a ticket for Flight X. He was not allowed to travel on Flight X. Why is that so difficult to understand?


Quote:
Originally Posted by star_world View Post
I completely agree that there should be compensation - as the passenger was told in the first place. I don't think there's any debate about that at all.
Right, but this is CO we're dealing with. Perhaps a dispute is a bit heavy-handed, but when dealing with companies that don't do the right thing, heavy-handed tactics are sometimes required.


Quote:
Originally Posted by star_world View Post
But the argument you're making implies that if your flight is delayed, or you don't get your choice of meal, or any other deviation from a perfect flight, you should resort to a credit card dispute. That's bad advice IMHO.
That's not what I said.

I said he bought a ticket for Flight X and was not allowed to fly on Flight X.

In fact, if you want to dig into this further, the CoC has a pre-defined denied boarding priority, which was not followed. So the same CoC that the airline can try to use to weasel out of compensation can be used against them because they did not follow the DB priority.


Quote:
Originally Posted by star_world View Post
You have impressive stamina when it comes to crowing about that topic. Keep it up - it's one of the things that keeps us all going here
Stamina? Smisek uses that phrase on 3,000 flights a day. I say it a couple times a week. Once I start saying it more than Smisek does, then I'll accept that.
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Old Jul 29, 11, 9:13 am   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by channa View Post
He bought a ticket for Flight X. He was not allowed to travel on Flight X. Why is that so difficult to understand?
It's not - but it's also not relevant when it comes to the heavy-handed approach you so helpfully suggested. Additionally, talking to a blank wall isn't particularly productive. I think I've made my point above, so I'll leave you to continue to dish out spurious advice on this subject if you wish.
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Old Jul 29, 11, 9:34 am   #13
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Originally Posted by star_world View Post
It's not - but it's also not relevant when it comes to the heavy-handed approach you so helpfully suggested. Additionally, talking to a blank wall isn't particularly productive. I think I've made my point above, so I'll leave you to continue to dish out spurious advice on this subject if you wish.

Just because it pains you to hear someone post something negative about CO, doesn't make the advice spurious. But attempting to discredit anyone with a dissenting viewpoint (particularly one that makes CO look bad) has been a longstanding sport on this board. And as such, I'm not surprised by your response.
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Old Jul 29, 11, 9:35 am   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by channa View Post
Just because it pains you to hear someone post something negative about CO
Quote:
Originally Posted by star_world View Post
To the OP - continue to fight to get the travel voucher. I also agree with the advice of sharing the GA's name with UA Insider, they seem to have badly messed up here.
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Old Jul 29, 11, 9:45 am   #15
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CR is the bext approach. As is discussed in minute detail through this thread, this was a safety issue and pax could have been IDB with no comp. The GA screwed up and likely realized that s/he screwed up and that's why pax didn't get the voucher.

By writing a short note, devoid of emotion which does not infer facts OP does not know, CS might issue voucher or something close to it as a matter of CSR. The short note ought to be 1/3 the length of the post and simply focus on fact that comp was promised and not given.

As to disputing the charge, even if this were not an award ticket, it's foolish and risks having the issuing bank cancel the credit card for a bad faith challenge. The CoC was honored here and one can't dispute a charge because another matter was or was not handled properly. Even if this were a paid ticket, you can only dispute the charge for the ticket, not whether the same vendor owes you money for something else.
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