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COVID-19: refund provided as voucher (for non refundable fares)

Old Apr 6, 20, 7:58 am
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European Commission EC261/2004 guidelines in context of COVD-19 dated 18 MAR 2020
US DoT Enforcement Notice regarding refunds dated 3 APR 2020.
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COVID-19: refund provided as voucher (for non refundable fares)

Old Mar 25, 20, 11:25 am
  #61  
 
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Originally Posted by bostontraveler
Yes . Unfortunately AF has apparently cut a deal with Amex France not to accept chargeback requests.

So not only is AF not respecting the law, Amex France is also flouting its promise to its cardholders.
I am not sure what Amex obligations or promises are in the matter.

I recently had a dispute with Hertz SOU who wanted to charge me for damage on one door, even though the return desk was not manned and they inspected the car more than 1 hour after I had dropped the keys (and the car was not damaged).

Wanting to put pressure on Hertz, I called Amex to ask for charge back and was surprised to hear that they would do nothing.

The guy I spoke with said that Hertz was in their own right to charge my card against my will; when I objected saying that I had given no one the right to charge my card for whichever amount they want, he just said this was the way it was.

I got quite upset that they would not raise a finger to help me and asked if Amex would agree to any charge by any one against my will and he did not really answer.
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Old Mar 25, 20, 12:24 pm
  #62  
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Originally Posted by carnarvon
I am not sure what Amex obligations or promises are in the matter.

I recently had a dispute with Hertz SOU who wanted to charge me for damage on one door, even though the return desk was not manned and they inspected the car more than 1 hour after I had dropped the keys (and the car was not damaged).

Wanting to put pressure on Hertz, I called Amex to ask for charge back and was surprised to hear that they would do nothing.

The guy I spoke with said that Hertz was in their own right to charge my card against my will; when I objected saying that I had given no one the right to charge my card for whichever amount they want, he just said this was the way it was.

I got quite upset that they would not raise a finger to help me and asked if Amex would agree to any charge by any one against my will and he did not really answer.
That is horrendous.
This situation would fall, in my opinion, under purchase protection. A service was paid for using their medium which was not provided. If I ordered something from Apple that was never delivered, Amex would reverse the charge.
https://www.americanexpress.com/fr/b...ection-achats/

What is absurd in this case is that American Express France is saying that they are not accepting disputes because AF is a partner of theirs. In other words, "we're buddies so tough luck". So selective "Protection".... I'd call that a breach of their terms...

In essence the companies are doing whatever the heck they want to because no legal action will move forward. It's illegal and an abuse of trust.
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Old Mar 25, 20, 12:27 pm
  #63  
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Swimming against the current.
First, let me start by saying that obviously, AF should honor any passenger's refund request if the flight is cancelled. They don't let people defer payment for tickets when booking. My cash flow situation isn't necessarily anyone else's.
But for me...
My booking USA-EU on June 6 hasn't been dealt with yet, so I'm waiting. It's a family trip for 4 in Business (I and Z fares) purchased through the AMEX IAP (about US$12k). One passenger is categorized as a Youth, though the ticket costs the same as an adult.
We are still going to want to take this trip next year, assuming the voucher expiry dates can suit our schedules. In fact, we might want to add 2 more people.
So, since I fully intend to take this trip and bought the tickets months and months ago, I myself don't begrudge AF the (refundable after a year) voucher. The money was already spent, I still want to spend it for the same thing later. And if my plans change, or the voucher won't work, I can get a refund next year.
Like staying at home is flattening the curve of infection, I think this is a fair way to flatten the cash flow curve.
If AF find themselves in a cash crunch because so many cash refunds need to paid for imminent flights, they could sweeten the voucher by guaranteeing the route booked for the fare paid for 13 months (allowing for slight adjustments of travel dates). They could also make the voucher not lose value if fares go down next year, though this is implicit in the refundability offer.
I think - only guessing - that like me there are plenty of leisure travelers who would accept the offer of not having to shop the flights.
I'm hoping to replicate this trip next June, because I don't believe Covid-19 will cause a permanent change to my choice to travel the world. I also don't believe AF will fold and will have the same features that led me to choose them over other carriers. This optimistic view may be the crux of the biscuit when it comes to my attitude towards deferred refunds.
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Old Mar 25, 20, 12:49 pm
  #64  
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Originally Posted by rickg523
Swimming against the current.
First, let me start by saying that obviously, AF should honor any passenger's refund request if the flight is cancelled. They don't let people defer payment for tickets when booking. My cash flow situation isn't necessarily anyone else's.
But for me...
My booking USA-EU on June 6 hasn't been dealt with yet, so I'm waiting. It's a family trip for 4 in Business (I and Z fares) purchased through the AMEX IAP (about US$12k). One passenger is categorized as a Youth, though the ticket costs the same as an adult.
We are still going to want to take this trip next year, assuming the voucher expiry dates can suit our schedules. In fact, we might want to add 2 more people.
So, since I fully intend to take this trip and bought the tickets months and months ago, I myself don't begrudge AF the (refundable after a year) voucher. The money was already spent, I still want to spend it for the same thing later. And if my plans change, or the voucher won't work, I can get a refund next year.
Like staying at home is flattening the curve of infection, I think this is a fair way to flatten the cash flow curve.
If AF find themselves in a cash crunch because so many cash refunds need to paid for imminent flights, they could sweeten the voucher by guaranteeing the route booked for the fare paid for 13 months (allowing for slight adjustments of travel dates). They could also make the voucher not lose value if fares go down next year, though this is implicit in the refundability offer.
I think - only guessing - that like me there are plenty of leisure travelers who would accept the offer of not having to shop the flights.
I'm hoping to replicate this trip next June, because I don't believe Covid-19 will cause a permanent change to my choice to travel the world. I also don't believe AF will fold and will have the same features that led me to choose them over other carriers. This optimistic view may be the crux of the biscuit when it comes to my attitude towards deferred refunds.
I appreciate your thoughts and agree. Sadly there is no such thinking. They cancelled and then want to hang onto 3500euro- they want to use my money? Pay me interest.
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Old Mar 25, 20, 1:18 pm
  #65  
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Originally Posted by bostontraveler
I appreciate your thoughts and agree. Sadly there is no such thinking. They cancelled and then want to hang onto 3500euro- they want to use my money? Pay me interest.
And here, I agree. Would you accept say a 110% voucher with the one year redemption date?
I ask because a luxury train trip I booked for May has been cancelled and the offer was 110% voucher good through 2022 (not cashable). I grabbed that and will book next year, hopefully inoculated against the inevitable price increases.
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Old Mar 25, 20, 1:21 pm
  #66  
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Originally Posted by rickg523
And here, I agree. Would you accept say a 110% voucher with the one year redemption date?
I ask because a luxury train trip I booked for May has been cancelled and the offer was 110% voucher good through 2022 (not cashable). I grabbed that and will book next year, hopefully inoculated against the inevitable price increases.
Maybe though with all of the uncertainty in the world I'd still prefer cash.
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Old Mar 25, 20, 1:48 pm
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Originally Posted by rickg523
And here, I agree. Would you accept say a 110% voucher with the one year redemption date?
I ask because a luxury train trip I booked for May has been cancelled and the offer was 110% voucher good through 2022 (not cashable). I grabbed that and will book next year, hopefully inoculated against the inevitable price increases.
Exactly my question, what are the best offers in Europe so far (EI?), compared to AF options?
I genuinely don't know how other carriers deal with this worldwide issue!

I do hold 2 fully refundable tickets for intra - EU trips out of 5, awaiting to be refunded. Even after a week with no news from AF, stress is somewhat when our business will start again rather than when AF perform the the refund.
To OP: Don't get me wrong, we need cash to survive too!
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Old Mar 25, 20, 4:27 pm
  #68  
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AA is offering a premium of 20% to those who accept a credit rather than a refund. While I still would not do it because I have no idea what it all means and I am not in the business of investing in commercial air carriers just now, there are many who would accept that. AF wants -- and appears to be getting it. France, of course, has every reason to back AF on this issue. It is left to bail out AF and every Euro refunded in cash to a customer is a Euro which the government will wind up paying.

It is interesting to see that the French government is prepared to utterly disregard both the plain language of EC 261/2004 as well as last week's EC Guidance on the subject, specifically in light of Covid-19. Spells real trouble for EU-wide regulatory.
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Old Mar 25, 20, 4:40 pm
  #69  
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Indeed, the French Government has taken an "ordonnance" where a refund is replaced by an "a valoir", i.e. a voucher valid for 18 months.
Sure the EU can take France to court for temporarily violating EC261. So what?
It doesn't work like that. An individual may still sue AF citing EC261. It is then for the court to determine whether that ordonnance was legal.
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Old Mar 25, 20, 4:51 pm
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Originally Posted by warakorn
It doesn't work like that. An individual may still sue AF citing EC261. It is then for the court to determine whether that ordonnance was legal.
Several people have spoken of this "ordonnance". Where is it? I have not yet seen it published anywhere.

Yes. You're correct, you can sue Air France but given that there is no "small claims" court in France it is pointless and they know it.

What is reprehensible is a) the blatant lying on behalf of AF refusal to be compliant with the law and b) the complicity of American Express in not providing the services that I pay 600euro a year for...

Not to speak of the thousands of euro I spend every year on AF as a Platinum member.
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Old Mar 25, 20, 6:56 pm
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Originally Posted by bostontraveler
Not to speak of the thousands of euro I spend every year on AF as a Platinum member.
So do I, plus my Abonn card comes to expiration soon
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Old Mar 26, 20, 1:52 am
  #72  
 
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25% Bonus

AF could at least offer a 25% bonus on the voucher and make it transferable ?
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Old Mar 26, 20, 3:32 am
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Originally Posted by bostontraveler
Several people have spoken of this "ordonnance". Where is it? I have not yet seen it published anywhere.

Yes. You're correct, you can sue Air France but given that there is no "small claims" court in France it is pointless and they know it.

What is reprehensible is a) the blatant lying on behalf of AF refusal to be compliant with the law and b) the complicity of American Express in not providing the services that I pay 600euro a year for...

Not to speak of the thousands of euro I spend every year on AF as a Platinum member.
Not a layer, but it looks like AF is relying on ordonnance 2020-315, which was decreed yesterday and published in the official journal today. It allows various travel operators to give refunds in the form of a voucher, which becomes refundable at the end of its validity period. The wording seems to suggest that these vouchers are considered to be equivalent to giving a full refund. I also saw that Air France has updated their website to say the vouchers are refundable.

The EC, in their guidance from March 18 say that these laws around refunds fall outside the scope of EC261/2004, so it looks like their position is that if national law allows for refund in the form of a voucher, it still counts as a refund. The government and EC seem to be giving AF and other airlines legal cover to do this, which probably also why the credit card companies are refusing chargebacks: the airline has done what the law requires them to do under the circumstance.

Now, this all could be wrong and the courts may disagree, but from a practical standpoint, it would probably take over a year to resolve such a court case, so you're probably better (IMHO) just to take the refundable voucher.
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Old Mar 26, 20, 4:49 am
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IANAL and my French isn't good either, but the accompanying report states:

L'article 1er prcise au I le champ d'application. Ces nouvelles modalits s'appliqueront aux rsolutions de contrat notifies soit par le client soit par le professionnel ou l'association aprs le 1er mars et avant le 15 septembre 2020 inclus.
Ce mme article identifie les contrats concerns :
1 Les contrats de vente de voyages et de sjours, dont les modalits de rsolution sont actuellement rgies par l'article L. 211-14 du code du tourisme, transpos de la directive (UE) 2015/2302 du Parlement europen et du Conseil du 25 novembre 2015 relative aux voyages forfait et aux prestations de voyage lies ;
2 Les contrats portant sur les services de voyage dfinis respectivement aux 2, 3 et 4 du I de l'article L. 211-2 du code du tourisme, vendus par des professionnels les produisant eux-mmes. Il s'agit, par exemple, de :

- l'hbergement ;
- la location de voiture ;
- tout autre service touristique qui ne fait pas partie intgrante d'un service de voyage.

Est exclue de son champ d'application la vente des titres de transports par ailleurs rglemente par le droit international et la lgislation de l'Union europenne sur les droits des passagers ;
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Old Mar 26, 20, 6:02 am
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Originally Posted by KLflyerRalph
IANAL and my French isn't good either, but the accompanying report states:
Est exclue de son champ d'application la vente des titres de transports par ailleurs rglemente par le droit international et la lgislation de l'Union europenne sur les droits des passagers ;

This means that is excluded from the rules above the sell of transportation tickets (flight or train tickets for instance) where the regulation is governed by international legislation (let's say Montreal or Vienna convention for instance) and the EU regulations related to passenger rights (EU261/2004 namely).

So this "ordonnance" (translate this by presidential/governement order) will cover for all travel related purchases besides transportation tickets, such as plane or train tickets. That's my understanding.
And for the record AF has been offereing refundable vouchers (after a year - do not know if this is mentioned on the voucher though) for over a week now in case the flight cancellation is from them.
I know that those refundable vouchers are also given in case of overbooking situations (a couple years back, my mom got one at the airport when she got bumped off the flight as it was full. The term refundable meant that visiting a local AF office or counter resulted in a cash refund, in exchange to that voucher. I am wondering if the same applies here.

One thing is for sure, is that KLM gave me yesterday a NON-REFUNDABLE voucher for a couple flights they decided to cancel this week end. And that, I am arguing with !
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