KLM arbitrarily reduces expense refund after canceled flight

Old May 31, 19, 11:52 am
  #1  
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Angry KLM arbitrarily reduces expense refund after canceled flight

Hello FTers! And apologies if this is the wrong section in which to post the thread. Perhaps moderators can move it where it should be if it's in the wrong place. I hope someone here might have the answer to my question.

I was booked on a flight from TXL to FLR with connection in AMS with KLM on 21/05/2019. I arrived in AMS to find that my onward flight KL1643 to FLR had been canceled because of an ATC strike. Patiently I queue at the KLM customer service desk to inquire about rebooking. Because of the strike I am rebooked on two flights the following day (AMS to CDG, CDG to FLR) and I am forced to spend the night in Amsterdam. KLM tells me I should book my own hotel because the airport hotel they usually rely on is fully booked. The agent tells me to keep all the receipts for accommodation and meals so I can claim the costs back from KLM. In Schiphol and Amsterdam proper there are barely any rooms left (no more than 4 or 5), and I manage to get a room close to the airport for 249 EUR. After the journey is completed, I claim my expenses back and my request for a refund is approved. I am due to receive 272 GBP (hotel + dinner and breakfast) into my account. A week later, I receive an email saying that the amount has been reduced to 226 GBP because of unspecified "legislation" that limits refunds for accommodation to 190 EUR.

Does KLM actually have any legal authority to claim that they are limited to 190 EUR for accommodation (no link was provided)? What is considered to be a "reasonable" amount for accommodation? The room I booked was one of the very last in the vicinity of Schiphol, and certainly one of the cheapest for the night of 21/22 May, when only a handful of hotel rooms were still available in central Amsterdam, too. (I didn't go to the Waldorf Astoria after all!)

What is astonishing (but perhaps I am too naive) is that they changed their mind on the issue. I have tried to complain with KLM about it, but the people replying to my emails stick to their line "We have already settled the amount," and calling their UK customer line (open Mon-Fri 8am to 8pm) at 5:06, 5:20 and 5:47pm on a Friday I am greeted by the lovely message "Our office is closed, we are open Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm."

Now, I am not going bankrupt for £50, and I am not going to waste my time trying to pursue this further, but I'd like to know where I stand in case this happens again and amounts might be, for reasons outside my control, considerably higher.
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Old May 31, 19, 12:06 pm
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I have been refused compensation in strike cases as the airline is not considered responsible. But once they agreed on the amount it is strange they'd backtrack on it. If it were me I would let it go, more hassle than it's worth. FYI - if it happens again and you are on the hook yourself take the train to Rotterdam. Only 10 minutes more and much cheaper.
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Old May 31, 19, 12:23 pm
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Originally Posted by erik123 View Post
I have been refused compensation in strike cases as the airline is not considered responsible. But once they agreed on the amount it is strange they'd backtrack on it. If it were me I would let it go, more hassle than it's worth. FYI - if it happens again and you are on the hook yourself take the train to Rotterdam. Only 10 minutes more and much cheaper.
Thank you for telling me about Rotterdam (I didnít know at the time), but I hope Iíll never need the recommendation. Iíll avoid KLM from now on, after they managed to delay my bag on a previous occasion, and now this.

On a different noteóthis was not compensation, but assistance, which I believe (though I am ready to stand corrected if I am wrong) airlines are required to provide. I didnít ask for compensation, but for a refund of the assistance which KLM failed to provide.
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Old May 31, 19, 1:14 pm
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By all means I would pursue this further, you do have pretty solid ground to get the total amount back on the basis (amongst other things) that they initially agreed and later basically changed their mind (not your problem, is it). I would put together a brief response highlighting the fact that the hotel you chose was amongst the very few with available rooms and certainly not the most expensive, plus it is very unprofessional from their side to agree on something and later backtrack (seriously KLM, for the sake of 50 quid?). Just keep it brief, clear and coincise (you could also go the social media route).

G
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Old May 31, 19, 1:22 pm
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Originally Posted by tosaerba24 View Post
A week later, I receive an email saying that the amount has been reduced to 226 GBP because of unspecified "legislation" that limits refunds for accommodation to 190 EUR.
This is simply not true. There is no such legislation. If they think that there is, ask them to quote exactly what that mythical bit of legislation is supposed to be.

Originally Posted by erik123 View Post
I have been refused compensation in strike cases as the airline is not considered responsible.
The OP is not talking of compensation but of reimbursement of accommodation as part of the airline's duty of care. That obligation holds regardless of the case for the cancellation and delay, even if it is an "extraordinary circumstance" that exempts the airline from the Article 7 compensation under the Regulation. The OP is therefore entitled to full compensation of his expenses, within reason (and it would have to be for KLM to demonstrate that his claim is unreasonable - given what the OP said, I cannot see how his claim could be regarded as unreasonable in the circumstances).
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Old May 31, 19, 2:45 pm
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Thank you for your support, FTers. The customer "care" (as in, "we couldn't care less") people answering emails won't listen to me, so I am thinking of trying to call once more tomorrow (Saturday), when they're supposed to be open 9am-5:30pm, but I am not holding my breath that they will actually pick up. I have already gone the social media route, but all I got back was "We cannot interfere with Customer Care's decision, we regret the situation has prevailed." What is even more frustrating is that I cannot get to speak/interact with anybody, because they won't answer the phone or reply to my social media comments. Would you wait for the lower amount before chasing the rest? Or would that constitute an acceptance of their "settlement" on my part?

In any event, from now on Air France – KLM will be just a last resort for me. I will avoid if I can.
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Old May 31, 19, 2:52 pm
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Also quite a coincidence that the second result when I google "airline duty of care" is this case involving none other than KLM: https://www.independent.co.uk/travel...-a8835331.html. Ms. Colleton and Mr. McKenzie have company.
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Old May 31, 19, 3:15 pm
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Originally Posted by tosaerba24 View Post
In any event, from now on Air France Ė KLM will be just a last resort for me. I will avoid if I can.
Ok, guess we will not see you here again...

In my experience KLM is actually relatively good in providing services like this compared to other airlines. In the end you will have this issues too with other airlines. Or not get any service at all.
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Old May 31, 19, 3:22 pm
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Originally Posted by Meneer Guggenheimer View Post
Ok, guess we will not see you here again...

In my experience KLM is actually relatively good in providing services like this compared to other airlines. In the end you will have this issues too with other airlines. Or not get any service at all.
I might be very lucky in general and very unlucky with KLM, but it had never happened to me that when calling a customer service during opening hours I was faced with the message "Our office is closed, call again when we are open." Waiting for a long time, yes, it has happened many times. Finding the office "closed," never.
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Old Jun 1, 19, 5:44 am
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Sorry to hear about your experience. I was in a similar situation but they automatically bent their rule for me as I'm Platinum. I wouldn't have cared that much if they didn't since I was covered anyway by my credit card travel insurance.
Next time, try to use the app to rebook yourself, it works pretty well.

I don't know which airlines you intend to fly instead, but I'm worried they aren't better if not worse than KLM regarding customer support. So unless you intend to stick to an airline you have elite status with, it's likely you will come back on AF/KL at the first disruption.

Regarding bag delay: if your connection is less than 45min, be prepared to have your bag delayed about 1/3 of the time. They however usually deliver it within 24 hours and they will reimburse upon receipt any clothes or toiletries for up to 150/200€ without posing any issues.
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Old Jun 1, 19, 8:29 am
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First, KL always has a "duty of care" under EC 261/2004. The reason for the cancellation or delay is irrelevant. It is entirely possible that no compensation is due when a reimbursement is.

Second, KL agreed to reimburse the sum in question. That should be the end of it, whether as a matter of the Regulation, contract, or simple customer service. This is particularly so when the differential is relatively minor.

Third, there is no "legislation" which caps the reimbursement. KL may well have internal guidelines and it may be that those guidelines were exceeded. But, that does not matter because KL already agreed. The Regulation does not specify how much may be spent and one would thus look to a reasonable solution. KL presumably knows what is reasonable at AMS and one must take OP at his word.

I would send a note back to KL. In 2-3 short sentences, I would explain why this amount was appropriate on this day and the efforts you made to find better value. Be clear that KL has already agreed.

Whether you pursue the EUR 50 if denied is a matter of your own time constraints.
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Old Jun 1, 19, 9:17 am
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In my experience their response can change quite quickly if you quote the relevant articles of the regulation and if you can find one, a court case about a situation very similar to yours which was ruled in favour of the passenger.

They once tried to get rid of me by saying that my connecting flight had left on time, but I had been a no show. The fact that I was stuck aboard another one of their aircaft which had been delayed (no force majeure) was irrelevant to them. The second flight had left on time but I had missed it .
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Old Jun 1, 19, 10:27 am
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I gave up on KLM years ago. Would rather pay more and travel longer than fly with them again.
They also didn't pay up for a 3 hour delay, blaming weather in some obscure part of the world many hours before.
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Old Jun 3, 19, 9:54 am
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If I remember seeing it correctly, Mirk posted a summary of what KLM was willing to pay in case of irrops on Instagram a while back:

- eur 190 for hotel;
- eur 25 for food;
- eur 50 for transport.

Though they can make exceptions for Elites. In your case not fair they did not inform you up front.

On that note: a couple years ago I was delayed in London due to fog and had to stay overnight. In stead of staying in a hotel, I took a taxi from LCY to family in South London and the next day from their place to LHR. Total price something like GBP 130 (no hotel and meal expenses). Initially they were reluctant to pay the amount as they have fixed amounts per category, but were “willing to make an exception”.... (even though my total expenses were less than the maximum).
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Old Jun 3, 19, 4:00 pm
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Originally Posted by Gajan View Post
If I remember seeing it correctly, Mirk posted a summary of what KLM was willing to pay in case of irrops on Instagram a while back:

- eur 190 for hotel;
- eur 25 for food;
- eur 50 for transport.

Though they can make exceptions for Elites. In your case not fair they did not inform you up front.

On that note: a couple years ago I was delayed in London due to fog and had to stay overnight. In stead of staying in a hotel, I took a taxi from LCY to family in South London and the next day from their place to LHR. Total price something like GBP 130 (no hotel and meal expenses). Initially they were reluctant to pay the amount as they have fixed amounts per category, but were “willing to make an exception”.... (even though my total expenses were less than the maximum).
First, if they agree to reimburse more than that, then they should not backtrack on what they have agreed. And as others have said above, what are internal guidelines do not constitute legislation and as such are only "guidelines"--what KLM is "willing" to pay should be irrelevant: if there is no hotel that costs EUR 190 or less, does KLM want people to sleep in the airport? (Or under a bridge if it's a smaller airport that closes at night?) Surely that would mean failing their duty of care...

Last edited by tosaerba24; Jun 3, 19 at 4:10 pm
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