Best contact for a refund issue

Old Jan 8, 19, 3:40 am
  #1  
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Best contact for a refund issue

I had a flight cancellation some months ago, my itinerary was mixed LX/LH but ticketed on LH. It was the first flight of the itinerary and was cancelled due to a technical issue with the aircraft. A ticket agent at the airport cancelled the rest of the itinerary as it was not useful for me to travel next day.

For months I have been trying to get LH to refund the ticket cost. My understanding is that if the airline cancel a flight, I am entitled to a full refund if I choose not to take a later flight (correct me if wrong on that one). Telephone agents agree with me, but so far I've only been refunded taxes minus a service fee.

Any suggestions how to tackle this impasse with the airline before I have to pay someone to deal with them?
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Old Jan 8, 19, 5:41 am
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1, You say that you have been trying for "months". What is the LH response? Is it processing your request or is the problem that it has affirmatively refused?

2, If you have been refused and it is due to you as one of the options under EC 261/2004, simply dispute the charge with your credit card issuer (bank). Make sure that you specify that this was the option you have selected under the Regulation.
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Old Jan 8, 19, 5:48 am
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Thanks for the suggestion, I will contact my credit card provider as you say.

The response from LH has usually been "we're dealing with it", but nothing ever comes of it. Sometimes they tell me to contact LX, which makes no sense as it is ticketed and purchased from LH. They sometimes respond as if it is a EU261 compensation claim, which isn't related to getting the ticket refunded.

I had many flight issues over the years but never had such a problem to get a simple refund!
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Old Jan 8, 19, 6:40 am
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Originally Posted by danam View Post
The response from LH has usually been "we're dealing with it", but nothing ever comes of it. Sometimes they tell me to contact LX, which makes no sense as it is ticketed and purchased from LH. They sometimes respond as if it is a EU261 compensation claim, which isn't related to getting the ticket refunded.
They are right, you know.

Emphasis mine:
Originally Posted by EC261/2004
...
Article 5

Cancellation

1. In case of cancellation of a flight, the passengers concerned shall:

(a) be offered assistance by the operating air carrier in accordance with Article 8; and

...
Article 8

Right to reimbursement or re-routing

1. Where reference is made to this Article, passengers shall be offered the choice between:

(a) - reimbursement within seven days, by the means provided for in Article 7(3), of the full cost of the ticket at the price at which it was bought, for the part or parts of the journey not made, and for the part or parts already made if the flight is no longer serving any purpose in relation to the passenger's original travel plan,
Makes a modicum of sense, too. If we forget that LX and LH are under same ultimate ownership, it's LX's fault you couldn't fly, not LH, and LH then shouldn't bear the loss of business just for being the ticketing carrier.
Of course, there would be some kind of a background contractual deliverance between LX and LH, presumably LH would keep some money for the cost incurred and rebate the rest to LX, but LX is the one who has to coordinate with you.
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Old Jan 8, 19, 6:55 am
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That is interesting, because I often book my travel via a TA and they always have to handle refunds for me. In this case, the TA is LH.

For a compensation claim or duty of care expenses, you would never involve a TA of course, that would be directly with the airline that had caused the disruption. But I'm not attempting to claim those here.

Incidentally, I did query this with the agent that cancelled my itinerary, she said LH were my only point of contact for a refund.

Thanks for the advice everyone, if I could just get a better response from LH who could explain the process then it would have been completed back in October!
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Old Jan 8, 19, 10:45 am
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The easiest resolution here and it is one to take advantage of on all occasions when there is foot-dragging is to let your card issuer handle it. Don't engage in time-consuming back-and-forth.

Ask for a refund, set a reasonable deadline and initiate a chargeback dispute the day after the deadline runs.
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Old Jan 8, 19, 11:59 am
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"Taxes minus a service fee" sounds like they processed it as a voluntary refund (10.3) instead of an involuntary refund (10.2), which may be the reason why you are having issues, especially if the coupons are now marked as refunded or refund taxes/fees (check the 220 on Saudi if it is still in the system).

Do you have appropriate proof of the cancelation and proof that the ticket was canceled involuntary at the airport? You will need to include that documentation for your CC issuer. Did the ticket agent ask you to sign anything? Expect LH to use whatever you signed in their defense.

On the very few occasions I had this happen I wrote INVOLUNTARY - FLIGHT CANCELED BY AIRLINE on the slip above my signature if it wasn't clearly indicated.
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Old Jan 8, 19, 12:32 pm
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They didn't specifically mention a service fee with the refund, because they didn't actually inform me of how they calculated what they refunded. It was clear by the amount given per ticket that it was handled as a voluntary cancellation, as you say.

I checked on Saudi as you suggest, it is marked REFUND. I've no reference to know if this was recently changed.

I don't recall a signature being required at the airport, to be honest I thought it was such a simple process based on previous experience that I'd have the refund processed in a few days. Lesson learnt on that one!

Thanks for your input.
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Old Jan 8, 19, 1:11 pm
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If the coupons have status REFUND it usually means refund processing is complete and the money has been taken out of the ticket. Although there's a separate status for refund taxes/fees only, I'm not sure if LH uses it or Saudia differentiates it in the display. So REFUND could possibly mean either a full refund or refund taxes/fees only.

You could wait a day or two and check your credit card account for the very low chance that they just processed a full refund today.

If not, call them again, explain what you know with this new information, say you consider contacting CC issuer, see what they say. If not productive, contact CC issuer, tell them the same story and definitely include involuntary flight cancelation documentation as LH may tell them you voluntary canceled a non-refundable ticket and got your taxes back because that is what their system says.

YSK there have been reports of airlines confiscating miles/points or closing mileage accounts in response to a successful chargeback. I'm not sure if there have been reports of LH doing that though, and in any case, it is only a concern if you have a MaM account with active miles.

Let us know how it evolves.
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Old Jan 8, 19, 1:25 pm
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Originally Posted by danam View Post

Thanks for the advice everyone, if I could just get a better response from LH who could explain the process then it would have been completed back in October!
If itís been going on for Months & your getting nowhere, consider posting in the official LH lurkers thread in this forum.
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Old Jan 8, 19, 2:09 pm
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I am not sure I understand why people are so reluctant to use the chargeback feature of their card. There is no excuse in this case and there is no reason why OP ought to have to haggle about service fees and the like.

A chargeback when done in writing and in clear and concise language puts the shoe on the other foot, e.g. leaves the consumer in control. The service was not delivered, this was an involuntary cancellation, the passenger is contractually due a refund (even absent EC 261/2004) and the carrier is foot-dragging.

When the carrier sees the chargeback, it has the opportunity to refute the consumer's presentation of the facts. Here,it won't.
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Old Jan 8, 19, 2:31 pm
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
I am not sure I understand why people are so reluctant to use the chargeback feature of their card.
I believe we've discussed this before, including the risks of mileage confiscation and customer blacklisting. What I didn't mention yet is the social aspect. A successful chargeback will incur a fee for the merchant and may increase transaction commission rates. The costs of those will eventually be redistributed over all other customers, you and me. So there's yet another reason to exhaust other options before going nuclear.

Here it looks like new information points out there may be a misunderstanding between OP and LH with regards to the nature of the refund, so it's reasonable to confront LH with this new information and see what they think before escalating. But if LH keeps stonewalling OP, even after a deadline was set with the promise of a chargeback, by all means, he should go ahead with the chargeback.

Last edited by mozilla; Jan 8, 19 at 2:39 pm
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Old Jan 8, 19, 2:49 pm
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Scare tactics.

There is not one reported instance where an air carrier has "confiscated" miles or otherwise punished a passenger for exercising a consumer right. If you have any, please post them.

Presuming that OP works for a living, there is a utility cost to spending time on the phone and via email with LH regarding something which ought to be simple. If LH incurs higher costs because it chooses not to efficiently and effectively process simple refunds, then the cost of the time and the enhanced interchange fees and holdbacks it experiences are a good deterrent.

Frankly, but for poor IT, the LH agent ought to have been able to process this refund on the spot and hand OP a receipt with a transaction number and credit amount on it. It is not as though this was a complex itinerary where only one segment had to be cancelled and thus a rates desk had to become involved.
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Old Jan 8, 19, 6:51 pm
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
I am not sure I understand why people are so reluctant to use the chargeback feature of their card. There is no excuse in this case and there is no reason why OP ought to have to haggle about service fees and the like.
OP said the flight cancellation happened "months ago". Is there a time limit for disputing charges on a credit card?
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Old Jan 8, 19, 7:41 pm
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This took place in October. I deliberately cancelled the itinerary at the airport, just in case they pro-actively rebooked the ticket and I ended up as a no-show for the first segment. This is where I was informed that LH was the point of call for the refund. The agent did state that a comment was added to the booking explaining the reason for cancellation, though I have no record of what was actually written.

Flight disruptions happen, but the need to regularly call or email to get any kind of response from the airline is the most annoying aspect. On the telephone, there is no resistance to the idea that a full refund is due and so they pass it to the refunds team and assure me it will be dealt with. I should wait at least two weeks to see the refund. Then I have to repeat the cycle again. Via email, the request is either misunderstood, or they simply tell me that it is being handled already.

The process for such a refund is not defined by me, it should not be up to me discover it, airlines have to process refunds all the time. If they don't believe that a refund is due or if I should contact LX instead of LH, then LH should explain this, but they do not correspond. They only respond to direct contact.

Thanks for all the suggestions, I will attempt contact with the airline once more before a possible chargeback. No miles are at risk for me, whatever the outcome, it's a long time since I was LH Senator and I don't maintain a M&M balance having moved to another Star Alliance scheme some years ago.

Apologies if some of my comments come across as a bit of a rant!
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