This is going to be a whiny post, just so you know. I hope to get back to knitting and creating and normal life soon, like, maybe early February.
This past weekend, my mother-in-law (!) Renee helped me create a beautiful shadowbox. I love how it turned out, and I may have spent many minutes before bedtime the past couple of nights just laying in bed and admiring it.
And then there are things remaining from the wedding that have yet to be done:
- Send cheesy newlywed photo disguised as holiday greeting card to many friends and family. (I have received these cards, now it’s down to addressing a bunch of envelopes.)
- Get a photo printed larger to hang on our wall.
- Go on our honeymoon.
We started making honeymoon plans about a month and a half ago. We talked about several locations (‘warm’ and ‘sunny’ were our only real requirements), but missed good prices on airfare a few times. We put it away for a little while, but I was still getting airfare notifications in my email. An awesome rate from American Airlines for the Florida Keys in late January came through and, after confirming details with Jason, decided it was time to jump on it. This is where the story gets long.
I had been price checking via Kayak, but in the end, they have nothing to do with this story. I started this process by confirming airfare times and prices once more through their site. Then I went to American Airlines’ (AA) website to confirm what I was seeing. After that all checked out, I hopped over Ebates.com to see if AA had any sort of deal (so I could get a couple bucks back, at least). I found AA Vacations had a deal, so I thought that’d be great — book the car at the same time and its one less thing to deal with.
I was so excited! We were getting a great price and we were going to have such a great honeymoon! I got to the final screen where I entered all of our details for flying, chose seats and everything. I triple (quadrupled?) checked that the price is what I was expecting: about $530. Yay! I waited about 10 minutes before Jason got home to make sure the departure time coming home would be okay because there were a couple options.
I guess that’s when everything went wrong, because I hit the ‘checkout’ button and nearly had a heart attack when the screen told me that my credit card had been charged $940. Without any warning, I was charged $400 more than what I thought I was approving. And, unfortunately, my credit limit was higher than I thought it would be so the charge went through without issue.
Of course I called AA immediately to see if this transaction could be corrected or changed. I didn’t think I was being unreasonable. The first gal I spoke with seemed understanding, but didn’t have authorization to help me the way I was requested. She took my number and said a manager would call me.
He did — quite promptly, actually. I explained what had happened asked if there was anyway to cancel the purchase or change the return flight I had selected (in the interim, I had determined that was the cause of the price jump) to the other option for that date. This is when he started trying to tell me that my screen did show that I’d be paying $940 but I missed seeing that. His website didn’t make mistakes. I must have not seen it. There is no way this sort of error would happen.
And, you know, I try to level-headed with customer service people over the phone because I understand it’s a pretty lousy gig. I had never been so angry before I had this interaction. I was disrespected, treated like I was a moron, and he was trying to tell me what my computer screen read? Dude, were you looking over my shoulder?. I don’t normally have that kind of money to spend, so I consider myself pretty careful. Like I said, I checked that price a billion times.
Also, I’m a web developer: every website has bugs, even your precious little website.
He explained that my only option was to get a full refund for the car rental, and a credit for the airfare that I could reuse within the year… except re-booking also comes with a $200/ticket fee. So even if I did decide to get a credit, I’d still be out $400.
After about 5 minutes of arguing with the unreasonable asshole, I sighed resignation. “Fine,” I said, “I guess I’m going to call my credit card to see if they can help me.”
“Oh, they can’t do anything. You signed an agreement.” Well… I accepted the challenge.
I called American Express (AmEx) and explained everything. Before they could start a dispute claim, the charge needed to post to my account. It posted a couple days later, so I called back and got the dispute rolling. This morning (four weeks later) I got a letter explaining that AA had replied and I didn’t win, so I owed AmEx money. (Okay, that’s a pretty extremely condensed version of their letter. I may still be able to follow up with them — maybe asking for more clarification about those terms I agreed to from AA?)
The letter contained an attachment of AA’s conversation logs. Nothing new, just a re-iteration that I signed an agreement and had to pay the price I was charged. It was creepy, though, because it also had a note that someone at AA (I think) had Googled me to find my maiden name (and previous airfare purchases with them?) as well as my parent’s phone number (as “people who may know Amy”). Creepy creepy creepy.
That little note about Googling me was typed in Comic Sans, so I did hypothesize to Jason that the font made it creepier. Or more frustrating? Either way…
I’m a little frustrated with AmEx because even though they spoke to me in a very compassionate and understanding manner, it feels like they didn’t really even try to ‘win’ this dispute. But, of course, this whole post is about my frustration about being totally disrespected by that one gigantic jerk at American Airlines. Jason has been rooting around the AA Vacations site all night trying to figure out where it says I agreed to pay such a dramatic price difference without receiving any sort of secondary confirmation.
We aren’t poor, but we’re not wealthy by any means. We had set aside a certain amount of money for our honeymoon budget, and losing $400 from that budget limits what else we can do while we’re vacationing. That’s a good chunk of cash, you know? That’s a few nights at a hotel, or a few awesome meals we could share. It also sucks because the price I paid for these tickets would have flown us somewhere a little more exotic and adventurous.
Many friends have advised me to take it to Minnesota’s Attorney General or get in touch with a local news channel to possibly get an investigative report in the media. Honestly? I’m so ready to just know that I will be (mentally) giving AA the middle finger for a few short hours on either end of our honeymoon, and otherwise I’ll be bathing in sunlight with 6-toed cats at the Hemingway Home at the end of January.
So, I’ll take some lessons from this:
- Always take screenshots while booking travel online.
- Don’t ever fly with American Airlines again.
Also, how do I see if my purchase through Ebates was reported? At least I could get a lousy $18 back.