Caribbean Airlines promised a refund a year ago. Where is it?

Kathy Parker’s daughter makes a reservation on Caribbean Airlines and cancels it within 24 hours. One year later, Parker’s still waiting for the airline to issue her a refund for the airfare. Can our advocates help pry a refund loose from the airline after a long wait?

Question:

Last year I allowed my daughter to use my credit card to purchase an air ticket for her soon-to-be ex-husband on Caribbean Airlines from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Georgetown, Guyana, via Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, for $264. She canceled the reservation within 24 hours and called Caribbean Airlines to request a refund. Although Caribbean Airlines promised a refund, it has never done so.

I made several calls to Caribbean Airlines over the last year to follow up on my daughter’s refund request. An agent told me that the airline had issued a refund to a different card than the one my daughter used to purchase the ticket. On a subsequent call, the agent to whom I spoke claimed that Caribbean Airlines has no record of previous requests for a refund and that the ticket was nonrefundable.

Since my daughter canceled the flight within 24 hours of purchasing the ticket, I should have gotten the airfare back right away. It appears that Caribbean Airlines’ customer service strategy is limited to a quick acknowledgment of the problem, followed by … nothing.

I am tired of Caribbean Airlines’ runaround. Can you help me get the airline to follow through on its promise and issue the refund to the correct credit card? — Kathy Parker, Chicago

Answer:

Caribbean Airlines certainly could have done a better job of handling your case. You were entitled to prompt, unambiguous responses to your requests for refunds instead of unfulfilled promises and incorrect information from multiple agents.

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Get that promise in writing

Unfortunately, you didn’t get that promise of a refund in writing. Also, the ticket was for a seat in economy non-flex class, which generally isn’t refundable.

Another reason why Caribbean Airlines was slow to act on your refund request may have been because the ticket was purchased for a flight departing within seven days of the date it was reserved. This is an exception to the 24-Hour Rule, which requires airlines to allow cancellations within 24 hours of reservations, free of penalties.

24-Hour Refund policy

Caribbean Airlines posts its 24-Hour Refund policy in two places on its website: in the Customer Service Plan and in the Help & Info Center/Reservations section. In both places, the airline indicates that

Customers who purchase a ticket directly from Caribbean Airlines by telephone through Caribbean Airlines Reservations, via our website, or in person at one of our ticket offices, may change or cancel their flight reservation within 24 hours of purchasing a ticket without incurring a change or cancellation fee, on condition that the reservation was made at least seven days prior to the scheduled departure date. In cases of cancellations, full refunds will be issued in the original form of payment. In cases of changes to the flight reservation, differences in airfare, applicable taxes, charges and carrier imposed charges will apply.

You might have pursued a chargeback with your credit card, but you told us that you had not done this because you believed that Caribbean Airlines would issue you the refund without additional pressure.

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The good news

Because a year had passed since your daughter purchased and canceled the ticket, and because of its nonrefundable nature, our advocates weren’t hopeful that Caribbean Airlines would respond to our contacts. But since Caribbean Airlines told you that it would issue you a refund for the airfare, Our advocacy director, Michelle Couch-Friedman reached out to the airline on your behalf to find out the status of the refund.

You have notified us that a credit for the airfare has appeared on your credit card statement with no advance notice or explanation.

Jennifer Finger

Jennifer is the founder of KeenReader, an Internet-based freelance editing operation, as well as a certified public accountant. She is a senior writer for Elliott.org. Read more of Jennifer's articles here.

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