When I wrote about “fees on top of fees” yesterday, several readers accused me of exaggerating. But Sergei Shevchuk wasn’t one of them. He’s been trying to recover an undisclosed reticketing fee of $25 he had to pay Continental Airlines for several months.
I’m not sure if he’ll ever get the refund, but his story is worth telling and I’d like also your feedback on it. Should I try to recover the surcharge on principle — or should Shevchuk let it go?
I think it’s also worth taking a moment to figure out if this fee thing has gone too far. Fees now account for a bulk of some airline profits, and many of the extras are imposed without adequate disclosure. Is it time for a fee moratorium?
Shevchuk had booked the nonrefundable Continental airline ticket through Expedia. Then his plans changed.
I retrieved the reservation on Continental.com and reviewed fare rules. It said, “Change fee $150 and cancel before scheduled flight or no value.” No other fees are mentioned.
I also phoned Continental and asked to confirm that I will be able to reuse the ticket in the future even if I don’t have immediate travel plans. I was informed by a continental agent, to whom I provided with my confirmation number, that I need to cancel my reservation before flight time, then I’ll have one year from the time of my original booking to re-use the ticket.
A few months later, he decided to use his credit.
When I called, I provided an agent with my unused ticket number and a flight information I wanted to book. The agent said your old ticket is $364.30, new ticket is $192.10. I will receive a voucher for $172.20 but she needs to collect $150 fee on a credit card and another $25 fee because my original ticket was booked through a travel agency.
This was first time $25 fee was communicated to me. I protested paying $25 in addition to $150 but was told I can’t exchange my old ticket without paying additional $25.
I filed a dispute with a credit card company later, but Continental said it was a service fee in conjunction with ticket exchange and my credit card sided with Continental.
What bothers me is the fee is not communicated in the fare rules or contract of carriage or anywhere else I could see. I am not disputing $150 fee, which is clearly communicated at the time of original ticket purchase.
Is there any hope $25 can be recovered from Continental?
I asked to see the paper trail leading up to this dispute. Here’s Continental’s response to his request to waive the $25 travel agency fee.
I regret you were notified regarding the $25.00 reissue fee for booking via our Reservations office.
We expect our agents to provide accurate information and disclose all fees involved.
Unfornately, the fee was applicable, therefore non-refundable. You would have needed to contact us when you received your email confirmation receipt.
I must respectfully decline your refund request.
We thank you for using Continental and we look forward to the opportunity to serve your travel needs again in the near future.
Well, “unfornately” that doesn’t explain the $25 reissue fee. Is that a phone reservation fee, or some surcharge tacked on to tickets booked through an online travel agency?
And why aren’t they disclosed somewhere, like on the airline site or through the online travel agency?
What do you think? Should I try to mediate Shevchuk’s case?
You say: yes.