“I am feeling a bit hopeless”

When Cecilia Tanaka tried to buy tickets to Japan on Expedia, she was charged twice. She filed a dispute with her credit card, thinking it was a simple misunderstanding.

It wasn’t. Neither her online agency nor her airline, ANA, saw the transaction like she did, setting her off on a long odyssey to fix the mistake. Her story offers an important lesson or two for all of us who book airline tickets online.

I was contacted in March via phone by Chase Visa that Expedia had charged a $200 cancellation penalty due to the fact that we had made double reservations.

We researched our files, and found an odd pattern of emails from Expedia following our initial reservation. A confirmation email was sent at 11:06 a.m. which we never saw until the day we went back to research our files, but instead at 10:09 p.m. the day of our booking an email was sent reminding us to book our trip to Japan.

When we received this email only, it made us think that the first reservation did not go through, and thus we made another booking. There is just no logical reason we would book two sets of plane tickets unless something made us believe we needed to.

In other words, Tanaka never saw the confirmation email and thus believed her first reservation wasn’t processed.

It gets worse.

I followed up via the Chase Visa website yesterday to inquire on my status, and this morning I found that my credit card was rebilled two of the three ANA tickets. So, this is the third time we are being charged (although if they are going to rebill us, I don’t understand why they are rebilling two and not three tickets).

I submitted another dispute and placed a call this time. However, I am so frustrated as this has been dragging on for months and I am feeling a bit hopeless. I am wondering if I should wait to hear from Chase and continue dealing with them, or if at this point I may ask you for help.

Before I get to the resolution, let me offer some advice: When you’re booking online, it’s best to “whitelist” any emails from your online travel agency. If you think your reservation may not have gone through, call the 800-number and ask about the status of your ticket.

But whatever you do, don’t make another reservation.

I asked Expedia about Tanaka’s problem. Here’s its response:

The Customer Service team found that the two reservations were created and booked by the customer two days apart. As they were duplicate itineraries, Expedia’s ticketing department proactively reached out to Ms. Tanaka to inquire as to whether she meant to book duplicate itineraries.

Once Ms. Tanaka confirmed that she did not want both itineraries, the Expedia team followed All Nippon policy and refunded the first itinerary, minus a $200 per ticket airline penalty.

This could have ended much worse. Many airlines wouldn’t have offered a refund at all, forcing her to take a useless credit.

(Photo: slasher fun/Flickr Creative Commons)

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