Now that’s what I call an ethical customer!

Behind the scenes, employees often grumble that their customers would do anything to get a deal. They justify their own misrepresentations by saying consumers lie, too.

But not all travelers are ethically challenged. Exhibit “A” is Jeff Peterson, who sent me a question yesterday that I’ve never been asked.

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My parents had booked a roundtrip nonrefundable flight on Delta for July and purchased travel insurance on the flight through Access America. When my mom died in April, I submitted her death certificate to Access America. I was assigned a claim number through their site and a resolution was promised within 10 business days.

When I hadn’t heard back (including my sending a followup email) by 14 business days, I contacted Delta to see if they would refund the cost of the tickets. I had looked up their contract of carriage and it stated that refunds are possible upon death of the traveler. I sent Delta a copy of the death certificate and am waiting to hear back from them.

Now I’ve received notice from Access America that they have sent refund checks for the cost of the airline tickets.

My question is: If Delta also refunds the ticket cost, do I need to return the money to Access America?

I understand that it’s not morally kosher to make money on this. However, an insurance policy was paid for to cover this eventuality. Also, shouldn’t Access America be aware of Delta’s contract of carriage and have contacted them for a refund themselves? Although, since I haven’t yet heard from Delta; maybe that is what indeed has happened.

I put that question to Access America. Here’s what it had to say:

Mr. Peterson is right, an insured customer can’t collect twice for the same loss.

We do have a system in place that checks if an airline provides a refund to our customer. In this case, the system has noted Mr. Peterson’s refund from Delta and we have contacted him to request a return of our payment.

We’re pleased that Mr. Peterson was served well by both Access America travel insurance and Delta, and we look forward to serving him again.

Well, I’m impressed. I spend a fair amount of time talking with employees, who waste no opportunity to tell me how morally challenged their customers are. And I’m sure some consumers would have looked the other way when they received two refunds. Not Peterson.

If you’re wondering — but does it go the other way? — then I have equally encouraging news. A vast majority of companies, when they realize they’ve double-billed a customer, will offer an immediate refund. Some don’t, unfortunately. They blame a supplier or cite a meaningless policy. But most do.

So I guess that’s the encouraging news of the day. Ethics are alive and well in the industry — on both sides of the counter.

(Photo: jalals pages/Flickr Creative Commons)

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