The ticket refund that took forever and a day

Nine months isn’t the longest someone has had to wait for an airline ticket refund, but for Chris Dich, it was long enough, thanks very much. (I’ve had cases that took two years.)

His online travel agency promised it would take “two to three billing cycles” at best. Didn’t happen.

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Dich’s story is a reminder that you can do everything right and still get stuck in a holding pattern. Getting un-stuck isn’t easy.

Here’s his story.

I’ve been trying to recover $335 for a flight my wife and I never took.

I booked a vacation package with Expedia last July for a trip to Atlanta. In early August, Expedia informed me that AirTran had changed the departure time for one flight, changed the arrival time for one flight, and canceled one flight.

I called Expedia and after unsucessfully trying to make other arrangements, Expedia said they would cancel the trip with a full refund. The next day I received a refund for hotel portion of the trip and cancelation numbers for the AirTran tickets. I was also told to wait two to three billing cycles for the AirTran refund to appear on my Capital One statement.

I did not receive any refund so I contacted Capital One and initiated an investigation. Capital One has not been sucessful in recouping these charges and in fact has been very inefficient in keeping my documentation of this event.

I have received letters stating that I have not provided needed information when, in fact, I have. Every month, starting in October, I have been on the phone and faxing information. My last contact with Capital One was on February 16, 2010. As of today, I have not heard from them regarding this matter. Can you help?

When an airline changes its flight schedule, you’re entitled to a full and immediate refund under its rules. (Here are AirTran’s.)

However, Dich should have applied pressure to his online travel agent and his credit card company, instead of just trying to dispute the charges. A check with AirTran might have helped speed up the process, too.

I asked Expedia about his case. Here’s what it had to say:

Expedia made an error in processing the refund for this case. We have corrected this mistake. At the time the customer called in to request the refund, the hotel portion was completed but the flight portion of the refund was not properly handled.

The refund has now been processed, and the customer has received the below email detailing the resolution. He also received a follow-up email saying that a $100 coupon for future airfare had been placed into his account.

Thanks, Expedia.

When a refund doesn’t materialize in a timely manner, you have to work every angle. Ask your credit card, travel agent and airline to get involved. Be polite, but firm. No one should have to wait nine months for a refund.

(Photo: Willamor Media/Flickr Creative Commons)