Whose fault is a declined credit card? That’s the question Jenni Turbeville is asking, and it isn’t the first time she’s come to us with this kind of question.
Careful readers of this site will recall her 2012 case in which her party couldn’t make a Cirque du Soleil performance because of reasons beyond their control. (That story ignited a firestorm of comments, with one side saying Cirque wasn’t responsible and shouldn’t have offered her a do-over, and others insisting it made the right call.)
But this one’s different. This one involved a discount airline (Frontier) and a credit card company (Visa). I’ll let her explain:
In January, I purchased two round-trip tickets from Orlando to Philadelphia.
The total package was $394 for both tickets. I received a confirmation showing payment dated 1/15/2016 by Visa.
I purchased an added item called “The Works,” which allowed me to change the date, choose upgraded seats, etc. The cost of this added benefit was $124.
I printed my proof of purchase from the Frontier site showing the purchase paid with Visa.
On Feb. 12, I printed my check-in notice and saw that the Works was $80 and the payment was declined. It still shows paid 1/15/2016 by Visa for $394.
This was the first indication that there was any problem.
So, to summarize, even though she’s paid for her tickets, her credit card had declined part of the purchase. In the end, she had to repurchase the seat she wanted, which cost her an extra $230 instead of $80.
“I would like for Frontier to refund me the $230 that I had to pay to purchase the tickets one day prior to my flight,” she says. “Frontier had confirmed and honored my seat selection from January. Visa has no record of a problem with my credit card.”
In other words, the “decline” was Frontier’s fault.
It’s really difficult for our advocacy team to know whose fault a “decline” is. Indeed, even Frontier’s systems might not offer a definitive answer. But to our team, at least, it looked as if Turbeville had done everything she could to make sure she had a ticket and an upgrade, including verifying her purchase with Frontier.
Why should she be punished to the tune of $230 for a glitch that was beyond her control?
My records show that we reached out to Frontier on her behalf and that it ignored us, which is unfortunate. Frontier should have at least contacted Turbeville to clarify what went wrong, and if nothing else, offered an apology.
Unfortunately, it looks as if Turbeville’s lucky streak is over, at least when it comes to our advocacy. I hate that it ended like this. She had a legitimate case, and even if Frontier didn’t want to respond to us, the least it could have done was get back to her with a straight answer. Instead, it just took her money and then went into radio silence.
Stories like this are cautionary tales about buying cheap fares from cut-rate carriers that care more about collecting ancillary fees than customer service. I hope Turbeville will remember that the next time she needs to fly somewhere.