No documentation — no $2,600 refund

Maureen Kiely thinks she shouldn’t have to pay for new airline tickets on Aer Lingus. She wants our help getting that fee waived. But she doesn’t have any documentation to support her case. And without a paper trail, our advocates can’t help her.

Kiely’s situation shows yet again why documentation is so important in resolving a customer service dispute. Documented support for a claim is the most valuable tool a customer has against a business that will otherwise deny a compensation request and get away with it. It’s extremely hard, if not impossible, to win against a deep-pocketed business in a “he said, she said” case.

Kiely had purchased two tickets through Travelocity for $2,600 to fly to Ireland on Aer Lingus when she learned of a death in her family. She had paid $1,605 for the tickets with her Wells Fargo account and had a balance due of about $1,000. She contacted Travelocity to request that the flight dates be changed. Travelocity’s agent informed Kiely that there would be a $150 charge per ticket to change the dates, and quoted her a price of $2,660 for two new tickets.

Kiely asked if this new price included the cost of the tickets she had previously bought. When the agent confirmed that it did, Kiely responded that she would call Travelocity back. Later that day, she called Travelocity and spoke to a second agent to request that the tickets be rebooked at the agreed-upon price of $2,660. Both calls to Travelocity were recorded.

According to Kiely, the second agent did not notify her that the charge was for a completely new booking. But the next day, she was shocked to discover that Travelocity had charged her $4,000, to cover not only the price of the previous tickets but for two entirely new ones.

Kiely then called Travelocity to ask for a refund of the $2,660 she had been charged for the new tickets. She spent 90 minutes on the phone speaking to a supervisor, who agreed that the price was wrong and that she would request a copy of the recording of the call. She also promised to follow up with Kiely.

But nobody at Travelocity contacted Kiely to follow up on her case. Kiely made several attempts to contact Travelocity, but each time, either the call was dropped or Travelocity’s personnel could not find or were unwilling to look for recordings of her calls establishing the $2,660 purchase price Kiely had agreed to. She also called Aer Lingus to request its assistance, but whenever she asked to speak to a supervisor, her call was dropped while she was on hold.

Unfortunately for Kiely, she had not documented any of her calls to Travelocity when she authorized charges to purchase her air tickets. Had she done so, she could have spent less time on the telephone asking its agents to help her.

That documentation would also have provided support for her position that she had agreed only to a total charge of $2,660 that included her prior payment. Without it, Travelocity could claim that she had authorized the $4,000 charge — as it did. With no written proof for Kiely’s position, a manager for Travelocity turned down her request for a refund of the extra $2,660.

Kiely finally initiated a stop payment request with Wells Fargo. But without documentation from Travelocity supporting Kiely’s request, Wells Fargo ultimately declined to stop payment on the charge.

When Kiely returned from her trip, she asked a local television advocate for help. He sent several messages to Travelocity requesting assistance for Kiely, but when nobody at Travelocity responded to those messages, Kiely then turned to our advocates for assistance in getting the fee refunded.

She told us that an Aer Lingus representative had told her that the airline would offer her a bereavement fare, but again, she had no documentation to prove that anyone at Aer Lingus had made her this promise.

So there’s nothing we can do for Kiely. We are writing about her case to remind our readers of the importance of supporting documentation when trying to resolve a customer service issue – because it’s the best, and often the only, proof against a business’s position that it shouldn’t have to do anything for a customer. Without it, Kiely can’t get a refund or a bereavement fare.

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