Iberia told me to file a credit card chargeback. Now I don’t have a ticket!

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By Christopher Elliott

When Joel Revill’s ticket purchase on Iberia doesn’t go through, a representative advises him to dispute the purchase on his credit card. But now he doesn’t have a valid ticket. What should he do?

Question

I purchased a ticket from Boston to Madrid on Iberia Airlines through its website, but I didn’t receive a confirmation. When I called Iberia, an agent told me he couldn’t see the purchase and advised me to dispute the charge with my credit card company, which I did a week later. 

On the same day, I received an email from Iberia with a confirmation. I called my bank that day and withdrew the dispute. A bank representative told me to just ignore any written communication and that it would automatically close the dispute. I followed this advice and assumed that my ticket would be valid.

It wasn’t.

When I tried to check in for my flight, the system showed my ticket as “suspended.” An Iberia representative told me to dispute the charge again and buy a new ticket. I followed this advice.

Iberia did, in fact, receive the $776  from my bank (Capital One), but it nonetheless suspended my ticket. I would like to get a refund. Can you help me? — Joel Revill, Providence, R.I.

Answer

You should have had a ticket on your flight from Boston to Madrid. The problem is obvious: An Iberia representative told you to dispute the charge — and later “undispute” it — without making the necessary notations on Iberia’s side. As a result, you ended up with a voided ticket.

You shouldn’t have disputed this charge in the first place. True, credit card chargebacks under the Fair Credit Billing Act, cover products and services purchased but not received. But you hadn’t given Iberia time to resolve this on its side. It turns out Iberia processed your transaction eventually, which led to this mess. My advice: File a credit card dispute after a few days — not a few hours. (I have more on filing a credit card dispute in my free guide to credit card disputes on this site.)

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If someone says you should file a dispute, and you decide to take their advice, then try to get them to put it in writing — or, at least, to make a notation in their system. It looks like Iberia had no clue what you were doing because it hadn’t made any notation in your flight record.

How to get an airline employee to make a notation in your flight record

It turns out there’s a way to get important information into your flight record.

Do it in writing

The best way of getting information into your flight record is not on the phone. Contact your online travel agency or airline in writing. That way, there’s a paper trail of your request. (Related: It has been four months — where is my reimbursement check from Iberia?)

Record the call for quality assurance purposes

If you’re making an important change, you’ll want to get a record of it. Legal experts say that when an airline says, “This call may be recorded for quality assurance purposes,” that gives you permission to record the call. Press the red “record” button now and save the evidence — just in case. (Related: If you want Iberia to pay for your lost luggage, this is what to do.)

Be concise and polite

When you talk to an airline agent, be specific about what you need. Whether it’s a request for a seat change, a meal preference, or a disability accommodation, make sure to communicate your needs clearly and concisely.

Know the lingo

Rez agents have their own language. Instead of asking agents to “make a note” in your reservation, ask them to “create a remark” or “add a comment.” Now you’re talking airline-ese!

Don’t miss any details

If you have any supporting documentation, such as a doctor’s note or proof of disability, be sure to share it with the agent. This will help the airline employees better understand your needs and ensure that they make the appropriate notation. (Related: Iberia damaged my luggage and refused to pay me for it!)

Ask for a playback

After you’ve requested a notation, double-check that it has been added to your record by asking the agent to confirm the details. You can also check your reservation online or through the airline’s mobile app to verify that the notation is in the system.

These simple steps will ensure that your special requests are documented and respected during your trip.

What went wrong with your Iberia ticket?

Your case was complicated. Simply refusing to answer the questions during a dispute is not enough to close it. Yes, it will ultimately close the case and resolve in the merchant’s favor, but for a problem like this, you need more. I would have explained the situation fully and asked for something in writing that confirmed your dispute had been withdrawn.

I list the names, numbers and email addresses of the Iberia customer service managers on my consumer advocacy site. A brief, polite appeal to one of them might have helped.

Was there a better way? Maybe. A qualified travel advisor might have ensured you had a real ticket on Iberia. Sure, you would pay a little extra for the ticket, but the travel agent would also ensure everything goes smoothly with your flight. (Here’s my guide to finding a travel advisor.)

You reached out to my advocacy team for help. I contacted Iberia on your behalf. The airline issued a refund for your original ticket, as you requested.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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