Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Much Nothing About Ado

I managed to get hold of the UAL rep today and this is what has happened. UAL is willing to refund the unused portion of the prorated amount for Singapore to Sri Lanka. But, to get that I have to send them my unused tickets. So, I wanted to find out how much that amount will be and she told me that she doesn't know that, and that she will forward it to the right people and that they will determine the amount that can be refunded.

She said that ultimately the tickets are expired, and there is nothing that can be done. That the tickets have been extended beyond the maximum 3 month period by a month. I told her that the issue was that they could have told us about those problems in multiple places, in San Diego, Omaha, and finally when my parents were to board at the airport in Omaha. Instead, UAL told me they changed the tickets, assured that the flights are confirmed all the way to Sri Lanka, told the same to my father in Omaha, and even allowed them to fly from Omaha to Los Angeles without any problems! Then she asked me what difference it would have made, that it would only have been more expensive if they caught the error in Omaha. I told her that if we had known about this then, we could have purchased round trip tickets for what UAL and Sri Lankan Airlines charged us for this one way trip. She said that the regular price they charge for a ticket from Omaha to Singapore is $962.60 and that by charging my parents only $500 per person service fee, they have actually saved us some $462 per person!

She asked me if I had contacted Sri Lankan Airlines, and I said I had not and that I will have to do that if UAL wouldn't work on my my behalf since UAL is the primary carrier. She said that when you purchase a ticket from an agent they issue other tickets under their tickets and UAL cannot be responsible about the other carrier. OK, fair enough. But the whole reason why my parents were forced to purchase new tickets was because of the errors UAL made in the first place.

The question that has remained unanswered to this day is "Why do my parents have to pay for UAL's mistakes?" It is human to make mistakes; we all do. However, UAL has yet to accept responsibility for the mistakes they have made. They have admitted problems with their computer systems, and have tried to put the blame on us by claiming that the ticket itself has been extended beyond the maximum allowed (again their error), and that what I thought I was issued in San Diego were not tickets, but itineraries with dates, gate numbers and flight numbers. Maybe so. I am not an expert in airline tickets, but when I request the tickets to be changed, I expect them to change the tickets, or to hear from them that it cannot be done. I would not expect them to give me itineraries with dates, gate numbers and flight numbers and tell me that the flights are confirmed all the way!

May be I have been too impatient to expect a solution this fast. After all, Untied has been collecting complaints since October 1998 and have compiled over 9500 complaints to date. Now, that is perseverance!

Since the beginning of this saga, I have always shown our good faith to UAL, gave them the benefit of the doubt and have given them ample opportunity to correct the wrong, only to have them come up with one excuse after another about their mistakes. As the latest gesture of our good faith, my parents will be flying UAL once again for their next trip back to the USA, scheduled for mid february. I have even given UAL a way out without loosing face. This is really a sad state of affairs. So I have come full circle, back to square one again.

The short version of this story can be read here and the complete story here

Don't forget to check out The Consumerist, a wonderful site for giving a voice to the consumer.

If anyone from Google or Blogger is reading this, can you please leave a comment about how to enable the Blog Archive tree to be expanded for all nodes? I would like to have the older archives visible, instead of having to click each node to expand. Thank you for the wonderful work you guys have done in making a great blogger. I haven't upgraded to the newest version because I didn't want to loose anything accidentally.


keeneye said...

I've been following your story, and am appalled at the treatment from United Airlines.

It is absolutely unacceptable, and I vow to never, ever fly United again because of your situation.

I am also telling everyone I know about your blog so that they can make informed decisions on where to spend their travel dollars.

Anonymous said...

From reading your story and looking at the uploaded images I think UA mis-informed you and your parents. It looks like a case of passing the buck. The "broken legs" images do not look like tickets or an e-ticket passenger receipt. They look like itineraries which are different than tickets. They should of given you a passenger receipt in San Diego which had a 13 digit ticket number, either starting with 016 (United ticket) or 603 (Sri Lankan Airlines), which you can clearly see on the images of the new tickets your parents purchased in LAX and Singapore. If the original ticket, which your parents traveled on, was issued on Sri Lankan Airlines (603 ticket number), then all changes would had to been handled by Sri Lankan Airlines. If the ticket was issued on UAL (016 ticket number), then UA could of handled the exchange in San Diego and Omaha. What I suggest is go through your records, and check to see if you were given a new ticket number in San Diego, and also, when it was re-issued in Omaha. Then compare it with the original ticket number which was purchased in Sri Lanka. If there is a new ticket number, then UAL should of honored the ticket without a question. If not, the agents in San Diego and Omaha did nothing but change the reservation and print you an itinerary. Which is different than re-issuing the ticket, which is the valid travel document. Even if the ticket was electronic, the should of given you a passenger receipt which has new ticket numbers. It is very tragic that your parents had to pay so much due to being mis-informed. But definitely compare the tickets and ticket numbers. I am coming to this conclusion based on the information and images posted on your blog. I can't say my info is entirely accurate since I don't know both sides of the stories...

Anonymous said...

Did you post on at all?

There are some horrendous stories regarding UAL on there.

How's Marcus? Is he still in town? We went to undergrad together.

Alan said...

Just read your story. Their customer service clearly sucks. We've given up on United, not because of you but because of a similar experience where we actually took them to small claims and won. That said, they've shown no inclination to pay the judgment. If nothing else, it was really nice to see the judge (United insisted on a real judge for the thing) chew them out for their anti-consumer stance...

Mike said...

Wow... that chain letter about the cancer victim screams scam and fraud to me.

Anonymous said...

One more you should complain to:

- The Ombudsman in Conde Nast Traveller magazine is very good at getting travel companies to respond to horror stories like this.

I know someone has said this before, but the best leverage is paying by credit card.

Rudy Aniceto said...

I am sorry to hear the story.
People screw most elders and they
just don't mind it. They know that elderly do not complain. Philippine Airlines maltreated and disrespect my wife and I on our last trip to the Philippines.

homebase said...

It is all about money, airlines do not care that they are taking peoples lives in their hands, age, sex, race, they do not care only the profits matter.