Catavino’s Travel Woes: How We Got Screwed by Delta !!UPDATED!! | Catavino
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Catavino’s Travel Woes: How We Got Screwed by Delta !!UPDATED!!

DeltaIn the course of our lives, we have all experienced difficulties with air travel. Whether it’s a canceled flight, excessive turbulence, poor airline food or rocket high prices when checking in your luggage, we’ve all been there. What doesn’t happen often is when an airline makes you pay twice for the same ticket.

Last July, when arriving to the airport, ridiculously excited to get on our way to the USA to attend the WBC, we made the one fatal error that you pray you never make in your life as a traveler. We misread the ticket and thought the 11:20am flight was actually, 11:20pm. In the hierarchy of stupidity, this rates rather high.

Taking a deep breath to gather our thoughts, we decided to call Delta’s customer service for help, as the office hours in the airport were well over. To our dismay, what we figured would be a healthy penalty fee to change our flight turned into a 2 hour phone battle as to whether or not we should pay the full amount to replace 2 roundtrip tickets to New York, and later to California.

Mind you, we’re clear that fault lies completely on us for being moronic enough to miss our first flight, but to have our ENTIRE itinerary canceled which included any and all future flights was beyond our understanding. Adding insult to injury, despite our pleas to Delta that there was no indication on either their website or the ticket of such drastic measures, we were forced to pay almost double the original ticket to rebook the itinerary a second time. As you all can clearly sympathize, the term “effective monetization” and “blogging” don’t really go hand in hand. Consequently, this was NOT in our budget.

What you’ll read below is our plea to Delta to not only show us where regulations state that a customer must repurchase their entire itinerary, and all related tickets, if they miss the flight, but also for us to receive money back for the purchase of 4 new tickets. We trust after you read the exchange below, you’ll understand our frustration. Mind you, we are not lawyers, and maybe their regulations are legally explicit, but from a layman’s perspective, we wholeheartedly argue that it is not.

Dear Delta,

I am writing you in regards to an experience I had on your airline in late July which has left me with a very poor impression of your company.  Therefore, I am hoping that through my letter, you will not only understand why I am so disappointed with Delta, but also consider recompense for both my time and money.

On Tuesday, July 21st, I was scheduled for an 11am flight leaving Barcelona to JFK. And as a result of a misunderstanding, we arrived at 11pm, instead of 11am. Assuming that your company would be understanding of such circumstances, allowing us to easily catch the next flight to NYC for a nominal penalty fee, I instead was told by your customer service that passengers missing the first leg of their flight would not only have their ticket canceled related to said flight, but also all consecutive flights thereafter. In our case, this meant that I would need to buy two new tickets for my business partner and I from BCN to NYC, from NYC to SFO, from SFO to NYC and from NYC to BCN, leaving the following day. In financial terms, this translated to approximately $4,000, in addition to the $2,000 that was already paid for the tickets.

Additionally, neither on my ticket, nor on your website, have I seen any reference to said policy.

It is not my place to say what policies you choose to enforce for the health and well-being of your company, but as a growing social media business, I can tell you that good customer service is key when deciding if I will support a company. In the past, I have only had good experiences with Delta, but to have a simple, everyday situation such as a missed flight cancel our entire itineraries is very disappointing. Add the fact that your customer service, despite the number of times I called, only reiterated the fact that I would need to purchase two new tickets, and you have one very upset passenger.

My company is used internationally as a travel and tourism reference, and I can only hope that you will recompense me for the inordinate amount of money lost.

Sincerely,

Gabriella Opaz

Co-Founder of Catavino.net, Catavino Marketing.com, Wineblogger.info and The European Wine Bloggers Conference

This letter was sent 4 times, and it wasn’t until November 10th at 6pm did I receive a response:

Dear Mrs. Opaz,

Thank you for your e-mail describing your recent experience.  On behalf of everyone at Delta Air Lines, I sincerely apologize for the delay in responding.

I am truly sorry you were unable to use your ticket as purchased and recognize your disappointment with the restrictions of this nonrefundable airfare.  When customers do not use their ticket as purchased, we reserve the right to cancel any remaining flights. In addition the unused flight coupons have no residual value.  As such, I must respectfully deny your request for a refund. I apologize for any disappointment since I am sure this is not the answer you were expecting.

Mrs. Opaz, I want to thank you, again, for writing.  As a valued customer your business is important to us and given the opportunity of serving you in the future, I am confident Delta will not only meet but exceed your expectations.

Sincerely,

Pamela M. Mendes
Coordinator
Customer Care

Dear Pamela,

Would kindly show me on your website where it states that all related flights to the original ticket will be cancelled?

Saludos,
Gabriella Opaz

Dear Mrs. Opaz,

Thank you for your correspondence concerning our recent exchange of e-mails.  On behalf of everyone at Delta Air Lines, I, once again, appreciate the opportunity to respond to your queries.

In order to view our check-in rules you need to visit our website at https://www.delta.com/traveling_checkin/itineraries_checkin/requirements and scroll down to Security Check-in Requirements from Non-U.S. Cities. This link will provide you the information about our cancellation policy.

Please let us know, if you have any further concerns.

Once again, we thank you for your precious time.  We appreciate your selection of Delta and will always welcome the opportunity to be of service.

Sincerely,

Pamela M. Mendes
Coordinator
Customer Care

Dear Pamela,

Thanks so much for the link, but I’m still not seeing it. Would you mind copying and pasting the text that you are referring to?

Saludos,
Gabriella Opaz

Dear Ms. Opaz,

Thank you for writing and allowing me the opportunity to further review your concerns.  On behalf of Delta Air Lines, I am genuinely sorry my first response was dissatisfactory.

Ms. Opaz, the answer to your question is the last line of the text as follows:

Security Check-in Requirements from Non-U.S. Cities

The recommended arrival time at the airport prior to departure is 3 hours for travel outside the U.S. If traveling outside the United States, you must be checked in and present at the departure gate 60 minutes before your scheduled departure time. This minimum requirement applies to all customers checking-in, with or without baggage. Customers who fail to complete the check-in procedures by these deadlines will not be able to travel on desired flights and change fees may apply.

I hope I have been able to resolve any concerns you have about our check in requirements.  Your future business is important to us, and I hope you will continue to choose Delta for your air travel needs.

Sincerely,

Pamela M. Mendes
Coordinator
Customer Care

Dear Pamela,

Would you please be so kind to tell me how I can have my case reviewed by a superior or how I can appeal to the next level? Thank you.

Saludos,

Gabriella Opaz

Dear Ms. Opaz,

Thank you for your additional comments regarding our recent exchange of correspondence.  On behalf of Delta Air Lines, I apologize that I have been unable to offer a satisfactory resolution.

While I recognize, how important it is for you to speak to my supervisor, please know, our Customer Care team has been designated to reply on their behalf.  I understand you feel I did not adequately address your concerns. I was happy to review your comments again to see if there was something I missed. Respectfully, there is nothing more I can add.  I am sorry to disappoint you, as I understand this is not the answer you were expecting.

Ms. Opaz, again, I apologize.  Your support is important to us, and I thank you for your additional time and effort. We look forward to the privilege of serving your air travel needs again soon.

Sincerely,

Pamela M. Mendes
Coordinator
Customer Care

Dear Pamela,

Please know that I fully respect your position; however, I again politely request to speak with a supervisor who I may share my disagreement with the clarity of the regulations on your website pertaining to the loss of my tickets. I trust you will honor my request and provide me with an individual or contact number at your earliest convenience.

Saludos,

Gabriella Opaz

Dear Ms. Opaz,

Thank you for your most recent communication expressing your continued dissatisfaction with my response.  On behalf of Delta Air Lines, I apologize that I have been unable to offer a satisfactory resolution as yet.

I am genuinely sorry it was necessary for you to write me again.  I was concerned that I missed the purpose of your original communication so I reviewed your comments with my Supervisor.  After a lengthy discussion, there is no further action we will take regarding your experience. Again, I am sorry to disappoint you, as I understand this is not the answer you were expecting.

Ms. Opaz, again, I am sorry your travel was unsatisfactory.  I hope in time you will provide us with another opportunity to restore your confidence.

Sincerely,

Pamela M. Mendes
Coordinator
Customer Care

As you can see from their website, the language is both vague and unclear – if not non-existent. From our perspective, there was no indication that all of our flights would be canceled, but let us know your thoughts!! Is the language clear to you? Do you feel that customers are being treated fairly? Have you had similar experiences? And what would you do in our position?

Thanks you for all of your help!! And if anyone wants to share your thoughts with Delta regarding their “stellar” communication policies and “fair” customer service, we’d appreciate it.

Gabriella Opaz

***********UPDATE*********** 11/26/2009

After this fiasco, I was contacted by a supervisor at Delta (yes, they seem to actually exist) who suddenly was eager to help me:

Dear Ms. Opaz:

RE: Case Number 8496884

Your email to Delta Air Lines has been forwarded to my attention for response.  On behalf of Delta Air Lines, I want to extend my sincere apology to you and your business partner for the inconveniences and additional expenses you incurred on your trip to New York and San Francisco.  I am also troubled that our Customer Care representative was unable to satisfactorily address your concerns.  Be assured this will be addressed within our company.

Your points are well made and respectfully, there is little more to be said about the departure time of Flight 95. I understand your main concern is that you were charged for new tickets and feel you should have only been assessed a penalty fee to change your original tickets. As such, I would like to work with you and attempt to alleviate some of your frustration…

Long story short, they agreed to reimburse me for the first unused itinerary, which was a considerable amount less than what I paid for the 2nd itinerary; however, I was sincerely pleased they wanted to help me, appreciating the extra effort they were taking for my plight. I chose to celebrate a small battle, rather than fight the large war. My only request to Kathy was that she please reimburse the credit card walloped with the massive ~4,000 euro fee, rather than the first credit card. Her response was the following:

Dear Ms. Opaz:

RE: Case Number 8496884

Thank you for your comments.  I am sorry for my delayed response.  It was necessary for me to check with our accounting team to see if they could honor your request.

As to refunding money to a credit card other than the one used for payment of a ticket, respectfully, our Contract of Carriage requires that we refund any ticket to the original form of payment. Our Contract of Carriage governs the terms and conditions of every ticket.  The Contract also includes many provisions of travel passengers may or may not be aware of when they purchase an airline ticket, but which are expressly incorporated into each ticket.  Since these provisions are too lengthy to print on every ticket, you can view our complete Contract of Carriage on our web site at delta.com.

In addition, this is a security measure for our passengers.

We are sorry to disappoint you and hope you can work this out with the other party.

Sincerely,

Kathy Johnston
Supervisor
Customer Care
Northwest/KLM/Delta Air Lines

Having spent an inordinate amount of time on this Delta fiasco, I lost my patience, and for the first time in this long ordeal, I made my counter point completely clear:

Dear Kathy,

Just to be clear, you’re telling me that I am not only unable to get the full amount for the itinerary I purchased last minute during the highest travel season in Europe because of your company’s unclear communication in your regulations, but I’m also not getting the correct amount transferred to the credit card that was nailed with the unnecessary 4,000 euro fee?

If this is what you’re telling me, please know that I am far from happy with this situation. From this point forward, if I am not refunded in full for the 2ND TICKET itinerary to the correct credit card, I will continue my social media campaign, and will contact the better business bureau, legislators and all major newspapers and travel blogs throughout Europe and the States.

Saludos,

Gabriella Opaz

Dear Ms. Opaz:

RE: Case Number 8496884

I am in receipt of your additional comments.

Be assured we also want to resolve this issue in a satisfactory manner, and I am confident we will be able to do so.

As you requested I was also going to refund the second tickets you purch,ased, less the 150.00EUR penalty for not arriving for the original flight.  However, just this morning I learned that your travel agency, Saga Travel, already submitted your original tickets to Delta and received a refund. Saga Travel was refunded 422.00EUR for each ticket. This included deductions for the 150.00EUR penalty and the domestic nonrefundable portion of each ticket (242.00EUR). As such, if I refunded your second tickets, we would not be paid for the transportation provided. I hope we have your understanding.

Our accounting team is working on this file, although we feel your travel agency will not return the refund.  We appreciate your patience while we work on a resolution.

Thank you for writing.

Sincerely,

Kathy Johnston
Supervisor
Customer Care
Northwest/KLM/Delta Air Lines

To be clear, I’m a little lost as to what the travel agency’s refund has to do with my refund. I wouldn’t have had to pay the 2nd itinerary if Delta would have made the correct decision and simply charged me a penalty fee without canceling my entire itinerary. Consequently, the travel agency’s refund should have ZERO BEARING on my refund.

To date, I have not heard back from Delta, but as my email stated, I will respectfully hold back my efforts to amplify my frustration online and through traditional media until they have given me their answer. At this moment, I’m going to look at the glass half full and hope that they truly do want to help me.

If you have any thoughts on how I can proceed, I’m all ears. I have received several emails from many of you who have offered great suggestions, and I will happily act on them depending on the next email. Thanks for all of your support!

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