Capital One Credit Card / reimbursement for disputed charges
On Nov. 21, 2007, I purchased a round trip ticket through Expedia from RDU to HYS. My return flights on Dec. 11, 2008 were cancelled. Cancellations were weather related. Great Lakes Air and American Airlines (AA) re booked me with the same itinerary for the following day. However, the AA agent told me that because the initial leg of my flight on Dec. 1, 2007 was via United (RDU to ORD; ORD to MCI), United would have to issue the new ticket. I spent the remainder of the afternoon and a good part of the evening on the telephone trying to get this ticket issued. Out of frustration and desperation placed another call to Expedia. I explained to this agent that the first UA agent told me UA could not issue a ticket for another airline. Subsequent calls to Great Lakes, AA, and Expedia told me that under the circumstances UA could. Relaying this to the next UA agent I spoke with, he told me the ticket would have to be issued at a United counter and he could not help the fact there were none within hours of HYS. Although Great Lakes Airlines appears to be a United partner, this agent claimed Great Lakes could not issue the ticket (ultimately they did the following day and my itinerary says I flew United 5041, operated by Great Lakes Airlines). Conferring again with a Great Lakes agent, I was told they would accommodate me and fly me to DEN or MCI where there were UA counters (the agent confirmed I already held a reservation on their flight 5068 to MCI). Relaying this to the next UA agent I spoke with, he told me I did not hold a reservation on flight 5068, the flight was fully booked, but he could book me on a later flight. However, he was sorry to tell me I would not be able to make my connection on AA 4695, and I would have to be routed on other UA flights to RDU. I next called Great Lakes and their agent assured me I still held a reservation on flight 5068. It was at this time I called Expedia again and talked to an agent who was able to act as an intermediate, by simultaneously contacting a United agent. He told me United was not willing to accommodate me with the reservations I presently held because it was not in their financial interest. He told me United was willing to accommodate me with two itineraries, both with United as the carrier. I choose the one through DEN, even though the weather forecast was for freezing rain through the night. Safety, my disabilities, and recent surgery are another issue I wonâ��t address; UA didnâ��t care and I wanted to get home. The Expedia agent relayed my choice to accept the flight through DEN to the United agent. I was told to check in at the Great Lakes' counter in HYS at least an hour prior to my flight.
I should have filed a complaint pursuant to my experience described above, but I had already expended considerable time and was content this ordeal was over, but in reality it had just started. When I received my Capitol One January statement, I noticed two charges on Dec. 11 to United, $649.90 and $15.00. This was the date my flights were cancelled; the day I was not even able to travel to the Hays airport. I never gave my credit card number to a United agent for these charges, nor authorized Expedia to do so (recall, the Expedia agent was my mediator; I never even talked to a United agent in finalizing my flights). I don't know how United was able to obtain my credit card number.
In addition to fraudulently charging my credit card, United Airlines violated the terms of their contract. Rule 240, section C 1 A in the United Airlines Contract of Carriage states that â��UA will transport the passenger without stopover on its next flight on which space is available â�¦ at no additional cost to the passenger.â��
Capital One violated the terms of their contract by not removing these fraudulent charges from my account. Initially their contention was the charges were legitimate because the service was provided (UA transported me on a flight). Subsequently, their contention is there was no fraud; I actually purchased two tickets with different itineraries and itâ��s inconsequential how UA obtained my credit card number or if the charges were made without my verbal or written authorization.
In trying to recover these charges, several contacts were made to UA:
1. There is an average waiting time of 30 minutes to speak to an agent
2. Agents have no authority, although you must tell every detail of complaint before being referred to a supervisor
3. Referrals to supervisors incur additional waiting time, or voice mail instructs consumer to leave phone number for return call
4. Return calls not usually received (I received only one after having left several messages)
5. All agents I spoke to in refund department with UA were difficult to understand because English is not their native language. Either my wife had to speak in my behalf, or we had to request another supervisor â�� more delays.
6. On March 7, 2008, via e-mail, UA issued an apology and offered me a $100.00 travel voucher on UA, but no additional refund or compensation for fraud or violation of contract
7. UA finally agreed to refund charges if I could provide proof flights of Dec. 11 had been cancelled. This information was provided by phone on March 11, 2008 by Great Lakes Air agent
8. On May 28, 2008 United only offered to refund an unspecified value of return portion of original ticket (original full round trip ticket was purchased for $554.20)
Having not received a refund, I disputed these charges with Capitol One because they were not authorized:
1. Pursuing dispute through Capitol One required at least fifty hours on phone and preparing and sending documents.
2. Every phone call requires navigating through several layers of automated menus, holding time, and frequent misdirected and dropped calls
3. There is no was to speak to the same agent after misdirected or disconnected calls, and the entire history has to be repeated each time (Capital One agents are prohibited to initiate outgoing calls)
4. Identical documentation and information was requested several different times
5. Although Capital One initially refunded these charges, following their â��investigationâ�� the charges were reinstated. In their analysis, the charges were not fraudulent even though documentation was provided substantiating I was using a previously purchased ticket in accordance with United Airlines Contract of Carriage
6. On May 28. 2008, after four hours of calls to several agents and departments, the individual agent I was speaking to at the time discovered I UA had actually issued a credit on May 6, 2008, but the credit had somehow gotten lost
7. This lost credit would take an additional seven to fourteen days to appear on my statement
8. My last balance on Capital One of $156.90 was due on June 20, 2008. If the credit was not found and applied to my account, I would be required to make a payment towards this balance
I have volumes of notes and documents, which I would be happy to provide in part or in full upon request.
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