Northwest Airlines / Fraudulent Website
My fiance and I have been planning our trip to Hawaii for our wedding. We live in Japan. We were excited to realize that we had enough miles to fly for free (almost) to Hawaii as our wedding budget is quite limited (believe it or not, Hawaii is the cheap option, not the luxury option, as it's in the middle for family from the U.S. and Japan, and Japanese weddings are incredibly overpriced).
We thought that we should maybe hurry to get tickets, because we know that the availability of flights with miles can disappear as the date gets closer. We were waiting for some other arrangements to be made, however. To be safe, we consistently checked the NWA website- nwa.com for the dates and miles of our travel. We have a little over 100, 000 miles between the two of us, saved up over time. We kept checking and saw that there were still a couple flights available for 20, 000 miles each way (2 people x 20, 000 miles x 2 ways, roundtrip = 80, 000 miles, no problem).
Then, yesterday, we went to book our trip. My fiance was excited to see that we could ride business class on the way back for only 30, 000 miles. For both of us, that would total 100, 000 miles. We have just enough. So we go to book our trips last night, her first. She gets to the point where she expects to be able to book her trip for 50, 000 miles, but it says it will cost her 135, 000 miles! She thought she made a mistake, so she tried again, but same problem. I thought it might just be a problem with their site and/or her login, as we've both had problems in the past with it not recognizing our login.
So, I tried it with my account and had the same problem. I tried several different choices, to try to figure out the problem. I realized that if I tried to choose 40, 000 miles and 60, 000 miles flying on a NWA flight, it wouldn't let me as I only have 50, 000 miles in my own account. When I chose 20, 000 and 20, 000 for the outbound and return trips on Korean Air (a NWA partner), it allowed me to continue, but when I was at the point of continuing to purchase, it said that the 20, 000 miles plus 20, 000 miles choice was a total of 110, 000 miles. What? Why?
I thought this might be a Korean Air problem, so I went to http://www.nwa.com/worldperks/earn/air_partner.shtml#korean to read about the Korean Air partnership- not clear at all to me. Maybe I'm just stupider than the average person.
I emailed them about the problem, asking how 20, 000 and 20, 000 makes 110, 000 miles. I got a long email in response, none of which explained why I couldn't book the flight for 40, 000 miles as the website allowed up to a certain point. The email told me that certain destinations during certain time periods are too busy. It said that 20, 000 mile trips are not available for when and where I want to travel. Then it ended with "I trust this has answered your question". I went back to the site, and again saw that I could still select a 20, 000 mile trip each way with Korean Air via NWA.com. The email did not address the mileage discrepancy of 20, 000 + 20, 000 = 100, 000.
I decided to call (sorry you don't have to read all of this, as I'm primarily using this to document my complaint publicly).
I called NWA reservations at [protected]. I requested them to show me how to reserve online (since the previous customer service response did not address my problem, I wanted them to see the problem I was encountering). They said they didn't deal with online reservations, so they transferred me to Internet Support.
There, I talked with "Mike". He walked me through the reservation process and when we got to the reservation screen that I had previously used, I told him that I wanted to select the 20, 000 mile trip with Korean Air. He was obviously aware of the problem, as he quickly told me that Korean Air "Perk Saver" flights are actually 55, 000 miles, even though the website says "20, 000". I said that the site lets me select 20, 000 twice, even though I only have 50, 000 miles. He said he understands the problem, but the NWA site always shows 20, 000 miles for "Perk Saver", even though it's 50, 000 miles. So I asked him why NWA lies about the mileage needed for the flight. He said that it's not a lie, just a computer error (that they are aware of). I asked him who was at fault and who would take responsibility for the fraudulent claims on the website. He said that it was not Korean Air's fault. He said I could submit a request to the web team, but they don't take any responsibility for the problem of my reserving tickets. He suggested I talk to a reservations supervisor, as they could "probably" help me get 2 tickets for 40, 000 miles each, as advertised.
He transferred me... 5 minute silent wait... music... survey... finished. No transfer. He was actually quite polite and the only person to give me accurate information and recognize the problem.
Since I got cut off from the transfer and wasn't sure where to call, I called NWA support: [protected]. I explained them the problem of not being able to purchase a ticket with my miles, even though I had more than 40, 000. They said they can't access worldperks accounts, so they transferred me to the "WorldPerks Center".
There I spoke with Karen. She was polite, like "Mike", and the others. I explained the problem. She admitted the problem with the site. I told her I didn't see the problem as my personal problem, but expected to be able to purchase the tickets for the advertised cost (20, 000 miles each way). She said she would transfer me to a supervisor.
Reservations Supervisor: Sue Fitzgerald.
I explained the problem to Ms. Fitzgerald, expressing the fact that we would have purchased the tickets much sooner if we had known the Korean Air choices were not actually available in the way the website promised. Now it was too late; there were no more "Perk Saver" tickets available for that flight. I said that I expected Northwest Airlines to take responsibility for their content on the website.
She asked me where I saw the Korean Air mileage for 20, 000. I began to tell her how I searched, but she cut me off. She proceeded to read to me from a webpage (I should have listened closer as I would have had better information, but I was getting upset about being cut off). Then she said something like, "I'm looking at the website, and I don't see any problem". Now I started to get angry. She didn't let me tell her where I encountered the problem, and then she claims that there is no problem. I said that she didn't see it because she didn't listen to where I had the problem. She then listened and went with me through the reservation process. She said that I couldn't expect it to me 20, 000 (even though that's what it says), because it's actually 60, 000. Then she said I should have seen the "110, 000 miles" before purchase. I said that I did, but that the website we were looking at showed 20, 000 plus 20, 000 equals 110, 000. She wouldn't admit any problem, but said that if I wanted to talk to the website service to complain about the discrepancy, she could transfer me (is it my responsibility to fix their website? Will they pay me a salary for monitoring their website?). I said that I already talked to them and that they said I could probably get 2 tickets as they are advertised. She said she didn't know any supervisor who would do such a thing. She told me that if I wanted to make a complaint, I could call another number. I said that I was tired of being transferred, and wanted the tickets as advertised because this is obvious fraud. She threatened to hang up on me. I said give me the number first. The customer Complaint Center is currently closed.
How could Northwest Airlines allow such wasteful systems to continue in their company? No wonder they were bought out by Delta. Or maybe these problems exist because of Delta. I don't know. I don't blame anyone personally, even the less polite Ms. Fitzgerald, because I understand that they probably don't control the system. It seems that this is not the first time they've dealt with the problem, and yet it continues with the supervisors trying to cover the problem by blaming it on the customer (I was told that I did not go through the purchase process correctly).
Here is my simple problem:
We have had available miles for about 6 months. We would have purchased tickets earlier if NWA.com did not claim that 20, 000 mile trips are still available (even now). We are unable to purchase tickets at NW Airlines as they are advertised. This is fraud. NWA admits that the website is incorrect and they know about it. They refuse to honor the price listed on their site. Because we trusted the site, we no longer have the means to purchase tickets for our own wedding as planned. Although recognizing the problem, no one at NWA took responsibility for fixing the problem.
Tomorrow, I will call their complaint center to see if I can get this resolved- I expect 2 tickets as advertised on the site. Perhaps more to come...