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SAA / daylight robbery

1 United Kingdom Review updated:

My son, Jonathan Rocha, is a second year student at the University of Plymouth. As part of his second year, he has to attend a compulsory course in South Africa. Subsequently, I contacted E-bookers and bought his flight with SAA for £816.46.
Jonathan was born Rocha and when I remarried; I changed his surname to my married name, Mason. About 3 years ago Jonathan decided to change his surname back to Rocha. He changed all his documentation i.e. driving licence, bank details etc to Rocha; except his passport!
When I booked his flight, I booked it in the name of Rocha. Not until we arrived at the airport and saw that his surname in his passport was Mason did it even dawn on me. An honest mistake! Even though E-bookers did ask me for the name in the passport, it did not occur to me that the name had not been changed. It was a genuine and honest mistake and I was soon to learn that this ‘mistake’ was going to cost £1, 690.96.
At the airport, check in desk sent us to SAA Customer Services. They allowed me to contact E-bookers who said they could reissue the ticket provided SAA authorise or agree to it. SAA refused. An hour and a half later we will still standing there whilst E-bookers were trying to pass the buck to SAA and SAA were passing the buck to E-bookers. Their only solution was that we had to purchase another ticket and come back another day, as under no circumstances would they change the name.
Despite the fact that we could prove that Jonathan was both Rocha and Mason and that this was an honest mistake, no one was willing to move ‘out of the box’ and help us. I explained to them that Jonathan is a student living on a student loan and that I have been unemployed on and off for the last two years and that we just didn’t have this sort of money. Jonathan had £766 left which he needed to survive at university and I had £110.
In the end, we decided the best to do was to spend our last penny to get him on this flight. Not attending this course would have meant that Jonathan would either have to change his course or do it next year ... This ticket cost £874.50. SAA refused to make a consideration despite me explaining our situation to them. They were disinterested, unhelpful, uncompromising and negative. Calling them ‘Customer Services’ is a joke. £1, 690.96 later both Jonathan and I are left penniless and SAA have pocketed this money without the slightest concern or consideration.
The following day E-bookers called me to advise that they would be willing to refund £235.47 within 7 – 10 working days and waiver the cancellation fee. Despite this being a shortfall of £580.99 I had no choice to accept this, as this was the best they could do. E-bookers advised me that they contacted SAA and explained the situation to them and asked them to make a consideration. They refused.
This is absolutely UNACCEPTABLE. I agree that airlines have a duty to ensure that passengers are safe and to combat terrorism but surely discretion can still be used? This reeks of ‘money grabbing’ to me. That an airline like SAA can rob their flyers like this, and get away with it, is criminal. It seems that the innocent and harmless are treated the same as the guilty and dangerous.

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  • Ka
      1st of Oct, 2010
    0 Votes

    I thought they were reputable too from my previous experiences with them. I have always flown SAA as a South African. I have written to the Customer Care but they haven't even bothered to acknowledge my complaint let alone respond to it - common practice I understand from other complainants. At the airport SAA made it very clear that they would not refund my first ticket and, in fact, even refused to make any consideration. Their "solution" was go home or buy another ticket. Perhaps ALL airlines do this but that doesn't make it right!! It remains daylight robbery!!!

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