British Airways passengers have told the BBC they have been denied cash refunds for canceled flights.
Gordon and Margaret Minto received vouchers after canceling a flight to the United States, the airline said.
“We were shocked … we looked at each other and said, ‘We didn’t want vouchers.’ We didn’t get any,” said Margaret.
The BA said it would “always provide a refund if the customer is eligible”.
But Mintos, who hails from South Shields, is in the midst of making a lot of holidays after settling down with the airline after flights were canceled due to a coronavirus epidemic.
The airlines defended that they had accepted vouchers, they all said they never wanted vouchers at all.
Under EU law, when a flight is canceled, passengers are entitled to a refund within seven days.
Airlines are still free to give them the opportunity to re-book or take vouchers, which can be used on various flights in the future, if it is preferred by a customer.
Mintos spent, 4,748 on five tickets to fly from Newcastle to Dallas and Las Vegas via London for them and family members.
They said they always wanted cash back but that desire was difficult to communicate to British Airways.
Refund option removed
The airline provided an online facility where people could request a refund for canceled flights. This is called the “fastest way” to get a refund.
But when the Covid-19 hit and thousands of flights were canceled, that option was removed from the company’s website.
The BA says it was because its system was not designed to deal with the amount of traffic, so passengers who wanted to return were asked to call the company instead.
Many passengers were able to fight the problem through phone lines.
Mintos said goodbye and emailed BAK asking for their money back. They got an answer, as far as the airline is concerned, they have already accepted the vouchers and cannot exchange them for cash.
According to Margaret, what was even more surprising was the response they received when they received a response from a BA staff member to reach out on the telephone.
“They said, ‘I’m sorry I can’t find anything in the system that shows you have accepted a voucher and I’ll go to a higher place and get you back in three days. It was last heard from us they were , ”He says.
When the BBC contacted British Airways, the airline insisted that Mr and Mrs Minto had filled out a voucher request form because there was “no way” it would issue a voucher without its arrangement.
Yet other British Airways customers who wore cash back on canceled flights are also claiming that they were automatically given vouchers.
“I didn’t fill out a form asking for a voucher, and to the best of my knowledge I don’t click on anything asking for a voucher,” said Terry Lloyd from Burnett, North London.
“In the end it seemed to me that the only sensible option was to tell customer service, ‘Show me the form I filled out.’ Despite repeated requests, they wouldn’t send it to me. I can only assume it’s because it exists. No. I’m totally isolated from them. It’s a pity to neglect them.
Other customers say they incorrectly filled out voucher applications after logging into their accounts looking for ways to get their money back.
At one point the BA website displayed two buttons, one labeled “Change Booking” and the other labeled “Cancel Booking” with a message at the bottom saying: “There is no extra cost for any changes and we will offer a refund if you cancel your booking.”
People who clicked “Cancel Booking” in anticipation of a return were actually taken to an application form for vouchers.
It had “Future Travel Voucher Application Form” written in large letters at the top and there was a box at the bottom acknowledging the acceptability of the voucher, but most people seem to have missed it.
David Hunter from Seri Sutton said that on the previous page he had “achieved success” by promising to return and filling out the form wondering what he was getting. He only realized his error after being pressured to submit and was able to reach by telephone via British Airways within an hour.
“British Airways said, ‘No, that’s it, that’s what you choose,'” he said, meaning he was stuck with a voucher for a £ 768 return flight to Seychelles.
Barrister David Travers, who specializes in trading standards and consumer protection law, believes that the fact that most people have been misled means that the British Airways website is “misleading”.
“There’s something unnecessary, people might think, about playing‘ Gotcha ’with a customer about a big commercial concern – if you read more carefully you would understand what we’re doing.
“It’s because the court and the law have taken some trouble to treat with some caution because of the position disparity between the customer and the business.”
BA said the voucher process was explicitly worded but failed to explain why it offered to return parts of its website but people instead took the voucher application form.
The Civil Aviation Authority regulator says that if customers feel confused, they should first complain to the airline about their experience and then if they are not satisfied with the response, they can try to resolve it through an approved alternative dispute resolution service, which is the case with British Airways. Effective Dispute Resolution Center (CDR).
British Airways said in a statement: “We will always provide a refund if a customer qualifies and we offer flexibility to our customers if they have to change their flight.”
“Since March, we’ve delivered more than 1.67 million customers with cash back and more than 1.3 million customers with vouchers to fly with us that they can use until April 2022.”
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