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Etihad trip- poor customer service

Discussion in 'Airlines' started by Rohit, Dec 23, 2016.

  1. Rohit

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    Dear sir

    I traveled from IAD, Virgina to igi, new Delhi, India on 30th of November. I wanted to take a 49" TV to surprise my parents as I was going home after 2.5 years.

    I called up the airline customer centre thrice to confirm if there would be any additional charges to carry the TV.

    Call 1: "you cannot carry a large TV in the flight sir. You need to contact Etihad cargo." Moreover, the guy was slurring and I thought he'd either too sleepy or drunk.

    Call 2: "yes sir. You can carry your TV onboard with no additional charges."

    Call 3: " yes sir. You can carry the TV if it's a part of your baggage allowance". Just to get the TV along, I only took one check-in baggage.

    At the airport, the team refused to listen to my pleads and forced me to pay $320 to take the TV. Final cost of taking the TV to India = $460 (TV cost) + $320 (Etihad baggage) + $110 (customs charges in India) = $890.

    I reached home, and opened the box only to find that the screen was totally shattered during transit. Also, the model is not repairable in India as it's a US model.

    Etihad is not willing to take responsibility for either the falsely promised free baggage or returning the baggage fee as the TV did not even reach the destination safe and sound.

    Can you please help take my case forward as it's a huge loss? Not the Christmas gift I was hoping for !! :(
     
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  2. Christina H

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    What an unfortunate experience. Eithad offers 2 bags at 23 kilos each correct. Were you charged a fee for oversize luggage (max height by weight by depth is around 150 cm) or was the box overweight? What was the reason for the baggage charge?
     
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  3. Michelle Friedman

    Michelle Friedman Advocacy & Editorial Director
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    I am very sorry this happened @Rohit. Did you sign a "limited Release Baggage Tag"? The Etihad website says that they will only accept fragile items if a passenger signs this form releasing the airline from responsibility for the item. The website instructs passengers not to pack any fragile items such as computers and other electronics in their checked bags. Did anyone advise you of this at check-in?
    Have you attempted to file a "Mishandled baggage claim" with Etihad? That is where you should start. Here is the link to the "mishandled claim form" and also information that would have been useful for you before you attempted to take this Tv on your flight.
    http://www.etihad.com/en-us/before-you-fly/baggage-information/missing-baggage/
     
    #3
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  4. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    I am just imagining this as I watch luggage being loaded onto a plane. Everything is thrown on the belt, not gently placed on it.
    Great find Michelle on the website, as they clearly will not accept responsibility for fragile items.
     
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  5. Christina H

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    I suspect no airline accepts liability for fragile items. I have had works of art shipped from abroad and packed by professional art packers. Several times the glass has broken. It was a not a problem as the glass had been taped so it did not shatter in the box.
     
    #5
  6. Michelle Friedman

    Michelle Friedman Advocacy & Editorial Director
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    I had the same thoughts, Neil! It certainly isn't a gentle process!:eek:
     
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  7. Michael K

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    @Rohit, since this was an international flight, the Montreal Conventions apply and override the airline's liability waivers.

    https://www.zsrlaw.com/images/stori...Liability_and_Code-Share_Obligations_2009.pdf

    Official guidance from the US Department of Transporation (74 Fed. Reg. 14837 April 1, 2009) specifically addresses this scenario:

    We have become aware of tariff provisions filed by several carriers that attempt, with respect to checked baggage, to exclude certain items, generally high-cost or fragile items such as electronics, cameras, jewelry or antiques, from liability for damage, delay, loss or theft. A typical provision found in carrier tariffs and disclosed on carrier Web sites states that the carrier does not assume liability for loss, damage, or delay of ‘‘certain specific items, including: * * * antiques, documents, electronic equipment, film, jewelry, keys, manuscripts, medication, money, paintings, photographs * * *.’’ Such exclusions, while not prohibited in domestic contracts of carriage, are in contravention of Article 17 of the Montreal Convention (Convention),1 as revised on May 28, 1999. Article 17 provides that carriers are liable for damaged or lost baggage if the ‘‘destruction, loss or damage’’ occurred while the checked baggage was within the custody of the carrier, except to the extent that the damage ‘‘resulted from the inherent defect, quality or vice of the baggage.’’ 2 Article 19 provides that a carrier is liable for damage caused by delay in the carriage of baggage, except to the extent that it proves that it took all reasonable measures to prevent the damage or that it was impossible to take such measures. Although carriers may wish to have tariff terms that prohibit passengers from including certain items in checked baggage, once a carrier accepts checked baggage, whatever is contained in the checked baggage is protected, subject to the terms of the Convention, up to the limit of 1000 SDRs (Convention, Article 22, para. 2.). Carriers should review their filed tariffs on this matter and modify their tariffs and their baggage claim policies, if necessary, to conform to the terms of the Convention. In addition, carriers should ensure that their websites do not contain improper information regarding baggage liability exclusions applicable to international service.

    https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2009-04-01/pdf/E9-7264.pdf

    I recommend you submit a complaint to the US Department of Transportation and specifically reference the DOT's guidance from 74 Fed. Reg. 14837 April 1, 2009.

    https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer/file-consumer-complaint

    Good luck!
     
    #7
  8. JVillegirl541

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    Really???? The OP has not been back since December 22, 2016 ;)
     
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  9. Michael K

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    #9
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2017
  10. JVillegirl541

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    #10
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  11. Michelle Friedman

    Michelle Friedman Advocacy & Editorial Director
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    .

    This passenger signed a special waiver that he understood that the airline was not taking responsibility for the TV -- that was the only way that they would allow it onboard the plane. The link that you provided does not address that situation.
     
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  12. John Galbraith

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    I have not been through the convention in detail yet but two points immediately strike me;

    1. Article 17(3) states "However, the carrier is not liable if and to the extent that the damage resulted from the inherent defect, quality or vice of the baggage."

    So it could be argued that the baggage (packaging) was defective.


    2. If not then Article 20 comes to the airlines rescue; "If the carrier proves that the damage was caused or contributed to by the negligence or other wrongful act or omission of the person claiming compensation, or the person from whom he or she derives his or her rights, the carrier shall be wholly or partly exonerated from its liability to the claimant to the extent that such negligence or wrongful act or omission caused or contributed to the damage. "

    Unless the tv was really really well wrapped the airline would argue negligence in the way it was wrapped to survive the processes luggage goes through to be loaded.
     
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  13. Michael K

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    Can a passenger waive their rights under the Montreal Convention? I don't believe so. That was the point of the DOT guidance.

    If the carrier claims the packaging was inherently defective, they don't need any 'waiver' from the customer, but the Convention specifically puts the burden on the carrier to affirmatively *prove* it. (Has Etihad specifically claimed the packaging was inherently defective and offered evidence to this effect?)

    Was the TV in the manufacturer's original packaging? Is the purchased model shipped in the same packaging in the US, by shipping carriers like UPS?
     
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    Last edited: Mar 13, 2017
  14. Michelle Friedman

    Michelle Friedman Advocacy & Editorial Director
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    That's an interesting question. I don't know. Unfortunately, the link that you provided is just a small snapshot from a law firm so it doesn't give us the answer either. But I will be happy to send an email to the original LW and share your suggestion that he contact the DOT. I would be interested in their response, as well. Thank you for your interest in this case.
     
    #14
  15. Michael K

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    Please refer underneath that link to the entire relevant guidance from the DOT (quoted and linked from from the Federal Register).

    The key point from the DOT statement is that:
    ...once a carrier accepts checked baggage, whatever is contained in the checked baggage is protected, subject to the terms of the Convention
    https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2009-04-01/pdf/E9-7264.pdf
    Which is consistent with what Article 26 of the Convention states:
    Any provision tending to relieve the carrier of liability or to fix a lower limit than that which is laid down in this Convention shall be null and void, but the nullity of any such provision does not involve the nullity of the whole contract, which shall remain subject to the provisions of this Convention.
     
    #15
  16. Michelle Friedman

    Michelle Friedman Advocacy & Editorial Director
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    As I mentioned, what you are sharing does not specifically address a passenger who signed an agreement with the airline that if they would transport his big screen tv, he would not hold them liable. The airline originally refused to check the tv and told him it needed to be shipped via cargo.
    And as I also mentioned, I will share your concern with the LW. Thank you again.
     
    #16
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2017
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  17. Michael K

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    That signed waiver is merely another contractual "agreement", like the CoC "agreement."

    Any provision in such agreements "tending to relieve the carrier of liability" under the Convention are unenforceable.
     
    #17
  18. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    Michael K, we've missed you.
     
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