A cancelled ticket and no refund...who has the money?

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Jan 26, 2016
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#1
First of all, I'd just like to say that I am a big fan of Chris Elliott, the blog, and this entire forum. Not only for providing sound advice to frustrated and defeated customers, but for also reminding us that there are success stories of shining examples of customer service (that quite honestly, doesn't seem to get enough attention these days).
So to jump right into things,
On 1/8/16, I purchased two roundtrip tickets on Priceline (LAX to JNB, on Emirates) for the travel dates: 11/17/16 - 11/26/16). I believe I booked the two tickets together and naturally assumed that they were issued on the same PNR (as has been my experience before on OTAs). My travel partner and I decided to change and extend our travel dates so I cancelled this initial booking in order to book another two roundtrip tickets for the travel dates: 11/9/16 - 11/26/16. What I failed to realize at the time was that only 1 ticket (mine) from the initial booking had been cancelled, and upon further investigation, they were issued two separate PNRs. We didn't realize what had happened until my travel companion received an email from Priceline on 1/13, saying that the airline had cancelled the remaining 1 initial ticket, due to it being a "duplicate" ticket.
So unfortunately, I am now left with a round-trip ticket that has already been cancelled by the airline, and no refund. Anytime I tried to reach Priceline via the online chat function or main customer service line, has always resulted in a redirect to the flight support specialists at 1-877-477-7441. I've called twice, one call on 1/13 was elevated to the supervisor on duty, who informed me that because its a non-refundable ticket, it is up to Emirates to grant an exception in order to issue a refund. He let me know that he has emailed the Emirates refund department and that I should call back in 24 hours. I called back in 24 hours and after a 1 hr. wait, I was informed that I should call back in 5-10 business days. When I call Emirates, they say they have nothing to do with refunds and that I need to speak with the travel agency. I've had conversations with both sides via Twitter direct messages, and they essentially say the same thing. PL: Emirates needs to issue the refund exception. EK: You need to talk to Priceline. (screenshots below)
And one more final unfortunate detail: I booked with my debit card. And the funds have already been debited by "Emirates AI".
I'm currently still waiting for Priceline to receive an email back from Emirates, but am stuck wondering...is there anything else I can do? And do I have any shot at receiving my $851.96 back? Or even perhaps a credit/voucher... :( This experience has unfortunately turned my dream vacation into quite a costly nightmare. Any help, advice, or thoughts would be greatly appreciated!
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jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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San Francisco
#2
Well, this is an ugly mess for you, Elbees. Technically, Priceline is your travel agent and you are their customer. While trying to get PL to help you is possible, it's not much fun to try to deal with them. Since Emirates charged your card, perhaps you can work something out with them. I suggest that you write a short, polite note, just the facts, to Emirates' customer service asking them to take charge and unscrew this. Be pollte, admit that the mistake was yours and use a little "artful begging" to get them to make this right. And you know what I'm going to say next: book your flights directly with the airline, OTAs are always a hindrance when problems arise.
 
R

Realitoes

Guest
#3
Elbees,

You stated you cancelled the initial bookings. How did you do this, online or with a representative. Was your ticket cancelled within the 24 hour cancellation window, or was it refundable or just reissued? Did you get an email confirmation of the cancellation?

As Judy stated, Priceline is your agent who you purchased the ticket through. Normally (but not in all cases) when you buy a ticket from a travel agent or OTA, you will be charged by the airline directly. So they are the one that has your money and has to give Priceline the permission (waiver) to refund if it is a non-refundable ticket. They could help you directly if they really wanted too, but most will just send you back to your OTA/travel agent so they don't have to deal with you.

Your ticket is not an exact duplicate since one of the travel dates are different. Your case for a refund would have been stronger if the dates were the same. It is not unheard of folks buying a second ticket with different dates to attempt to get around the refundable rules.

It looks like Priceline is currently working a waiver for refund for you. I would recommend following up with an email to find out the status. Use the Company Contacts above and email the customer service first. If you don't get a satisfactory answer or no response in a week, move to the first executive contact and give them the same amount of time to respond before moving up the chain. Keep you correspondence short and factual. Remember the person reading it didn't cause the problem and can be in a position to help you. Let us know how it goes, and if this doesn't get your anywhere, come back for further advise.

Recommend avoiding OTAs in the future, in most cases you can get close to the same fare directly from the airline. This would eliminate the back and forth problem you are experiencing. Good Luck.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
#4
Emirates should have a credit for you to use within one year from the date you bought the ticket. If you see Emirates as the one who debited your card, they have your money.

Call Emirates and give them your confirmation numbers from Priceline and ask if the have a credit issued for the cancelled tickets.

You won't receive a refund for non refundable ticket cancellations. But the airline should have a credit, not Priceline. Were the tickets all on the dame airline?
We recently had a similar situation with someone else who bought tickets assuming they were on the same PNR but weren't because she bought tickets on one airline outgoing and a different airline coming back. OTAs can't book 2 different airlines on the same PNR.
Call the airline and ask if they have a credit.
 
Jan 26, 2016
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#5
Well, this is an ugly mess for you, Elbees. Technically, Priceline is your travel agent and you are their customer. While trying to get PL to help you is possible, it's not much fun to try to deal with them. Since Emirates charged your card, perhaps you can work something out with them. I suggest that you write a short, polite note, just the facts, to Emirates' customer service asking them to take charge and unscrew this. Be pollte, admit that the mistake was yours and use a little "artful begging" to get them to make this right. And you know what I'm going to say next: book your flights directly with the airline, OTAs are always a hindrance when problems arise.
Yes, many lessons learned, unfortunately in a less than ideal manner. 1) always book directly with the airline. 2) never use a debit card. 3) never trust that tickets booked together will always be processed together. :( Thanks, judyserienagy, I will definitely be writing to Emirates once I hear back (or don't) from Priceline next week.
 
Jan 26, 2016
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#8
Elbees,

You stated you cancelled the initial bookings. How did you do this, online or with a representative. Was your ticket cancelled within the 24 hour cancellation window, or was it refundable or just reissued? Did you get an email confirmation of the cancellation?
Sorry for the delay - putting out fires at work, so its been a GREAT week :(
I cancelled the initial booking via Priceline's website (it was within a few hours of the initial booking, so I used the cancel this itinerary feature). This was definitely within the 24 hour cancellation window and I did receive an email confirmation of the cancellation but it made no mention of the dollar amount or ticket numbers. It just gave the PL trip number and since I was still under the assumption (at the time) that the two tickets were under the same trip number, I assumed both were cancelled.
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R

Realitoes

Guest
#10
I haven't booked anything with Priceline in years, so don't know how they display your flights, but wouldn't it show all booking in your on-line account? Was the other flight not visibility when you canceled the other? You didn't say, but did priceline refund you for the one you did cancel, because I don't see a 24 hour cancellation policy on their website?
 
Likes: VoR61
Oct 5, 2015
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#11
@elbees

Regarding Priceline's TRIP NUMBER

upload_2016-1-29_5-59-3.png

what does it refer to?

Does you wife have a different trip number?
When you cancelled your ticket, did you refer to a trip number that is the same for both of you or just the trip number that is exclusively for you?

Do you have to pick the passenger's name (select it) when you cancel a booking?
 
Jan 26, 2016
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#12
Miracles do happen....

:D

I checked my bank account today to reconcile my spending, and lo and behold....I see a deposit from Emirates Airlines for the full $851.96.

I don't know how....or why....but THANK YOU!!!!!!! Lessons have been learned and I know I am one lucky gal. Thank you all for your help and advice!!!!
 
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