Lufthansa website glitch cost me $800

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Mar 4, 2017
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On February 19, 2017, I tried to book three round-trip flights for the route Santiago de Compostela-Frankfurt-Helsinki at www.lufthansa.com for myself and my two children. After choosing the dates (August 3, 2017 with return on August 24, 2017) and filling out all the necessary information, I clicked on accept and a red error message flashed on the screen, I don’t remember the exact words, but it had something to do with my chosen payment method Paypal. I was asked to choose another payment method for the total sum of 785,88€ and tried my Mastercard. Again, a red message appeared, asking me to choose another method of payment. There was no confirmation screen or reservation number issued, so I started from the beginning...

I couldn’t find any flights for the same departure date, so I chose August 7 as the new date and August 24 as the return date. After introducing my frequent flyer number and all the relevant information, I once again tried to pay by Paypal (this time the total sum was: 826,88€). The same red message prompted me to choose another payment method. I assumed that the website was not working correctly and waited for an hour or so…

On my third try, (dates 3/8/2017-24/8/2017) I chose my mother’s Mastercard as payment method, and finally the transaction finalized successfully. I was issued the reservation number: ****** (not sure I can post it here).

I was feeling uneasy about the first two failed attempts and entered my Paypal account. To my astonishment there were two charges pending for my first two failed attempts.

I immediately contacted Lufthansa by phone and will go into detail below, but it turns out that even though my first two purchase attempts did not end successfully (with a confirmation and issued reservation number) I now have two overlapping flights:

****** (my first purchase attempt) for August 3 with return on August 24

****** August 7 with return on August 24

How is it even possible to purchase overlapping flights? I would probably have been charged for my second attempt as well, if it hadn’t exactly coincided with my third attempt and actual purchase!

All I am asking for is to be reimbursed for one of reservations or at least to be allowed to change the dates of the flights, regardless of their “Economy Light” status. My only error was to not check my email on that day, because I would have seen the confirmation for my first flight.

However these are the steps that I took, that should have led to a correct resolution of this mess:

At 19:24 on Sunday, August 19, I called Lufthansa’s Customer Service at (34) 902 22 01 14 (from my mobile phone) and told them what had happened and inquired about these two pending “charges” on my Paypal account. I was asked about the transaction codes which are: O-***************** and O-*****************.

I was told by an agent, that they were not real charges since the codes began with an "O" and that I shouldn’t worry, they would eventually disappear from my Paypal account.

On the very next day, Monday 20 August, I called my bank and was told the same thing… not to worry, no funds had been transferred.

Five days later a total of 785,88€ (+93,57€ for the travel insurance) had been transferred from my account! Lufthansa had issued the tickets for that first failed purchase attempt and charged me.

I called Lufthansa’s Customer Service at 20:43 on that same day (Sunday 25th) and once again was told, this time by an agent called Maria (she refused to give me her last name), that no funds had been transferred.

Now I finally looked at my email and was shocked, to find the confirmation letters for the two overlapping flights! I called Customer Service again (at 21:03) and was now told, by the same woman, that yes, I had purchased two sets of tickets! One of the transactions starting with the letter O" , was real. I once again repeated what had happened… the error messages when choosing payment method, my three attempts, but was met with rudeness and disbelief.

I was told that there was nothing Lufthansa could do, because I hadn’t cancelled the flight in the 24 hours after it was issued. I answered that I called Lufthansa immediately after seeing my Paypal statement on the very same day that I bought my tickets, but was told, that the transactions were not real! She accused me of not having mentioned the two different departure dates to her colleague that day, he would have seen that I had two issued flights, but I am absolutely certain that I did! He kept insisting that they were not successful transactions due to those codes.

I called for the third time at 21:24 and asked to speak to a supervisor. He told me the same thing… I should have cancelled the (non-existing) flight in the 24 hours after it was purchased.

Since Lufthansa supposedly records its phone calls, in the form, that I filled out on Lufthansa’s website on 26 February (in Spanish), I asked for a copy of the call that I made to their Customer Service on February 19 to prove that I did mention the different dates and the two transaction codes and gave a detailed description of what had occurred.

I asked to be fully reimbursed for one of the two overlapping flights as my children and I obviously can’t be in two places at the same time. I also suggested that if this wasn’t possible, I would be willing to pay for an upgrade from “Economy Light” to “Economy Classic”, even though I shouldn’t be held accountable for their website glitches or errors.

On February 27, I replied to their “Form reception email” in which my case was assigned the Feedback ID 30889913 and wrote them more or less the same in English. I also attached the two Paypal statements of my first two purchase attempts.

My bank director wants to wait for a reply from Lufthansa and if they refuse to reimburse me, we could try to file a claim through my Mastercard’s insurance, but I’m afraid that Lufthansa will keep me waiting for an answer until it’s too late to do anything else. As of today, I have not heard a peep from Lufthansa.

Any ideas of how I should proceed are very much appreciated.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
11,163
13,516
San Francisco
This is awful, Laura. We hear frequently from people who have issues booking air on the internet and keep trying, only to find out that they are buying the same thing over and over again. They are holding you accountable for their website glitch because you kept purchasing tix without confirming what you were buying.

Your letter is so long that I gave up midway through it. Could you please make a list in chronological order of exactly what happened, just the facts? Lufthansa is tough to work with, but I'm sure we can help you make this right.
 
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Mar 4, 2017
23
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Hi there! Sorry about the long letter, I tried to be as thorough as possible. I’ve been buying airline tickets online twice a year for as long as I can remember, without any problems before. Here's a shorter version that I hope is more bearable:

Sunday, February 19: tried to book three round-trip flights (for my two kids and myself) for Santiago de Compostela-Frankfurt-Helsinki at www.lufthansa.com for August 3-August 24.

First try (around 6 p.m.): everything OK until payment step. Tried to pay using Paypal, but an error message asking me to choose another method appeared. Tried my Mastercard, but the same message appeared. NO reservation number issued or message informing about a successful transaction!

Second try: started over, same price not available, found similar price for August 7-August 24. Same problem with the payment method. Assumed the website was not working correctly and waited for an hour or so.

Third try: started over, found previous flight and paid with my mother’s Mastercard. This time the transaction was successful and I received my reservation number.

Entered my Paypal account and saw two pending charges for my first two failed attempts.

At 7:24 p.m. called Lufthansa’s Customer Service inquiring about these two pending “charges. Was asked about the transaction codes and told that since they started with an “O”, they were not real charges and that I shouldn’t worry, they would eventually disappear from my Paypal account.

Monday, February 20: called my bank and was told the same thing… not to worry, no funds had been transferred.

Sunday, February 25: I discover that a total of 785,88€ (+93,57€ for the travel insurance) had been transferred from my bank account! Lufthansa had issued the tickets for that first failed purchase attempt and charged me.

February 25 (8.43 p.m.) Called Lufthansa’s Customer Service and once again was told, that NO funds had been transferred.

Now I finally looked at my email and was shocked, to find the confirmation letters for the two overlapping flights! I called Customer Service again (at 21:03) and was now told, by the same woman, that yes, I had purchased two sets of tickets! I once again repeated what had happened… the error messages when choosing payment method, my three attempts, but was met with rudeness and disbelief.

I was told that there was nothing Lufthansa could do, because I hadn’t cancelled the flight in the 24 hours after it was issued.

February 26:
Filled out a contact form on Lufthansa’s website on (in Spanish) and gave a detailed description of what had occurred.

February 27: received “Form reception email” with Feedback ID 30889913 from Lufthansa and sent them all the previous info in English (just in case). Have not yet received an answer.
 
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jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
11,163
13,516
San Francisco
Excellent, Laura, I get it, thank you. The best way to handle this is in writing. You should start with Customer Service, then work your way up our list of executive contacts. Wait a week between each submission. While airlines are bombarded with requests for compensation, even a child can understand that you did not willingly buy three sets of tix for the same trip. It will just take someone to actually read your letter and understand what happened.

That's why we advise being as brief as possible, while still stating the relevant facts. The person reading your letter does this all day, and you want her to grasp the situation with one read and route your letter to the proper department for a refund.

Your letter should be something like this: On 19 Feb, two attempts at booking tix were made using PayPal funds, each with an error message and no confirmation or reservation number. Third attempt @ __pm using a MasterCard was successful, received res number. An hour later, my bank a/c showed both charges processed through PP. Telephoned Lufthansa at 724pm and was assured that the first two attempts had not been ticketed. All three attempts were ticketed. I now own 3 tix for the same trip. Since I contacted LH the minute I discovered the website error, please cancel the two tix: state numbers, dates, etc. Do not cancel this tix:

Normally we are advising people who are blaming 'someone else' for their issue. In your case, Lufthansa's IT department is definitely to blame. It may take a while, but you surely attempted to make this right the minute you discovered the problem with their website. Polite, patient and persistent will generally get you a good result. Good luck!
 
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Mar 4, 2017
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Thank you so much for your advice. Just let me clearify that I was not charged for the second attempt, probably because it coincides exactly with the tickets from the third successful attempt. Also, I bought three tickets because I will be traveling with my two kids, not alone. But I certainly didn't try to buy 3 x 3 tickets! I'll edit the abbreviated letter that I posted here, to clearly state this. Unfortunately there are no listings for the executives that deal with European clients on your website and I already wrote to customer.relations@lufthansa.com, but I could try to send them a much shorter version (yours is perfect!).
Kind regards
Laura

***Only customers in US and Canada should contact Mr. Bickel, Ms. Murphy, or Mr. Siebenrock as they only deal with North American customers. Customers from elsewhere in the world can use customer.relations@lufthansa.com.***
 
Last edited:
R

Realitoes

Guest
Ouch, you would have a much better case if the travel dates were the same! Unfortunately, airlines and travel sites will see this as a means of changing your travel dates without paying the change fee, so you will have an uphill battle. Definitely follow jsn55's advise and good luck.
 
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Mar 4, 2017
23
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Ouch, you would have a much better case if the travel dates were the same! Unfortunately, airlines and travel sites will see this as a means of changing your travel dates without paying the change fee, so you will have an uphill battle. Definitely follow jsn55's advise and good luck.

Exactly, that's probably the reason why the first agent who I spoke with did not see the overlapping flights. Although I gave him the Paypal codes for the two failed transactions, he could only see the reservation that I was aware of and had a number for, at that moment.

The irony is, that I would definitely have preferred that first set of tickets, they were over 100 dollars cheaper than the ones that I "actually" bought. :( Thanks for wishing me good luck!
 
R

Realitoes

Guest
Exactly, that's probably the reason why the first agent who I spoke with did not see the overlapping flights. Although I gave him the Paypal codes for the two failed transactions, he could only see the reservation that I was aware of and had a number for, at that moment.

The irony is, that I would definitely have preferred that first set of tickets, they were over 100 dollars cheaper than the ones that I "actually" bought. :( Thanks for wishing me good luck!

Then you should request a refund of the second set of tickets, that will negate the argument I presented above, and increase your chances of success.
 
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Neil Maley

Staff Member
Forum Moderator
Dec 27, 2014
26,133
29,491
New York
www.promalvacations.com
You could have canceled the tickets on your Moms card within 24 hours of buying them.

Our normal advice would be to do a dispute with your credit card but I don't know you can do that using Paypal.
 
Mar 4, 2017
23
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You could have canceled the tickets on your Moms card within 24 hours of buying them.

Our normal advice would be to do a dispute with your credit card but I don't know you can do that using Paypal.
Dear Neil,
Unfortunately I didn't discover that the first failed attempt was real until 6 days later, when the money was withdrawn from my account and I finally checked my email (I wish I had done it immediately and the funny thing is that no one suggested it)! I was always told that everything was fine until that moment...
 

JVillegirl541

Verified Member
Nov 21, 2014
3,925
4,037
Do you have a log on your cell phone or itemization on a cell bill that shows all you attempts to contact them and cancel? ;)
 
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Mar 4, 2017
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PayPal is your enemy here. If you had used a credit card you would have been in luck but You lose a lot of chargeback power using Paypal and a checking account. Have you contacted PayPal to see if they can do anything to help?
It sure looks that way. Of course I contacted Paypal, but they immediately told me that as soon as I approve a transaction, it is out of their hands, even though it isn't a successful one like in this case... I have no credit cards and also tried to pay with my debit Mastercard to no avail.
 

JVillegirl541

Verified Member
Nov 21, 2014
3,925
4,037
It m
Yes I do. My phonecalls to Lufthansa total 36 min, which won't be cheap, I'm afraid. :( I'll include the log in my claim, thanks!

It at least makes your claim more credible that you called immediately during the 24 hr cancellation period. Do screen shots of that log and calls to Lufthansa and your bank. You tried to fix this!
For travel arrangements do NOT use Pay Pal you get zero protection. Use your moms real card and pay her back, she can easily make you an authorized user (with your own card) for these situations and then you can immediately pay her back and be covered by her card benefits. What a horrible expensive situation!
 
Mar 4, 2017
23
4
47
It m


It at least makes your claim more credible that you called immediately during the 24 hr cancellation period. Do screen shots of that log and calls to Lufthansa and your bank. You tried to fix this!
For travel arrangements do NOT use Pay Pal you get zero protection. Use your moms real card and pay her back, she can easily make you an authorized user (with your own card) for these situations and then you can immediately pay her back and be covered by her card benefits. What a horrible expensive situation!
No Paypal for travel arrangements, got it! Thanks for your advice!
 
Mar 4, 2017
23
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Hi everybody,
Just wanted to let you know that I received an answer from Lufthansa yesterday saying:

We regret to inform you that the reservation (my first failed attempt) that you acquired is a Light Economy rate which is not refundable. If you wish to cancel the reservation, you would receive the airport taxes (except the YQ tax).

As you were told by our colleague (the rude Miss Maria), a reimbursement for double booking is not possible because of the different dates of your flights.

We can also see that you spoke with a supervisor who informed you of these same conditions.

As you can see, they do not mention or take any responsability for their website glitches and simply believe that I am a silly computer-illiterate woman who bought two overlapping tickets for the fun of it. Do you think I should continue fighting Lufthansa on this or is it a lost cause?

On Monday, with the help of my bank, I will file a claim to my Mastercard's Insurance company. They were waiting for Lufthansa's answer, to go ahead with it.

In addition to that, I might post something on Facebook as a warning so that this doesn't happen to other people.
 
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