Priceline and Avianca "took" $1150 from me because of one typo error (or autofill) in an airline reservation

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Mar 15, 2019
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#1
I I recently booked a flight to Peru from Seattle with Priceline. When the itinerary arrived it was correct but without seat assignments, so a couple days later I called to request a seat. Priceline informed me that since I had incorrectly entered my first name, my reservation was now worthless. I asked them to change my name and they said "can't do that." They then suggested that "maybe Avianca Airlines could help me." I called Avianca and was directed to fill out their "name correction request" form. It was rejected. Next, I filled out their "refund request" form and it was rejected. So, they can legally steal $1150 because of one typographical error (or an autofill that could have occurred)? This seems preposterous and immoral, if not downright illegal. Can anyone help on this? I fill as if I was mugged on the computer.
 

Neil Maley

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#2
You are saying that your name was properly spelled in the confirmation you received immediately after you bought the tickets but the tickets were wrong? Or was the confirmation also misspelled but you didn’t notice it?

You had 24 hours to correct the ticket at no charge if you are located in the US. After that the ticket has to be cancelled and repurchased with the name spelled properly. You have to pay a cancellation fee and the difference between the cost of the original ticket and the price of the new ticket.
 
Mar 15, 2019
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#3
You are saying that your name was properly spelled in the confirmation you received immediately after you bought the tickets but the tickets were wrong? Or was the confirmation also misspelled but you didn’t notice it?

You had 24 hours to correct the ticket at no charge if you are located in the US. After that the ticket has to be cancelled and repurchased with the name spelled properly. You have to pay a cancellation fee and the difference between the cost of the original ticket and the price of the new ticket.
You are correct in that I checked my ticket itinerary, but did not think to check my name, as I have never had an issue with that before. I only found this error when I called a few days later for a seat assignment.

Priceline eventually gave me the following offer. A $30 administrative fee, plus a $300 fee (for something else), plus a ticket cost of $2200. (Remember, this was only a few days later and the ticket was still selling for $1150 online). Essentially, they were telling me "you just lost your entire $1150, tough luck because you have your first name spelled wrong and you should have checked." (I still maintain that it was an autofill error on their part, but, even if it was a typo, taking $1150 from me for this seems unconscionable.
 
Sep 12, 2018
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#4
What is the error, exactly? Are we talking about a couple of letters, or is the ticket in entirely the wrong name? Some airlines have published policies that 2 or fewer incorrect letters in a ticketed name are excusable. But if the ticket is in entirely the wrong name, you may have to try another strategy. Did Priceline cancel the ticket altogether, or is the reservation still active? At this point, if you still have a valid reservation, you may be able to cancel the ticket with Avianca and receive some portion of it as a credit, which you could then apply to another ticket at the $1150 price. Even if they charge you a $300 cancellation fee, it’s still cheaper than what Priceline is offering you.
 
Likes: jsn55
Mar 15, 2019
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#5
Good question. The reason that I believe the wrong name was auto-filled is this.

My full legal name is Glenn Eugene Jarstad. The name in the reservation reads: First Name: "Jarstadeugene" and the second name reads as "Jarstad." So, my last and middle name is supposedly my first name. I did fill out the cancellation form with Avianca Airlines. They refuse to refund anything.
 

Neil Maley

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#6
Avianca is a stickler about names and changing even one letter in a name. This isn’t a slight error- your full first name is missing .?Unfortunately this is a lesson about checking your confirmation for everything, especially names. This wouldn’t have been a problem if you had because you have 24 hours to cancel and rebook.

At this point it doesn’t matter but are you sure that Priceline didn’t apply a credit for part of the initial ticket to the cost of the new one?

The $300 was most likely the airline cancellation fee, as they had to cancel the original ticket. Then Priceline charged their fee. If your initial ticket was
$1150 then credit of $820 should have been put towards the cost of the new ticket.

A ticket CAN double in price in a few days. It can change price while you are bookin it. There can be a special fare one day and it’s gone the next.

If you tell us the itinerary and dates you booked and let’s try to recreate a booking and see what the current ticket cost is. We can even try the name and see what happens.
 
Mar 15, 2019
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#7
Neil,

I have checked prices. I just did again, in fact. The similar type ticket using Avianca Air now sells for around $1700. However, I just booked a flight that uses Latam air with the same type of hours I had for around $1200, not much different than what I paid the first time. I would have been totally happy paying the $300 cancellation fee and getting $800 back in credit. I would have booked with Avianca again in a heartbeat. Their action of no refund at all after around 5 days because of a typo (that I believe was the responsibility of Priceline and autofill, but that I can not prove) seems totally unreasonable and very predatory.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#8
Neil,

(that I believe was the responsibility of Priceline and autofill, but that I can not prove) seems totally unreasonable and very predatory.
Most autofill functions are part of the web browser and not the website. I have disabled autofill on my web browsers -- (ie chrome, firefox). Have you used priceline before? Do you have a saved profile?

Some airlines are rigid with the name correction issue -- and this is not a typo this is the entire first name missing. And usually no more than three characters in a name is allowed as a correction -- but again this depends on the airline.

Do the fares allow for a cancel and credit? Is there something that says the fare class must be higher if there is a cancellation and re-ticketing?
 
Likes: VoR61

Neil Maley

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#9
Unfortunately when the DOT fought and got the airlines to allow a customer a 24 hour cancellation policy, it seems they all became more rigid in policies when there are mistakes like this.

No matter how the error happened you had 24 hours to correct it- and you failed to verify your name.

What I would suggest is do a mock booking and take a picture of the price screen showing the current price and ask Avianca to explain why they charged you so much more than their own screens show the new price of the ticket. Tell them there should have been left a credit of about $800 that should have been applied to the new ticket and ask where that money went.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#10
I suspect Neil is correct in that the airlines show little leniency because they have to offer the 24 hour rule.

Does Priceline give a reason for the ticket having to cost $2,200? If that is the case, with the $300 and cancellation fee and $30 admin, that is $2,530.

OP have you already bought a second ticket? From post #7 --

However, I just booked a flight that uses Latam air with the same type of hours I had for around $1200, not much different than what I paid the first time.

Did you book directly with the airline this time? In one way it makes financial sense to book another, as $1150 and $1200 together is $2,350 which is still less than $2,530.
 
Likes: VoR61
Nov 12, 2016
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#11
South America uses 2 last names and it does sometimes result in some funky issue with forms, is it possible that when the priceline application submitted it to the airline it got messed up. I would do another booking under as close to the circumstances as possible and see what happens, take screenshots of everything. COPA allows for a 24 hour no charge hold, maybe Avianca has the same feature? You can still cancel it before the 24 hours is up.
 

Neil Maley

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#12
I think our OP should continue to pursue this with Priceline. If there is the remote possibility that Priceline carried the name over incorrectly, they should be paying for the error. I’m sure that they are going to say he had 24 hours but if there is a possibility, ask them to review the records.

It never hurts to write.
 
Mar 15, 2019
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#16
All good suggestions. I was on the phone with Priceline on at least 5 different occasions, sometimes being put on hold for long periods of time. I have tried everything that I could think of in asking questions, all to no avail. As far as a mock booking and taking a screen shot. That might be a good idea, but I am so beat up in trying to get some sort of reasonable action by either Priceline or Avianca that I just can't take a chance that somehow I would get charged again. (I guess I need to be younger and have more energy.) When I called Visa to check on the charge and see if they could dispute it, they told me that they see this sort of thing "all the time," that the odds of recovering anything are low, and that mine is not an isolated case. Should our airline reservation system really be set up so that you have to take extra security steps so that you do not lose all of your money because of a typographical error or a auto-fill error? Wouldn't it be a reasonable law to assure that people could rebook their ticket, but at least get some credit from the original ticket? I would have bee satisfied if the airline had at least given me credit for, say, 75% of my fare applied to a new ticket. This way the airline could have pocketed around $300 for whatever and still kept me as a customer on one of their flights. But no, they want to take 100% of what I paid. Sure feels like white collar crime to bilk people out of money without getting their hands dirty.
 
Likes: bignevermo

Neil Maley

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#17
I would estimate 98% of problems we see here for similar problems are user errors. I can only recall two instances in the years I’ve been here.

The problem is that the airlines now give you the tools to fix these at no charge because you have 24 hours to cancel.

We recommend doing everything in writing. That way there is no he said/she said. You have only been dealing with Customer Service, not the Executives.

Please give it one more try using this thread:

https://forum.elliott.org/threads/r...laints-and-developing-a-paper-trail.8903/This
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#18
There is a law to protect consumer — the refundable 24 hour rule — which only applies to travel 7 days in advance and booking through an airline. Many OTAs have given a similar 24 hours.

Many airlines now have use it or lose it fares — ie basic economy and I avoid those.

We all make typos and mistakes and I have cancelled flights within the 24 hours. I have also made mistakes in booking non refundable hotel rooms and losing money.

What makes this more problematic is having a middle man ie Priceline.

When we as travelers do a book it yourself we take on the responsibility of checking everything — when I would growing up everything was done by a travel agent. One of my late relatives had vision issues — and used a travel agent until the end so as not to fill in something wrong — did not want the risk even with the computer on high contrast settings.

You should check your browser settings and see if auto fill in is enabled.

And do write to execs.
 
Aug 29, 2018
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#19
I have a couple thoughts.... First, airlines ought to have a single text field for "Name to appear on the ticket" That solves the question of multiple or names or hyphenated names.... Though I am not sure how the artist formerly known as Prince might have put in his character. ;-)

Second: When the cancelation fee >= cost of ticket, there is no incentive whatsoever to cancel.
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#20
If memory serves, the incentive to cancel is that when airlines see two reservations for the same itinerary with the same name, they can/will cancel them both. And they may determine that even though the names are slightly different . . .