Want to sue KLM in small claims in CA

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Jul 17, 2019
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#1
I’ve tried to go through appropriate channels with KLM and have had no luck. I’d like to sue in small claims in California, but can find no local agent for process of service. Can I sue the. In California? If so, who do I serve locally? Thank you.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#3
I’ve tried to go through appropriate channels with KLM and have had no luck. I’d like to sue in small claims in California, but can find no local agent for process of service. Can I sue the. In California? If so, who do I serve locally? Thank you.
What was the route and problem? There may be other options other than lawsuit -- we cannot give legal advice on the process.
 
Likes: Neil Maley

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
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#4
Without any information in your post, it is not possible to even advise you if there is a case to pursue on any level. If you wish advice about what occurred, we can help. If you wish legal advice, we cannot help.
 
Jun 24, 2019
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#10
KLM is not the correct name to search. If you search
KONINKLIJKE LUCHTVAART MAATSCHAPPIJ N.V.
you will find KLM's registration in California, which identifies its California agent for service of process. However, as has been suggested, if you presented your problem here the folks here would at least help you hone your arguments, or, perhaps, suggest you have no claim at all.

https://businesssearch.sos.ca.gov/C...aart+Maatschappij+N.V.+&SearchSubType=Keyword
 
Likes: jsn55
Dec 17, 2018
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#11
OP, be aware that you'd probably get a judgment, assuming you actually have a case (a grievance isn't the same thing as having a case... it really WOULD help to know the issue... people here can advise you on how to present your argument to KLM, not the court, but at least you'd know if you have any kind of grievance that might get you somewhere with KLM), but you won't be able to actually do anything with your judgment without spending a pile of money. Executing on a judgment is NOT easy AND since KLM likely doesn't have any assets in California, you'd have to take your judgment to NY (that's where they are located in the US). You would be FAR better off trying the official channels of KLM again than going with small claims.
 
Jun 24, 2019
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#12
OP, be aware that you'd probably get a judgment, assuming you actually have a case (a grievance isn't the same thing as having a case... it really WOULD help to know the issue... people here can advise you on how to present your argument to KLM, not the court, but at least you'd know if you have any kind of grievance that might get you somewhere with KLM), but you won't be able to actually do anything with your judgment without spending a pile of money. Executing on a judgment is NOT easy AND since KLM likely doesn't have any assets in California, you'd have to take your judgment to NY (that's where they are located in the US). You would be FAR better off trying the official channels of KLM again than going with small claims.
I don't know how you can conclude that KLM has no assets in California. Last time I was at LAX, I saw some very large assets. (OK, maybe those assets are really owned by Air Lease Corporation and KLM has a lease. You'd have to check the tail number to find out the owner.) And KLM has cash in the drawer from the few customers who pay cash for tickets. True, collecting on such assets requires skill and determination, and may involve spending some money that is not recoverable as a collection cost, but KLM's assets in California are no different than the assets it has in New York or Amsterdam.
I concur that OP ought to tell us (or someone) what the problem is, so we could argue it out and it might help. And OP ought to then write to KLM and see if the problem can be informally resolved.
 
May 1, 2018
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#13
KLM likely doesn't have any assets in California
KLM does occasionally have some rather large and expensive flying assets within the jurisdiction of California. I would personally pay the LA county sheriff's office the $240 fee to seize/impound KLM's assets until my judgment is paid.

Having said that, the OP has a snowball's chance in [Death Valley] of getting a judgment against KLM.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
#15
I don't know how you can conclude that KLM has no assets in California. Last time I was at LAX, I saw some very large assets. (OK, maybe those assets are really owned by Air Lease Corporation and KLM has a lease. You'd have to check the tail number to find out the owner.) And KLM has cash in the drawer from the few customers who pay cash for tickets. True, collecting on such assets requires skill and determination, and may involve spending some money that is not recoverable as a collection cost, but KLM's assets in California are no different than the assets it has in New York or Amsterdam.
I concur that OP ought to tell us (or someone) what the problem is, so we could argue it out and it might help. And OP ought to then write to KLM and see if the problem can be informally resolved.
Shannon is an attorney. But unless you have been damaged by KLM and an egregious error on their part caused monetary losses- you have very little chance of collecting anything.

On the other hand if they did something that is against DOT rules, the DOT may be able to help.
 
Likes: krisseye
Jul 17, 2019
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Below is the content of my initial letter to the airline companies. I received a call from someone at KLM telling me I would receive a full refund as well as some additional compensation from Delta. I received the additional compensation from Delta, but only approximately $400 credited back to my credit card from KLM. I have argued further to no avail and told them I will be proceeding with legal action.

"
Boet Kreiken, Exec. VP – Customer Experience Charisse Evans, VP – Customer Experience
KLM Airlines Delta Airlines
Schiphol East Airport P.O. Box 20706
Amsterdam, Netherlands 1117 ZL Atlanta, GA 30320-60001

RE: KLM Booking Number XXXXX

Dear Mr. Kreiken and Ms. Evans:

I am writing regarding the above-referenced reservation and the horrendous treatment I received from KLM and Delta.

On October 2, 2018, I booked the above-referenced trip on KLM for roundtrip flights to Athens on March 17/18, returning March 24th. I booked very early, because I wanted to assure I could book seats with extra room and choose adequate seats. For the first leg of my trip, I paid for extra legroom and chose two seats together. I have a bad knee, am prone to back issues when sitting for long periods of time and am prone to anxiety/claustrophobia in enclosed spaces. Being in these two seats with my daughter would allow me to stretch my legs and back, and to get up and stretch without bothering others, as well as not feeling closed in by other passengers. On the second leg of the trip, there was not the option of two seats alone; however, there was the option of extra legroom again. I paid extra for that option. I did the same for our seats on the return trip home. A copy of our receipt is attached, as well as some general documentation of my medical conditions.

You can imagine my disappointment when I received very short notification the day before our trip via the KLM app on my phone that our flight was cancelled. Further, no reason was given. The notice simply stated that the flight was cancelled, and the problem was being addressed.

After quite some time without hearing anything from the airline, I decided I had better phone and not risk the chance of being left without any flight for the next day. You’ll see from the attached copy of my phone log the number of calls required to resolve this matter. The first call to KLM directed me to a Delta customer service center. When I explained that my flight had been cancelled, the representative confirmed that was the case. I asked why the flight was cancelled and the representative did not know why. I was rebooked on Alitalia. I asked for the extra legroom I had paid for and was told that I could only have economy seats. I asked if I could get extra legroom on Alitalia if I paid for it and was told that I could try through that airline and then ask for compensation from KLM.

I next phoned Alitalia to confirm my booking with them. That representative confirmed my booking. When I explained that I had paid for extra legroom on KLM and would like the same on their airline, I was told that they had only booked economy class. I then asked if I could pay for extra legroom and was told I could not, because the flight was booked by another airline. However, the agent was nice enough to put me in an exit row. When I asked about providing my pre-check information, I was told that Alitalia did not participate in pre-check. (This was not told to me by the Delta representative and would cause a huge delay at LAX. You would know this if you have travelled through LAX).

A few hours later, I received notice on my phone that my daughter and I were booked on British Airways. I confirmed that I was still booked on Alitalia. I was, so now I was double-booked. Back on the phone I went. Again, after a long hold, I was put through to a Delta representative. After I explained the problem, I was asked which airline I wanted. When I asked if British Airways participated in pre-check and was told they do, I chose that one in order to avoid lines at LAX. I again went through the argument about the extra legroom I had paid for on KLM and was told the same story as when I was booked on Alitalia.

After confirming I was booked on British Airways, I phoned them directly to ask about extra legroom. I was told the same story; that I could not get extra legroom because Delta had only provided me an economy ticket and I could not pay to upgrade because an airline had done the booking.

I proceeded to choose seats for my daughter and I and tried to leave an empty seat between us, hoping for the best. When I attempted to check-in on my phone 24 hours prior to flight time, my check-in was successful, but I received a message for my daughter stating we would have to go to the counter at the airport to show her passport. Since she is a minor, I assumed that was the issue.

We arrived at LAX by 3:00 p.m., well before our 5:30 p.m. flight time; especially since we have pre-check. The staff at British Airways were slow, but we finally got to the counter only to be told that KLM/Delta had never issued my daughter a ticket!!!! I asked how this could be possible? How could I have chosen seats? Why was I not told when I phoned to ask about legroom? Why did I not receive a message when I tried to check-in rather than a message stating it was a passport issue? The agent sent me to someone higher up (I believe her name is Patricia or Priscilla Helman) who told me I would have to go talk to KLM. At this point I was so stressed over what had happened to this point (time on the phone, no extra legroom, my anxiety, etc.) that I burst into tears. I think she felt sorry for us because she offered to go speak with KLM/Delta for us. I also tried phoning while we were waiting. This issue literally took an hour and 40 minutes to deal with. My daughter and I were left stressed that we were going to miss our flight. We were sent on our way at 4:40 to a flight that left at 5:30 and still had to get through security. I was also told by the agent that the entire ticket had to be re-issued and that we would probably have problems with our return trip. (The new ticket had a booking reference of XXXXXX). (I would also like to note that each of these changes required an additional call to my tour company changing our arrival information because we had paid for a transfer to pick us up at the airport).
In the end, I was placed in a middle seat, row 45, for the 10 ½ hour flight to London, and then a window seat for the 3 ½ hour flight from London to Athens. By the time I got to Athens, my knee and back were in a bad way, and my anxiety level was very high. We were in Athens for a guided tour that required a lot of walking and bus riding, which exacerbated the physical problems. Had I ended up in the seats I paid for, I’m sure my trip would have been much more pleasant. The failure on the part of your representatives to provide me what I paid for ruined what should have been a very special trip for me and my daughter.

Knowing there might be problem, I attempted to check-in for the return flight at the earliest possible time. Sure enough, there was a problem with my daughter’s ticket again. At midnight Greece time, when we had to get up at 5:30 a.m. the next day for a planned activity, I was placed on a long hold time trying to deal with this matter. Sure enough, once again, even though I had chosen seats, etc., my daughter had not been issued a ticket. At least this time the matter was handled on the phone rather than at the airport. What I find so irritating though, is that nobody took care of this problem beforehand, knowing what happened on our initial check-in. And to make matters worse, my seat back on the long flight was broken (it would not stay in the upright position). (I could not change seats without having to be separated from my minor daughter).

Problems in your system:

  • Tickets should indicate what was paid for. I have attached a photo of the seat back from our return trip. It clearly states, “Economy Comfort”. Perhaps if the tickets had stated this, your representatives would have booked us in the equivalent class on another airline. Not all “economy” is equivalent. At the very least, we should have been put in the other airline’s next step up from economy, whatever that might be.
  • If you cancel a flight for any reason other than safety (i.e. weather, maintenance issue) you should automatically upgrade your passengers. Further, if you cancel a flight, your agents should call the customer, not the other way around. Regardless, your passengers should always be told the reason a flight is cancelled.
  • If a ticket has not been issued, customers should not be able to choose seats. They should be directed to contact the airline, or an error message should alert your representatives that a ticket has not been issued.

How I would like this resolved:

  • A full refund of my airline tickets; AND
  • A full refund of my tour in Greece (copy of paperwork attached); OR
  • 4 round trip tickets on Delta to Maui (Comfort Plus Class or higher) from LAX leaving the morning of December 25, 2019 and returning the afternoon of January 1, 2020. (These would be for previous flyers – Traecey Anthony Sky Miles #CXXCXXX ; Dereck Anthony Sky Miles #XXXXX; Madison Anthony Sky Miles #XXXXXRiley Anthony Sky Miles #Unknown). (Traecey Anthony and Riley Anthony also set up KLM accounts for the flights referenced in this letter).
I will allow 10 days for a response before seeking the advice of an attorney to see what, if any, rights I have for the treatment I received. As I’ve stated, I did not receive what I paid for and my trip was severely affected due to the physical limitations I experienced from my flight there. I went to the doctor the day after I returned because of the pain I was in. I have attached some of the paperwork for your reference. I was seen for my back and knee pain and was prescribed medication for the back pain.

Your prompt attention would be greatly appreciated."

EDITED by moderator to remove reservation and frequent flyer numbers.
 
Likes: jsn55
May 1, 2018
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#17
Oh dear that certainly sounds like an enormously frustrating misadventure. I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news here, but suing KLM will not produce your desired result. Understand that a civil court only concerns itself with making you whole when the other party has breached a contract. In the eyes of the court, KLM did what you paid them for - to get you from point A to B. That's all they're required to deliver to you as per their contract of carriage. As such, they did not breach the contract and therefore owe you nothing.

The seating issues, flight cancellation, poor phone support, and sending you to other airlines is all very annoying but it's not forbidden by the contract.

You are certainly within your rights to discuss this with an attorney and sue KLM, but as I mentioned, it won't have the result you want and will only make you more frustrated. I suggest you follow the advice given here and continue to escalate your issue through KLM executives instead of resorting to a lawsuit.
 
Jun 24, 2019
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#18
A couple of questions. How much were the original tickets, with any additional fees for seating? How did KLM convey to you that it would give you a full refund? Is that solely the phone call? Does the $400 refund from KLM approximately match what you paid for upgraded seats or seat selection?

I can imagine that KLM will argue that all it agreed to refund to you was what you paid for upgraded seats, and that in the end, KLM transported you from LAX to Greece and back, though not in your chosen seats. And they forced you to endure multiple calls with folks who could not or would not take ownership of the problem and solve it once and for all. I have every sympathy for the horrible way you were treated.

It certainly would not hurt to complain to DOT asserting, as you have here, that KLM promised a full refund and then reneged. That strategy may actually get a written response from KLM. Perhaps KLM will make that full refund, either because it previously promised to do so, or because it decides it is the right thing to do. Frankly, I doubt it, but at least you will be armed with the knoweledge of KLM's precise position.

While Maui is lovely in December, I doubt KLM is going to buy you tickets on Delta.
 
Jun 24, 2019
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#19
Oh dear that certainly sounds like an enormously frustrating misadventure. I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news here, but suing KLM will not produce your desired result. Understand that a civil court only concerns itself with making you whole when the other party has breached a contract. In the eyes of the court, KLM did what you paid them for - to get you from point A to B. That's all they're required to deliver to you as per their contract of carriage. As such, they did not breach the contract and therefore owe you nothing.

The seating issues, flight cancellation, poor phone support, and sending you to other airlines is all very annoying but it's not forbidden by the contract.

You are certainly within your rights to discuss this with an attorney and sue KLM, but as I mentioned, it won't have the result you want and will only make you more frustrated. I suggest you follow the advice given here and continue to escalate your issue through KLM executives instead of resorting to a lawsuit.
Our OP seems to have reached the end of the line with KLM executives. And while your analysis of the likely outcome in court may be correct, there appears to be little downside in going to Smal Claims Court if the writing to KLM or DOT paths don't work. OP would be out the filing fee and some time.