The Real Deal: Southwest Ticket Snafu
Updated: Wednesday, March 20 2013, 01:56 PM EDT
ALBANY - They thought they were getting a great deal during a special Southwest Airlines promotion but instead passengers who booked tickets on Friday are now waiting for thousands of dollars in refunds. A glitch in the ticketing system caused the company to charge customer's credit and debit cards multiple times for a single flight.
In an attempt to celebrate its 3 millionth Facebook fan, Southwest had a flash sale on Friday. "I get the email and it said there was a 50%-off sale and I said, Oh, ya know we fly Southwest a couple times a year so I said, yea, that's great!" says Ryan Maloney of Valatie. Maloney booked two round-trip tickets from Albany to Chicago for just over $500. When he didn't get a confirmation email back right away, he contacted his credit card company.
"They (Southwest Airlines) had made 15 charges on my credit card which amounted to $8,560!" Maloney told CBS6 Investigative Reporter, Jennifer Lewke. He called the airline and after waiting on hold for nearly three hours, was told his money would be refunded. "They said they were going to cancel all the flights, well the next morning I wake up, check my email and I've got 6 more tickets available to me! I was on the phone for another hour after that and finally I got a hold of somebody else and just canceled everything, so we're not going!" he says.
Maloney is not alone, there are hundreds of Facebook, Twitter and blog posts from other customers who tried to take advantage of Friday's promotion. Many people used their debit cards to make the purchase and their checking accounts were later drained.
In a statement Southwest apologized for the system error and promised full refunds. The company will also pay any overdraft fees incurred as a result of the issue.
Full Southwest Statement:
"The overwhelming response from Customers who took advantage of our August 3 limited time offer created website performance issues at various times during the weekend. Our Employees worked tirelessly to resolve the issue and have confirmed that the duplications are no longer occurring. By initiating an "all hands on deck" approach, we have identified all Customers impacted and proactively initiated refunds back to their financial institutions for any erroneous bookings. These refunds are currently being processed, but timing will vary depending on the individual bank. If a refund has not yet posted to your account, we recommend contacting your bank – they will be able to provide the quickest update regarding pending refunds.
Here is an overview of our current efforts:
•All erroneous bookings have been identified and refunds are currently being processed for all Customers impacted with duplicate bookings.
•We have heard Customer concerns regarding cancellation of their original reservation and have instructed our Employees to restore the itinerary, honoring the original fare.
•For those Customers who used debit cards and have received overdraft fees as a result of the additional charges, we will process a reimbursement for all overdraft fees that were caused by duplicate charges from Southwest for a single purchase. If you incurred overdraft fees, please fax documentation of those fees via a letter from your bank or a copy of your account showing the fees to 877-506-0154.
Southwest Airlines is committed to providing Customers with exceptional service both online and onboard. Our goal was to resolve this issue as quickly as possible to minimize any inconvenience to you, our valued Customers. We will continue to work with each of you on any outstanding issues you may be experiencing. Please contact us"