Ridiculous Continental policy!!!

Apr 6th, 2009, 11:32 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 169
Ridiculous Continental policy!!!

I was happy to have gotten a not-too-ridiculous price on flight between Newark, NJ and St. Maarten for early June, purchased in late February, for $413.44, including taxes (purchased on the Continental site). The companion ticket was purchased with Frequent Flier miles, with of course, fees on top of that. But overall, it was an acceptable price for two tickets during an off-peak time. Today, I noticed that Jet Blue had lowered their flights to $333.55, including taxes, and immediately went to the Continental site to see if they'd matched the price. They had, so I called, hoping that they'd honor the new price and reimburse the difference. Other airlines had in the past, so I was hopeful. When I spoke to a representative, she wasn't very helpful, so I asked for a supervisor. She was pleasant enough, but told me at first that their policy was not to honor price differences. We talked further and I gave her a good argument why she should: brand loyalty, goodwill, other airlines' policies, etc. She finally relented - a tad - and told me she'd make an exception, but would have to charge me a rebooking fee of $150. That was laughable, since I was taking the same flights anyway - and with that extreme a re-booking fee, I wouldn't be saving, I'd be paying extra! Finally, she said that she'd honor the price difference by only charging a $50 fee, and the rest of the difference would be in a travel voucher. So I'd go through all this trouble for a mere $30 - in a travel voucher, for a future flight!!! I told her that I didn't have any frequent flier miles left, that it would be a long time until I took another flight, why couldn't she just credit the difference to my credit card? Of course, I got the usual "Oh, no, we don't work that way," I told her thanks, but no thanks. Basically, I'd be paying $50 more now - and prob never use the voucher! Before I got off, I pled my case one more time and suggested that I'm "one of those people who post on the internet...a lot." Didn't she want to foster goodwill? That didn't change her mind, so I told her that I would indeed be posting about this, everywhere. This is not my first post, but one of many I'm putting up on numerous travel sites. Considering that a lot of people are not flying these days, but driving, due to the cost and also those ridiculous nickel and diming maneuvers like paying for checked baggage, she really should have considered what I said. I understand company policy, but this was insulting. Maybe the airlines will realize that they lose business by treating people like this. All we can do is keep posting vigilantly...and hope for the best.
hiho322 is offline  
Apr 6th, 2009, 11:41 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
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That has been their policy for years. Many airline that used to give refunds or vouchers for free when price drop has actually come to match CO's policy.

So, no point to get yourself too excited. And don't hold your breath for them to change it either.

There are lots of "people on the internet", like those on Flyertalk.com's Continental forum. Many of them spend a lot more money and butt-time on their planes than you do. CO gets lots of feedback from those people - myself included. They know what they are doing and they know what other airlines' policies are. Even though there are lots of policies that many may not like.

So, save your anger. Buy a full fare ticket, or fly a different airline. There's really no point for you to argue with a front-line employee over policies made from the top.
rkkwan is offline  
Apr 6th, 2009, 02:33 PM
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You can post on all kinds of travel forums, but you'll be told the same thing that rkkwan and the Continental agent told you. I guarantee if you post to Flyer Talk about this, someone there will tell you in no uncertain terms that "That's the policy so deal with it." Those people can be merciless over there.

I would go back to the statement you made about the original fare:

"But overall, it was an acceptable price for two tickets during an off-peak time."

That is a great fare. I think you got a good deal. Go on your trip and have a good time.
Jeff_Costa_Rica is offline  
Apr 6th, 2009, 04:38 PM
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Probably not something you want to hear, but I agree with the two previous posters.
Look at it this way - if the fare had increased after the date you purchased what you considered a good deal, would you be willing to pay an additional amount?
Seamus is online now  
Apr 7th, 2009, 02:36 AM
Join Date: May 2003
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I have to agree that you are being way to harsh on Continental. You bought the ticket they didn't force you to buy it. When buying a ticket you take a chance that the price may change - up OR down. Same thing happened to me with AA tickets last year. The fare difference was $110 and they charge $100 re-booking fee not worth it to me but no big deal.

As far as your threat about posting on the internet that doesn't work. Must of the people on the travel sites will just take your post as an angry person who didn't get their way. Get over it and enjoy the beach.
Pulley is offline  
Apr 7th, 2009, 07:36 AM
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I'm afraid I agree with the above - you bought tickets (at what sounded like a really good price, and you were happy with it), the price changed - and you wanted them to give you that new price. From a pure accounting perspective, that would be such a bear for an airline to deal with, but more simply - since the price usually goes up on us, should the airlines charge us the higher price? If you wouldn't be willing to pay the higher price, you shouldn't expect them to give you the lower price - especially considering your total cost of flying (only one ticket, with other one with FF miles)...
Debi is offline  
Apr 7th, 2009, 08:43 AM
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Save some time and just get over it. Take it as a lesson learned the hard way. Before you buy something you might want to check the return and refund policies. Different stores have different policies, so why expect all airlines to have the same policies?

Sounds like the Continental folks you talked to did a great job. There was really no reason to listen to your whole reasoning, but they did and tried to make you happy by making an exception to the policy. The $30 you saved is much better than nothing.

In your OP you said that you told the agent that "it would be a long time until I took another flight".

One more little bit of advice: the next time you want special treatment from a seller that you not put yourself in a weak position by pointing out the fact that you don't buy there product very often.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Apr 7th, 2009, 06:03 PM
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Ha, I just called CO to save $36 for each of my parents for their upcoming trip. 5-minute phone call, pay $50 x 2, and get two $86 vouchers. Enough for a decent meal for each of them.
rkkwan is offline  
Apr 9th, 2009, 04:54 AM
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Interesting that the person the OP dealt with apparently IMPLIED they had some leeway in the situation (making an "exception" etc.) and then everybody here dog piles on about how "that's always been their policy."

So, who is right? Is this a policy that an employee such as the supervisor can change? or is this a policy set in stone and the supervisor is BSing the OP?

And please, stop whining about how "from an accounting point of view" what the airline 'can and cannot do"....they can and WILL Do anything they want if it suits their purposes..I'm not sure any of them save for Southwest have ever been particularly known for accounting acumen.
Dukey is offline  
Apr 9th, 2009, 05:52 AM
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It does sound like the supervisor bent the rules in this case. That and the original great fare are two reasons I'd have been grateful rather than upset. If you go high enough up the chain of command in any business, you *might* be able to find a supervisor who will bend rules. As for threatening to post all over the Internet about this, that's the moment, were I the agent, that I'd have said goodbye.

I never purchase a plane ticket without knowing what its terms and restrictions are, and lower priced tickets have a pretty hefty rebooking fee. The OP apparently wasn't aware of that.
Jeff_Costa_Rica is offline  
Apr 9th, 2009, 05:57 AM
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I'm a travel agent and deal with this issue frequently. The exchange policies of all the airlines are inflexible and, by the way, getting more restrictive. In defense of CO, they are one of the nicer airlines to deal with from a customer service point of view.
Sorry you feel you overpaid, but if you bought a new coat, a car or even a condo, would you feel entitled to a rebate if the price you paid went down?

Glad the forum gave you a place to vent. Now go have a great vacation.
LaSalle61 is offline  
Apr 9th, 2009, 04:30 PM
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The travel agent LaSalle61 said

"if you bought a new coat, a car or even a condo, would you feel entitled to a rebate if the price you paid went down?"

Airplane seats are more similar to comodities than real estate and vehicles. So that is a strawman argument.

Yeh. I buy a coat at Target and then Target's next sunday supplement shows the coat on sale for half what I paid, I go to Target immediately, show them the ad and get the difference credited to my credit card - with a smile and a "thank you very much" for being a faithful, ad-reading Target customer.

Same thing with every retail organization not protected by ancient legislation and special connections with my HR rep and senators.

When you write to CO CEO Larry Kellner, be sure the salutation says "Dear Frank" even if your experience suggests that would be a compliment.
ContPlat is offline  
Apr 9th, 2009, 11:06 PM
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Way to go rk, nice score. Occaisonally we do see a "vent" post do some good for other than the OP.

As for threatening to post all over the Internet ... I'd have said goodbye

I would probably have had a good bit more to say, which is one of many reasons I am not in a customer service position. My response to the threat would have included something like "are you kidding, do you think this is the first time I've heard that"?

I, for one, would feel entitled to a rebate if the price of my coat went down after I bought it. At least as long as the return policy still allowed a return.

Airlines change their rules and frequently bend them. If your United airfare drops after you buy a ticket then you can get a voucher for the difference.

I recently saw a price drop for a ticket I bought at united dot com - exactly the same flights/dates. I called and they said they would mail me a voucher. Didn't get the voucher and mentioned this when I called for another reason. After being on hold for a bit, I was transferred to an agent who apologized and asked if it was alright to just post the refund back to my credit card, instead of sending a voucher.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Apr 10th, 2009, 04:22 AM
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this may be asking a lot, but what if a reward ticket goes down in miles nec to get the ticket? Can one reasonably expect to get some miles back? Or would one just turn in the ticket, and rebook for the lower price. I understand that there may be fees associated with this, so one would have to figure out if it was worth it. I'm thinking of the DL sale, although, unfortunately, we are traveling mid August, so it doesn't apply to us.
Momliz is offline  
Apr 10th, 2009, 05:32 AM
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Momliz -

Do you mean that if you booked a FF ticket with 25k miles, and now you can book the same itin with just 20K - that could you get your 5K back? You mentioned "lower price" so I'm confused if you are talking about miles or $ for ticket.
yk is offline  
Apr 10th, 2009, 05:40 AM
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Yes, that's what I mean - price in miles.
Momliz is offline  
Apr 10th, 2009, 05:47 AM
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I can only speak for American, which would probably charge you its usual fee to redeposit the miles, Momliz. Not sure what Delta would do.

There's a difference between what an airline "should" do and what it "does" do. On the surface, it should be easy for Continental to look up the OP's resevration and refund the fare difference on the spot. Maybe you charge a small fee for doing that, but does it really cost $150-200 to do so? Probably not. But the terms of the OP's ticket said that any changes would entail such a fee, and so that's that. The OP accepted those terms when purchasing the original ticket, whether being aware of them or not. Apparently in this case, the OP wasn't aware, but I hope will be aware next time.
Jeff_Costa_Rica is offline  
Apr 10th, 2009, 08:32 AM
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You would need to redeposit and rebook.
Patty is offline  
Apr 10th, 2009, 08:44 AM
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OK - thanks for your help. In my case, miles are kind of a gift, since I get them mostly through credit card use. So, I can't complain, if I don't get a reduced miles fare, or if I have to redeposit and rebook.

And, in the OP's case (who has disappeared, BTW, not interested in follow up comments) yes Continental could have easily refunded the difference, but that starts the whole slippery slope thing as regards not reading terms and conditions of his ticket. Caveat emptor
Momliz is offline  
Apr 10th, 2009, 08:52 AM
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What does one mean by "could have"?

The airline "could have" given the OP all his money back and upgrade him to First Class. Since he begged. Right?
rkkwan is offline  

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