American Airlines canceled my flight from New York to Palm Springs, Calif., and agreed to refund my fare.
When the amount did not appear on my account, I disputed the charge on my American Airlines-branded credit card. My credit card offered a provisional credit, and the next day American issued a second $371 credit.
All was well until a few months later, when another $371 charge was placed on my account.
Despite a dozen phone calls to American Airlines customer service, emails, and three written disputes faxed to the airline, the charge has stuck and further, I have been charged $6 in interest against this unpaid balance.
When I call American customer service, they refer me back to American Airlines’ credit card; when I call American Airlines’ credit card, they refer me back to American customer service. No one takes responsibility to review what is an obvious error. I am getting nowhere!
Here’s what went wrong: When the refund didn’t appear as promised, you contacted your credit card to place the amount in dispute. Even though you have a co-branded American Airlines card, it is offered through a bank, so the airline has no control over what happens to your dispute. The bank sided with you.
American’s billing system appears to have crossed its own wires between your initial charge, which was initially a valid one, and your subsequent refund request. It looks as if it incorrectly tagged your dispute as being in error, probably because it was already in the process of refunding your ticket.
This case underscores the importance of being patient when you’re waiting for a refund from an airline, or any travel company. Of course, there’s no excuse for American dragging its feet on a refund, but by jumping ahead of it and disputing the charge, you ended up confusing it.
How long should you wait for a refund? Anywhere from four to six weeks. After that, you need to be bothering the company for the money. (I list the names and numbers of their managers on my website: http://elliott.org/contacts/american-airlines-2/). Use a credit card dispute only as a last resort.
I contacted American on your behalf, and it apologized, refunded your $371 and offered you a $125 voucher for a future flight.