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Forums Frequent flyer programs British Airways Executive Club What happens when Avios get the tax and fees wrong ….

  • gritts 9 posts

    Hi all, just sharing an experience and a plea for help. I’ll cut it short.

    I used an Amex 2 for 1 voucher a year out to book Club to The Dominican Republic. I then waited for the availability to open up and called to book the return. When I was at the airport in Dominican Republic I was made aware of the fees and charges I had paid were wrongly calculated by the call handler at Avios and I would have to pay the excess.

    This was no problem, however the BA desk supervisor could not put the a transaction through his system. Despite the ‘help’ of ‘BA London’ on their instant messaging service. After about an hour and a half they suggested we call Avios (they would be aware the lines were closed for the day). All the Supervisor could suggest was to pay full price to release my Avios seats and claim the money back.

    It was a fully booked flight and I no option. So £10,000+ later put through on 2 credit cards, and I was allowed to check into the seats I had booked.

    This was the end 24th August 2023. I submitted my claim the following day after I arrived home. At the end of October I got an email from Customer Relations offering a sincere apology and was told I would hear from Avios. After a week I check my case ref online and it showed as ‘now resolved’. I wrote back requesting a new case number or an update. I have had no response. I also rang the Silver helpline and asked what I should do. They said I would receive a call back in 3 working days. I have not heard back.

    I called the Silver helpline today and their new advice was to write a letter to Customer Relations. I was also told they had no way of contacting Customer Relations in the UK.

    So over 3 months later, I am still down over £10,000 and my case shows as closed. I cannot get reach Customer Relations and i’m at a bit of a loss as to how to retrieve my cash. Any ideas please?

    LittleNick 104 posts

    All the Supervisor could suggest was to pay full price to release my Avios seats and claim the money back.

    Just to clarify, you mean this was the walk-up price of a new ticket purchase at the airport?

    BA Flyer IHG Stayer 1,866 posts

    You have been far too patient!

    I’d escalate this to BA legal and Sean Doyle’s office as well.

    Also get onto Amex to see what they can do re e.g. charge back which should get BAs attention.

    JDB 4,124 posts

    @gritts – although it’s not strictly the right way to go about it, I would immediately ask your credit card company/companies to do a chargeback/s75 for the additional sum you were obliged to pay. Ultimately, you need to resolve this with BA but involving the card companies will bring matters to a head.

    While you mention that BA said you would hear from Avios, that can’t be right as you need to book a 241 with BA/BAEC so it is entirely their issue to resolve. It sounds as though your booking probably wasn’t ticketed rather than there being a problem with the tax calculation. This is something that happens from time to time, so it’s always worth checking the ticket number in the app.

    You want to gather into one PDF all the booking confirmation(s) you have from BA together with a brief summary of events on the day of travel together with evidence of the original payments you made to secure your booking plus the extra £10k.

    With that, write to the BA legal team with a copy to the card providers citing BA’s breach of contract in failing to transport you per the original contract, requiring you to pay huge cash sums rather than taking reasonable steps to resolve the matter themselves. BA fails to provide airport staff with the means to resolve ticketing issues by choice; passengers shouldn’t be penalised for that choice.

    It is clearly for BA to resolve its internal ticketing problems, not the passenger and to require you not only to pay £10k for BA’s failures but then not promptly to refund the monies effectively extorted from you is unreasonable in the legal sense.

    Say that unless BA repays the £10k within 14 days or confirms in writing to all the parties that it will not dispute the chargeback, you will pursue the chargeback/s75 failing which you will issue proceedings in the county court joining all the parties for full recovery of the outstanding amount, plus interest from 1 Sep and court fees.

    SamG 1,624 posts

    I’d write a short letter before action, send it recorded delivery as well as emailing it to legal and CEO – paging @JDB for the best contact details for legal!

    I suspect you’ll get refunded pretty quickly after that. Otherwise proceed to MCOL

    Also speak to Amex, I think it’s the original T&C transaction that is in dispute not the new one but they’ll help you sort it out (try speak to Brighton) they may just raise the dispute with the new one with notes what it’s regarding

    I’ve said it time and time again but it’s absolutely nuts that BA doesn’t either have ticketing staff at their outstations or a very well staffed back office line they can get immediate help from. I saw a situation like this playing out at Gatwick last year – the agent was telling the customer to try calling themselves as they were Gold and might get through quicker! Embarrasing.

    In future (hopefully not for you!) it’s worth noting that there is almost always a BA office open somewhere -e.g. USA, Australia, Singapore, UAE. India and calling them via wifi & skype as soon as there is a sign of a problem at check in is advisable. You should also check in online and any sign of an issue you should call in to check all OK, especially if you’ve done something like the OP and added legs or changed a booking.

    gritts 9 posts

    Hi All, thank you all so much. Just to clarify that I could not check in online, I was told to attend the check in desk and the only way to board the plane was to purchase the tickets at the walk up price. There was nothing the check in Supervisor could do otherwise. After 1 and a half hours and the flight about to board, i had to pay the walk up price.

    I have called the Silver line back (a total of 1 1/2 hours on the phone to BA today) and got through to someone who was much more helpful. I am told I will get an email in the next 7 – 10 days from someone(?) Also, although my case shows as ‘resolved’ when i search, on the BA system it shows as resolved and then reopened.

    On your kind advice, I will contact Amex and explain the situation and see what they have to say. The issue I have is it’s been a challenge for BA staff to realise the initial mistake and then the aftermath, and so may be a challenge with an Amex person.

    aq.1988 413 posts

    Good luck OP!

    You’re braver than I am, because I could never risk paying £10k with the view of claiming it back later!

    Misty 188 posts

    Same sentiment as aq.1988 here. Wishing you best of luck with this. I had trouble getting my head round the face that you have been owed £10,000 for such a long time

    gritts 9 posts

    Good luck OP!
    You’re braver than I am, because I could never risk paying £10k with the view of claiming it back later!

    Thank you. I had little choice and I knew I would have a problems getting it resolved but in no way did I realise it would be this bad. I thought I would get the money refunded before the credit card bill hit the door mat. In fact (I think because I flagged the issue with the Chief of cabin crew) my over confidence was because I got a phone call from BA they day after my flight apologising profusely.

    I’ve spoken to Amex so hopefully this could focus BA on giving my money back.

    Just to note, despite paying £10-11k for the tickets i had already spent 000,000’s of Avios’ on, the system knows that I should not be awarded tier points or Avios on the spend.

    aq.1988 413 posts

    Good luck OP!
    You’re braver than I am, because I could never risk paying £10k with the view of claiming it back later!

    Thank you. I had little choice and I knew I would have a problems getting it resolved but in no way did I realise it would be this bad. I thought I would get the money refunded before the credit card bill hit the door mat. In fact (I think because I flagged the issue with the Chief of cabin crew) my over confidence was because I got a phone call from BA they day after my flight apologising profusely.

    I’ve spoken to Amex so hopefully this could focus BA on giving my money back.

    Just to note, despite paying £10-11k for the tickets i had already spent 000,000’s of Avios’ on, the system knows that I should not be awarded tier points or Avios on the spend.

    Were there any economy or PE seats available?

    gritts 9 posts

    No

    Good luck OP!
    You’re braver than I am, because I could never risk paying £10k with the view of claiming it back later!

    Thank you. I had little choice and I knew I would have a problems getting it resolved but in no way did I realise it would be this bad. I thought I would get the money refunded before the credit card bill hit the door mat. In fact (I think because I flagged the issue with the Chief of cabin crew) my over confidence was because I got a phone call from BA they day after my flight apologising profusely.

    I’ve spoken to Amex so hopefully this could focus BA on giving my money back.

    Just to note, despite paying £10-11k for the tickets i had already spent 000,000’s of Avios’ on, the system knows that I should not be awarded tier points or Avios on the spend.

    Were there any economy or PE seats available?

    No. The only seats left that had not been checked in were my avios seats. It would have been much ‘cheaper’ if there were economy seats available to sell. There were no BA seats available out of Dom Rep for many days. It was just before the end of the summer school hols.

    Alex G 402 posts

    Was your return flight actually ticketed?

    If so, I would suggest you make a claim for denied boarding under EC261 on top of a refund of the money you paid out, plus notional interest.

    gritts 9 posts

    Yes

    Was your return flight actually ticketed?

    If so, I would suggest you make a claim for denied boarding under EC261 on top of a refund of the money you paid out, plus notional interest.

    Yes. We had a return tickets. I was certainly denied boarding….. unless I paid over £10k to secure the seats that I had already booked and paid for in points.

    I hope the call handler getting the taxes and fees calculation was very unusual. I paid the fees I was told to pay based on the flight I booked. Is there anyway of knowing what the correct ‘taxes and fees’ should be? BA had almost a year to inform me the fees they charged were wrong and I could have avoided all this.

    JDB 4,124 posts

    Was your return flight actually ticketed?

    If so, I would suggest you make a claim for denied boarding under EC261 on top of a refund of the money you paid out, plus notional interest.

    It’s problematic claiming Denied Boarding compensation under Article 4 when the pax did actually travel on the flight in the same way as you can’t claim delay compensation for a flight you ultimately choose not to travel on because of the length of the delay instead electing a refund, or also when you are rerouted following a cancelling but don’t suffer sufficient delay.

    If the pax had refused to pay for the new tickets, and not been allowed to travel, then he would have been entitled to the compensation, rerouting and hotel/food costs (+ airport transportation to/from the accommodation) until that rerouted flight while BA resolved the ticketing issue.

    gritts 9 posts

    Just as an update. After advice here, emails to the big boss and others at BA and contact with American Express, a BA representative just called me. Still no refund, still no idea when I will get a refund, still no idea why they think this treatment of a customer is acceptable, but at least It’s been confirmed I appear to still have an unresolved case and a named person might actually be trying to get it resolved for me. It’s been 102 days since I opened the case.

    THANKS FOR ALL THE HELP.

    gritts 9 posts

    To close this out (almost), I was promised a refund on the 15th December. It never arrived. I chased on Monday and today I was refunded £10,400 for the 2 tickets. Unfortunately fees and currency fluctuations where not considered so i’m a couple of hundred down. I’ll chase.

    The only learning is when booking a ticket with an Avios agent is to ask them to double check their numbers for taxes and fees. There is nothing else you can do but I do not wish to go through this mess again.

    NorthernLass 6,706 posts

    Phew – at least you’ve got the bulk of your cash, and hopefully someone in ticketing is getting a roasting – this seems to happen quite a lot!

    Did you also get your avios and 241 back?

    gritts 9 posts

    Phew – at least you’ve got the bulk of your cash, and hopefully someone in ticketing is getting a roasting – this seems to happen quite a lot!

    Did you also get your avios and 241 back?

    No. That’s legit as I intended to use them for the flight and I did take it. I was not charged for the discrepancy on the taxes and fees though. I was never told how much the agent had actually undercharged.

    Lady London 1,952 posts

    I don’t believe taxes and fees were miscalculated on your ticket at all. I think @SamG’s right and it was a simple failure to ticket it.

    In some places in the world I could also believe there was some kind of local need to find a reason to charge money to passengers departing – as in some sort of corruption – but as your tickets were avios tickets then I’m sure it was just failure to ticket.

    Cinimo 11 posts

    I can’t help, but I was almost in the same situation a few years ago. I had a reasonably complex itinerary that included a flight to Ghana. Booked online on ba.com without problem in PE. I phoned to upgrade a couple of the legs to CW (was unable to do this online). Avios were deducted, I gave my credit card details. As I was to later find out, there was fraud with tickets to Ghana and they weren’t able to take payment for any itinerary that included Ghana over the phone so they didn’t actually charge the card I gave them.

    Fortunately I noticed the card wasn’t charged for the fees to upgrade and found the reservation was no longer ticketed. After many phone calls, going three times to the ticketing desks in LHR dealing with some helpful but lacking knowledge (“everything is ticketed correctly, it will be fine when you check-in”), some very unhelpful (“it’s avios, I don’t do avios”, “I’m to busy now, just turn up to the check in desk 3 hours before the flight, they will fix it then”) it was still not resolved.

    In the end a very helpful person at the ticketing desk in London city airport fixed it, it took over an hour with her on the phone to someone at a ba call centre with her literally telling them what keys on the keyboard to press. She said she could see all the notes where it had been passed around previously and she agreed it was completely absurd how long it took to resolve. I didn’t know it then, but I think she added some notes to the reservation because on the other legs I didn’t upgrade with avios, I was given free upgrades at the airport when checking in, which was too much of a coincidence.

    I’m sure if I hadn’t noticed, if I hadn’t been persistent in getting fixed in advance, or I followed the advice given by quite a few ba staff of “just wait until check in” I would have been in a similar situation.

    JDB 4,124 posts

    @Cinimo – you have hit the nail on the head here. You were very lucky to land upon someone ‘old school’ at LCY as the knowledge base at BA has been so eroded over time. I trained on reservations, fares and ticketing some forty years ago, but still find myself helping BA staff who, to be fair are very grateful if a little surprised that they haven’t been told/trained about some things and that many processes haven’t changed in so long.

    StanTheMan 210 posts

    @Cinimo – you have hit the nail on the head here. You were very lucky to land upon someone ‘old school’ at LCY as the knowledge base at BA has been so eroded over time. I trained on reservations, fares and ticketing some forty years ago, but still find myself helping BA staff who, to be fair are very grateful if a little surprised that they haven’t been told/trained about some things and that many processes haven’t changed in so long.

    It sounds like you have a wealth of experience and knowledge in the airline industry, particularly in reservations, fares, and ticketing. It’s not uncommon for long-time employees to become valuable resources due to their deep understanding of the intricacies of the business. In industries that undergo technological advancements and procedural changes, having individuals with a “legacy” understanding can be incredibly beneficial.

    It’s interesting to hear that you’re still finding yourself assisting current staff, and it speaks to the importance of retaining institutional knowledge. The aviation industry, like many others, has evolved significantly over the past few decades, but some core processes and principles remain unchanged.

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