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Recent Complaints of Note
Iniquitous Practices


Sharp Practice with Airline Tickets

We are reminded of this first piece of sharp practice by Nicola B of Durham University. In this case the airline involved is Air France, but they are not alone in operating this unacceptable procedure. Nicola booked a return ticket to Hong Kong, but later decided that she wanted to travel earlier than the date of the outbound ticket. She found a single fare to Hong Kong that suited her needs and was relying on the Air France return ticket for the inbound flight at the end of her trip. Air France informed her that if she did not use the outbound half of her ticket, the inbound would be cancelled.

This practice is not peculiar to Air France, but is standard airline procedure. Why?

Does it cost more to carry a passenger on just one half of their booked return journey? - No it does not! In fact the airline can resell the outbound seat and even if they do not do so, they have a fuel saving on that outbound journey.

Does it cost more by reason of increased administrative costs? - No it does not! The airline has no more difficulty in informing their overseas handling agency that the passenger will be travelling on the return, than that their return is cancelled!

This practise borders on taking money under false pretences and should be outlawed by legislation! It is just another example of poor regulation in the travel industry


On-Line Booking 'Pay Twice' Scam

Although the on-line travel agents would deny operating a scam, their use of poorly configured software has the same affect. Any number of their clients get weary of waiting for the server to react after pressing the 'submit' button on the web site. Not surprisingly, they assume it is not working and press submit a second time. The consequence is that they duplicate their booking. The software should be easily written to detect a duplicate booking. It is Not.

Companies should be well aware that the same named person cannot fly twice to the same destination, on the same aircraft at precisely the same time. They cannot duplicate themselves!  Why do they not clean up this obvious failing? The probable reason is that they are making money from these duplicate bookings. They are very reluctant to refund the cost of the duplicate booking and some customers just give up!  This is an iniquitous practice that could easily be remedied.

Peterhof - St. Petersburg - A stunning Palace of the Czars


Monarch Airlines 'Pay Twice' Policy

This practice was brought to our attention by Mr Ron K of Hastings, East Sussex. Mr K booked a number of seats with Monarch, but two of the passengers were unable to travel. Mr K contacted Monarch to change the name on one of the tickets and asked for the other to be changed to his infant grandson who was travelling, but had not initially had a seat.

A reasonable charge for changing ticket allocations is typically £15 to £20. There is a substantial profit in this, but customers generally accept it despite recognising it as profiteering by the airlines.  Imagine Mr K's surprise when he was charged £139.84 for changing the two names. Yes, a whacking £140!

In explanation, Andrea Arthur, who goes by the grand title of  'Monarch scheduled Reservations Team Leader', explained in a letter to Mr K (The English has not been corrected): "Our Policy on making a name change is that we charge a £15 per person administration fee, plus we have to take into consideration any increase in the price of the flights since you have purchased them. If the flight prices have increased then we charge the applicable fare difference."

What Monarch and other airlines who operate a similar policy are doing is actually selling you the seats twice. You have already paid for the seat on initial purchase. At the very best this amounts to poor customer service.

EUROPCAR(yet again!)

Mr Charles P of London SW2 reports that Europcar Malaga gave him a hire car that had clutch failure less than a day after collection. He returned the car which was replaced by the company. On his return to UK he found that his credit card had been debited €800 for rplacement of a broken clutch cable. This is a fraud whichever way you look at it. Will Europcar soon be charging for windscreen wiper wear?

The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse (Edmund Burke. 1729 - 1797)