Help! I’m stuck with a ticket I didn’t buy


Question: I need your help. I seem to have bought an airline ticket that I didn’t mean to buy, and now I don’t know what to do.

I recently called Delta Air Lines to get a quote on tickets from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Memphis. A reservations agent asked me for a credit card number in order to get a price. I gave him the information. A few days later, I was surprised to receive an itinerary that showed my card had been charged for the tickets.

I immediately phoned Delta back and explained that I had not authorized the transaction. The agent contacted the first agent I had spoken with, who admitted that he might have misunderstood me.

I was referred to Delta’s Web site for a refund. I sent an e-mail and received a form letter saying that all the terms and conditions of the ticket could be found on its site. Then I received another e-mail saying that the airline would not refund my money under any circumstances.

I plan to dispute this charge on my credit card. Can you think of anything else?

— Denise Reed, Boca Raton, Fla.

Answer: Delta shouldn’t have charged your credit card for the ticket, and when you brought the mistake to the carrier’s attention, it should have reversed the charges right away. Not tell you to contact the refunds department, not send you a form letter, and certainly not insist that it had the right to bill you for something that one of its agents admits was a mistake.

But before I get too far into this, I have a question for you: Why on earth are you buying an airline ticket by phone?

Most airlines tack a $15 fee on to tickets booked by telephone, and they don’t always make the cheapest fares available to the agents who take your call. It’s hardly a deal.

Another drawback of dealing with an airline by phone is that you sometimes have to talk with an agent in an offshore call center. English is a second language to most of the workers in those centers, which can create all kinds of miscommunications, including maybe yours.

Delta, like many other airlines, has created an intricate web of policies and practices that make it easy for the money to flow in its direction and difficult for the money to flow back in yours. You hit at least two barriers when you were trying to secure a refund: the form letter and the intransigent agent who finally sent your rejection letter.

Other than buying your airline tickets online, my advice is to never offer a credit card number to anyone unless you plan to make a purchase. That way, it’s impossible for you to be charged in error.

I contacted Delta on your behalf, and it refunded the ticket you never meant to buy.

  • Cyndi

    When my son flies as an unaccompanied minor to camp each year, I have to call the reservations number to get the additional service. I can buy the ticket online, but have to talk to someone to arrange the additional service.

    Without fail, for the past three years as my son has traveled as an 11, 12 and 13 year old, I’m flabberghasted at the script the poor guy in India has to follow asking if I would like to reserve a rental car for my son. Who is 11 and traveling as an unacommpanied minor.

  • sharnell

    I am deaf mother who are moving to milwaukee, wi. I was renting a truck for my stuffs and was driving all the way to wisconsin from virginia. Then I was heading back to virginia. Everything was done. So I decided to fly to wisconsin with my cat and this would be my first time fly. Of course I am scared. I realized that I can’t afford to buy airfare plus pet fee which is 100 dollars. I only can afford on greyhound and amtrak but they are not allowing to have pets onboard. I want to come home because my children are staying at friend house and waiting for me to come home. I m trying to find a way to purchase airfare and pet fee so that I can come home to my children. Please help me . I will appreciate and thank who can help me. God bless you.