Unacceptable business tactics by BA?

I would really appreciate advice about how to deal what i think are completely unacceptable business tactics from BA:

In August i booked a package holiday for my husband and I touring India in 2024. The package holiday flights would have included a stopover en route to India. My husband and I are in our late seventies and now prefer to travel business class and minimise our travel time so we opted to arrange our own air travel, flying out to India direct.  We chose a premium business class return routing to india offered by BA costing £6,823.82. Outbound to Delhi, returning from Cochin via Dakar with Qatar.

In September BA emailed us, changing our return routing.  We were now to fly with Vistara from Cochin to Delhi in economy class and hang around at Delhi for over four hours for a BA business class flight home.

This is not the premium arrangement which we had booked and paid for.  Indeed when I checked online this exact return offering even including business class from Cochin to Delhi and reserved seats was costing only £4670.82.  My husband and I felt cheated so I rang BA asking to have our original routing reinstated. When I was told this was not possible I asked if I was entitled to a full refund of my £6,823.82 original booking if we cancelled the whole booking now because of the changes made to it by BA. BA confirmed that I was entitled to a full refund and that the refund would be exactly £6,823.82.  On this clear basis I cancelled the whole booking.  

I then immediately made a completely new business class booking with BA.

HOWEVER:

To date, despite numerous telephone calls and three recorded delivery letters (to BA CEO, Customer Services and Press Office) we have received a refund of only £3,358.86.  Worse we arranged chargeback for the remainder via our credit card provider and BA rejected our claim so the chargeback was then returned to them. 

Our bank cannot help us further without concrete evidence of the BA refund promise.  I have been refused a copy of the recording of the refund and cancellation phone conversation (my evidence) by BA for two months now so have just raised a complaint about this with the Information Commissioners Office.  (I am waiting to hear from them).

AND:

BA have since downgraded the internal India part of our new booking to economy class too.  When I rang up to confirm that we would accept this (we were tired of all the changes) if we were refunded the price difference between business class and economy (approx £400) we were told the exact refund would have to be calculated after we had flown.

IN CONCLUSION:

BA now owe me £3,464.96 (the balance of the original refund) + £400 (for the second change of class) + £22.05 (for having to send 3 x recorded delivery letters) + damages for the HOURS and HOURS of my time all this arguing has cost me.

AND - an important question - if both the online bookings and the verbal contracts made through BA call centres cannot be trusted where on earth does that leave BA's customers?




Comments

  • Westin
    Westin Posts: 5,889
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    Was this actually booked as a package by British Airways Holidays? Do you have an ATOL certificate issued by BAH?

    You say “ we opted to arrange our own air travel, flying out to India direct”.  I haven’t come across BAH offering this flexibility before. Are you saying the ground arrangements, hotels and return flight were booked as a package but not the outbound flight to India? Oneway flights are typically more expensive in many cases than return flights. Package holiday operators would rarely sell a holiday with out an outbound flight. Perhaps you could clarify.
  • Hi,
    No. The package holiday is with a completely different holiday company. They allowed us to purchase the package but opt out of their flight arrangements to and from India.  We join their package in Delhi and leave it in Kerala.  We purchased the outward and return flights in a single booking on BA’s website.
  • Westin
    Westin Posts: 5,889
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    It doesn’t then appear to be a package holiday. You have separate flight arrangements booked with BA, plus your own arrangements for the ground arrangements in India.

    Have your bank said the reason why the chargeback failed? This may have a bearing on your case.

    Could the original agreed refund be just on the COK/DAK/LHR, or rather the rescheduled COK/DEL/LHR sector, with a misunderstanding when talking with the BA advisor?

    BA may well cave in if you ask them to find and listen to the call recording. I know for a company I previously worked for it was a royal pain in the butt to try and find old recordings and often not worth the time to do so. The simplest solution was just to close the complaint down and refund or settle as best as possible with the disgruntled customer.
  • Re: the chargeback: most of the paperwork from BA contesting the chargeback is encoded and neither the bank nor I can make head or tail of it.  BA claimed that i cancelled the flight the day before i rang them so are NOT attending to detail.  They seemed to be saying that I am only entitled to a refund for the legs of the booking which they altered.  But the whole reason I originally rang them to discuss refund and possible cancellation was to check that a FULL refund was possible. And I asked their agent to definitely confirm that there would be NO refund DEDUCTION and the PRECISE amount I would be refunded before agreeing to that cancellation.
    Please note:
    1: that I would NEVER have cancelled just the 2 legs of the booking which had been changed if that was the only refund available as - as you correctly point out - buying one way flights to replace just those 2 legs would probably be quite an expensive option.  And the full refund I WAS definitely offered seemed entirely fair anyway as the new routings and changed class changed the entire value of the complete air travel booking I had originally purchased.
    2: and WHY would i ever have cancelled my (unchanged) outbound flight if I was offered only a part refund?  I still needed that and paid for it again as part of a complete new BA booking immediately after that phone call.

    SO there was definitely NO misunderstanding about my verbal contract with BA about that cancellation and refund. AND I have repeatedly asked BA to just LISTEN to that recording (and let me have a copy too). But to date they insist that customers have no right to request a copy of any recording nor to just have any recording played to them over the telephone (ie so they can copy it at home).

    The BA agents I have spoken have now promised a full investigation after 72 hours, then a week and then 6 weeks and, after my recorded delivery letter to BA Customer Relations have even been given a complaint number - but all apologise that the refunds department is overwhelmed at the moment.  

    And while the clock is ticking I fear BA is waiting for some sort of claim expiry date while I have had to pay a credit card bill for another set of BA flights.
  • silvercar
    silvercar Posts: 46,781
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  • jimi_man
    jimi_man Posts: 1,089
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    When your flights were changed, did you accept them? When BA cancel/change stuff then it offers you a new routing but you have to accept it in MMB. Once you do that then you are tied to that and you can no longer get a full refund. So it’s important not to accept what they offer before thinking about it, taking advice. 

    I second Flyertalk also, I’m on there and they are very knowledgeable. 
  • Hi,
    Thanks for flyertalk tip. And no, I did not accept the new routing at all. I made only one phone call to complain about the changes and arrange the cancellation. I cancelled the whole of my original BA reservation as soon as BA representative Ishmael had checked with refunds and promised me I would receive 100% refund for the whole of that reservation if I now chose to cancel.
  • FredaIOW
    FredaIOW Posts: 7
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    Just to say BA have finally on 18/01/24 fully settled my refund as per our verbal contract on 13/09/23.  The Information Commissioners Office (the ICO) had advised me that I did indeed have a legal right to the BA recording of that verbal contract (my only proof) but BA have now paid me before my case reached the front of the ICO queue. So I am finally happy.
    I have learnt from this stressful refund dispute with BA though.  Whether it is legal or not I intend to now record EVERY single phone conversation that I have which involves contracts with third parties.  This is the first time I have ever had any difficulty like this and I intend to ensure it is also the LAST.
  • Ganga
    Ganga Posts: 4,052
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    FredaIOW said:
    Just to say BA have finally on 18/01/24 fully settled my refund as per our verbal contract on 13/09/23.  The Information Commissioners Office (the ICO) had advised me that I did indeed have a legal right to the BA recording of that verbal contract (my only proof) but BA have now paid me before my case reached the front of the ICO queue. So I am finally happy.
    I have learnt from this stressful refund dispute with BA though.  Whether it is legal or not I intend to now record EVERY single phone conversation that I have which involves contracts with third parties.  This is the first time I have ever had any difficulty like this and I intend to ensure it is also the LAST.
    I t6hink you only have to tell them that you are recording it for it to be legal ,like when you ring financial institutes etc.
    ITS NOT EASY TO GET EVERYTHING WRONG ,I HAVE TO WORK HARD TO DO IT!
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