Customer Service
COMPLAINT: Hermetically closed to customers and overcharging

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Old Nov 12, 2008, 6:13 PM
chaunceybell chaunceybell is offline
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 1

The following is what I typed into the United Airlines website that pretends to collect communications from customers. In the end I could find no way to communicate my complaint and requests to United Airlines. There was no way even to tell them that they had "locked the door."

They have hermetically sealed themselves off from customer communications about their service. The following is what I attempted to send:

I attempted to send this as a complaint and when I pressed "Continue" below, twice the system disappeared the communication without doing anything with it (that I could see). So then I called on the phone and was told that the call center (in India) was having trouble hearing me on the phone and that they could not interact with this matter because they will not have the records of what they did available to them for another three or four days, so would I call back. I said no and asked for an email address to send a complaint to and was connected, I was told, to a senior customer service representative. After waiting for several minutes, the phone redirected my call to a several-layers-deep voicemail system for the most general customer contact, that would eventually have taken me right back to the same call center.

So now I am sending this as a "compliment" in the hopes that you read your compliments. You have perfectly isolated yourself from complaints.

We shall see. The following is my communication. If you read it carefully you will see that I am giving you a big gift, but I guess that you will not.

I recently reserved a flight from Vancouver to NYC (JFK). My client in Vancouver changed the meeting, and so I was compelled to cancel. My assistant made a timely cancellation of the ticket. She reported to me that the person who spoke to her on the phone was nasty, was on the phone for about 20 minutes in the process of cancelling the flight, and I was charged a "fee" of $150 for canceling.

Is this what you intended? I have traveled on the order of a million miles on United over the years, and if this is your standard cancellation fee, it is three times the largest fee I have previously encountered.

I would appreciate hearing from you what you intended - what your policy is on timely cancellations of flight reservations with United Airlines.

And, if this is not your standard policy, I would appreciate a refund.

Thank you,
Chauncey Bell
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Old Nov 12, 2008, 7:05 PM
abutterfinger25 abutterfinger25 is offline
US Department of Transportation Employee
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Washington Metro Area
Posts: 197

Ms. Bell:

Check the terms and conditions of your ticket (and United's contract of carriage). The industry norm for a cancellation penalty of a non-refundable ticket is now between $100 and $150. With the balance being a credit for future travel to be used within 1 year of either the travel date or the booking date. (depending on the carrier).

In regards to United "not accepting" your complaint. I would like to give the benefit of the doubt to United and say that it might have actually been a technical issue that has since been resolved. But if you would like to ensure that they recieve your complaint, file one with the DOT at A copy of your complaint will be forwarded to United Airlines.
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Old Nov 12, 2008, 7:47 PM
neal neal is offline
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 14

i know its a pain, but why dont people ever read the terms and conditions. this is straight from the UA website. and you think its unfair for them to live by the rules?? are you kidding me?!?! im sorry, you have no complaint except that they haven't either read the complaint, didnt recieve it or ignored it
Things to know if you want to change or refund a purchased ticket:

  1. Expect to pay change fees plus any fare difference. o Domestic travel:
    - Non-refundable fare: Subject to change fee of $150.00 and any possible fare difference based on changes made.
    - Refundable fare: Subject to any possible fare difference based on changes made. No change fee is required for refundable fares.
    o International travel:
    - Non-refundable fare: Subject to rules of the fare. Call United Reservations to change. Please note: Some fares cannot be changed, some you can only buy up on, some have a change fee of anywhere from $150 - $250 and then may only allow exchange before travel has started or sometimes only after travel has started.
    - Refundable Fare: Subject to rules of the fare. Call United Reservations to change. Please note: For the most part, these fares can be exchanged without penalty and are only subject to any possible fare difference.
  2. You cannot change the name on an airline ticket or give the ticket to someone else to use.
  3. Before you purchase a ticket, you can read the fare rules and restrictions for your ticket. Click on "Fare Rules" which can be found on the "Create Itinerary: Review" or "Purchase page". After you purchase, restrictions on your ticket can be found on your e-ticket receipt.
  4. E-tickets: You can make changes to your e-ticket on anytime prior to your original departure date. If you are unsure of the new travel dates, call to cancel the reservation by the first flight date to retain the value of your electronic ticket for 1 year from the purchase date. Additional restrictions apply for international travel e-tickets.
  5. Paper tickets: Call anytime before your original departure to change or cancel your reservation. When changes are made, you will be advised when and where you can exchange your paper ticket for the new itinerary. If you are unsure of the new travel dates, call to cancel the reservation by the first departure date to retain the value of your ticket for 1 year from the purchase date.
  6. Change your ticket online. Most passengers can change their ticket on Some restrictions apply.
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