A new warning about an online travel company you may not even realize you're using. It's accused of deceiving consumers and failing to provide money back for cancellations.
The alert is coming from a local grandmother and from American Airlines, which has taken action against the online company since the Action News Troubleshooters raised the red flag about it.
"In March, I went online to book the airfare, and I found it you know an awesome deal with American Air," said Tracy Mullen, who is taking her granddaughter to Disney World for the first time.
For just under $500, Mullen bought six round-trip tickets for her family to fly to Florida the last week of June.
"Florida re-opened and I called the resort and they said mostly everything was reopened," she said. "And all of a sudden I'm like, 'Wait a minute. I didn't get my e-tickets. Oh my God.'"
Mullen called American Airlines and was told her reservations had been canceled.
"This is unbelievable. I just want to know if I'm getting a refund," she said. "My head was ready to explode. My stomach was in knots."
Finally, Mullen contacted the Troubleshooters.
And here's what we found, unbeknownst to Mullen, she ended up on a third party website. Her tickets were bought through a company called MyFlightSearch.com.
"I had no idea," she said.
American Airlines told the Troubleshooters it "never received any payment," and since the Troubleshooters brought the issue to the airline's attention, "we have suspended their ability to book tickets on American Airlines due to this suspected fraud. This will prevent other customers from having the same type of issues."
"This has just been a nightmare," Mullen said.
MyFlightSearch.com said: "Due to the ongoing pandemic...we had to work round the clock to help get our workforce online. During the same period, our call volumes... increased from roughly 3,000 a day to over 18,000 a day. We apologized to them and refunded the ticket amounts back to them ..."
But Mullen says she got a refund after she disputed the charge with her credit card company.
"We're still going to go. We're hopefully going to have fun," she said. "We're going to make the best of it."
And we do have good news for Mullen, MyFlightSearch.com told the Troubleshooters it apologizes again and has given her a future flight credit.
Also of note, MyFlightSearch.com does have an F rating with the Better Business Bureau.
Company response to that:
We have had a some disputes with BBB with regards to a few data sets. In the midst of this, they stopped our listings and downgraded our rating. During these times our focus was on getting the operations back up and taking care of our customers so, we didn't get around to discuss this with them. We shall open the conversations once again with them once this entire COVID-19 fiasco is handled.
Also, we intend to inform Tracy also that we have given her a future credit in her account for Flight bookings anytime in the next 12 months as a token of our gratitude. We have been trying to get in touch with her for the same.
Full Statement from Myfightsearch.com:
Due to the ongoing pandemic, we were forced to, as were all the other businesses, shut down the office premises and move the employees to work from home. With this there was a sudden and a huge pressure on the Infrastructure which had been designed to support the workforce from within the network and with the force majeure, we had to work round the clock to help get our workforce online so that they can work from home and support our customers. During the same period, our call volumes, due to repeat calls from the customers increased from roughly 3000 a day to over 18,000 a day. We did manage to bring the infra to manage the new normal and finally we are now at a place where we can say that we are back to supporting our customers well and to their expectations.
Having said that, there were customers who had suffered in the said period and to support them, we started working on the basis of the recency of departures to ensure that they get the flights they opted for. For all the customers who were either upset on the delays or did not want to book with us, we apologized to them and refunded the ticket amounts back to them even if in some cases the airlines had refused the refunds. This was done because we value our customers and understand their plight as they are the ones we work for.
With regards to the said customer, we had received their call on the June 8th, 2020 and post the discussion we apologized and refunded the ticket amount back to them on the same. It would have taken a couple of days for the refund to reflect on their card as dictated by the system. And would like to apologize to them again and would like to go an extra mile if it helps to bring down their pain & suffering. We did try to reach out to her this morning and offered to help further but she is too upset to speak to us.
With regards to your query on American Airline bookings, we work with multiple consolidators and suppliers through which we get the inventory for the airlines as do all the other online travel agencies. Yes, post this the American Airline has indeed pulled our plate out, but we have had a word with them and after an inspection of our systems, they will reconsider the relationship again.
I hope you understand the kind of pressures these not normal times have put on businesses and appreciate the efforts we have put in to bring the operations back to where we can be sure that all our customers stay satisfied of the services they receive. We always have and will continue to keep trying to get the best possible services to our customers.
Troubleshooters: New warning when booking airfare