So some of you may know that my mum has cancer. In fact, quite a number of you know judging by yesterdays (and today’s) website figures.
First of all
I mean it, people commenting here, on twitter, on Facebook, thank you so much. My mum was obviously distraught over being diagnosed with cancer. She didn’t expect (nor did I) so much outpouring of concern, well wishes, positive thoughts and support for her from people she’s never even met. To say that you moved her with your thoughts and words is an understatement. She was literally crying tears of happiness because of you. So from the bottom of our hearts, we really want to thank you for that. You’ve managed to be a ray of sunshine in a dark time for us and that’s something we’ll never forget.
As for the issue of the ticket refund. Just to recap for those of you who didn’t read yesterdays post. My parents (before the diagnosis) had planned to fly from Ireland to visit me (their son) in Oregon. This was a once in a lifetime trip using their limited retirement funds. They were excited and really looking forward to their trip. When the diagnosis came through however, my mum had to cancel their plans as the Doctors wanted to try and get surgery ASAP. The people she had booked accommodation with were very understanding and refunded her money, they understood she would need it for her medical bills and treatment bills. They offered messages of support, well wishes and hoped they would see her “when she is better”. Amazing!
However, when she went to cancel her flights with United Airlines and get a refund, they sent her a mail stating
“We regret that we cannot issue the refund requested, and would like to explain why; exceptions due to illness are granted based on the ability to travel in the future. The illness, as described in your correspondence, does not qualify for an exception.”
You can imagine how shocked and hurt my mum was by this. After all, if having CANCER doesn’t qualify for an exception, than what does? Ebola? Needless to say I was infuriated and so where many others who read this callous uncaring response.
You voiced your opinions on Facebook, Twitter, and even on this very website. You also went directly to United Airlines to post your feelings on this matter to them. So what happened, did you have an effect? Well yes you did!
United Airlines contacted my sister and………. wait what? Yes, you read that right. Rather than contact my mother who they upset with their callous cold heartless email, they decided to contact my sister……….. So did they apologize for their actions, did they apologize for upsetting an Irish Grandmother with CANCER? Well actually, here’s what they had to say…
“This is a very restrictive bulk rate ticket purchased through Expedia. The funds for bulk tickets are transferred to the airline after travel has taken place. We have no authority to refund your Mother’s ticket. We’re called Expedia and they tell us to have you call them at 01 524 5005 in Ireland or 35315245005 in Europe. We hope this helps. ^km”
Yes, apparently they decided to play “pass the buck” on this matter.
There are however some problems with this….
1: Why not contact the person you upset directly? You know, the CANCER victim?
2: We had already contacted Expedia about this before hand, Expedia actually said we needed to contact United Airlines to get a refund.
3: If Expedia needed to refund the money, why did United Airlines send out their disgusting email to my mother telling her “We regret that we cannot issue the refund requested, and would like to explain why; exceptions due to illness are granted based on the ability to travel in the future. The illness, as described in your correspondence, does not qualify for an exception.”
Shouldn’t they have sent out an email saying
“We’re very sorry to hear about your diagnosis, we want you to know that everyone here at United wishes you the very best at this time. Regarding a refund, you will need to contact Expedia for this as they are the booking agent and they have not issued funds to us for this trip. I’m sure they will be able to promptly help you, if you require any assistance though, we’ll be happy to help you”.
See? That’s the way their email should have gone. Not “Our cancer specialist Doctors here at United Airlines have looked over your diagnosis and are pretty sure you’ll be able to fly, if not, we can at least fly your coffin or urn of ashes if you rebook your ticket within a year. You may have to pay extra for this privilege though”.
It seems however that common sense, compassion and customer service are not part of Uniteds Natural talents. In fact, while United Airlines are busy blaming Expedia and Expedia are blaming United Airlines, neither of them seem to care that my mother still has cancer and still hasn’t gotten her refund. I doubt the stress and anxiety on top of the worry she is already experiencing is helping her against her battle with CANCER. So well done United and Expedia, well done…..
At this point, my mum will probably end up claiming off her travel insurance. Something she didn’t want to do for a few reasons
1: She thought it would be simpler just to get a refund from the Air Line (it should have been)
2: Guess what happens when you make claims off insurance? Everyone’s insurance rates goes up that tiny bit more to pay for it. My mum doesn’t like to claim from insurance to protect other people’s premiums. People just like you, people she’s never met. That’s the kind of person my mum is. At least she has a sense of what’s right and what’s wrong.
3: This isn’t something that happened in the past that she’s claiming for, this is a claim for tickets on a flight she hasn’t been on yet. Do you think United Airlines is now going to have two empty seats they can’t fill for a flight to the USA during the summer? Of course not. They will keep the airline ticket money, fill those seats with two more people and charge them for their flight! Yes, United will make a profit from a cancer victim’s money……….. if that doesn’t make you feel ill, I don’t know what will (which just goes to show that I don’t know much, after all, I still haven’t managed to find out what type of illness does qualify you for a refund from United Airlines).
Anyway, I think this will be the last post I have about the whole “United Airlines/Expedia” experience. Obviously this issue will not be resolved and it’s no use hanging onto something like this. Right now, we need to move on, concentrate on the positive and hope we have a bright future facing us. Thanks to people like you, this is possible. Your words, your thoughts, your well wishes have proven to be such a joy to my mum. I thank you each for reading this, sharing this and being there to support us.
In the coming posts, I’ll be sharing with you the hopefully “positive” news from Ireland, and letting you know how things are progressing. I want to try and keep this upbeat and even share with you some stories about Ireland, my mum, my dad, my family and how you are making a difference in their lives. Maybe someday, someone with cancer or with cancer in their family will view this blog and share the journey. Maybe they’ll also realize that they are not alone in this world. That the world is filled with caring compassionate people like you.
Thank you so much.