We couldn’t amend a simple mistake, even though the flight was three months away
Last year I booked a flight from Kuala Lumpur to San Francisco on 20 June to fly on 2 September with Philippine Airlines through lastminute.com. On 22 June, when I checked my confirmation, I noticed my surname was spelled Walkee, not Walker. I telephoned lastminute.com which said it would resend the confirmation with the correct name. I received no revised ticket and, at the end of August, asked where it was. I was told that no new ticket had been requested, but I was reassured it would be dealt with.
Twelve hours before my flight I had still received nothing and was told the person dealing with my request was on leave. I asked if I would be able to board the flight, but was told I could not because the name on the ticket did not match my passport. I also asked from which name they had taken payment from my card and was told, at this point, it was Walker. I said I was puzzled at how they could take payment from the correct name, but issue tickets in the wrong one.
I was also told that the only way I could get on the flight to San Francisco was to purchase another ticket at £620 (the original ticket being £480). I argued that I wanted a refund or a free ticket, but was told to pursue this with customer services.
It did refund me the tax on the cancelled ticket which amounted to about £130. But I also spent a considerable amount of time on hold at international call rates.
In San Francisco I contacted lastminute.com to pursue a refund. I then engaged in a series of emails where it in effect said it was sorry but that it was not willing to give me a refund. I was then told that the payment had been taken under Walkee.
I contacted my bank (the Co-op) as I felt the transaction shouldn’t have gone through under an incorrect name. It assured me Walker, not Walkee, had been used. Lastminute.com refused to believe what my bank had said and continued to state that payment was taken from the name Walkee. After a series of emails I was told there was nowhere to go, and that I must have been “mistaken” on a number of issues. VW, Bristol
For security reasons the names on airline tickets must be exactly as they are on your passport. Most airlines recognise that people sometimes make mistakes (and yours is a classic case of the perils of accidentally hitting the wrong letter) and most allow a free correction if done within 24 hours. After that, there is a charge. The problem here is that you claim it was lastminute’s mistake and they say it was yours – and it is your word against theirs. But it does seem strange that, having offered to issue you a new ticket, it failed to do anything about it.
Lastminute.com insists you misspelt your name. It said the terms and conditions of Philippines Airlines state it cannot accommodate any name change requests unless made on the day of purchase – and you made contact two days later. However, it says customer services did contact the airline to try and get this overruled but it was refused. It said in a statement: “Rules around name changes are generally strict and customers are advised to take special care when entering booking details and to contact customer services immediately should they notice an error on the confirmation email.”
We also made direct contact with Philippine Airlines’ UK office, which showed little interest in your case and simply referred it to the airline’s head office in Manila. It has treated you harshly, in our opinion, given that you noticed the error just two days after booking and months before flying.
You are still out of pocket and we would advise you to take your case either to the Civil Aviation Authority (email email@example.com) or to the Association of British Travel Agents, as lastminute.com is ABTA-bonded. We can understand your irritation that payment was successfully taken from the wrong name (but the correct account), but unfortunately the security rules around payment (via Verified by Visa) centre around the individual’s address, not their name.
We welcome letters but cannot answer individually. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Consumer Champions, Money, the Guardian, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Please include a daytime phone number
Link to article: feeds.theguardian.com/c/34708/f/663875/s/36a52453/sc/22/l/0L0Stheguardian0N0Cmoney0C20A140Cfeb0C0A30Clastminute0Etough0Eticket0Erules/story01.htm