You’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s the sign post up ahead, your next stop … The Personal Finance Twilight Zone.
And I thought my recent adventure with Southwest Airlines was infuriating!
While Southwest was pulling a classic bait and switch maneuver on me last week, offering two non-refundable tickets from Denver to Southern California for $114 each, only to change their mind after I tried to purchase them (and pushing much more expensive fares in their place), they were really sticking it to some of their other customers.
According to this report from a CBS television affiliate in Sacramento:
Southwest Airlines charged Romona Cobian $11,407 for a ticket to Los Angeles.
“My stomach just flip flopped. I thought ‘oh, what’s going on?’ They’re going to deplete my bank account.”
They did, leaving Cobian with no way to pay her credit card bills, buy gas or even food. Her debit card statements show Southwest charged her 51 times the cost of the $135 airfare and then tacked on a strange additional charge of nearly $4500.
The billing issue affected customers across the country, although the airline hasn’t told CBS13 how many.
This particular incident supposedly occurred on August 3rd.
Southwest had a rather, um, interesting explanation for what went wrong. They said they had “website performance issues.”
That’s kind of like totaling the car and telling your spouse that you had a fender bender.
But, okay; frankly, it seems to me Southwest has been having lots of, um, performance issues lately.
Normally, I’d say Southwest shouldn’t be embarrassed or hang their head in shame. After all, performance issues occasionally happen to everyone. At least that’s what I’ve been told.
But Southwest Airlines’ latest limp noodle has probably got more than a few people — besides myself — wondering if the airline is capable of consistently satisfying their customers anymore.
As for Ms. Cobian, it appears her biggest mistake was using her debit card to purchase her ticket. If she had used a credit card instead, she would have avoided having her bank account cleaned out and she could have just contested the charges.
She also wouldn’t be writing letters to the credit bureaus explaining why her resulting missed credit card payments weren’t her fault.
In the end, this is yet another example why you should almost always choose credit over debit whenever you have the chance.
Respectfully submitted for your consideration, by someone who’s been there before … disappointed, in the Personal Finance Twilight Zone.
Photo Credit: Meltwater