Money Matters - Simplified

Southwest refunds customers overcharged after billing glitch

The airlines has started refunding customers who were erroneously overcharged after a promotion on the carrier’s Facebook page hit a glitch.

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines is on a damage control mode after a promotion intended to celebrate the airlines' three million Facebook fans milestone went terribly wrong!

A bid to reward loyal customers with discounted tickets backfired, as the passengers were mistakenly over-billed for a single round-trip flight.

The airlines said it has started refunding customers who were erroneously overcharged after a promotion on the carrier’s Facebook page hit a glitch.

Southwest said in a statement, "We realize that some customers were charged more than once for the same reservation and we want to ensure you that we have all hands on deck, actively working to process refunds for any duplicate charges incurred. It is our goal to resolve this issue as quickly as possible and minimize any inconvenience."

Customers were taken aback when their credit and debit cards were repeatedly charged, in some cases nearly 40 times for the same ticket. Instances of bounced checks, overdrawn credit limits and canceled bank cards began surfacing.

Promotion celebrating 3million Facebook fans
The airline had offered a 50 percent discount for certain round-trip flights on Friday under its “Wanna Get Away Fare” program. The half price ticket sale was valid for up to eight customers on a single reservation.

However, customers were taken aback when their credit and debit cards were repeatedly charged, in some cases nearly 40 times for the same ticket. Instances of bounced checks, overdrawn credit limits and canceled bank cards began surfacing.

A number of enraged clients embroiled in the blunder took to Twitter and Facebook to vent their frustration.

"36 confirmations," wrote one victim. "Over $7,000.00 in charges to my account, and 2 hours on the phone with SWA. I thought that this was just me, but apparently SOMEONE really dropped the ball here. PLUS it will take 7-10 days to process returns? Unacceptable."

"Was ready to have a heart attack," wrote one Lawrence Brobst. "On hold for over 2 hours last nite and finally hung up. Checked email this am and had 20 confirmations and credit card charges."

Diana Griego, of Albuquerque, posted on Facebook, "I booked a flight and it booked 10 trips rather than one. I got 39 emails on it, but Southwest Airlines took care of it quickly and professionally. Well worth it!!!"

Filing refunds
Southwest spokesperson blamed a 'technology glitch' for the overwhelming number of multiple billings to debit and credit cards. The airline called in addition staff to handle the billing issues and has identified the customers impacted by their "luv2like" promotion. They have started the refunding process to the affected bank accounts.

The bank has also pledged to repay any overdraft fees the customers may have incurred due to the additional charges.

The airline posted a statement on its website, "We have all hands on deck ... actively working to process refunds for any duplicate charges involved."

“These refunds are currently being processed, but timing will vary depending on the individual bank. If a refund has not yet posted to your account, we recommend contacting your bank.”