Iberia told me to file a chargeback, but now I don’t have a ticket

When Joel Revill’s ticket purchase doesn’t go through, a representative advises him to dispute it on his credit card.

  • By Wire Service
  • Saturday, May 18, 2024 1:30am
  • Life

Q: I purchased a ticket from Boston to Madrid on Iberia Airlines through its website, but I didn’t receive a confirmation. When I called Iberia, an agent told me that he couldn’t see the purchase and advised me to dispute the charge with my credit card company, which I did a week later.

On the same day, I received an email from Iberia with a confirmation. I called my bank that day and withdrew the dispute. A bank representative told me to just ignore any written communication and that it would automatically close the dispute. I followed this advice and assumed that my ticket would be valid. It wasn’t.

When I tried to check in for my flight, the system showed my ticket as “suspended.” An Iberia representative told me to dispute the charge again and buy a new ticket, so I followed this advice.

Iberia did, in fact, receive the $776 from my bank (Capital One), but it nonetheless suspended my ticket. I would like to get a refund. Can you help me?

— Joel Revill, Providence, Rhode Island

A: You should have had a ticket on your flight from Boston to Madrid. The problem is obvious: An Iberia representative told you to dispute the charge — and later “undispute” it — without making the necessary notations on Iberia’s side. As a result, you ended up with a voided ticket.

You shouldn’t have disputed this charge in the first place. True, credit card chargebacks under the Fair Credit Billing Act cover products and services that were purchased but not received. However, you hadn’t given Iberia time to resolve this on its side. It turns out Iberia eventually processed your transaction, which led to this mess.

My advice: File a credit card dispute after a few days — not a few hours. (I have more on filing a credit card dispute in my free guide on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org.)

If someone says you should file a dispute, and you decide to take their advice, then try to get them to put it in writing — or, at least, to make a notation in their system. It looks like Iberia had no clue what you were doing because it hadn’t made any notation in your flight record.

Also, simply refusing to answer the questions is not enough to close your dispute. Yes, it will ultimately close the case and resolve it in the merchant’s favor, but for a problem like this, you need more. I would have explained the situation fully and asked for something in writing that confirmed your dispute had been withdrawn.

I list the names, numbers and email addresses of the Iberia customer service managers on my consumer advocacy site. A brief, polite appeal to one of them might have helped.

Was there a better way? Maybe. A qualified travel advisor might have ensured that you had a real ticket on Iberia. Sure, you would have to pay a little extra for the ticket, but the travel agent would ensure that everything goes smoothly with your flight. (I also have a guide on how to find a travel advisor.)

I contacted Iberia on your behalf. The airline issued a refund for your original ticket, as you requested.

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy (elliottadvocacy.org), a nonprofit organization that helps consumers solve their problems. Email him at chris@elliott.org or get help by contacting him at elliottadvocacy.org/help.

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