United Airlines is using questionable methods reminiscent of Internet scamming to increase ticket fees for non-US customers
English version of the German article which has been posted here before (http://osttellerrand.blogspot.tw/2013/09/united-airlines-internetabzocke.html) about our recent unpleasant experience with UA.
One thing you have to know to understand this: In Taiwan $, NT and a Chinese character and in international transactions also TWD are common symbols for the currency "Taiwan Dollars".
So my wife ordered an airplane ticket from one US-City to another for our nephew on the United Airlines website. I do not have the exact ticket price at hand now, so I am assuming 16.000 TWD; it was something in that range. The website had three subsequent pages in perfect Mandarin and the traditional Chinese characters and gave the currency always in TWD. Like this:
Plane ticket: 16.000 TWD incl. tax
Insurance: 0 TWD
Payable: 16.000 TWD
Please pay 16.000 TWD.
Then a popup appeared: Would you like an upgrade for better food and hot coffee and a snack during transit? Price: 1.000 $
Now let's guess. What is the ticket price?
17.000 TWD, my wife was thinking and clicked on the upgrade button. But then came the nasty surprise. United Airlines had changed the currency in the middle of the transaction, on the last page, where you had to enter the credit card information. The 1.000$ are not TWD but US-Dollar. And those are 29.750 TWD.
Consequently the whole amount is 16.000 TWD + 29.750 TWD = 45.750 TWD, which is about 1.166 Euro or 1,537.70 US-Dollar instead of the original price without the upgrade of 537.70 US-Dollar.
To change the currency at the end of the payment process in an additional charge which camouflages itself as a small thing (but which is really and upgrade to Business Class) is perceived by us as an unsuitable business practice and feels like Internet Scamming. I want to point that out clearly.
United Airlines refused in an email to refund the 1000 USD and are now not answering to emails anymore. The hunter does not want to let go of his prey.
We are still waiting for a written letter on paper from this airline. We believe they only treat us in this way, because we are foreign customers and not US citizens, which are seemingly perceived as easy game by UA.
In Taiwanese forums there are a lot of people having made the same experience with UA and who were not refunded as well.
The danger for customers in this case is that they will usually feel safe on a website of a big US airline. I mean, come on, it's not as if you are on a Ukrainian website or something, right? You do not expect such business practice on a website of a big US company. And then you are utterly surprised when it actually happens. And you feel as if Internet scammers got the best of you, without wanting to use any legal terms here for the whole incidents. But it FEELS like having been scammed into the payment.
This US government website may be suitable for this case, I am checking it out currently.
UPDATE: United Airles has declared to still charge for the Business class upgrade fee of $1000 even if we return the ticket. They are really eager to keep that money!
The stopped replying to emails.