Sunday, January 14, 2007

Mad at American Express (Tickets Update)

Purchasing the tickets has been a small nightmare.

Firstly, we booked through Travelocity ( as their price was about $300 cheaper than booking directly through Air New Zealand. Everything appeared to go smoothly, but then an email arrived which said the ticket would only be processed if I called them (in the US) to provide some "additional information". As it turned out, it was actually nothing to do with me, Air New Zealand simply didn't provide electronic tickets to them for some reason. To their credit, Travelocity offered to waive the charge for printed tickets and send them to me, but the 7-14 day delivery period didn't really suit for a flight leaving in 7 days. Not to their credit, they still appear to have charged me the $20 booking fee.

So we cancelled the booking with Travelocity, and went direct to Air New Zealand. This is when the credit card troubles started. After paying for the trips to Aussie, I didn't have quite enough credit to pay for the tickets to the US, so a few days ago I had put some cash on the card just to ensure I would have enough credit for the tickets. BUT NO, apparently (at least with American Express) you can't pay off your balance ahead of time, only when you are billed at the end of the month. So although I have more than enough credit on the card, only a small portion is available to me until I get billed in a few days time. I've received mixed messages about whether this is the same all credit cards. Ida for one thinks it's pretty much standard, while James from work says his credit limit is too small and he does it a couple of times a month with no problems.

The problem was compounded by the fact that the Air New Zealand website will never tell you your card was declined. It will tell you there was a "Temporary problem processing credit card details". I assumed there was a problem with the website (because I "knew" I had enough credit), so I called tech support (as the error advised me to do). So after the tech support guy also tried it several times (and also didn't know if it was declining or whether there was a bigger problem), I was eventually transferred to telephone sales to see if it would work on their system. It didn't, and it wasn't until out of desperation the operator called American Express to manually put the payment through that we finally worked out the card was declining.

I called American Express, and they explained the situation but couldn't do anything until Monday when the Credit Team was back on duty. Long story short, I called the Credit Team this morning, and although they refused to do anything about it they did take the time to admonish me for trying to put the transaction through seven times, and to query me on my suspicious change in spending habits.

So despite the fact there was money in the account, I put the fares on Dad's card, and we didn't get any reward points, and Amex didn't get their $120 commission. Works out all round really.

But at least the tickets are booked now, which is a big relief and very exciting :) We are flying out 6pm Sunday 21st Jan, Wellington to Auckland to San Francisco, arriving at 11:15am EST, Sunday 21st. For those who like details:
  • Boeing 777
  • Aisle Seats near the window (SSS SSS TBS), and possibly a free seat by the window allowing us to move around a bit.
  • Tina is having "Asian Vegetable", I'm having "Seafood".
We also been in contact with the other Vic interns who are already in the States, and so we have a place to stay when we arrive, and someone to pick us up from the airport. I also learned that IBM gives free passes to their employees to use public transport throughout the bay area. Yay!

So now, back to packing... We have now not only found the floor, but have also found the couch! The first load went in mum's car last night. Time to start filling the hallway with boxes again.

No comments: