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BA refuse to refund after immigration refuse Catholic priest entry to UK

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Hi I wonder if anyone out there can be of assistance.

 

Just over 2 weeks ago it was my daughters christening. A very good friend of ours is a priest and he agreed to perform the ceremony. He actually lives in Texas and has visited UK on numerous occasions so we were thrilled when he said that he would pass through UK (perform baptism) on his way back to the US after visiting Nigeria.

 

The christening was actually scheduled to take place on the day that he was arriving (1.30pm). As the flight touched down at around 7am we thought that would allow plenty of time. He secured the necessary transit visa and when he touched down at Heathrow he called to let us know that he had landed. An hour later (around 8.30) he called to inform us that the booking agent in Nigeria had made an error with the return flight. Return flight had been booked for 09:45 the same day. He tried changing it but the problem was that he needed to pay a surcharge but the American credit card he possessed was not able to process the fee. I said that I would pay but the airport officials said that I could not do this over the phone- only in person.

 

Around 9.30 am I rushed over to Heathrow and made my way over to the excess fee desk. I explain the situation to the desk attendant and provide the Fr’s details and flight reference no. The attendant informed me that a new return ticket would have to be issued with a return flight either that afternoon at 2pm ($200) or the next day (£881).

 

We opted for the next day as the christening was happening 1.30pm that very afternoon and there was no way that he would have made the 2pm flight. Before he authorised me to purchase the ticket he was confirmed that purchasing the ticket would allow him through. I purchased the ticket and waited for him to come through. I waited and waited.

 

Around 10.30 I called him and he informed me that Immigration was not allowing him through. When asked why the immigration officer told him that a visa does not automatically allow anyone into the UK and that she has the authority to reject any visa and that she is using that authority now. He was told that he would be leaving on the next flight out to the US and that he could either leave peacefully or she would instruct her colleagues to bundle him onto the flight. I was shocked and could not believe it. No explanation was provided. In fact I spoke with Fr when he arrived back in the US and he told me that there were other junior immigration officers present that were sympathetic and when the senior officer left the room they apologised profusely and informed him that this particular immigration officer was anti cleric.

 

 

Fr was put on the 2pm flight and I rushed back to the church and arrived an hour late for the service. Luckily our resident priest had been kept in the loop and had agreed to perform the service (solo). However before leaving the airport I had instructed BA to cancel the ticket and demanded a full refund. They tried to refund the money back onto my card but said that as the flight was paid in dollars it was causing problems (not sure why exactly). In fact no less than 3 members of staff (each more senior than the next) had attempted to give me a refund but ‘the system’ was not allowing it.

 

They were only able to refund £87 for some reason. The rest they couldn’t do. I was provided with a customer service number which I tried later that evening only to be given a reference number for the issue. I have since received a response from BA- see below. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

 

 

 

 

Dear xxxxxx

 

 

Thanks for sending the letter of authority we requested so we can investigate your flight to Dallas. I'm sorry to hear he was unable to travel landside at London Heathrow and had to return to the US.

 

I appreciate it's disappointing to discover Rev xxxxxx couldn't stay in the UK after you'd paid to change his booking to allow extra time in London. However, the UK Border Agency run all immigration and security operations within UK airports and may require passengers to obtain transit visas to travel outside the airport.

 

British Airways has no control over the immigration process and it's the passengers responsibility to ensure they check the relevant entry requirements for any country you are visiting and present to us all passports, visas, health certificates and other travel documents needed for your journey. Please refer to our General Conditions of Carriage on ba.com.

 

Therefore in the circumstances we cannot refund you for your ticket. I'm sorry if this is disappointing to you but I hope I've been able to explain why.

 

Thanks for raising this with us. Your feedback is important to us and will be used to help us focus on the areas we need to improve. Please don't hesitate to contact us if you require any further information.

I hope we can welcome you on board a British Airways flight again soon.

 

Best regards

 

British Airways Customer Relations

 

I think I probably have a strong case for the mere fact that Fr did have all the necessary papers and secondly I had cancelled the flight and BA had already attempted to give me a full refund. However before I respond I would like to know if there is anything else I can say. Thank you.

Edited by citizenB
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I will try and find someone who can help you.

 

What a nightmare and then for them to say they wont refund you !!


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Advice & opinions given by citizenb are personal, are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group, and are offered informally, without prejudice & without liability. Your decisions and actions are your own, and should you be in any doubt, you are advised to seek the opinion of a qualified professional.

 

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Don't waste your time talking to or waiting for BA to do anything, just go straight to your card provider and issue a chargeback/section 75 refund.

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I suspect that you could be on a hiding to nothing here. What BA are saying to you in their letter is absolutely correct. It looks as if you booked and paid for a non-refundable ticket and therefore as BA did not breach their contract with you they have no liability and you would not be required to refund the fare paid. You are entitled to a refund of the amount of APD and taxes paid (£87) which they appear to have given you. As they say, BA cannot be held responsible for the decision to refuse entry made by UKBA, which is the sole reason that he missed his flight. Your only hope is to try for a goodwill payment.

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Thank you for the responses so far. My issue is the following- at no point when I purchased the ticket was I told that it was non refundable- I was never given an option to purchase a refundable or a non refundable ticket. On the contrary when I cancelled the flight and requested a full refund at no point did any of the BA staff inform me that the ticket was non refundable. Three staff members (each senior than the next) attempted to refund monies back onto my card. I was told that it was 'the system' which prevented the refund not the fact that I purchased a non refundable ticket - which I'm sure they would have readily revealed if indeed that was the case.

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Thank you for the responses so far. My issue is the following- at no point when I purchased the ticket was I told that it was non refundable- I was never given an option to purchase a refundable or a non refundable ticket. On the contrary when I cancelled the flight and requested a full refund at no point did any of the BA staff inform me that the ticket was non refundable. Three staff members (each senior than the next) attempted to refund monies back onto my card. I was told that it was 'the system' which prevented the refund not the fact that I purchased a non refundable ticket - which I'm sure they would have readily revealed if indeed that was the case.

 

So you complain to BA that they failed to advise you on the type of ticket they were issuing and follow the complaints system that is in place. It does seem odd that BA staff tried to refund full amount, if it was a non refundable ticket.


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