Q: I booked a flight on Singapore Airlines for my husband to join me on a business trip from Singapore to Penang, Malaysia, last year. Unfortunately, due to low visibility, the airline canceled our flight.
A Singapore Airlines agent promised us a refund if we submitted a refund request on the airline's website. We filled out the form, but no one contacted us. We tried again and again to contact the airline but didn't hear back.
The flight ticket that I booked with the airline via my company was refunded promptly. But the ticket I bought through the Singapore Airlines website wasn't. I've tried to reach out to Singapore Airlines on Facebook, but to no avail. Can you help us with our refund?
A: Both of you should have received a refund from Singapore Airlines — and promptly.
Also, you shouldn't have had to "apply" for a refund. It should have been handled automatically, like the refund you received for your other canceled flight.
Why wasn't it? Who knows?
I've had this long-standing theory that airlines try to make it as difficult as possible to get a refund. I think having to apply through the site qualifies as "making it as difficult as possible." But you know what? I've seen worse.
Most upsetting, you sent four separate e-mails to Singapore Airlines and it responded by saying it had received your refund request. Then it did nothing. How can that even happen? The only reasonable conclusion is that the airline wants to keep your money. Whether it flew you to Penang or not is irrelevant. The money only flows one way.
By the way, Singapore Airlines isn't alone. (Incidentally, Singapore has an excellent customer service reputation.) Other carriers do the same thing. It takes them a fraction of a second to charge you for the tickets, but weeks or months to return your money. I just don't get it.
If an airline — or any other company — drags its feet for too long on a refund, you have another option. You can dispute the charge on your credit card. Although some banks have time limits on a dispute, they are routinely waived for cases like this. When a company strings you along, you still may have the option of filing a dispute if the company doesn't respond to you in a timely manner. Your bank can, and will, hold it accountable.
You could have also reached out to one of the customer service executives for Singapore Airlines. I list their names, numbers and e-mail addresses on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org.
I contacted Singapore Airlines on your behalf about your flight cancellation and promised refund. It promptly sent your money.