For Crying Out Loud

**updated – 19/12/2007 @ 19.22**
**updated – 20/12/2007 @ 05.27**
**updated – 20/12/2007 @ 09.29**
**updated – 20/12/2007 @ 19.20**
**updated – 21/12/2007 @ 23.35**
**updated – 22/12/2007 @ 08.00**
**updated – 23/12/2007 @ 08.35**

Easyjet!

I have booked return flights for 2 people from Bristol Airport to Malaga; outward on 27th December, returning on 31st December.

Total cost: £517.03p

I’ve just checked my bank statement and it shows that yesterday Easjet took two amounts of £517.03p. That’s two amounts, folks.

This means that my current account is over £1,000 lower than it was two days ago.

Action 1:
I rang my bank – bear in mind it’s not their fault, but I know I can speak to my bank, whereas trying to get past Easyjet’s website to speak to a human is next to impossible – and discussed it with them.

The nice man on the other end said they’d categorise it as a Visa dispute. What I need to do is pop in to a local branch, fill in a form and they’ll try to get the money back in 5-7 working days.

Today’s date is?

Yep, 19th December.

Number of working days (i.e. spending days) left between now and Christmas?

Three.

So no chance of getting my money back before Christmas then.

Action 2:
I found a telephone number for Easyjet – oh yes, they do exist!

I dialled and listened to a long, long menu (being charged 10p per minute while I listned) and eventually got through to a person.

She (Paulina) checked her systems and told me that the money had been taken just once.

I told her that her systems were wrong.

I told her that I was looking at an on-line bank statement and it clearly showed two payments of £517.03p were removed by Easyjet from my account yesterday.

Paulina went away, spoke with someone and came back to me.

This time she said that it wasn’t a double payment. Apparently now it’s a shadow payment which was caused by the difficulty I had with the on-line booking/payments system on the Easyjet website.

I told her that was not the case. I had no difficulty, everything processed smoothly. I reiterated that there was nothing “shadow” about this transaction – £517.03p too much had been taken from my account.

She went away, conversed with someone then returned.

What I have to do, she said, is wait five working days during which time Easyjet would look in to the problem, see if they could resolve it and action a refund back to my account.

I said something like: Five working days? Are you mad?

Paulina went away, spoke to someone else then came back again.

She was going to escalate my problem to her manager who would try to get things resolved today.

Easyjet would contact me this afternoon by phone or email to tell me how things were going.

So why is it that I feel so unconvinced?

Could my feeling that Easyjet are far less interested in giving money back than they are in taking it be related to the way Paulina tried to fob me off with a couple of completely made up excuses right at the start?

Yep, I guess so.

So here I sit, £517.03p taken – in an unauthorised manner – by Easyjet, waiting for a phone call and/or email to tell me the money is back in my account as of right now.

Except I don’t believe that phone call or email is going to happen.

___________________________________________

**updated – 19/12/2007 @ 19.22**
Well it’s almost half past seven and do you know how many emails and/or phone calls I’ve received from Easyjet – as per Paulina’s promise that someone would get back to me today?

Yep, that’s right.

None.

But I’m not counting chickens before they’re hatchlings.

There’s still just over four and a half hours to go, right?

___________________________________________

**updated – 20/12/2007 @ 05.27**
Well, the day that Paulina from Easyjet promised someone would contact me in, to let me know how their unauthorised extraction of money from my account (isn’t that theft?) is going to be reimbursed has passed.

And the tally is:

Emails from Easyjet: Nil
Phone calls from Easyjet: Nil

So that’s great customer service then, isn’t it?

I’ve had to transfer money from our joint savings account to cover the unauthorised transaction. If I hadn’t already moved money from my individual savings account to pay for Beech’s cremation, Easyjet’s unauthorised transaction would have bounced – and I would probably have had to pay bank charges!

Great.

We shall see what the day brings (but why do I suspect it will bring very little satisfaction and no money from Easyjet?).

Oh… And a huge amount of thanks to the good wishes from all my friends on this issue. I appreciate it.

___________________________________________

**updated – 20/12/2007 @ 09.29**
Still no response from Easyjet – and no reimbursement to my bank account.

So I’ve emailed the Easyjet press office with this message:

Good Morning,

Please see this link (http://brennigjones.com/blog/?p=330) for important information about Easyjet.

Please note that this press release is being circulated – with an appropriate Christmas theme – to the major broad coverage news outlets.

Easyjet have the usual right of reply.

___________________________________________

***updated – 20/12/2007 @ 19.20**
Development 1:
I sent an email to the Daily Mirror. It said:

My Christmas savings have been taken by Easyjet.

Last week I booked and paid for a return flight to Spain so I could go and visit my daughter for the holiday.

The total cost was £517.

Yesterday I checked my bank account and noticed that Easyjet have taken two lots of £517 – £1,034 from my bank account!!

If I hadn’t moved my savings to my current account I would have gone deep in to the red and would have ended up having to pay bank charges.

I spoke to Easyjet yesterday and they lied to me a couple of times.

First of all they said they’d only taken one payment. Then they said that there were two transactions but one was ‘a shadow payment’ because my bank hadn’t been sure how much it should pay. Then they said that the money did seem to have been taken twice but that was because I had experienced a problem while I was paying. Except I had no problem paying!

Then they said they’d process a refund but that would taken five working days. Obviously this gives me my money back – but allowing for hitches, probably not until January 2008!

I told them this was not good enough.

Then they said they’d sort it out immediately and someone would ring or email me back by the end of the day – yesterday.

I’m still waiting.

So now I’m down £517 in my current account and I don’t know when I’m going to get the money back. I also don’t know if I can afford to make the trip to Spain because effectively over £500 of my savings has vanished!

Can you help please?

Soon after that this blog was read by Easyjet.

At 11.15 I received an email from them that said:

Dear Mr Jones,

I am sorry to read that you had problems to make a booking on our website and that you have not heard from our customer service.

Can you send me your booking reference, so I can have a look for you?

Thanks,

A result!

I responded with the information required.

At 11.35 they came back to me with:

I have received your email, I will investigate it and I get back to you as soon as I can.

Thanks,

At 11.45 Easyjet very kindly came back again with:

Basically, as my colleague explained to you over the phone, there is shadow payment in this case.

In order to resolve the problem, I will need to send a fax to your bank to confirm that only one payment has been through.

Can you confirm your bank contact details with its fax number, the name to the person I can address it to, and your credit card details used for the booking and the amount debited twice?

Regards,

Hmmm… Have you noticed a couple of things missing? Still no admission of guilt or culpability, still no apology? I replied with the details they asked for and added a couple of thoughts:

“I’ll pass over the distinction that what you choose to call a shadow payment is still £517 out of my current account at an expensive time of the year.

I’ll also resist the temptation to ask the valid question whether you carry sufficient funds in your current account to cover every payment you make twice.”

Easyjet’s response at 12.50 was:

Thanks for your reply.

easyJet has charged you only once £517.03 pounds. There is only one record for one payment. Your bank has put your money on hold.

We could send a fax to your bank to confirm that only one payment has been taken from easyJet.

I thought you mentioned that you contact your bank before contacting customer service.

Regards,

OK, now I’m starting to get really annoyed.

* Why would my bank deduct one amount and put my money on hold?
* Why would my bank describe – on my bank statement – the ‘on hold’ (i.e. deducted) amount as a payment to Easyjet?
* Why would Easyjet think that my bank might put ‘on hold’ (i.e. deduct) the same amount as their payment?

At 13.15 Easyjet came back to me:

Hello,

Our revenue accountancy just had a look at your booking and confirmed that they have contacted your bank and they cannot see that any payment has been taken from this card i.e. £517.03 as per booking reference. Can you please send us a copy of your bank statement?

Regards,

At 13.30 different things happened…

The Daily Mirror emailed me and asked for a phone number so they could chat about my situation with Easyjet.

I obliged.

Meanwhile, at 13.49 Easyjet asked to see a copy of my bank statement – the one that contained the lines describing Easyjet taking the same payment twice.

Again, I obliged. I added a little more information that I’d gleaned from a subsequent phone call with my bank:

As requested – file attached as a spreadsheet.

I have just spoken to my bank again and they are saying what the statement says – that the money has been taken twice.

I told them that you said that Nationwide have put the money on hold and they almost laughed down the phone at me, then said that wasn’t possible.

At 14.45 Easyjet confirmed:

Hi, I have passed on your email to our revenue accountancy department. I will get back to you when I get a reply. Regards,

So here I am.

Still out of pocket.

And as you can see by the bank statement – still owed £517 of my own money by Easyjet.

And no closer to a resolution.

Except there’s a glimmer of light on the horizon in the shape of the Financial Services Authority.

Included in my Easyjet purchase is an insurance product – travel insurance – and the law regulating the sale and fraudulent sale of financial products is governed by the Financial Services Authority.

And guess what…?

Easyjet have committed a Financial Services fraud and are now open to prosecution under the Financial Services Act.

I wonder if Easyjet will be able to resolve this tomorrow and have the missing money back in my account before the close of business (which is when the Financial watchdogs get involved) and have the good graced to apologise for stealing my money, attempting to perpetrate a fraud under the Financial Services Act and for using up too much of my precious work-time – time that I’m going to have to make up tomorrow by getting in ridiculously early?

Stay tuned…

___________________________________________

**updated – 21/12/2007 @ 23.35**
Now here’s a peculiar thing.

The number of people who have googled ‘shadow payment’ in the last 24 hours = 9.

The number of people who have googled ‘shadow payment easyjet’ in the last 24 hours = 48.

These instances are surely beyond mere coincidence?

There must be something going on here.

My bank – once again – say that there’s no such thing as a shadow payment where the bank isolates the money from the current account but shows the money as being transacted to any other party.

I believe my bank – but I have written to the banking ombudsman for confirmation.

If – stress the word – the banking ombudsman confirms this then logic means one of two things have occurred:

1. Easyjet press office have lied to me (and perhaps other departments in Easyjet may have lied to other members of the public) about this (potentially) mythical ‘shadow payment’, or

2. Easyjet’s press office (and perhaps other departments in Easyjet) were passing on the ‘shadow payment’ story in good faith but only because Easyjet’s finance department have cocked things up, and have concocted the whole ‘shadow payment’ story to cover up their mistake.

Hmmm…

What I would like to happen is for every person who has been a victim of ‘shadow payments’ to Easyjet (or any other organisation for that matter) to get in touch with me.

You can do that either by leaving a comment here – as one other person already has done – or if you follow the ‘Contact’ link at the top of the page you’ll find my email address.

Please, if you area a ‘shadow payment’ victim, drop me a line.

Thanks.

___________________________________________

**updated – 22/12/2007 @ 08.00**
Yesterday – Friday 21/12/2007 at 15.27 – I was sent an email by Easjet (who I am only just resisting the temptation to call Sleasyjet):

Dear Brenning (sic),

I have received an email from our revenue accountancy confirming that they have spoken to your bank and they will be refunding you for the duplicated charge.

We would like to apologise for inconvenience caused and please allow 5 working days for this transaction to be processed.

Thrilled to bits that money was coming back but annoyed it would take so long I responded:

Hi (name),

Thank you for your efforts.

I’m grateful that my money will eventually be coming back – but as I’m sure you’ve calculated, five working days puts my money back in to my account next year.

I know for a fact that – if Easyjet really wanted to, they could credit the money back to my account on a same day payment.

Admittedly, this would cost Easyjet a relatively small fee – but I feel sure that any compassionate organisation would not begrudge such a small outlay to put right a problem that removed money from my account three days ago!

My contact at Easyjet swiftly replied:

Hi Brennig,

I am very sorry for the inconvenience caused – as explained before easyJet does not hold your money. Your money is on hold.

I had asked you before a fax number in order to send a fax to your bank to confirm that we have charged you only once.

Your bank will refund you.

Regards,

So that’s a fairly consistent set of responses from Easyjet – they didn’t take the money twice, my bank had taken it.

Except my bank says they didn’t take the money – and that Easyjet had.

___________________________________________

**updated – 23/12/2007 @ 08.35**
I checked my bank account this morning and was overjoyed to see the following entry:

Date

Transaction

Credit

21 December

WWW.Easyjet.89789366 EASYJET.COM.

£517.03

So there we are!

I have my money back.

Yay!

But what’s that description against the credit – and how does that description tie up to my bank supposedly having my money?

Hmmm…

We shall see what the Banking Ombudsman says about Easyjet’s story.

B.