Australian Jessican Tam reports that when she cancelled a Qatar Airways roundtrip business class ticket from Jakarta to London, and they accidentally refunded AU$28,179,789.36 – or about $19.7 million at today’s exchange rates. She’s even shared a screen shot of her bank balance.
When you receive a bank or ATM error, and a whole bunch of money spits out or gets credited to your account, you cannot just spend it – especially if you’re aware that it is a mistake. She was supposed to get around AU$2800, not 28 million.
It appears what happened is that the flight cost 28,179,000 Indonesian Rupiah. Qatar refunded that many Australian Dollars instead of refunding the correct currency. And this was corrected the very next day.
In the end the passenger was out around $35 in foreign exchange loss between the time she made the ticket purchase and the time things were refunded to her properly. I recently learned that when you lose out like this, if you paid with a Chase credit card, you can actually ask for the difference back. There are reader reports that Chase eats the difference on request.
I’ve certainly been the beneficiary of foreign exchange errors buying travel, from the New Years Day 2004 Travelocity glitch pricing all airfares in French Pacific Francs at 10% of their intended cost, to the Le Meridien Khao Lak in Thailand publishing all of their room rates in Ugandan Schillings (UGX) instead of US Dollars, to the Hilton on Moorea pricing in Congolese Francs (CDF) instead of French Pacific Francs (CFP) when the chain first picked up the hotel from Starwood.
Not only does oneworld airline Qatar Airways have the best change policies and one of the world’s two best business class products, they appeared briefly to have the world’s best refund policy as well. Unfortunately for Ms. Tam it was too good to be true.
Update: Qatar Airways shares, “Qatar Airways is aware of a story regarding the overpayment of a refund. The airline processed the refund correctly and was not involved in the transaction between the bank and the passenger. We are glad to learn that the matter was swiftly corrected.”
(HT: Running With Miles)