As many of you probably recall, Jess and I drove to Texas in protest of the TSA grope-a-thon required to fly these days. Before the new, creepier security screening processes were put in place we had purchased airplane tickets with Southwest. When the change occurred I was particularly unhappy. I called Southwest and asked for a refund, which they refused to provide because “we don’t control the TSA; it’s not our fault.”
So I moved to plan B: I filed a charge dispute with my credit card company (CitiBank) and carefully detailed why I considered the scenario to be a breach of contract. They conditionally refunded the money and sent the dispute to Southwest which had 60 days to reply. The reply just came through and my refund has been made permanent! Hooray!
On a related note, an update about the letters we sent to the airlines and government officials. Every airline responded with a written answer. Most were along the lines of “it’s not our fault, we can’t do anything about it.” But the response from American Airlines was very simple and direct:
Thank you for taking the time to contact us about the recent changes that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has made to checkpoint security screening procedures. We are monitoring our customers’ feedback on this issue very closely, and we thank you for providing us with your impressions.
They’re the only airline that didn’t simply deflect the issue away from themselves. I appreciate that. The airlines claim they have no control over the matter and, ostensibly, they don’t. However, they do have rather influential lobbying efforts which could certainly be brought to bear on the situation. And that’s the goal I’m going for. If they get enough pressure and begin losing enough customers they will find a way to reign in the TSA.
Now for the responses I got back from the government officials. We wrote letters, (physical letters!), to our two Senators, our House Representative, the TSA, the FAA, and the President. We received exactly zero replies. In over two months not a single person, organization, or office responded to our concerns. No form letters, no acknowledgement of any kind. That really kind of bothers me.
The fact that no part of the government could be bothered to even acknowledge our concerns is why I have very little faith that anything will change until the airlines start lobbying for it. I’ve now learned very poignantly how little my opinion matters to the people who are elected to represent my interests.
Thanks America, you’re really doing a bang-up job with that democratic republic business.
So the scores are:
-1 to Southwest for denying me the refund when I asked for it on the phone.
+1 to Southwest for not denying the charge dispute when I filed it with my credit card company.
+1 to CitiBank for taking care of this for me (using a credit card does have some great benefits).
-100 to the TSA for implementing stupid “security” rules.
+2 to the Dickersons who successfully received a refund from a large company.
+5 to airlines for acknowledging my complaint.
-20 to government officials/organizations for not acknowledging my existence.