Air Canada: Easy to buy. Impossible to refund.
August 19, 2012 3:20 PM   Subscribe

I have a cash voucher from an airline. HELP!

So a few weeks ago I was bumped on an international flight with Air Canada, and offered a paper miscellaneous charges order voucher (MCO) for either 600 euros redeemed in cash or 900 euros redeemable in future travel. I want the cash. Here's the catch: communicating with Air Canada about this and getting the money back safely feels like trying to squeeze water out of a rock. Their customer service line is very pleasant but refers all issues to the Refund department, which apparently only communicates via writing an e-mail (no phone, no chat). Their response time to e-mails is 3 weeks. I wrote them on how to make this happen, and was told quite tersely several weeks later to just send the paper voucher to a PO box, expect a check back in the mail at an undisclosed time, and basically FU hope for the best.

I need the cash, I need it in dollars, and I'd be sending the voucher from Los Angeles to Calgary. This makes me really nervous. I would really have no way of communicating on-the-fly with someone there to confirm receipt or get an ETA on reimbursement. Their lines of communication on this front are like breaking the enigma code.

The question: besides photocopying this thing, what method of shipping should I use to safely send this voucher to Canada from the US with some sort of confirmation of delivery and perhaps insurance? Can I / should I complain to someone about this? I mean it should be as easy as confirming the serial number on it, and reimbursing the credit card I bought my flight tickets with from their website. WTF.
posted by drpynchon to Travel & Transportation (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Just use a method of mailing where the recipient has to sign for it and that can be tracked. If you have a tracking number for your shipment and a photocopy of the voucher you should be able to keep an eye on it.

I'm not sure who you would conplain to. BBB maybe.
posted by windykites at 3:47 PM on August 19, 2012

Also, contact them every day until they respond to you.
posted by windykites at 3:48 PM on August 19, 2012

Registered Mail.
posted by sunshinesky at 3:57 PM on August 19, 2012

Also, if you continue to have trouble getting your refund, many (most, all?) credit card companies will refund it for you. There may be a time limit though, so speak to your credit card company.
posted by sunshinesky at 4:00 PM on August 19, 2012

I don't think you can send registered mail to a PO box. Can't they give you a physical address?
posted by Houstonian at 4:06 PM on August 19, 2012

Response by poster: Nope. All they have are PO boxes, which I assume means noone can sign for these. And this is not a ticket refund, it's a voucher, so I doubt the credit card company is going to do anything about it.
posted by drpynchon at 4:08 PM on August 19, 2012

Actually, look at this from their website:
If you have a Paper Travel Voucher (MCO)

There are two ways to redeem it:

Option 1: Redeem your paper voucher when making your new booking directly with your travel agent or at any Air Canada staffed airport.

Option 2: Apply the credit for a new online booking from the comfort of your own home:
Book and pay for your reservation online. Then, mail the electronic ticket/receipt along with your original travel voucher (MCO) to Air Canada's Refund Department upon completion of all travel.

By Mail:
Air Canada Refund Services
P.O. Box 6475
Winnipeg, MB
R3C 3V2

By Courier Service (e.g. FedEx, UPS):
Air Canada Refund Services
355 Portage Avenue
Winnipeg, MB,
R3B 2C3

posted by Houstonian at 4:11 PM on August 19, 2012

(Meant to add, you can require a signature from a FedEx delivery.)
posted by Houstonian at 4:11 PM on August 19, 2012

Response by poster: Houstonian, it turns out that that address only applies to redeeming the voucher for future travel, which can more easily just be done at LAX. For cash refund, I have been referred to:

Air Canada Customer Relations
PO Box 64239
RPO Thorncliffe
Calgary, AB T2K 6J7
posted by drpynchon at 4:15 PM on August 19, 2012

I had a similar voucher when I was bumped from a Lufthansa flight at ORD. When I returned to the states I went to the ticket counter (during posted operation hours) and asked for the cash. I got it on the spot.

And...why is Air Canada dealing in Euros, anyway?
posted by JoeZydeco at 4:21 PM on August 19, 2012

Response by poster: I went to the counter at LAX. They refused. It was a long ordeal that also involved discussion with the local supervisor as well as a supervisor on the phone at customer relations. It was euros because I got the voucher in Barcelona, where I was delayed.
posted by drpynchon at 4:26 PM on August 19, 2012

Maybe send an email to their VP of customer service ("Primary contact" here) and explain the issue and ask for a physical address. (Don't bother with the "Secondary contact" as he recently retired.)
posted by Houstonian at 4:37 PM on August 19, 2012

You absolutely can send registered mail to a post office box. They put a delivery notice into the box, and then somebody has to take the notice to the counter and sign for it.

Don't be surprised if you get a check in Canadian dollars and/or drawn on a Canadian bank.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 5:03 PM on August 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

I suspect someone on FlyerTalk could tell you precisely what to do.

FWIW, I've mailed so many vouchers to AA's mailbox in Milton, FL over the years that I can't even tell you how many it is, yet I've never had a problem with them not receiving it. You can always send it first class with delivery confirmation if you're worried about them claiming to have never received it. If you're concerned about actual loss in the mail, registered mail with the appropriate declared value is the way to go.

If you absolutely need the cash, take the cash. Otherwise, take the money for future flights. It's a bit silly to lose out on a third of the value if you can help it. Also, if Canadian ticket taxes are anything like the US', it'll go even farther as a voucher since many of the taxes won't apply if you're paying with a voucher. It's closer to $1200 worth of travel than $900, so long as the ticket you're buying is fully paid for by the voucher.
posted by wierdo at 5:13 PM on August 19, 2012

Seconding the use of Registered Mail. (I provided the USPS link as you said you will be mailing from Los Angeles.) You can use it with international mail.

Registered mail has to be locked up at all times while in transit and signed off in a log book whenever it moves. The recipient MUST sign for it. My experience is that US Post Office staff will try whatever they can to talk you out of sending anything by Registered Mail because it is such a pain in the rear for them. Be firm and insist that you want to send it registered.

You have to declare a value on the shipment. According to XE, 900 euros is today worth US $1,110.98.

Using the post office's international rate calculator, you'll have to use Global Priority or Global Express since it is worth more than US $400. A flat rate priority envelope will cost you $16.95, and registered mail will cost you $11.75 on top of that -- for a total of $28.70. You'll be able to track it online and you'll be insured someone signs for it.

If it gets there and the Post Office can prove it, it's in Air Canada's hands -- BUT you should be able to get the name of the person who signed for it so you'll be able to use that against them if they don't play ball.

If it doesn't get there, you can file a claim with the Post Office and they will have to give you the cash value of what you declared on the Registered Mail forms.
posted by tckma at 8:27 AM on August 20, 2012

« Older Is the IMac faster than the MacBook Pro?   |   Bra-buying in Berlin for Beginners Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.