Qantas Hangs Up on Platinum Member Requesting Refund

A Qantas call centre agent hung up on a Platinum frequent flyer calling to enquire why it was taking so long to receive a refund for their cancelled flight. The incident not only highlights the poor customer service many receive from the Qantas call centre, but also the lengthy delays many Qantas customers experience with getting a refund.

AFF member Berlin had used Qantas points to book a Classic Flight Reward ticket from Auckland to Sydney. But like most Qantas international flights since March 2020, this flight was later cancelled by the airline.

Berlin received an automated email advising their flight had been cancelled on 13 November, but no information regarding when to expect a refund. More than a month later this member still had not received any of their Qantas points or taxes back, so they called Qantas.

As a Qantas Platinum member, Berlin fortunately did not have to wait for hours on hold like many Bronze frequent flyers have reported. But the “disengaged” call centre operator did not even attempt to help, rudely advising that the refund would take 6-10 weeks to process, and not to call again. As Berlin writes, this is what followed:

I asked if it was normal to not even get an acknowledgement or something as the whole booking is now entirely invisible on my profile and the QF website but “You will get a receipt once it is processed”. I told her that this wait is outrageous and that I am unhappy with such curt response to which she just disconnected the call.
Berlin, 15 December 2020

Clearly, hanging up on any customer – let alone a Platinum frequent flyer – is terrible customer service.

 

There are still ongoing problems with Qantas refunds

In this particular case, Qantas has now finally refunded the customer after Australian Frequent Flyer intervened. But this incident also exposes some broader issues around Qantas refunds.

The first issue is the lack of communication. Since cancelling the flight on 13 November, Qantas had not communicated any information regarding how or when to get a refund. Perhaps it’s normal for refunds to take 6-10 weeks to process, but if customers are not made aware of this, no wonder so many people are angrily phoning the call centre.

In defence of the Qantas call centre staff, they’re probably under a lot of pressure at the moment and have to deal with lots of people asking about refunds on every shift. It’s not their not fault that refunds are taking so long, or that the call centre is perpetually under-resourced. In fact, the call centre is now having to deal with more refund requests than ever because Qantas has intentionally removed the ability for customers with fully-refundable tickets to cancel their own bookings online.

The other main issue is the length of time it is taking Qantas to refund cancelled flights. Qantas says that flights booked with points are typically refunded within 5 days, and cancelled revenue tickets within around 6 weeks. But many Qantas customers have reported much longer delays. Clearly, it took lot more than 5 days for Berlin‘s ticket booked with points to be refunded after Qantas cancelled the flight.

Qantas did not comment on reports of the call centre hanging up on customers, but said it is working to reduce the refund delays and reminded customers that booked via a travel agent that their agent will need to process any refunds.

“Since the onset of the pandemic, the Qantas Group has assisted around 2.5 million customers with impacted flights,” a Qantas spokesperson said.

“Many customers have thanked us for providing a flexible travel credit which they now have until the end of 2022 to use. Of our customers eligible for a refund, we’ve seen the majority opting to hold on to their credit instead. If they change their mind, they’ll still be able to request a refund.”

Over recent months, Qantas has been offering customers “Travel Pass” credits in lieu of refunds. These come with 10% extra value, double points or double status credits on the new booking.

Anecdotally, there have been reports on AFF that Qantas call centre staff can expedite paid booking refund requests if you’ve already been waiting more than 8 weeks. But call centre staff don’t appear to be empowered to take further action.

To Qantas’ credit, the airline has at least generally been refunding tickets where legally required to do so – even if it may take a little while. Some other airlines around the world have not been refunding customers’ money at all.

 

Refunds of Qantas card payment fees

By the way, when you receive a refund from Qantas, the amount generally excludes any card payment fees. These fees are typically only a few dollars, but could be as high as $120 per passenger for expensive international flight bookings.

AFF member sudoer recently discovered that the Qantas card payment fee is also refundable in some circumstances. Specifically, you can get a refund of credit card surcharges if your booking is unused, being refunded in full and no cancellation fee applies. But it seems you have to specifically request a refund of this fee, which can be done by – you guessed it – calling the Qantas call centre.

Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Long wait for refund for cancelled reward flights Qantas – a common experience?

 

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]

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Michael

I was hung up on a couple of weeks ago by the Qantas call centre as well. I was trying to resolve an issue on my account. Took long enough to find the right person, let alone be cut off because I pointed out that what she was talking about was irrelevant to the question I was asking.

Richard

As a QFF Platinum I have never had anything but excellent, courteous service from callcentre people. But then, I don’t say things like, “This wait is outrageous and that I am unhappy with such curt response” Unfortunately, Berlin sounds more ‘pratinum’ than platinum and might benefit from an attitude adjustment. FYI, I waited about 14 weeks for a refund, but it came though and I didn’t chuck a tantrum…

AgentGerko

14 weeks? Then you got one of the really quick ones.

Dan

I think Qantas treated their platinum members differently, in this case, worse. I and my partner booked our tickets (same itinerary) separately. I have no status and he’s platinum. We called to request a refund on same day. I got my refund about 2 weeks later. He didn’t get his after 3 months and had to call them to ask. He got his refund at the end (we didn’t bother to ask about it anymore). I think Qantas thinks platinum members are rich and don’t need the money as bad as members with low status. It is just annoying to… Read more »

Greg

Thanks to sycophantic grovelling from Richard (probably a Qantas employee fake) the rest of us end up with increasingly lousy service. How is 14 weeks acceptable for any company to hold on to other peoples money? Covid has just become an excuse for orgs like Qantas to treat loyal customers like muppets. The lousy attitude from call centre staff is not new and is getting worse – the fish rots from the head.

Blaz

Imagine running a business that was losing money hand over fist every single day, due to no fault of your own, and some twat wants their money back immediately, so that they are not losing a single cent. Usually I would agree with you, but these are not usual circumstances. Most people have the ability to be recompensed by their credit card if all else fails, but Qantas is just asking people to wait. The call centres are probably dealing with terse people almost every call..it would be a tough gig. Let’s give them some slack until things return to… Read more »

RosieD

Agree. Qantas does have some problems, but abusing CC staff doesn’t help. At all.
We’ve had severa refunds ranging from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. The cc staff were always very helpful. and, surprisingly, the refunds made within a very reasonable timeframe (ie. one in May was refunded within two days! And, in Sept even though we were expecting a very lengthy delay, two fully paid J seats refunded in less 8 weeks). So, no complaints from us.

Jason

you are a platinum member to QF as long as your employer keep paying for your long haul J flights. when that stops, the music stops.

I have booked over 12k of flights with Japan airlines, and I got my full refund to my credit card 3 days after I have used their web form, no questions asked and without even speaking to any staff. JAL you have got a loyal customer from now on.

for the poor souls trying to get refund from QF, try social media.

John Qld

Well, you could always pay for the J flights yourself, as many of us do!

The way some people assume that everyone in J or F has their ticket funded by any employer or a third party is actually pretty offensive to those of us who buy our own tickets.

FlyingKangaroo

Why does it matter who paid for the ticket, Jason? You seem to be implying that if a flyer hasn’t paid for their status with their “own” cash…what? That such treatment is appropriate? What’s the point? That said, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, and for all the whining about Manila (I get it), they’ve been through a lot worse than we have this year, so complaining about business class refunds is… well, self-awareness goes a long way. I work for a tech company which means flying J is a thing of the past, so when I… Read more »

Andrew

I also pay for my own flights in premium cabins Jason – I am self employed, but can confirm my employer is very generous when it comes to my travel budget…….. cough, cough.
And when I sometimes cash in some points for a flight, I have no guilt as a freeloading imposter in a premium cabin, as I have previously spent some big $$ on long haul paid premium tickets to earn those points. Some of us earn points without collecting shopping dockets. Who is adding more value to the airline?

John

I received the points back into my account within a week or so but had to wait 10 weeks for the fees to be refunded. I have always found Qantas takes around 6 weeks even before Covid to return the fees and only after being chased and I think this is just a scam to hang on to your money to fund their business as ling as possible. It does not takes weeks to provide a credit card refund in this day and age.

Poh Wah Lee

I have had 2 big trips with multiple legs.cancelled by qantas. Some legs were qantas points booking. I am not a platinum, only gold. I have had full refund including card fees, points and all refunds were done when they promised. Earlier the year was 3-4 weeks but the last trip later the year took 9weeks. They did say 9 weeks. I have had nothing but good service from qantas..whether call center or email reply. So many of my friends booked with other airlines and have to go through a lot of trouble to get refunds and many no refunds… Read more »

Marcus

That’s why I never fly QF. It is a garbage airline.

AgentGerko

Mr Joyce has for too long relied on the “Qantas is Australian” theme, thinking that people will remain loyal to the icon no matter how badly they treat their passengers and staff. I just hope the combination of Virgin and Rex can teach him a bit of humility and teach the airline a bit about service, but I very much doubt it.

P m

This is no different to virgin. All airlines appear to be holding onto cash amd delaying refunds. Effectively using your refunds as additional working capital at zero % interest rates. What is interesting is that it appear to be a race to the bottom in customer service with Australian airlines.

Bron

My husband (Gold FF) and I had international flights booked to depart 26 August & return 26 Sept that got cancelled. Each time I spoke to Qantas customer service regarding the refund of our points and the additional fees, they were very professional and efficient. I was really impressed as I thought I’d have a battle on my hands but the points were refunded very quickly after my initial call on 22 July. I waited a little longer than the stipulated 8-10 weeks for the fees refund and rang Qantas on 26 Oct as we had heard nothing. I spoke… Read more »

Peter

The Qantas call centre has been absolutely brilliant with my change of flights and refunds. Qantas has done fantastic work during covid

Bevan Foot

Disgraceful treatment to any FF member much less that tier level !
Call centre operator should immediately be dismissed!!
No excuses..

Brenda Hateley

I found the Qantas call centre staff helpful and very friendly. But the wait to get thru was long – well over an hour. I think all travel companies and their call centre operators need our support as they – like lots of us – have had a hellish few months.

Jo Hoffmann

It took 7 months for my refund to be paid back in full. Numerous phone calls and twitter messages were instigated by myself. A myriad of promises, excuses and lies were told to me which I believe were merely delaying tactics. After I finally received the refund, I emailed a complaint to Qantas suggesting that they need to significantly improve their communication with clients and to review the efficiency of the refund process. – not surprisingly I never received an response from Qantas. Qantas has caused many clients unwarranted anxiety and stress over chasing their refunds. It has been very… Read more »

Tony

Having supervised a call centre, briefly, many years ago, I can understand why some people get hung up on. Leaving aside the callers who are threatening or abusive, there are some people who won’t accept that the agent has done everything that they can, there’s nothing more that can be done, nothing left to say & it’s time to end the call. Instead they want to go through it all again, over & over again, until somehow, magically, the agent can do something that they couldn’t earlier. There were times I just had to whisper to the agent on the… Read more »

Tony

Same here. I purchased two business return to HK and they were cancelled. I called their hotline back in May and they’re unwilling to give me a refund saying credit will be issued instead. I hv yet to receive anything after 5 months. I try to be patient as I understand they probably be busy and I’m in no hurry to travel anytime soon. But sometimes it left me wonder why they are ignoring the customers.

Tony

From a completely different Tony: I’m pretty sure that Qantas are operating on a skeleton staff these days & the skeleton probably has some bones missing. They’ve been bleeding money for most of the year. There just aren’t the people there to process the refunds at the speed we’d like. I’m still waiting for a refund myself but it’s for a seat selection fee, a really tiny amount of money that I wouldn’t miss if it never came. I feel sorry for those awaiting significant refunds. Patience (plus alcohol) is what will get you through these trying times.

Jeff

I had 3 international business class trips booked and paid for with qantas in 2020. When the customer call centre was still taking calls about refunds one of them was refunded after 12 weeks. One has been refunded after 6 months after repeated attempts by my travel agent. One was for some reason automatically converted to a credit without my consent despite requesting a refund. When I rang Qantas it took 20 minutes of going stepwise through the whole thing at which point they said it was too hard to convert the credit to a refund. I insisted that I… Read more »

Scott

Happens all the time. Qantas couldn’t care less about premium members spending 20-100k a year on their flights. I had to call around 20 times to get my 25 refunds processed for this year. They simple aren’t refunding flights automatically like they say they are they are waiting for you to complain then they do it. And if you don’t ask for the card fees they don’t do it. They are trying to scratch back every cent.

Every now and again I get someone in the AU Callcentre/zone who are super helpful. But it’s rare.

FlyingKangaroo

I agree that the treatment of this pax was not appropriate.

That said, of the half dozen or so airlines I’ve had to approach for refunds this year, Qantas was second only to Delta in terms of good service and success and of the lot, two of them continue to refuse cash refunds entirely and another took a good six months of fighting that likely succeeded only thanks to persistent, stubborn principle.

Worth pointing out that the two abject refusals came from VA and NZ, so… “what you gonna do?”

Andrew

I had a points flight booked to LAX and am Plat also, and refunds were in line with expectations given by staff – points within 1 week, and fees/taxes in 9 weeks (they quoted 8 – 10 weeks, and that they can’t really escalate internally until 10 weeks had passed.. They did say that as a result of my points ticket being in First, they were giving priority due to the pulling of First product (A380 fleet in storage), albeit that was prior to extension of the broader travel shutddown. So not sure if that was a factor, but my… Read more »

John

It took eight months to resolve a COVID cancelled rtn flt to Darwin booked under my QBR account; I was told on several occasions that the credit would appear in my QBR account when next I made a booking, which did not happen on the next three occasions I made a QBR booking, and this was after each time ringing and emailing to try and sort the issue. Finally this week it was resolved and I received the credit for a new booking. During the eight month long process, I was passed back and forth between QBR, QFF, Reservations and… Read more »

Aman

Hi all, I had a flight cancelled by Qantas on 1st April.
I am still waiting for my refund to be processed. I have been fairly patient but am getting concerned that the refund is not going to be processed? I have tried calling QF but I wait for 2 hours then give up. I try calling at different times to see if I can get through but I can never seem to get through to anyone? Does anyone have any ideas? Should I keep waiting? I have also used the website feedback form but no reply.