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?