An Open Letter to Delta Airlines and Bank of America

Dear Delta Airlines and Bank of America,

I’m writing this, now, four hours after an attempt to resolve an issue to explain why. In a public fashion, no less.

On August 6th, 2015, I attempted to purchase a ticket through Delta Airlines. The reason, unfortunately, was a somber one. It was for the funeral of my grandfather, and I very much wanted to go. In order to book the ticket, though, I had to use my Bank of America credit card rather than my debit card. Little did I know, this simple act would set off a chain of events that would frustrate me to the point of wall-punching rage.

I tried twice to book the airline ticket with the credit card, but the website wouldn’t accept the security code I entered. Seething, I bit the bullet and used my debit card, instead. Ticket was purchased, and I thought all was done.

I was wrong.

Fast-forward to today, 11AM (August 11th, 2015), I checked my credit card statement before paying a bill. I noticed there were two – count ‘em two – pending charges from Delta. This should’ve been impossible because I never made a purchase with the card. First instinct was to call Delta.

After a wait-time of about twenty minutes, I finally got a customer service rep on the line. I explained to them the issue. They told me that the attempts to use said BofA card were logged, but that the charge attempts had been dropped on their end. The only actual purchase for a ticket they showed was the one I made with my debit card. Their recommendation: Get a hold of BofA.

Call #2 to BofA: The rep said that they couldn’t help me, and transferred me to their fraud claims department. The fraud rep then told me that I had to call Delta again, and that they had to contact BofA to remove the pending Delta charges.

A quick aside: I wouldn’t be making that big of a deal about this, except that the pending charges totaled almost $200, and I needed the card for future use. Moving on . . .

I called Delta again. Or rather, tried to call Delta. Wait-times were long, still, so I opted to get a call back when my place in line came up. The first attempt disengaged, while the other sat idle for a few seconds before connecting. Really weird.

Once I finally got a hold of something that resembled a human being, I explained what BofA was asking them to do. They said that was impossible because: (A)There was no ticket information. Nothing was purchased. (B)There was no merchant number to BofA for them to call. And (C) . . . I forget “C. Whatever.

Called BofA again. Forgot the context, wasn’t helpful. Called Delta again. Same thing. I was losing track. This was starting to resemble a tennis match between customer service departments, and I was the goddamn net.

I finally talked to Delta’s refund department, and they were completely perplexed by the situation, or what I could do to expedite the process for getting the pending charges dropped. After putting me on hold for twenty minutes, they finally found the release form I needed . . .


. . . I needed to call BofA AGAIN! to get pertinent information, then call Delta AGAIN! to pass on the information . . . so they could pass on the release form, fax it to BofA, and then to (hopefully, FINALLY!) get the pending charges removed.

I called BofA, asked for a supervisor, passed on the list of information Delta said they needed for their release form. Then I was put on hold for forty minutes.

And, then, they said they couldn’t locate said information.

Four hours have passed. Half my day is gone. The pending charges are still there. The issue has not been resolved. On either end.

If it weren’t for the tea I’m drinking . . . I would’ve set my phone on fire.

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Tuesday, August 11th, 2015 Musings

21 Comments to An Open Letter to Delta Airlines and Bank of America

  1. Credit card charges have two phases. The first is when you make the purchase, the charge is a Pending hold for those funds. Next, the business processes credit card charges as a batch. A business like a gas station or small retail store do batches daily, maybe every couple of days. This shows up as a new charge on your account, but the batch is the real charge, the first is only a hold. An airline would do batches maybe several times a day. The batch then immediately removes the Pending hold by replacing it with the real transaction.

    Your charge is a Pending hold, but no batch was ever completed to finalize the transaction. This is why BoA and Delta cannot find the actual charge. The problem is, because the transaction batch wasn’t completed, the Pending hold sits there until it expires. This can take anywhere from 4 days to a week to disappear. PayPal does the same thing if you use their MasterCard Debit card. You end up with a negative balance until the batch is completed. But if you got a refund or never completed the purchase, you have to wait out the hold til it expires.

    This is why I don’t use a credit card at a gas pump with PrePay. You get a Pending hold for $80 automatically here, even if your gas costs much less. Then you have to wait for the gas station to process their batches so the real amount of the purchase replaces the Pending hold. For a rich person, who cares? But those of us on a shoestring, we can’t afford this!

    I’m hoping yours expires soon and you don’t need to do anything more. Time is precious, right?

  2. Cwyn on August 11th, 2015
  3. I am sorry for your loss. And I am so sorry you had to deal with all of that madness with the charges, especially when the reason for the ticket was a somber one.

  4. Marlynn @UrbanBlissLife on August 11th, 2015
  5. I’m angry for you too!! Why can’t they talk directly to each other for Petes sake and why you the victim of their system mistake are responsible… Booooo

  6. Pech on August 12th, 2015
  7. Pech, this is the case everywhere. Let me tell you what my bank does. For example, say I have $50 in my checking account. I use my debit Visa to buy $30 of gas at my PrePay gas station pump. The gas station places a hold for $80 on the pump. This in theory puts my account in arrears at -$30. If I don’t cover that amount or the batch isn’t processed by 3:30 pm the following day, the bank computer charges me an Overdraft of $39, and my account will read -$69.

    Then the gas station processes the batch for the $30 gas charge, so the $80 goes away. But because I have already been charged an Overdraft, my account is now at -$19. If this isn’t covered by the following day, the bank charges me an Overdraft on the actual $30 batch too, so I’m now at -$58.

    The bank can get away with this because the Overdraft is on the batch charge and not on their Overdraft. So my $30 gas purchase which should have left me with $20 now has me on the hole for -$58. The bank will not reverse the overdrafts unless you can talk them into it, usually only once as a “courtesy.”

    The fleecing of America…

  8. Cwyn on August 12th, 2015
  9. Ugh! Things like that drive me crazy! I hope it all resolves soon!

  10. Melinda on August 12th, 2015
  11. I so feel you. I spent 90 minutes on the phone with our cell phone carrier the other day – a serious soul-suck, at the very least.

  12. Renee @ The Good Hearted Woman on August 14th, 2015
  13. Oh crikey – this sounds utterly frustrating. And I’m ever so sorry about your grandfather. Those flights are hard ones (for me, at least).

  14. Margaret on September 24th, 2015
  15. I have experienced tge same thing you’ve gone through.
    4 hours of switching back and forth with delta and my bank and i can finally get to talk with the supervisor! The delta staffs don’t seem to know about this issues and they can’t help us with anything. It was so frustrating because they charged me $800 for two times … I’m too still waiting for the release form .

  16. Nini on November 15th, 2015
  17. Wow, I looked up the problem because the double charging is happening to me. Actually since I booked 2 people, they are quadruple charging and the Delta hold time was 150 minutes! Sounds like this happens for lots of people, so let us know how it went in the end.

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