A long time ago, in a place far, far away, there lived a man -- more than a man, actually, really a man with the heart of a lion and the claws of an eagle and the spleen of Sam Kinison -- who took revenge on the customer-care industry on behalf of the downtrodden and abused American consumer. But this man, who called himself, humbly, The Shopping Avenger, went into occultation, like the Mahdi, except no one, so far as we know, is praying for his return, though we can't be sure. In any case, if only we as a planet could conjure him up once again, justice would reign on earth, or at the very least, airlines would fully refund tickets they claim are fully-refundable.
Which brings me to Continental Airlines, the reason I'm hoping for the return of the Shopping Avenger. The Shopping Avenger would know what to do with a phone call like this one, which actually took place. I had called Continental (the "Silver Elite" line, because, yes, I'm a Silver Elite mofo) in order to get a refund for a ticket I no longer needed.
Me: I'd like a refund please for my ticket.
Continental Person: Absolutely. We can put that back on your credit card, minus the $400 refund fee.
Me: What refund fee? My ticket is refundable.
Continental Person: Yes, absolutely. It's refundable with a $400 fee.
Me: No, no: When I bought this ticket, I asked if it was refundable, and they said yes. It even says refundable on the ticket.
Continental Person: Yes, it's refundable.
Me: Okay, great.
Continental Person: For a $400 fee.
Me: But that's not a refund, then. I was told the ticket was fully refundable.
Continental Person: It is. It's fully refundable with a fee of $400.
Me: Let me ask you a question: When you bring something back to the store, and you've been told that it's refundable, what does that mean to you?
Continental Person: I'm sorry?
Me: What does that mean to you? Do you expect to get your money back?
Continental Person: I understand.
Me: You do? Great. So I expect to get my money back on this refundable ticket.
Continental Person: Yes, your ticket is refundable.
Continental Person: But there's a fee of $400 to process the refund.
This went on for another five minutes, and then ten minutes with a supervisor. You won't be surprised to know that I lost this battle. But revenge, like airline food, is a dish best eaten cold. Where are you, Shopping Avenger?
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.